Discover Coastal Washington

Skokomish river winds through its estuary

Customer service staff in the Montesano Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. WDFW staff will continue to wear masks while providing customer service, and the public is encouraged to wear a mask. 

The Port Townsend District Office will be open by appointment only. Please call 360-302-3030 to schedule an appointment.

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

Director: Chris Conklin

48 Devonshire Road
Montesano, WA 98563

Email: TeamMontesano@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 360-249-4628

Fax: 360-249-1229

October fishing tips and news

Share your feedback: Coastal steelhead management, Oct. 20 virtual town hall 

This fall, WDFW is hosting a series of virtual town halls to gather feedback from the public on coastal steelhead management ahead of the 2022-2023 season. These virtual town halls will inform pre-season efforts to design 2022-2023 coastal steelhead fisheries that meet management objectives and provide necessary protection for declining wild steelhead populations.

Anglers and other interested members of the public are invited to attend a 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20, virtual town hall to learn more about trends in abundance, preliminary catch estimates, monitoring efforts, upcoming opportunities to stay engaged in pre-season planning, and to provide their feedback for the 2022-2023 season. Future virtual town hall meetings will occur in November ahead of season announcements later this year. For more information, visit our coastal steelhead management web page

Puget Sound salmon gear selection

Gear selection has become an important factor when it comes to recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound. A key role in angler success is choosing the proper lure or bait, but gear also has an important role in fisheries management.

To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers learn how to reduce catching sublegal (undersized) Chinook. Learn more on how to select proper gear for Puget Sound salmon fisheries by reading the WDFW blog and watch the salmon release video below

Releasing salmon properly

Selective fisheries for hatchery-produced salmon and catch-and-release fisheries are increasingly important to providing recreational fishing opportunities around Washington.

To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers do their part to comply with all regulations, especially how to properly release unmarked, sublegal (undersized) and out-of-season fish to improve their survival. Watch our YouTube video below and read our guide to releasing salmon properly.

Trout fishing

Thousands of trout are waiting to be caught in many lowland lakes that should provide decent opportunities as cooler weather arrives this fall and trout become more active. Anglers can keep tabs to the Weekly Trout Plant Reports for trout stocking updates.

WDFW Trout Derby

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 2022 Trout Derby

Try your luck now through Oct. 31 to catch thousands of tagged trout lurking in more than 100 statewide lakes.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish can win over 800 donated prizes totaling around $37,000. The average number of tags turned in was 55 percent in 2021. On opening day (April 23) a total of 80 tags were turned in for prizes out of 847 tagged fish which equates to about 9.6% turned in.

Anglers can track how many tags have been turned in to date, and it also indicates how many tags remain in each lake. Visit the 2022 Trout Derby page for details.

High mountain trout lakes

Most high elevation or alpine trout lakes are accessible this month for hikers packing their fishing rods while some may take a while to access due to the longer than expected colder weather this past spring. Almost 200 small lakes, ranging from about 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, lie on public land around Washington. You can find information on our high lakes page.

Kids fishing events

Visit the youth fishing events page for kids fishing events hosted by WDFW and held throughout the year. Other fishing groups, clubs, and organizations such as the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation also host yearly events to promote youth fishing.

Rivers, streams, and beaver pond fishing

Anglers can head to many of Washington’s statewide rivers, streams and beaver ponds open now through Oct. 31. Beaver ponds located within or connected to streams listed as open to trout and other game fish follow the same rules as the stream. Be sure to check for special regulations before heading out.

Halibut fishing

halibut fishing
Joey Pyburn

WDFW is hosting a virtual public meeting, slated for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., on Oct. 4 to discuss season structure and proposed dates for the 2023 sport halibut season. For more information about how to participate on the Zoom webinars, visit go to the WDFW webpage.

The meeting will be recorded and posted online so people can also watch the meetings afterwards at their convenience. For more information on the halibut season-setting process visit PFMC's website. Information on recreational halibut regulations and seasons is available online at the WDFW webpage. Anglers must record their catch on a WDFW halibut catch record card.

