With more than 1,000 lakes containing bass statewide and some outstanding river fishing opportunities, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are plentiful in Washington waters. Plus you don’t have to own a boat to catch bass – some of the state’s best fishing can be done from docks or along the shoreline. Our fourth-annual “Bass Week” will take place July 12-16, when we’ll highlight some of the best bass waters in Washington, provide bass fishing tips, and answer your questions on all things bass.
Help fish beat the heat
The historic Pacific Northwest heat wave may be over for now, but the summer weather continues, and fish need our help staying cool as air and water temperatures remain high. Fishing in the early morning, when air and water temperatures are cooler, can help reduce stress on fish -- and on the fisher! High lakes are also a great option this time of year thanks to cooler temperatures at higher elevations.
If you fish the same areas every year, try to be aware of water levels and temperatures – if the water seems especially low, or hotter than usual, maybe give fish a break by coming back another time.
If you're fishing an area where you may have to catch and release, it's critical to take steps to minimize the impact. Using appropriate gear and landing the fish quickly can help, as can making sure not to remove the fish from the water once it's reeled in. Quickly remove hooks, or cut the line if the hook is especially deep. You can also help the fish revive by pointing it into a slow current, and letting it swim out of your hands whenever possible.
Columbia River salmon and steelhead
Sockeye fishing is scheduled to remain open throughout July on much of the lower Columbia River from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. Anglers can keep up to one adult hatchery sockeye and one adult hatchery steelhead as part of the daily limit.
July can provide decent fishing for hatchery steelhead in southwest Washington rivers. Hatchery steelhead are released in the Elochoman, Cowlitz, South Fork Toutle, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal, and Klickitat rivers.
Trout fishing is slowing down a bit, but spots like Mineral and Riffe are doing well. We stocked Lake Sacajawea (Cowlitz County) and Long Lake (Lewis County) with brown trout in June. If you prefer rainbow trout, we stocked Goose Lake and Takhlakh lakes in Skamania County last month. Lake Merwin in Cowlitz County was also stocked with more than 1,200 jumbo trout in early June.
Tiger muskies are doing well in both Merwin Reservoir and Mayfield Lake. Crappie fishing is fair in Silver Lake, as is bass fishing. Some bass are also being caught in both Rowland and Horsethief lakes. Yellow perch are good in Lacamas along with some crappie.
Channel catfish and walleye are good above and below John Day Dam.
Catch a fish – win a prize
The annual trout derby continues through Oct. 31. Specially tagged trout are stocked in more than 100 lakes across Washington with over 1,000 prizes up for grabs valued at more than $38,000. The derby is open to anyone with a valid fishing license; no entrance fee or registration required. Just catch a tagged trout at a participating lake and you win!
Get paid to fish
The Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward fishery, which pays anglers $5-$8 for each qualifying fish, continues until the end of September.
This program targets large northern pikeminnow, the primary piscine predator of juvenile salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia and Snake river systems. Tagged pikeminnow are worth $500 each, and in 2019, the top angler earned more than $50,000 – just from fishing!
The goal of the program is not to eradicate pikeminnow, but to harvest 10 to 20 percent of the larger fish that might prey on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species.
To see where anglers have been having luck reeling in pikeminnow, visit WDFW’s website for weekly updates. For more information on the program and helpful tips on how to catch pikeminnow, visit the program webpage.
Buy your tickets by July 15 for raffle permit hunts
Expand your hunting opportunities by entering for a chance to win a coveted raffle hunt. Proceeds from the sale of single-species raffle tickets will be used for the management and benefit of that species. Proceeds from the sale of multiple-species raffle tickets will be used for general game management. There is no limit on the number of tickets a person may purchase.
Raffle tickets are not available to purchase online or over the phone. Washington gambling restrictions prohibit wire sales. You can purchase tickets at any authorized license dealer.
Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Goat: $6/ticket
Bighorn Sheep: $11.50/ticket
Multi-species: $17/ticket for three-species raffles, $22.50/ticket for four-species raffles
Due to COVID-19, WDFW has cancelled all in-person hunter education classes until further notice. However, students 9 years of age and older can complete the online course for certification. Students 8 years of age and younger can still complete the online course, however they are required to complete an in-person field skills evaluation prior to certification.
