Discover North Puget Sound

Starfish on lichen-covered rocks on beach

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

Director: Brendan Brokes

16018 Mill Creek Boulevard
Mill Creek, WA 98012-1541

Telephone: 425-775-1311

Fax: 425-338-1066

Fish Washington this January

Angler holds up squid caught from a pier

Jig for squid this winter

Winter is a great time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Squid fishing is a fun group activity that is easy to learn and doesn’t require a boat. Almost any style of rod and reel will work – think “light and long” because it’s best to have something that is sensitive to slight pulling. Successful squidders use anything from 6 to 20-pound line but the best chances of success come with the lighter line. Almost all squid lures are either luminous or having something embedded in them to reflect light to attract the attention of squid. Visit our squid fishing webpage for more information on how to catch and cook squid.

Late-season recreational crab fishing open through Jan. 31

Marine areas open to recreational crab fishing include:

Setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset. 

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches, and six Tanner crab of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches. Additional information is available on our crab fishing webpage

Chinook salmon fishing opens Jan. 1 in select marine areas

Two marine areas are opening to chinook salmon fishing Jan. 1, while marine areas 7, 8-1, 8-2, and 9 will open Feb. 1. 

  • Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): Opens Jan. 1; Minimum size of 22 inches, with a daily limit of one fish. Anglers must release all wild chinook.
  • Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island): Opens Jan. 1; Minimum size of 22 inches, with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all wild chinook.

Check the 2019-2020 sport fishing rules pamphlet for more details on salmon fishing. 

Fish for rainbow trout with friends and family

We stocked lakes around the state with catchable-size trout for anglers this fall and winter. For up-to-date fish stocking information, anglers can check the weekly catchable trout stocking report. Some of the lakes recently stocked in North Puget Sound include:

  • Skagit County: Clear Lake
  • Whatcom County: Padden Lake 
  • Snohomish County: Twin Lakes, Lake Goodwin, and Lake Roesiger

Visit us at the Washington Sportsmen's Show, Jan. 23-27

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff will have multiple booths at the Washington Sportsmen's Show in Puyallup. Stop by to ask us questions or just say hello! Visit the show's website for more details. 

January hunting tips and news

Spring bear permit applications available Jan. 2

The application period for special spring bear hunting permits begins Jan. 2 and runs through Feb. 28. More information is available on the spring black bear special permit webpage.  

Mandatory hunter reporting by Jan. 31

Hunting retriever carries back a duck in its mouth
Richard Eltrich

Hunters are required to report their hunting activity by Jan. 31 for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, cougar, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and turkey tag they purchased last year. Those who do not meet the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before they can buy another license. Those who report by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for a special incentive permit. Hunters can file their reports by calling 877-945-3492, or online. See the Big Game Hunting Pamphlet for more information. 

Last month for waterfowl hunting

Waterfowl hunters have through Jan. 26 to hunt ducks and geese. Winter weather conditions typically drive birds inland, leading to increased periods of flight and higher success rates. Hunters can find some great sites to hunt ducks and geese through WDFW's Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program, which includes properties in Whatcom, Skagit, and north Snohomish counties. Other waterfowl hunting opportunities (including reservation only hunts) are also available. Hunters should check the private lands access webpage for more information. 

January wildlife viewing

First Day Hikes

Washington State Parks invites the public to start the new year off with a free, guided 'First Day Hike' on Jan. 1 at more than three dozen state parks, including Dash Point State Park (Pierce Co.), Moran State Park (San Juan Co.), Rockport State Park (Skagit Co.), and Wallace Falls State Park (Snohomish Co.). Explore the full list of Puget Sound and Northwest Washington First Day Hikes

Bald eagle perched in a tree
Sandee Waddoups

Watch bald eagles around the Skagit River

Visit the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center near Rockport this month! While some bald eagles live in the area year round, the majority of those found along the upper Skagit River during winter months come from Alaska, where carcasses of spawned chum salmon provide a feast for the birds. The interpretive center is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through January. They offer guided hikes and informative presentations to help visitors enjoy the beauty of these majestic birds. 

Snow geese are in the region for winter

About 80,000 snow geese winter in western Washington each year, and many will be in the area this month. Most snow geese congregate in the Skagit Valley, and can be found in the area from mid-October through early May. A great place to view the birds is at the Fir Island Farm Reserve Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area.

Enjoy a winter hike in Bellingham

The Sehome Hill Arboretum in Bellingham provides 180 acres of forested area supporting a wide variety of native plants and trees. Hikers can enjoy 5.5 miles of gravel trails through wooded terrain and climb an 80-foot observation tower for a bird's eye view of the greater Bellingham area and bay. Wildlife watchers have a chance to see black-tailed deer, coyotes, raccoons, black-headed grosbeaks, northern flicker, red-breasted sapsuckers, and pileated woodpeckers. 

Recreation and habitat projects

250 acres of tidal marsh habitat restored to benefit chinook salmon and other wildlife

The Leque Island Estuary Restoration Project removed over 2.4 miles of levee to restore 250 acres of tidal marsh habitat (estuary) in the Stillaguamish River watershed where 85% of historic tidal marsh has been displaced. The time lapse video below shows tidal water coming onto dry land for the first time in 140 years last month.  

Estuaries are important for juvenile chinook salmon as they transition from fresh to salt water, as well as shorebirds, waterfowl, and lots of other species in the area. The southern resident killer whales in Puget Sound rely on chinook salmon as their main food source, so this project also supports orca recovery.

People will benefit from this habitat restoration project, too! Crews constructed a 0.7-mile wave protection berm to protect the City of Stanwood from high tides and flooding. This berm is also an elevated walking trail so people can continue to enjoy the scenic area. A new small boat launch allows hand-carry boats to put in on the west side of the project area for paddling access in the new tidal channels. WDFW is also partnering with the City of Stanwood to build a larger boat launch for motorized boats slightly upriver near the Hamilton Smokestack in 2020.

Read our recent blog post to learn more about the project. 

Meet your Regional Director: Brendan Brokes

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.

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