Be a part of fisheries management: Submit a voluntary Salmon Trip Report today! 

Did you know? By completing a voluntary Salmon Trip Report during a day’s salmon fishing trip, you can have a direct role in WDFW’s ability to monitor salmon fisheries. Salmon Trip Reports help to increase the amount of data available for in-season management and can help fisheries managers make better informed decisions. 

WDFW’s voluntary Salmon Trip Report program provides critical data that WDFW fishery managers use to maintain salmon fishing opportunities as part of the annual salmon season setting process, commonly referred to as North of Falcon. The program spans coastal Washington and Puget Sound (Marine Areas 1-13). 

These trip reports are just one tool in a suite of options fisheries managers use to collect biological and fishery data for Puget Sound salmon. Other monitoring tools include dockside sampling, test fishing, and boat surveys. 

Learn more on our voluntary Salmon Trip Report web page. For more information about the annual salmon season process, which will kick off later this winter, check out our blog post.

Orca breaching
Ken Rea

Be Whale Wise while boating in marine waters 

Planning a boating trip very soon? Remember to Be Whale Wise, give these endangered whales some extra space, and slow down to help quiet the waters. Just by following Be Whale Wise regulations, you can make a big difference for endangered Southern Resident killer whales and their ability to move about, find food, and socialize.

  • Stay at least 300 yards from Southern Resident killer whales and at least 400 yards out of their path or behind the whales.
  • Reduce your speed to seven knots within one-half nautical mile of a Southern Resident killer whale.
  • Watch for the Whale Warning Flag, a tool to let others know that there might be whales nearby. If you see the flag, slow down! Get a flag of your own from our partners at the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee. 
  • Turn off fish finders and/or depth sounders if you do see Southern Residents in the distance. 
  • Help to encourage positive behavior: Report violations.  

Learn more at bewhalewise.org or in our video below. 

Find ADA-accessible facilities to enjoy the outdoors 

 Whether you’re looking for fishing, hunting, or wildlife viewing opportunities, our website offers many tools to find ADA-accessible facilities to enjoy the outdoors. WDFW-managed lands with ADA facilities include water access areas and wildlife areas. Our website also has a list of fishing piers that you can filter by county and availability of ADA-accessible facilities. Visit our blog post to learn more

Learn how to identify and report European green crabs

European green crab identification graphic, 2022

Attention beachgoers: help us control invasive European green crabs by learning how to identify and report them at: wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab

Hint: they're not always green and can be yellow, orange or red! The best ID tactic is to count the five "teeth" on either side of their eyes. Most are small, around the size of a quarter, but they can reach up to four inches across when fully grown.

European green crabs have been detected on the Washington Coast and at sites in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, Hood Canal, and near Bellingham and Anacortes.

These invasive shore crabs are found in shallow areas—typically less than 25 feet of water—including estuaries, mudflats, intertidal zones, and beaches. They are not likely to be caught by recreational crabbers or shrimpers operating in deeper water, but may be encountered by beachgoers, waders, clam and oyster harvesters, or those crabbing off docks or piers in shallow areas.

Please photograph and report to WDFW if encountered. If reports are verified as European green crabs, our staff will follow up with trapping and monitoring. Regular updates and more information are also available on the European green crab page. Or sign-up for our green crab management email list.

October hunting tips and news

Hunting

Hunters planning their seasons throughout Washington may also want to check the 2022 Hunting Prospects reports, which outline hunting opportunities in specific game management districts.

Hunters can use the hunting regulations web map, which allows them to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice, and more. Recent surveys indicate 2022 should be another good hunting year.

Forest grouse hunting season will once again run through Jan. 15, 2023. You can find information in this year’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons and Rules pamphlet.

