Discover North Puget Sound

Boats in the San Juan Islands with Mount Baker in the background

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

Counties served: Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom

Director: Brendan Brokes

16018 Mill Creek Boulevard
Mill Creek, WA 98012-1541

Email: TeamMillCreek@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 425-775-1311

Fax: 425-338-1066

Fishing tips and news

New to fishing in Washington? Check out our Fish Washington blog post for a guide on how to get started.

Squid fishing picking up at Edmonds, Seattle, and across North Sound

Reports from late September are that squid fishing is heating up at many areas around the North Puget Sound region, both at night and during the day for pier and boat-based anglers. Squid fishing typically continues to improve through October, peaking between Halloween and New Years.

Learn more about "squidding" on our webpage or in this January 2022 blog post

Angler holds up squid caught from a pier

Squid feed mainly at night and are attracted to light, which is why public piers are good locations for anglers. Hungry squid lurk in the dark fringes near patches of lighted water and then dart into the bright area in pursuit of food such as young herring and other small fishes.

Because a boat isn’t needed and minimal equipment is required, squid-jigging is one of the most inexpensive ways to catch squid. Anglers should take a headlamp, camping lantern or large flashlight for unlit locations.

Boat-based squidders use their sonar to locate schools of squid in deeper water during the day, or use lights to attract them nearer to the surface at night, both of which can be very effective.

Anglers will need a valid shellfish/seaweed license, available online at the WDFW licensing website or through the many license dealers across the state.

October is prime time for river and stream fishing

Does it get any better for river and stream anglers than October? Salmon returns are at their peak in most areas, and while coho are taking center stage in the Skagit (see special rules announced Sept. 20, including no bait allowed), Cascade, and Duwamish, fishing for Chinook remains open in the Nooksack and Green rivers.

Reminder that the Snohomish Watershed including the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers remains closed for salmon due to low forecasted runs. The Wallace River is also closed at this time under an emergency rule change. Check regulations for details as rules vary depending on the section of river.

Summer steelhead are also available in the Skykomish and Green rivers.

River fly fishing
River fishing on a foggy morning.

The Snoqualmie and other popular trout streams can also provide excellent catch-and-release fishing this month, including for larger sea-run coastal cutthroat that return to North Sound rivers in the fall.

Coho fishing remains open in Central and South Puget Sound

Fishing for Chinook is now closed in marine areas across the North Puget Sound region except for year-round fishing piers. Check fishing regulations and emergency rule changes for details.

Coho fishing should remain strong in Marine Areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) through October, though fall rains can turn off the fishing in the saltwater as coho head for their natal rivers. Check Puget Sound creel reports the latest updates. 

Coho are typically caught near the surface during the early morning and late evening hours or on cloudy days. They travel in pods and tend to be voracious feeders in the saltwater, and will often hunt schools of herring, squid, krill, or other bait concentrated in tide rips, or where currents push up against points, beaches or underwater banks and reefs. If you’re not hooking coho after fishing for a while, and are not seeing bait or jumpers, you may need to move spots to find the fish.

Trolling hoochie squid, spoons, or bait are all top-notch coho techniques, as are trolling plugs that can be fished without a flasher. Fishing shallower (40 to 60 feet down) first thing in the morning and deeper (75 to 140 feet) during mid-day works well. Depending on the tide, currents and availability of bait, coho can be found from the shipping lanes in the center of Puget Sound and the straits of Juan de Fuca or Georgia, to just outside the surf line or in a few feet of water off sandy points and cobble beaches, making them an excellent target for boat, kayak and shore anglers.

Puget Sound coho salmon fihsing
A large ocean-run coho salmon. Karsten McIntosh Karsten McIntosh

Mooching cutplug herring, vertical jigging dart-style jigs, casting Buzz Bombs or rotator jigs, or even fly fishing with chartreuse, pink or white Clouser minnows or deceiver flies can all be very effective if coho are around. In marine areas 8-1, 10 and 11 unclipped/wild coho may be retained, while they must be released in other local marine areas to protect vulnerable coho returning to rivers such as the Snohomish. Check regulations or refer to the Fish Washington mobile app for details.

For tips on choosing salmon gear that avoids catching sublegal Chinook known as “shakers”, check out our recent blog post and video!

Winter crabbing season opens Oct. 1 in several Puget Sound marine areas

Winter crab seasons have been announced, see our news release for details!

