Discover North Puget Sound

Starfish on lichen-covered rocks on beach

Staff furloughs

With state revenue hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, WDFW is planning one day of agency-wide furloughs each month through November. While public safety-related needs will remain staffed, most other WDFW services, including customer service, will be unavailable Friday, Aug. 14, Friday, Sept. 4, Friday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Nov. 25. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience. 

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

TeamMillCreek@dfw.wa.gov

Fishing tips and news

Go crabbing in Puget Sound

The Puget Sound summer crab fishing season is underway in several marine areas. For more information on regulations and marine areas, visit the crab fishing webpage

Two young children with life jackets stand next to full crab pot on a boat.
David Whitmer
  • Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), and 9 (Port Gamble and Admiralty Inlet): Open July 2 - Sept. 7, Thursday - Monday.
  • Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 16 - Sept. 28, Thursday-Monday.
  • Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 13 - Sept. 28, Thursday - Monday
  • Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): Open July 12 - Sept. 7. Sunday/Monday only.
  • Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island): Open July 12 - Sept. 7. Sunday/Monday only.
  • Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line projected true east from Ayock Point: Open July 2 - Sept. 7, Thursday-Monday

Reel in a salmon in Puget Sound

Some marine areas in Puget Sound are open for salmon fishing. Check out the Sport Fishing Rules for additional details on salmon fishing opportunities and locations. Both the rules pamphlet and WDFW’s recreational salmon fishing webpage include illustrations of salmon and other species to help identify your catch.

Enjoy late season for spot shrimp

Recreational spot shrimp will reopen for select dates in August. The daily limit is 10 pounds of all species of shrimp, with a maximum of 80 spot shrimp. Only pots with a minimum 1-inch mesh are allowed when keeping spot shrimp. 

Areas opening for recreational spot shrimp harvest include:

  • Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles Harbor, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Aug. 12, 13, and then Aug. 15 and 16. Daylight hours.
  • Marine Area 7 East (northern Rosario Strait, Bellingham Bay, Sucia and Matia islands, Strait of Georgia): Aug. 12, 13, and then Aug. 15 and 16. Daylight hours.
  • Marine Area 7 West (San Juan Channel, Speiden Channel, Stuart and Waldron islands): Aug. 12, 13, and then Aug. 15, 16, and then again Aug. 20, 21, 22, and 23. Daylight hours.
  • Marine Area 9 (Edmonds, Port Townsend Bay, Admiralty Inlet): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Catch a fish, win a prize!

The 2020 Statewide Trout Derby will run through Oct. 31. The free event features more than 100 stocked lakes and over 100 participating businesses offering 1,000+ prizes valued at more than $40,000. For more on how it works, visit the derby webpage

Remember to recreate responsibly and keep a distance of at least six feet between you and other anglers. Avoid crowding on banks, piers, or at boat ramps.

Angler fishes at alpine lake.

Hike up to high lakes

Many trout fisheries are slower with rising water temperatures, but you can still catch trout or kokanee in deeper Puget Sound lowland waters. If you’re up for a hike, high lakes offer additional trout opportunities and provide anglers some of Washington’s most majestic environments. Visit the Fish Washington High Lakes webpage to plan a backcountry adventure.

Fish for kokanee in local lakes

Kokanee are biting for anglers willing to get an early start (sunrise to 10 a.m.). Lakes Cavanaugh, Samish, and Stevens are all good options for stocked kokanee. Anglers should expect to try different combinations of dodgers, lures, and depths to learn what these finicky fish are interested in on a given day. Lake Cavanaugh is also a good spot to fish for cutthroat trout

Catch perch, crappie, or bass from the shore

Perch, crappie, and bass move into shallow waters this time of year. Anglers can catch these fish from many of the public docks, piers, and shoreline areas around Lakes Washington and Sammamish. These species are very abundant in both lakes, and fishing for them from a boat is also highly effective. 

Practice physical distancing for creel reports

Recreational fishery samplers collect catch information at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound. To keep anglers and WDFW staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, please practice physical distancing and give others at least 6 feet of space as you share information about your catch. 