Waterfowl: Hunting season starts Oct. 15 for migratory ducks, geese, and other waterfowl with plenty of waterfowl hunting opportunity found on public land.  Additionally, a number of private landowners in Region 6 have enrolled with WDFW to allow waterfowl hunting.  Please visit our website for specific property locations. 

Deer: Early muzzleloader general deer seasons end Oct. 2. The modern firearm general season for black-tailed deer begins Oct. 15. 

Depending on which Game Management Unit is hunted, Region 6 offers numerous public and private land hunting opportunities. Public land opportunities include DNR and USFS lands that are open to hunting.  Although most private timber companies require hunters to purchase a permit to access their lands, many companies do offer options for recreation without an access permit requirement either allowing walk-in or motorized access. Hunters are advised to check the specific district’s hunting prospects or contact the timber company directly to inquire about access restrictions in areas they plan to hunt.

Elk: The western early muzzleloader season for elk runs from Oct. 1-7 in designated game management units (GMUs) throughout the region.

Bear: Bear season is open throughout the region. Hunters can harvest two black bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 14, if they buy two tags. 

Pheasants: Pheasant season in western Washington goes through Nov. 30. 

Wild turkey and upland bird survey

Help us monitor summer broods and year-round distribution of wild turkeys and upland birds by reporting your observations. A brood survey provides information on productivity, which is the number of surviving offspring produced in a population and provides information on average brood sizes, the percentage of hens with offspring, and a production index, which is a ratio of the total number of offspring to the total number of adult hens. A distribution survey assesses where birds are located and helps managers to track what habitats they’re using, how that might vary seasonally, and where their ranges are expanding or contracting. Visit the game bird survey page for details.

Sign up for in-person hunter education

Hunter education instructor demonstrating safety procedures at shooting range with boy
WDFW staff

The minimum age to take the all-online hunter education course has increased to 18. In 2020, we implemented an all-online hunter education course for students at least 9 years old.  Recognizing the importance and value of in-person and hands-on firearm safety instruction, WDFW’s goal has always been to move back to, or towards, in-person course delivery when it made sense to do so. While the COVID landscape is still a bit uncertain, things are getting back to normal. We recognize that this change may take some time to get used to, and we are committed to offering as many in-person courses as we can. For more information, visit the Hunter Education page.

October wildlife viewing

Salmon-viewing

Hatchery employee holding Chinook salmon

The return of hatchery salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia is another draw for wildlife-watchers in the late-summer and autumn time period.

Onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia before they enter Capitol Lake and move up the fish ladders to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

Foraging for edibles and huckleberries

Picking huckleberries

Click here to see our blog on getting to know wild edibles in your own backyard, neighborhood and beyond. Huckleberries are starting to come on strong in many areas across Washington as well as some coastal forest and alpine meadow locations, after being a little bit delayed.

The coastal blue huckleberry grows on the Washington Olympic Peninsula between 1,000 and 3,000 feet of elevation in the alpine meadows and sub-alpine wooded areas. Wild huckleberry have a sweet ripe yet tart flavor and are very nutritious pack a lot of antioxidants. Huckleberries have a thick outer skin with A crunchy texture. 

There are lots of public great spots on public lands. Pack a lunch and make a day of it but be aware that you may have competition so take your bear spray.

Wildflower viewing

Late summer and early fall can be good time for wildflower viewing especially along mountains and hillsides. As wildflowers have come into full bloom that means butterflies and bees are enjoying them too. Right now, is one of the better months to see the greatest variety of butterflies.

Backyard wildlife activities

Two Rufous hummingbirds feeding from a large circular hummingbird feeder in a backyard garden
Russell Link

Learn how to landscape for wildlife: Vegetation is key to attracting a variety of wildlife. Native plants provide the food, shelter, and nesting habitat for songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. You can use this extra time at home to map out how you’d like your property to look and figure out which plants would thrive where you live. Visit the Washington Native Plant Society’s website for resources.