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 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), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and only the portion of 12 (Hood Canal) north of Ayock Point.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Crabbing will not immediately reopen for winter in Marine Areas 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and 11 (Vashon Island) due to uncertainties related to the amount of state share estimated to be taken in the summer recreational fishery. Managers will re-evaluate the harvest estimates from Marine Areas 10 and 11 after the Catch Record Card (CRC) reporting period closes and all data is entered to determine if enough quota remains to allow a winter fishery.

More information is available on our crab seasons webpage.

Two young children with life jackets stand next to full crab pot on a boat.
Successful crabbers. David Whitmer

Perch and panfish in Lake Washington and other local lakes

As water temperatures cool down, the trout action picks back up and anglers still have more than a month to participate in the WDFW Trout Derby. Check out our recent blog post for fall trout fishing ideas around Washington!

Yellow perch is one of several “panfish” species that are very popular for anglers to easily catch across the state, they’re a great “family fishing activity” and they are outstanding eating quality

One of the better locations to chase these feisty fish is Lake Washington, which lies directly in the backyard of the Seattle skyline. Learn more in this blog post.

Yellow perch are a very stable population in the vast lake that covers nearly 22,000 acres and stretches 20 miles from Kenmore on the northern tip to Renton in the southeastern most section. What make these fish even more appealing is the fact they’re available to catch year-round with late summer through early fall being the best period.

Halibut public meeting

WDFW is hosting a follow-up virtual public meeting on Oct. 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., to discuss the season structure and proposed dates for the 2023 sport halibut fishing season.

You can find out more information from the first meeting on Aug. 9 and a link to the upcoming Zoom meeting at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/halibut.

Voluntary Trip Reports for salmon anglers

Attention salmon anglers: you can help improve data collection and provide critical information to maintain fishing opportunities by submitting a Voluntary Trip Report! Anglers can download a paper copy on our webpage, or submit a VTR onlineMore info and frequently asked questions are available on our voluntary trip reporting page.

In addition to test fishing and dockside creel sampling, WDFW uses Voluntary Trip Reports (VTRs) to estimate how many wild and hatchery Chinook and coho salmon are caught by anglers in marine areas, and how many of those are of legal size for retention.

Hunting opportunities and news

For an overview of hunting in Washington and how to get started, visit our Hunt Washington blog post!

Fall hunting seasons continue in October

Happy fall! Hunting is a vital way of life for many people in Washington, and it contributes to important statewide conservation efforts. There are a variety of hunting opportunities for seasoned and first-time hunters alike. Check out the resources in our new Hunt Washington blog post to learn the steps every hunter must take before heading afield, and how to report your harvest after a successful hunt.

Many modern firearm seasons open in October, see our webpage or the Big Game hunting regulations for details. 

Forest grouse and Western Washington pheasant hunting is now open, and migratory waterfowl general seasons will open. Oct 15. See the Game Bird and Small Game regulations for details. 

Two hunters carry guns through a field.
Mark Peaslee

If you haven't already, make sure you check out this year's hunting prospects; these popular reports provide an in-depth look at what field conditions should look like this year as well as tips from our local biologists.

Hunters are responsible for educating themselves on the proper care and handling of game meat in order to protect themselves and their families from food-borne illnesses. We have tips on wild game field dressing, processing/butchering, and safe cooking on our food safety webpage.

We hope that you have a safe and enjoyable hunting experience, and if you’re successful, that you enjoy the results of your harvest.

Head to myWDFW.com for info on hunting, angling, and more

WDFW has rolled out a promotional website for all things hunting, angling, foraging, recreating, and more. At myWDFW.com, you’ll find informative how-to articles on the season’s major fishing and hunting opportunities, as well as a portal to online license sales and a regular update on WDFW’s latest Life Outdoors articles.

Each quarter, new fishing and hunting highlights are posted to help you get ready and take part in Washington’s current and upcoming opportunities. Agency staff cover topics ranging from shellfish gathering and turkey hunting to the Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Fishery Program and from big-game scouting and hunting throughout the year to trout fishing with the whole family. Dedicated to current agency promotions, outdoor recreation information, and educational content, myWDFW.com preps you to meet with success in the field and on the water.

Black bear hunting continues

Washington has an estimated 20,000 black bears, and hunters take to the woods and mountains each year in search of bears. Especially when they’ve been feeding on berries, fall black bears are renowned for the quality of their meat as well as for fat that is used in cooking and baking. Fall black bear seasons run through Nov. 15 in most Game Management Units (GMUs). GMUs 157, 490, and 522 are closed to fall bear hunting. A valid Big Game License and black bear transport tag are required. Hunters may purchase a maximum of two black bear tags. Bait or hounds are not allowed for bear hunting in Washington.

