Discover Coastal Washington

Skokomish river winds through its estuary

Counties served: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Thurston

Director: Larry Phillips

48 Devonshire Road
Montesano, WA 98563

Telephone: 360-249-4628

Fax: 360-249-1229

Fish Washington this December

Hatchery steelhead: The hatchery steelhead fishery is going strong in the rivers. Anglers fishing the lower sections of the Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawah and Hoh rivers have a daily limit of three hatchery steelhead and those fishing the Humptulips have a daily limit of two. Later in the month, hatchery steelhead should be showing up in the Wynoochee, Satsop, and Chehalis rivers and in the upper Quinault River above the lake.

For details on the region’s freshwater steelhead fisheries, check the fishing regulations on the department’s website. Anglers are required to release all wild steelhead and rainbow trout in the north coastal rivers.

Salmon: Portions of Puget Sound are open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) can keep two salmon daily but must release wild Chinook. In Marine Area 13 (south Puget Sound), anglers can keep two salmon daily but must release wild coho and wild Chinook.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), anglers have a daily limit of four salmon, but only two of those fish can be winter hatchery Chinook, known as blackmouth. All wild Chinook must be released.

Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound.

There are also opportunities for salmon through Dec. 15 on the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers.

In Pierce County, anglers can keep two adults as part of a six-salmon daily limit but must release wild coho and wild Chinook in the Puyallup River.

Young boy ecstatic with Opening Day Trout catch

Trout: WDFW stocked regional lakes with trout to provide opportunities for anglers fishing on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). Those lakes should still have plenty of trout throughout December. Stocked lakes include American and Tanwax lakes in Pierce County; Spencer Lake in Mason County; Cases Pond in Pacific County; and Black, Long and Offut lakes in Thurston County. See the rest of the lakes stocked in Washington on our website.

Crab: Several Puget Sound marine areas are open for the winter crab season. Those areas include: marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff. 

Maps and descriptions of the two sections of Marine Area 9 are on WDFW’s website.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available online.

Crabbing is open year-round in Washington’s ocean waters (marine areas 1-3 and 4 west of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line).

Razor clams: Diggers should have plentiful opportunities to get their limits with two openings planned this month. State shellfish managers will announce whether the digs will proceed about a week prior to the opening date.

Digs are tentatively scheduled for the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:

  • December 10, Tuesday: 5:28 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 11, Wednesday: 6:06 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 12, Thursday: 6:45 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 13, Friday: 7:26 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 14, Saturday: 8:08 pm, -1.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 15, Sunday: 8:53 pm, -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 16, Monday: 9:41 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 23, Monday: 4:35 pm, -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 26, Thursday: 6:47 pm, -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 27, Friday: 7:26 pm, -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • December 28, Saturday: 8:05 pm, -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • December 29, Sunday: 8:43 pm, -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and must keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2019-20 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW's website and from license vendors around the state.

And while you're at the beach, don't forget to represent your team! Are you #TeamClamGun or #TeamClamShovel? Share your picture on social to help us discover which digging method reigns supreme! 

December hunting tips and news

Big horned elk looks at the camera

Elk: Most archery and muzzleloader hunting opportunities for elk are open through Dec. 15 in the region, although the muzzleloader hunt in Game Management Unit (GMU) 652 runs through Dec. 8. Hunters looking to harvest an elk in District 17 (Pacific and Grays Harbor counties) often have the most luck hunting the Willapa Hills elk herd in GMUs 658, 672, 673 and 681.

Deer: The region’s archery and muzzleloader hunts for deer wrap up on Dec. 31 and Dec. 15 respectively in select game management units. For details, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.

Ducks: Meanwhile, waterfowl hunters have through Jan. 26 to hunt ducks. Some of the best hunting locations in Thurston County are near the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge as well as Henderson, Budd and Eld inlets and near Centralia in Lewis County.

Goose: The hunting season is open through Jan. 26 for most of the region. Pacific County and the portion of Grays Harbor County west of Highway 101 (Goose Management Area 2 – Coast) is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only through Dec. 2 but reopens on those same days Dec. 22 through Jan. 20. The section of Grays Harbor County east of Highway 101 (Goose Management Area 2 – Inland) is open Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays only through Jan. 13.

Forest grouse: Upland bird hunters have through Dec. 31 to hunt forest grouse. The harvest of grouse in Clallam County (District 16) rivals all other counties in south Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic National Forest and Skokomish Valley in District 15 also are popular grouse hunting areas.

Online resources: Before heading out, hunters should check the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for details. Also, area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects webpage.

Reporting: As noted on page 6 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet, Jan. 31 is the deadline for hunters to report their hunting activity for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and turkey tag purchased in 2019. Those who do not meet the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before they can buy a license next year. Those who report by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of nine special elk or deer permits.

December wildlife viewing

Clark's nutcrackers were observed feeding in Ponderosa pine during the annual Bridgeport Christmas Bird Count
Michael Schroeder

Bird counts: During the holiday season, several Audubon Society chapters throughout the region are coordinating Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), which get underway this month. Sponsored by Audubon, the annual event enlists birdwatchers – veterans and novices – to contribute their sightings over a 24-hour period to the world's longest-running bird database. For more information on the CBC, visit the Audubon website.

Recreation and habitat projects

WDFW partnered with Ducks Unlimited to add 1,100 acres of land to benefit wildlife and people near Westport

Group cutting a ribbon
WDFW celebrates with partners the addition of 1,100 acres of land in Grays Harbor County.

In close partnership with Ducks Unlimited, WDFW bought 1,100 acres of land near Westport in Grays Harbor County. We will manage the new property as an addition to the Elk River Unit of the Johns River Wildlife Area. A second phase to purchase an additional 600 acres is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. 

The new property features diverse natural resources, including large freshwater and saltwater wetland areas and old-growth Sitka spruce trees. A variety of wildlife use the area for year-round habitat, including several species of waterfowl, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and black bears.

The site will also provide additional recreation opportunities, including hiking, birding, and big-game and waterfowl hunting. Public access will initially be on a walk-in basis from the perimeter of the property, as plans to improve access are ongoing. Read the recent news release to learn more. 

Meet your Regional Director: Larry Phillips

Larry Phillips, South Puget Sound and Coast Region Director
Larry Phillips, South Puget Sound and Coast Region Director

Larry Phillips has served as the South Puget Sound and Coast (Region 6) Director since 2016. Larry was first employed by the Department in 1996 as a Fisheries Technician collecting creel survey data on the Snake River. In 1998 he was hired as a permanent employee by the Fish Program in Spokane and later transferred to Olympia to serve as the Area Fish Biologist for South Puget Sound. In 2007 Larry was promoted to District Fish Biologist. He remained in this position until 2015 when he was promoted to Inland Fish Program Manager with state-wide responsibilities. In 2016 Larry promoted to his current position.

Larry holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston (Idaho) and a master’s degree in Fisheries Science from Eastern Washington University. Larry enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking and camping.

Watch the Nov. 21 digital open house with Larry Phillips and Director Kelly Susewind. 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Public meeting
  • Key date