Add a water source to your yard: Put in a birdbath, garden pond, or other source of water outside your home. A safe place to bathe and drink will act as a magnet to many animals. You can make a simple birdbath with things you probably already have. Visit the Audubon’s website for an easy do-it-yourself bird bath using an old cake pan or flower-pot tray.

Build a bird house or nest box: Add bird houses to your property, or better yet, try to leave snags (dead trees) if they don’t pose any risk. Cavity-nesting birds have been especially impacted by urban development. A bird house of the proper dimensions can substitute for snags where these birds used to nest. There are lots of easy instructions online to build your own bird house or nest box. Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Backyard Birding webpage for resources.

Keep your cats and wild birds safe: Domestic cats can make great pets, but when they are allowed to roam outdoors, there can be serious consequences to local wildlife. Cats kill about 2.4 billion birds every year in the U.S. alone. Visit the American Bird Conservancy website for information on their Cats Indoors Program and learn how to keep pet cats and wild birds safe. You may even consider an outdoor enclosure for your cat.

Make a window cling to protect birds: Up to a billion birds die each year from flying into glass. You can help prevent that from happening at your house by making your own window clings using recycled plastic and puffy fabric paint. Check out this tutorial video from the Audubon Society.

Celebrate Orca Recovery Day, Oct. 15!

 This Orca Recovery Day, WDFW is joining alongside Washington’s conservation districts and other partners to grow our effort to save endangered Southern Resident killer whales. Whether you join an Orca Recovery Day volunteer event near you or opt to incorporate small actions in your everyday life, we can all make a difference for Southern Residents. Learn more at betterground.org/in-your-community/events/ord/.

October Habitat at Home

Habitat at Home: Bats on the move: Where our local bats go for winter, how to exclude, how to help 

Bats in a hibernacula
Bob Davies

While we might be focusing on bats for Halloween, September to November is when our 15 Washington bat species are preparing for winter. Hoary bats are heading south where many will winter in California and Mexico. Some year-round resident species, like little brown bats will move to higher elevation or seek out cool, safe places nearby to hibernate. Silver-haired bats and California Myotis are two species that remain active in Washington year-round.

We lack information about winter hibernating bats in Washington because they tend to hibernate alone or in small groups, and research has been limited. Its important to not disturb bats while hibernating, so if you encounter any please quietly and quickly leave and report it to WDFW. You can help us learn more by using the WDFW bat colony reporting tool if you find a winter hibernating roost (known as a hibernaculum). 

Did you find bats in your building structures this summer? While bats are not rodents and do not gnaw or destroy infrastructure, they have messy guano (feces) and for some, having bats living outside buildings is better. Late autumn is the perfect time to exclude bats safety and humanely from your structures. Review these instructions on how to check that they are gone, create one-way doors, and seal up holes.

White-nose syndrome, a fungus that only affects hibernating bats, is dangerous for local bats during this time. Reports estimate the disease has killed between 5 to 7 million bats, such as little brown bats in Eastern North American since it was first discovered in 2006. The disease was first confirmed in Washington in 2016.

There are two important steps you can take to help local bats thrive:

  1. Report winter bat roosts to WDFW.
  2. Stay out of areas where you could disturb hibernating bats. 

Learn more about WDFW’s white-nose syndrome efforts.

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Community event
  • Public meeting
  • Commission meeting
  • Advisory group meeting

Meet your Regional Director: Chris Conklin

Chris Conklin, Region 6 director
Chris Conklin, Coastal Region Director

Chris Conklin, Coastal Region Director (Region 6), has worked with WDFW since 2013, most recently as deputy director of the Department’s Habitat Program. He began his career with WDFW as a habitat biologist working out of the Coastal Region office in Montesano, before becoming the assistant regional habitat program manager there.

Before joining WDFW, Conklin worked as a fishery technician at the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and a fish habitat biologist with the Quinault Indian Nation, as well as a forester for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Conklin holds a bachelor’s degree in fishery resources from the University of Idaho. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering for search and rescue, working around his property with his son and wife and recreating near the water or in the hills above Naches.