Discover North Puget Sound

Snow geese in agricultural field

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

Woman fishing with a fly rod from the shoreline.
Laura Lothrop

Skagit River steelhead

The Skagit River from the Dalles Bridge in the town of Concrete to the Cascade River in Marblemount is open for steelhead fishing through April 13. Wild steelhead must be released immediately and may not be removed from the water. Anglers can keep up to two hatchery steelhead. For more details, read the recent fishing rule change

Lowland lakes

As spring weather arrives, lowland waters are warming and will provide good fishing for bass (smallmouth and largemouth), panfish (yellow perch, pumpkinseed, rock bass, bluegill), and catfish (channel and brown bullhead). Angle, Meridian, Stevens, Samish, and Cavanaugh lakes should be prime fishing spots for spring kokanee.

Get your 2021-22 fishing license

Get ready for a new season of outdoor adventures! The new fishing license year begins April 1. Buy your license online or at a WDFW license dealer near you. 

Anglers age 15 and older are required to have a valid 2021-22 fishing license to fish in Washington state waters. The current Fish Washington rule pamphlet remains valid through June 30. 

2021 trout derby

The trout season shifts into high gear April 24, when several hundred lowland lakes throughout the state open for fishing. The annual trout derby kicks off the same day, with thousands of dollars in prizes available to anglers in the form of tagged fish stocked in lakes across Washington.

The derby is open to anyone with a valid fishing license; no entrance fee or registration required. Just catch a tagged trout anytime between April 24 and Oct. 31 and you win!

Find a lowland lake near you, and be sure to check the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for statewide regulations and to see which lakes open April 24.

Many other lakes statewide are open year-round, and regularly stocked with catchable rainbow trout and other species, including in the lead-up to opening day. See what lakes have been recently planted at our stocking report, and see this year's statewide trout and kokanee stocking plan for more information about when lakes in your area might be stocked.

Prepare for the boating season

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program wants boaters to be prepared for the upcoming season by taking a safety education course. In Washington state, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower engine or greater must be certified and carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Boaters have three options to get certified: an instructor-led course; an online self-study; or a home study and equivalency exam for boaters who already have a lot of boating experience. More information about courses and the boater education card can be found at www.boatered.org

Hunting tips and news

Spring wild turkey hunting

The spring wild turkey season runs April 15 through May 31 statewide. A youth hunt for ages 15 and younger is April 3-4. For more information on Washington’s turkey season, check out the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet.

Take hunter education online

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, WDFW is offering an online course for students at least nine years old. As with in-person hunter education classes, successful completion of the course is only the beginning of a hunter’s learning journey. Hunters can find hunter education course information, as well as valuable short video resources to reinforce safety practices for new hunters, on WDFW's website. Experienced hunters who have never taken a hunter education class may also find them valuable.

Prior to purchasing their first Washington state hunting license, all individuals born after Jan. 1, 1972 must show proof that they have completed a hunter education class. Certifications from other states are valid in Washington; just show your hunter education card to the license dealer.

Wildlife watching

Wild bird feeders can go back up - but with caution

A drop in the number of reports of sick or dead birds across Washington and other northwest states means backyard bird feeders can be put up again around April 1, but with caution.

Goldfinches gathered at bird feeder
Doug Kuehn

An outbreak of salmonellosis in pine siskins and other songbirds had WDFW staff asking people with bird feeders and baths to put them away for a few months earlier this winter to discourage wild birds from congregating and potentially passing salmonella bacteria to each other. When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva.

Since WDFW first put out word of the outbreak in early January, reports of sick or dead birds have decreased substantially, but they are still coming in.

“The disease is still circulating, and we could see the numbers jump back up if we ease precautions too quickly,” said WDFW veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield. “If you usually feed birds at multiple feeders, consider putting up only one or two - widely spaced on your property - to start.”

WDFW is still asking for reports to our online reporting tool if you encounter sick or dead birds. The first signs that a bird may have salmonellosis is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. Birds infected with salmonella become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. 

