Discover Southwest Washington

Klickitat river seen through the trees

Customer service staff in the Ridgefield Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Counties served: Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania, Wahkiakum

Director: Rian Sallee 

5525 S 11th Street
Ridgefield, WA 98642


Telephone: 360-696-6211

Fax: 360-906-6776

Fishing tips and news

Free Fishing Weekend

trout fishing opening day lowland lakes
Edlin Nguyen

There are some important changes beginning this year for Washington’s annual Free Fishing Weekend, which takes place June 10-11. In past years, any species of fish or shellfish open for harvest could be harvested without a license during Free Fishing Weekend. Beginning this year, any fish requiring a catch record card (including sturgeon, salmon, steelhead, and halibut) and all shellfish will still require a license on Free Fishing Weekend. 

All other species open for harvest can still be harvested without a license during Free Fishing Weekend in 2023, and options include: 

  • Trout and bass in lowland lakes, and in the many rivers open to gamefish throughout the state. Search for a lowland lake near you and see which lakes have been recently stocked at the WDFW website, as well as this blog post on how to have a successful day on the water as a beginning trout angler. 

  • Lingcod, cabezon, and rockfish on the Washington coast (no boat required; see our blog post on jetty fishing). 

  • Shad on the Columbia River (Learn where and how to catch shad). 

  • Also on Free Fishing Weekend, no Vehicle Access Passes are required to park at WDFW lands, and no Discover Pass is needed to park on WDFW, DNR, or Washington State Parks lands. 

Even for species that don’t require a license on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as seasons, size limits, daily limits, and area closures are still in effect. Anglers should be sure to check the current fishing regulations valid through the end of June before hitting the water, as well as any current emergency rules. 

Statewide trout Derby

WDFW 2023 Trout Derby runs April 22 to October 31, 2023

The annual WDFW Trout Derby continues through Oct. 31. Thousands of tagged trout are stocked in 100+ lakes. Catch a tagged trout and you win a prize! Click on WDFW trout derby link for details. 

Shad in Columbia River 

Look for another excellent shad return with the run peaking into June. Click here to track shad counts. Look for shad along the rip-rap shoreline below Bonneville Dam, and from Washougal to Kalama. Shad prefer fast-running current. Many are caught less than 15 to 30 feet from shore. Cast shad darts; red and white colored flies with a small hook; colored beads in red, bright orange or metallic silver or gold; small crappie-like jigs; or small wobbler type spoons or spinners. Learn more about shad and how to catch these hard fighting fish

Spring Chinook salmon 

Salmon fishing near buoy 10
Ken Stunz

For hatchery spring Chinook, the Cowlitz is currently open for spring Chinook retention. The Barrier Dam fishing boundary will be moved from the current 400 foot distance up to the 100 foot mark Friday May 26.  The lower Lewis River is currently open for steelhead but will open for hatchery Chinook and steelhead retention on May 25 from the mouth up to Colvin Creek. Until June 1, the reach from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek will be open for bank fishing only for all species. All other rules are still in effect.  The Kalama River is open until further notice from the mouth upstream to 1,000 feet below the fishway at Kalama Falls Hatchery. The Columbia tributaries above Bonneville will improve soon for spring Chinook. The Wind River is open until further notice from the mouth to 800 yards downstream of the Carson Fish Hatchery. Drano Lake is open until further notice in the waters downstream of markers on the point of land downstream and across from Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery and upstream of the Highway 14 Bridge. 

The mainstem Columbia River spring fishery below Bonneville Dam is open for spring Chinook jacks and steelhead downstream of I-5 bridge through June 15.  The mainstem fishery for adult spring Chinook is actively managed pending allocation and run size, may open for either downstream or upstream (or both) of Bonneville Dam through June 15. Currently, only waters downstream of Bonneville Dam is scheduled to be open to adult spring Chinook through June 4. 

The mainstem Columbia River summer fishery from the Megler/Astoria Bridge upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco, is scheduled to open June 16 with a 6 fish, up to 2 adults, no more than 1 hatchery steelhead daily bag limit and is expected to run through July 31. In addition to hatchery Chinook and hatchery steelhead retention, sockeye will be allowed as part of the summer season daily adult bag limit.  

WDFW fishery managers will monitor the run and assess the potential for additional opportunities. In order to stay informed and provide public input on fishery proposals, sign up here for the Columbia River Compact.   

Walleye jumping out of the water.

Warmwater fish and walleye 

Crappie fishing is holding its own at Silver Lake in Cowlitz County. There are some yellow perch starting to be caught in many southwest region lakes. Bluegill are getting active at Kress Lake in Cowlitz County and Lacamas Lake in Clark County. Rowland Lake is good for pumpkinseed; and bluegill and smallmouth bass can be found in Riffe Lake. The Dalles Pool has been good for walleye as well as above and below John Day Dam. 