A large black bear forages in an forest opening.
WDFW

Hunters are strongly urged to not shoot a female bear with cubs. During the fall females may be accompanied by cubs (weighing 30-50 lbs) which tend to lag behind when traveling, so please observe and be patient before shooting.

Grizzly bears are present in northeast Washington and are occasionally documented in other areas near the Canadian border. A mandatory bear identification test is required in some GMUs. Learn more at: wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/bear-identification-testing

National Hunting and Fishing Day was on September 24

Since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of September to recognize generations of sports people for their contributions to the conservation of our nation’s rich sporting heritage and natural resources. One of the core goals of NHFD is to recruit new hunters and anglers by increasing awareness of the connections between conservation and fishing/hunting.

This year, WDFW hosted an online celebration using Instagram, YouTube, and blog posts to showcase work of WDFW and partners to foster ethical hunting and fishing, and to promote diverse hunting and fishing opportunities in Washington for new hunters, anglers, and shellfish harvesters.

Sept. 24 was also National Public Lands day.

Wildlife watching and recreation

Headquarters Unit of Skagit Wildlife Area reopened

Great blue heron at Skagit Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit in March 2022
A great blue heron at the Skagit Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit.

The Headquarters Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area reopened to the public on Sept. 26 after being closed through August and most of September.

Wildlife Area users will also notice that vegetation was removed along portions of the dike system. This was in preparation for a larger project that is scheduled to occur in 2023 to raise and widen the dikes in order to meet current design standards. The dike currently overtops during large storm events.

The future dike footprint and required buffer will include those areas cleared of vegetation. WDFW chose to remove the vegetation during the closure this summer to reduce disturbance to nesting birds in the spring and summer of 2023. Debris left on site from clearing in 2022 will be removed during construction in 2023.

In accordance with permit requirements, disturbance of the estuarine areas at the Headquarters Unit was kept to a minimum. WDFW expects little impact to fish and wildlife species using the estuary.

Scheduled work for 2023 also includes improving the boat launch and parking area at the Headquarters Unit, which can be impacted during low and very high tides.

WDFW to use drone to survey public lands in Snohomish River estuary

Scientists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will use a drone to survey habitat conditions on Snohomish County and WDFW lands in the Snohomish River estuary beginning Oct. 3 through Oct.14.

Drone flights, which may occur daily, weather permitting, will collect photos and video of completed and planned habitat restoration projects to inform planning and analysis of changes over time.

“The data and visuals obtained from these flights will support a comprehensive view of restoration in the Snohomish estuary as well as public outreach and communications,” said Lindsey Desmul, WDFW Habitat Biologist. “Flights will take place before waterfowl hunting season begins on Oct. 15.”

Fall mushroom gathering
Successful chanterelle mushroom hunters. Milana Michalek Milana Michalek

WDFW’s flight plan has been approved by Snohomish County and visuals will be shared with the county’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. WDFW and county officials will not close wildlife area units or county lands to complete this survey work.

More information is available in our news release.

Get to know wild edibles in your backyard and beyond

October is an excellent month for foraging, particularly for chanterelles and other wild mushrooms. We here WDFW wanted to introduce some foraging opportunities that might be just outside your door or just a bit beyond. Whether you are out fishing, hunting, or just taking a hike, there are a number of wild edibles that present themselves in the woods and even your own backyard that can be brought into the kitchen.

In our new blog post you’ll find a starting point for working with some of the more common edibles so that you can introduce them to your dinner table and maybe help out a little on the grocery bill. Some of the edibles here are already appearing while others can show up later in the spring.

10-year strategy for managing recreation on WDFW-managed lands

Cover of 10-year recreation strategy for WDFW-managed lands

The new strategy was signed and officially adopted by the Department last month. This work positions WDFW to be proactive and visionary in how we manage recreation on WDFW Wildlife Areas and other lands consistent with our conservation mission and the integrated and inclusive approach laid out in our 25-Year Strategic Plan.

As underscored in a new study by state agencies and Earth Economics, WDFW-managed lands provide recreation opportunities for the public in the context of our commitment to conservation of natural, cultural and tribal resources.

Read more about WDFW lands in our latest Director’s Bulletin.

We’re best known for and remain deeply committed to hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. We also welcome other diverse activities including boating, hiking, biking, climbing, and motorized recreation. These uses have dramatically increased in recent years, necessitating increased planning and investment in their management to protect precious habitat and resources, continue offering quality hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, and welcome people with diverse backgrounds to enjoy the lands we manage on their behalf.