Stop at aquatic invasive species check stations

If you will be taking your boat out for the weekend, don’t forget to stop if you pass a boat check station. Quagga and zebra mussels, milfoil, and other aquatic invasive species can “hitchhike” from one water body to another on your boat if you don’t clean, drain, and dry it and the gear in it every time after leaving the water.

Properly decontaminating boats can prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental damage by organisms that invade ecosystems and negatively impact water quality, power and irrigation systems, native wildlife, and recreation opportunities. 

Hunting tips and news

Black bear season starts Aug. 1

little black bear in a field

General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the Puget Sound Zone as shown on page 68 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet. Hunters are allowed to harvest two bear during the general season. All hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

Bear hunters in Game Management Units (GMUs) 418 and 426 of the North Cascades Zone are reminded that it’s possible to encounter some protected grizzly bears, so species identification is critical. Complete the bear identification test if hunting in those and other Eastern Washington units. 

Check your raffle results

Eager to find out if you’ve been selected for one of Washington’s coveted raffle hunts? The department will notify winners and post the results online by mid August.  

2020-2021 regulations now available for migratory waterfowl and upland game 

Check out the new 2020-2021 regulation pamphlet that details rules for migratory waterfowl and upland game.

Take your hunter education course online

It’s a good time to take hunter education classes to get ready for fall hunting seasons. During the COVID-19 restrictions, you may take the online hunter education course and a Virtual Field Day to replace the in-person Field Skills Evaluation. This course takes approximately 10 hours to complete, but students can do it in multiple sittings. You can register for and complete the online hunter education course at https://www.hunter-ed.com/washington/. Next, register for and complete the online Virtual Field Day course at https://www.huntercourse.com/virtualfieldday/

You may also qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime Hunter Education Deferral, which allows a one year deferral for individuals new to hunting who are accompanied by an experienced hunter. 

For assistance, email huntered@dfw.wa.gov or call 360-902-8111.

Enjoying nature close to home

Recreate Responsibly

#RecreateResponsibly to protect yourself, others, and the outdoors. Review the guidelines below before heading out on your outdoor adventure! 

Recreate Responsibly logo
  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don't go. If it's crowded, have a back up plan (or two). 
  • Explore locally. Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit.
  • Plan ahead. Bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
  • Leave no trace. Respect public lands and waters, as well as native and local communities. Take all your garbage with you.
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained. 
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 

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.

Avoid negative wildlife encounters

With more people getting out into nature, you may inadvertently have a too-close-for-comfort encounter with potentially dangerous wildlife, like moose with calves, 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 area since food smells attract animals, especially bears. Learn more about bears, cougars, coyotes, and moose on our Living with wildlife webpages.

Help prevent wildfires

Effective July 1, WDFW is restricting campfires and other activities on department-managed lands in Eastern Washington to help reduce the risk of fire on state wildlife areas and water access areas. The threat of wildfires and smoke is even greater this year given the compromised health of those with the COVID-19 virus. 

A temporary restriction on firearm use also started July 1 on WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington. Target shooting and other gun use will be prohibited, but discharge of a firearm for legal hunting will still be allowed.

Overall, the emergency order that imposes restrictions east of the Cascades prohibits:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle. 
  • The discharge of firearms for target-shooting or other purposes by anyone not engaged in lawful hunting.
  • Welding and operating chainsaws, including the use of an acetylene torch or other open flame.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Keep a lookout for invasive Asian giant hornets

There is a new pest in Washington – the Asian giant hornet. Discovered last year near Bellingham, it's not yet known how widely the hornet has spread. Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest hornet and attack most insects but prefer honeybees and can kill entire hives. They also pose a human threat as their venom is more toxic than any native bee or wasp. Report any sightings of the Asian giant hornet to the Washington State Department of Agriculture at agr.wa.gov/hornets. Do NOT approach these insects as they can sting through normal clothing.

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.