White sturgeon 

Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is open year-round on many stretches of the Columbia River . Be sure to check permanent rules in the Sport Fishing Regulations pamphlet

Fisherman on a boat holding a large white sturgeon using both hands
AJ Porter

Above Bonneville Dam, retention fishing for white sturgeon is closed as the individual pool limits have been met. Permanent regulations allow for catch-and-release sturgeon angling all year, except angling for sturgeon is prohibited May 1 through August 31 within the sanctuary areas designated below each of the dam tailraces. 

In the lower Columbia River, the legal-size sturgeon abundance has declined to the point where it has become difficult to prosecute retention fisheries with meaningful harvest opportunity. Therefore, Oregon and Washington are not planning for commercial or recreational retention of white sturgeon downstream of Bonneville Dam in 2023. Permanent regulations allow for catch-and-release sturgeon angling all year, except angling for sturgeon is prohibited May 1 through August 31 within the sanctuary area designated below the Bonneville Dam tailrace. 

View 2023 lower Columbia River white sturgeon fishery update and stock status

Salmon fishing 

Puget Sound coho salmon fihsing
Karsten McIntosh

The 2023-2024 salmon seasons have been tentatively set with some improved opportunities in the ocean driven by strong expected Chinook and Coho returns. Look for a variety of marine and freshwater areas to go and wet a line this summer and fall. This includes Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) in the ocean, and areas from Buoy 10 at the Columbia River mouth upstream along with some tributaries. The seasons – cooperatively developed by WDFW and treaty tribal co-managers – allow recreational salmon anglers a chance to start making plans now to go fishing. Learn more about the 2023-2024 salmon seasons

Get paid to fish

The 2023 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward fishery, which pays anglers $6-$10 for each qualifying fish, kicks off May 1 and continues until the end of September. 

To see where anglers have been having luck reeling in pikeminnow, and for more information on the program and helpful tips on how to catch pikeminnow, visit the program webpage. You can also check out our Pikeminnow 101 seminar on YouTube, which has great tips for getting started. 

New license reminder 

Washingtonians must have a new 2023-2024 recreational hunting and fishing licenses. Those age 15 or older must have an applicable fishing and/or shellfish license. Licenses are available by phone at 866-246-9453 or online, and from license dealers around the state

Boating safety 

Photo of two boats anchored next to one another with anglers plunking

With saltwater and freshwater fishing seasons in full swing, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program reminds you to take a boater safety education course, if you haven’t already, to be prepared for the season. In Washington, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15-horsepower engine or greater must carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Keep in mind that wearing a flotation device in, on or around water saves lives as drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities especially among young children. 

Assistance needed for mass-marking salmon 

WDFW is looking for volunteers and hiring paid positions to assist fin clipping salmon at statewide hatcheries during spring and early summer. Anyone interested in volunteering at a WDFW hatchery can click on the WDFW’s website. Anyone interested in applying for a paid marking position can look for positions in their area and apply through Kelly Services. These temporary, full-time positions pay $16.49 per hour with the ability to start immediately, no experience required, and training provided. Learn more about WDFW’s mass-marking program

Hunting opportunities and news

Photo of a man and women wearing camouflage knelling by a freshly harvested turkey with a river in the background.
Sally McKerney

Spring turkey reports

Spring wild turkey season ended May 31, so it’s time to submit your spring turkey report, even if you plan to hunt turkeys again this fall. Hunters can file reports on the Licensing System webpage

Be respectful on private lands 

The public is fortunate to have the opportunity to hunt private property through WDFW's Private Lands program. Some people in Eastern Washington of late have been target shooting on private lands, leaving a mess. If you hunt private property, please be respectful. Visit the WDFW Medium blog to read about opportunities to hunt and recreate on private lands. 

Hunter education

Volunteer is building butterfly house out of wood

WDFW is no longer offering fully remote hunter education courses. The Department  continues to offer in-person hunter education courses as well as hybrid courses that combine online and in-person learning. To learn about hunter education requirements and find an upcoming course near you, visit the Hunter Education webpage. 

Reporting your harvest 

Mandatory hunter harvest reporting allows the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to better manage game species throughout the state and set permit levels for upcoming seasons. This in turn allows for more hunting opportunities. For more information, visit the hunting reporting webpage. 

Wildlife watching and recreation

World Environment Day

Wild Washington 

June 5 is World Environment Day #BeatPlasticPollution 

Did you know that an estimated 19-23 million tons of plastic end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans throughout the world each year? Unfortunately, this plastic pollution commonly gets eaten by or entangles wildlife. Additionally, when plastic breaks down its toxic chemicals pollute our habitats. With summer break and historically moderate temperatures, June is a great time to teach and model conservation stewardship with the learners in your life. For those still in the classroom, check out the #CleanSeas Plastic Challenge with classroom activities to help you reduce and reuse single-use plastics. For families out of the classroom, check out our family educational resources on plastic pollution. You can also search for community clean-ups and volunteer opportunities. Together, we can #BeatPlasticPollution and help our state’s fish and wildlife. 