Hunter Education Deferral: 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. More information is available on the Hunter Education Deferral webpage.
With wildfire season already underway, it is important for outdoor recreationists to do their part to prevent wildfires. Fireworks are prohibited year-round on all WDFW-managed wildlife and water access areas. In addition to complying with the year-round fireworks ban, recreationists in Western Washington can help prevent fires by following these practices:
Cook camp meals on small camp stoves and light your camp with battery-operated lanterns.
If you must have a campfire, keep it small, in the open away from trees, preferably within a metal or stone ring, and put it out cold with water rather than letting it slowly die out through the night.
Don’t toss cigarettes or other smoking materials outside.
Keep motor vehicles off vegetation and don’t travel off-road.
Avoid using chainsaws or other equipment that can emit sparks.
Strawberries, green onions, and salad greens are just a few of the delicious vegetable garden staples that have native alternatives to benefit both you and wildlife!
Growing native edible plants is ideal for those who:
Enjoy eating food
Like saving money, water, and time
Want to contribute to wildlife conservation
Native plants are a great choice for many reasons. First, they are adapted to the natural rainfall, climate, and soil of the area and as a result tend to be very low maintenance. This means you won’t have to spend as much time and money on watering and caring for your garden.
Additionally, these plants have co-evolved with native wildlife species and are best suited for supporting these species. One drawback of planting non-native plants is that they often don’t support insect species during all life stages. Studies have shown that caterpillar and bird abundance and overall biodiversity are significantly higher in urban gardens that are filled with native plants compared to gardens without native plants. By using native plants, you are helping to support a more robust insect population, which is critical to pollination and the support of many other wildlife species such as birds.
Keep in mind that some species will require you to plant more than one for them to reproduce via pollination. Research your plants ahead of time to gain a better understanding of what will work best for you. Most native plants will come back year after year with no need to replant. If you decide to grow a native edible garden this year, show us how you did! Use the hashtag #habitatathome to share your photos with us on social media.
Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), and wild or blue-leaved strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) are three great native alternatives to traditional strawberries. In fact, the coastal strawberry is one of two varieties that were hybridized to create the modern supermarket strawberry. Coastal and wild strawberries are drought tolerant and prefer full sun and well-drained soils. Woodland strawberries do great in semi-shade under trees and shrubs. If you’d like to make full use of the plant, add the young leaves to salads and soups!
The nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is a delicious and stunning alternative to green onions. The entire plant is edible (raw or cooked), including the flowers! It’s a drought-tolerant plant often found in prairies and rocky bluffs. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It blooms in early summer, but you can harvest it for food year-round, though it will die back in the winter. The nodding onion is equally as beautiful as it is delicious and can be used ornamentally in your yard.
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is an easy-going plant that can be the main ingredient in your salads. It is thin and crunchy and has a mild sweetness to it. Like other lettuce plants, it is shade tolerant and will become bitter in taste if exposed to too much direct sunlight. It’s great eaten raw or cooked like spinach, and the whole plant is edible!
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”.
Kessina Lee, the Southwest Regional Director (Region 5), joined WDFW in 2018. In her role as the Director’s representative in the region, Kessina works in close coordination with each program, as well as in collaboration with federal, Tribal, and local partners on implementing the WDFW mission of protecting native fish and wildlife, and providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing opportunities for Washingtonians.
Prior to coming to WDFW, Kessina worked as the statewide aquaculture specialist for the Washington Department of Ecology. Before arriving at Ecology, Kessina was a Sea Grant policy fellow working on ocean and coastal issues with the Oregon Legislature’s Coastal Caucus and for the office of Oregon Governor Kate Brown. She also spent nearly a decade studying marine mammal strandings in the Pacific Northwest, as well as interactions between fish and sea lions on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Kessina holds bachelor's and master’s degrees in biology from Portland State University and has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 1989. In her free time, Kessina enjoys gardening, traveling, kayaking, and hiking with her German shorthaired pointer.