Recreation and habitat projects

Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration Project

After 10 years of collaboration, we are excited to celebrate an important milestone for the Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration Project. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently transitioned ownership and operations of the project’s infrastructure to our partners at the Skagit County Consolidated Dike, Drainage, and Irrigation Improvement District #22 (District).

The infrastructure consists of 5,800 feet of marine dike, tide gates, a 7-acre drainage storage pond, and a pump station.

View of restored estuary at Fir Island Farm Reserve

10 years of partnership

For the last 10 years, the District and WDFW have worked closely together to make the Fir Island Farm Estuary Restoration Project a success in providing neighboring farms, homes, and roads with reliable drainage and protection from tides, storm surge, and effects of climate change.

As subject matter experts on drainage and flood protection, the District provided critical information on design criteria and operations requirements for the project’s infrastructure. WDFW staff worked with District commissioners throughout the project to incorporate their input.

The department extends our sincere appreciation to the District for their willingness to share knowledge and expertise, and work with us towards a common goal.

Chinook salmon recovery in the Skagit

The Skagit River System Cooperative (a tribal cooperative) and WDFW collaboratively authored the Skagit Chinook Recovery Plan, which identifies Skagit estuary habitat as a bottleneck to salmon recovery and calls for approximately 2,700 acres of estuary restoration.

The Fir Island Farm Reserve was identified as an important area to restore habitat for salmon because it was historically part of the estuary, which provided critical rearing habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon.

131 acres of tidal marsh restored

The Fir Island Farm Reserve is tucked between the north and south forks of the Skagit River at the edge of a vast agricultural landscape. Freshwater from the Skagit River and saltwater from Puget Sound come together and form channels that meander through mudflats and marsh. Until 2016, the entire Reserve was managed agricultural fields that were diked and drained.

Project construction was completed in 2016, which restored 131 acres of estuary habitat to benefit salmon, maintained flood protection and drainage for neighbors, and provided public access to a unique ecological area.

Watch the video below to see the first tide in 100 years come back onto the site in 2016.

Now, the restored marsh provides seeds, shoots, bugs, and worms that feed juvenile salmon, forage fish, waterfowl, and shorebirds, which in turn provide food for endangered southern resident killer whales, provide recreational opportunities and food for people, and support tribal culture.

See a bird’s eye view of restored estuary at the Fir Island Farm Reserve in the video below.

Being a good neighbor

The Skagit River delta is home to rich soils and a thriving agricultural landscape where farms produce over 80 commercial crops. These crops rely on drainage and flood protection. Estuary restoration often requires moving infrastructure (setting back dikes, for example), which can impact agricultural drainage.

To off-set this impact and be a responsible partner with the farming community, the project included construction of a pump station, drainage storage pond, and tidegates to maintain drainage for neighboring farms. In addition, the setback dike was designed to account for future coastal flooding and the impacts of sea level rise.

 

New pump station and outlet at the Fir Island Farm estuary restoration site in Skagit County.

Monitoring the effects

A monitoring and adaptive management plan outlined ecological, drainage, and flood protection measures the project needed to meet.

Drainage and flood protection
We monitored the height of the setback dike, and water height and salinity in neighboring farm fields. Monitoring data from 2016 through 2019 showed the infrastructure performs as expected.

Ecological
Monitoring data showed the site is supporting thousands of juvenile salmon, and invasive cattail plants are under control. We also learned that a hard soil layer underneath the site may cause a delay for channels to develop and native vegetation to take hold. This information is valuable so we can adaptively manage this site and apply lessons learned for future projects.

 

Aerial photo 3 years post restoration.

Plan your visit

The Fir Island Farm Reserve attracts thousands of snow geese, swans, ducks, and shorebirds in the fall through early spring. Managed agricultural fields provide a winter feeding and resting area for snow geese and other waterfowl next to the Skagit Bay estuary.

A short trail along the dike offers stunning views of Skagit Bay and abundant opportunities for shorebird and waterfowl watching. Local birders have reported 80 distinct species at the Fir Island Farm Reserve this spring.

 

The Fir Island Farms Reserve is a fantastic birding destination.

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Public meeting