Amphibians and reptiles 

Close up of a coastal tailed frog in shallow water
W.P. Leonard, Copyright

Did you know Washington is home to at least 25 species of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) and 28 reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards)? If you hadn’t noticed there’s a lot of ribbit-ribbit, croaking, trilling, hopping, and slithering happening right now around ponds, waterways, and greenbelts. Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) ecosystems, and they may use different habitats throughout the year, and it is especially noticeable and visible during spring. Click on the WDFW amphibian and reptile webpage or the species webpage to find out more information. 


Negative wildlife interactions 

June is another 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. Be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes now that things are heating up. Learn more about living with wildlife

2 baby raccoons
Kristen Hartshorn

Every year we see people who want to “help” fawns left alone in the forest but just because baby animals are alone does not mean they need help. Fight the urge to pick up and rescue bedded fawns — you might save their life. Read the "Spring babies - do they need your help?" blog (also available in Spanish). 

Black bears have emerged from their winter dens hungry and in search of calories after five months of not eating. During this time of increased activity, we're asking for your help to secure un-natural food sources to reduce bear encounters – especially around your home or while on the trail. For more information visit the black bear WDFW webpage. 

Don’t feed bears. Often people leave food out for bears so they can take pictures of them or show them to visiting friends. Over 90 percent of human-bear conflicts result from bears being conditioned to associate food with humans. A wild bear can become permanently food-conditioned after only one handout experience. The unintended reality is that these bears will likely die, being killed by someone protecting their property, or by a wildlife manager having to remove a potentially dangerous bear. 

Manage your garbage. Bears will expend a great amount of time and energy digging under, breaking down, or crawling over barriers to get food, including garbage. If you have a pickup service, put garbage out shortly before the truck arrives—not the night before. If you’re leaving several days before pickup, haul your garbage to a dump. If necessary, frequently haul your garbage to a dumpsite to avoid odors. 

Keep garbage cans with tight-fitting lids in a shed, garage, or fenced area. Spray garbage cans and dumpsters regularly with disinfectants to reduce odors. Keep fish parts and meat waste in your freezer until they can be disposed of properly. 

If bears are common in your area, consider investing in a commercially available bear-proof garbage container. Ask your local waste management company if bear-proof garbage containers are available or if individually purchased containers are acceptable and compatible with their equipment. 

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

bat flying

Report bat observations 

Have you seen a bat flying during the day or in freezing weather? These could be signs of a serious disease called white-nose syndrome. Please report your observations online or call 360-902-2515. White-nose syndrome does not pose a threat to humans, pets, or other wildlife.  

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. 

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! 

Conserving species and habitats

Habitat at Home

Bats in the night sky
Dennis Gilliland Photo courtesy Clement Falize

What’s better than watching the sunset on a warm summer evening? Counting batsfor community science … while watching the sunset on a warm summer evening!  
This year, WDFW is partnering with Woodland Park Zoo and Bats Northwest to bring the Bat Activity Trends community science program to everyone in Washington. Bats are amazing pest control and an important part of our habitats, but we need your help to learn more about where bats are active in our state. 

To get involved, go outside in June, July or August and watch the skies for 30 minutes, starting right after sunset. Count each bat you see as it passes by, record the total number after 30 minutes, and submit the number to us online. That’s all it takes to make a difference in bat conservation!  

All the resources you need to participate are available online. This activity is open to all ages. We have online trainings available on You Tube, or you can attend our free Q&A session on Tuesday, June 6. We hope you’ll take part! 

Event calendar

Types of events

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

Meet your regional director: Rian Sallee

Portrait of Rian Sallee
Rian Sallee, Region 5 Director

Rian Sallee has worked in the nonprofit, private and government sectors on environmental protection and conservation, specializing in water quality policy. She joins WDFW from the Washington State Department of Ecology where she led the Vancouver Field Office with a focus on environmental justice and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Rian is honored to serve WDFW as Region 5 Director. She looks forward to co-creating a culture of belonging at the agency informed by our shared values and the legacy of the exceptional work and dedication of our employees. She is motivated to collaborate internally between regions and across programs, and externally to support our partnerships. Rian enjoys working at the intersection of people, science and policy and is excited to connect with and learn from our employees throughout the state as they work to conserve Washington’s fish, wildlife and the habitats that support them.

Rian serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership. She is from the Midwest and spent years living and working on Lake Erie which instilled in her a passion for and commitment to natural resource conservation and environmental protection. She holds a Master of Environmental Science degree from Miami University in Ohio.