Learn more by reading our blog post, Frequently asked questions on salmonellosis in wild birds

Keep an eye out for gray whales

The annual gray whale migration is under way and whale watchers could have several opportunities in April to spot the large marine mammals. The whales are making their annual journey north from the coast of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, where they spend the summer feeding before heading south again. While most continue on to Alaska, some gray whales linger in the waters of the Pacific Northwest during the spring and summer months, dipping into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and other areas of Puget Sound. The best way to spot a gray whale – from land or sea – is to look for "spouts" of water that can reach 10 to 12 feet in the air when the whales exhale.

Take an online class with Audubon

The Seattle Audubon is offering a variety of online classes this month, ranging from neotropical bird identification tips to container gardening for kitchen and wildlife. See the full list of offerings on the Seattle Audubon website

Join a work party to restore salmon habitat

Every spring, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) hosts work parties as part of their Stream Stewards Program. Volunteers help plant native trees and shrubs, and no previous experience is necessary. Due to COVID-19, the work parties are physically-distanced with guidelines to keep volunteers safe. Check out the full schedule of upcoming work parties on the NSEA website

Coexist with black bears

Black bears are leaving winter dens, some with new cubs in tow, and looking for easy meals. WDFW biologists remind homeowners in bear country to keep garbage secured and pet food indoors, and to remove bird feeders. Learn more about Living with Black Bears on the WDFW website.

Avoid negative wildlife interactions

Smaller mammals like raccoons and skunks can become a nuisance this time of year when they start to nest in places like crawl spaces, under porches, or corners of garages or storage sheds. Learn how to enjoy these wildlife neighbors without problem on WDFW’s website

And with more people getting out into nature, you may inadvertently have a too-close-for-comfort encounter with potentially dangerous wildlife, like bears, coyotes or cougars. Conflicts can be prevented by being alert and aware of surroundings and taking precautions when hiking, picnicking, or camping. Most wild animals want to avoid people, so make noise to alert animals to your presence. Keep a clean picnic spot since food smells attract animals, especially bears. Learn more about bears, cougars, coyotes, and moose on our Living with Wildlife webpages.

Leave wild babies wild

May is a busy month for the birth of baby animals. A reminder that if you run into fawns, baby birds, or other young animals, please leave them be, even if they appear to be orphaned or abandoned. Most animals have a parent foraging or hunting nearby. Read our blog to learn about when not to rescue wildlife.

Learn how to hike safely with your dog

Washington's Recreate Responsibly Coalition is here to help you and your dog get ready for a summer of adventure. On April 28 at 7 p.m., join experts from Washington Trails Association, King County Search Dogs, and Washington State Animal Response Team as they discuss their favorite tools and tricks for raising hiking pups and keeping our furry friends safe on trail.

Hiking with a dog can be a fun experience, but it also adds a new layer of responsibility to your adventures. This webinar will offer tips for choosing dog-friendly trails, how to train your pup on trail etiquette, and what to look out for to help keep your doggo safe outdoors. Our experts have many miles and years of experience training a variety of pup personalities. Plus, we have advice from vets and professional trainers that we are excited to share with you. Sign-up now! 

#RecreateResponsibly            

Here are more tips on staying safe right now in the early spring season: 

 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 have to 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.

Play it safe

  • Hazards, avalanche slopes, and designated safe routes are not marked.
  • Have proper footwear with good traction, micro-spikes, extra clothing, water, and a headlamp.
  • Snow hides hazards like streams. Use your poles to poke snow before stepping on it if you hear water.
  • Stay on the trail, even if it means walking on snow or mud.
  • Turn around instead of crossing steep, snow–covered slopes. A fall could be disastrous.
  • Avoid stepping onto snow cornices as they may collapse under your weight. Assume that snow on the edge of precipices is unstable. Falling into snow moats around trees and near logs or rocks can cause injury. Avoid getting too close.
  • Weather can change quickly, causing hard-to-navigate conditions, including whiteouts or dangerous stream crossings due to rapid snowmelt.
  • Beware of avalanches. Snow is increasingly unstable this time of year and may slide or collapse.
  • Remember, you are responsible for your own safety!

More Resources

Educational activities for families

Looking for fun ways to engage your kids and have fun together as a family? Check out our educational resources for themed lessons and activities you can enjoy together as a family.