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

Feeding wildlife

Many well-meaning Washington residents in urban and suburban areas enjoy feeding deer in their yards. Although some people see this type of feeding as helping these animals, it can hurt them and potentially cause illness and death for the animal. View this brochure to help us keep wildlife wild by following more tips.

Recreate Responsibly logo

Recreate Responsibly

As the weather warms up and more folks head outdoors for spring-time activities, it is wise to #RecreateResponsibly for potential hazards and dangers.

Here are more tips on staying safe right now:

Plan ahead

  • Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be home. Travel with a buddy when possible.
  • Always carry survival gear with you. The 10 Essentials include clothing, shelter, and food in case you must spend the night outside.
  • Have a reliable map and compass skills to traverse snow-covered trails. These can be challenging to follow, particularly in backcountry areas.
  • While electronic locators and communication can be helpful, they cannot be always be relied upon while in the backcountry.

When sharing your photos on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #LifeOutdoorsWA!

Conserving species and habitats

Looking for more info on wildlife conservation and species management around Washington? Check out our Bi-Weekly Wildlife Program reports on this webpage.

Wild Washington Live!

With school back in swing, now is the perfect time to check out our new 3rd grade lesson bundle, “State of Salmon.” This Next Generation Science Standards encourage students to put on their scientist, engineer, and social scientist caps while they explore salmonid species and discover how WDFW raises healthy salmon in hatcheries. This lesson bundle pairs excellent with new and existing Salmon in the Classroom programs.

Check it out today!

Habitat at Home: Biodiversity in our community

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

Bats in a hibernacula
Townsend’s big-eared bats in a hibernaculum in Eastern Washington. 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.

For more on backyard habitats, also see our recent blog post, Small Spaces Also Provide Essential Wildlife Habitat

Estuaries week was September 17-24

Washington is home to nearly 2,700 miles of coastline and estuaries, which are an important part of our culture and our natural heritage. Along the coast, estuaries are centers of activity! This is where freshwater rivers meet the saltwater of the ocean, providing rich food resources and creating the perfect place to support a wide diversity of plants and animals. Estuaries are also often a popular place to build our communities due to their importance as transportation hubs and because they are locations of great beauty.

Learn more about the importance of estuaries, including Puget Sound, in this blog post.

Black bear outreach door hanger flier

Why can’t more black bears be relocated following conflicts?

Recent incidents involving black bears have resulted in questions about bear conflict management. We take your concerns seriously. Decisions to lethally remove wildlife are never easy and are typically made through close coordination between WDFW biologists, wildlife conflict specialists, law enforcement officers, and other experts. Learn more in this blog post.

Unfortunately, once bears know about a non-natural food source or are fed by humans, they keep coming back to that place. These bears can lose their fear of people, creating a threat of injury to humans. In certain instances, WDFW may capture and relocate younger bears taking advantage of human-provided food sources. The Department may use Karelian bear dogs and other methods of hazing to discourage further human interactions. However, if an adult bear is habituated to non-natural food sources, relocation is less successful and therefore may not be appropriate.

European green crab updates

To report sightings or European green crabs (please take pictures to verify!) or obtain crab identification resources, please visit wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab. Or sign up for our European Green Crab Management Updates email list.

European green crab identification graphic, 2022

WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species staff, Native American tribes, shellfish growers, and other partners continue working to reduce populations of invasive European green crabs to below levels harmful to environmental, economic, and cultural resources. See our blog post for September updates.

European green crabs are shore crabs and 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 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.

While infestations are present at locations along the coast as well as in Lummi Bay in Whatcom County and Sooke Basin on southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, European green crab numbers remain low across other areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, and Bellingham and Padilla bays. They were first detected in Hood Canal in 2022.

European green crabs have not been confirmed in the Salish Sea south of northern Hood Canal and Marrowstone Island in Admiralty Inlet. Early-detection monitoring continues across central and south Puget Sound.

Event calendar

Types of events

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

Meet your Regional Director - Brendan Brokes

Brendon Brokes, Region Four Director

Brendan Brokes, North Puget Sound Region Director (Region 4), holds a master's degree in fisheries science from Oregon State University and has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1987. He served as the Habitat Program Manager in this region since 2015, after filling a decade-long role as the Assistant Regional Habitat Program Manager.

Before arriving at WDFW in 2001, Brokes worked at Mount Rainier National Park as a researcher and biological technician in aquatic ecology. He also worked with the National Marine Fisheries Service monitoring foreign commercial fisheries compliance.