Habitat at Home

New Habitat at Home Program

Habitat at Home, formerly known as the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program, is the department's effort to encourage Washingtonians to connect with nature where they live. We hope these resources will help you discover fun and effective ways you can help support wildlife, regardless of your expertise, how much space you have, or where you live.

Girl prepares plants for garden

By creating habitat for wildlife at home, you are helping to offset the acres of habitat that are lost to housing and urban development each year in Washington. Every little bit can help decrease habitat fragmentation, especially in highly urbanized areas. 

Starter kit

Our new Habitat at Home Starter Kit provides an introduction to the basics of gardening for pollinators, selecting native plants, and how to identify common backyard birds. Contact us to request a starter kit. 

Habitat at Home yard sign

If you already provide wildlife habitat at home (food, water, shelter, and space to raise young), you can apply for a Habitat at Home yard sign. We want to learn about your habitat and recognize your efforts to help Washington wildlife. 

Planning your garden

Are you thinking about what to plant in your garden this year? Whether you garden for the beauty of being surrounded by plants or to produce fruits and vegetables, you can help wildlife at the same time! 

Co-planting is a great way to benefit both your garden and pollinators. Consider including an herb garden close to your produce garden to attract pollinators. Include plants that pollinators love, such as thyme, lavender, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Produce such as squash, eggplant, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and other flowering plants may increase in yield because of pollination. 

If you’re looking to specifically help pollinators, look for plants that provide nectar at different times of the year to increase food availability year-round. Plants that flower around April or August and September are especially helpful for pollinators.  

Need help picking out plants? Check out this native plant finder: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/.  

Where to buy native plants

Bird feeder hygiene

Feeders can pose health risks to birds if not maintained correctly and many people don’t realize that like humans, birds are susceptible to diseases, including salmonellosis, mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, avian pox, and more. Proper feeder hygiene is something you’ll need to uphold if you plan on keeping up your feeder up or have bird feeders in the future. 

Use proper feeder food 

Preventing disease at your feeders starts with the type of food you are providing. One way to help keep your feeder clean is to avoid using seed mixes, as it can encourage overcrowding and food waste. Mixes are good at attracting birds that enjoy both large and smaller seeds, but unless both types of birds visit your feeder on a regular basis, the leftover seeds - that often are pushed to the ground - can be a recipe for mold and attracting rats, mice, coyotes, bears, skunks, racoons, and other wildlife. This can lead to wildlife that become habituated to being fed and can pose future problems. For this reason, it is also best to only put out one day’s worth of food in your feeder so that it won’t spoil before it’s eaten. 

Using seeds that have already been hulled can also prevent waste, as hulls will be dropped to the ground anyways when birds are feeding. Start with smaller quantities and add more as needed. If you’d still like to offer a variety of seeds, opt for several bird feeders that are well-spaced from one another that each hold their own type of seed. If using a platform feeder, be sure to clean it daily with new seed put out. These feeders get particularly messy and can pose a greater risk to keeping birds healthy. 

Keep it clean 

Cleaning your feeders is critical to keeping your birds happy and healthy. With the current salmonellosis outbreak, we recommend cleaning feeders daily by first rinsing well with warm, soapy water. Then, soak in a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can spray the surfaces with this solution if that’s easier and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse well with cool water and let dry for at least 10 minutes to air out any fumes. 

If you also provide a birdbath, this cleaning regimen works for that, too. It’s equally important for birds to have access to clean drinking water! Just be sure to either remove or cover the birdbath while it is soaking in bleach to avoid pets, children, or animals from encountering the bleach. 

It’s also important that the areas below and around your feeder be kept free of seed and feces that can create unsanitary conditions. Placing feeders above surfaces that are easy to clean like decks or concrete will make the cleanup much quicker and easier. You can also opt to place a mesh screen or mat beneath feeders. Additionally, you can opt to attract birds that are less messy eaters, like chickadees and nuthatches. 

To learn what seeds attract different birds, check out this Audubon Guide to Birdseed

Share your backyard wildlife photos

We want to see what birds and other wildlife visit your habitat. Share your photos or videos with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category “Wildlife Viewing”. 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Community event
  • Public meeting
  • Key date

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.