Discover Southwest Washington

Klickitat river seen through the trees

Staff furloughs 

With Washington’s economy hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (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.

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

Director: Kessina Lee

5525 S 11th Street
Ridgefield, WA 98642

Telephone: 360-696-6211

Fax: 360-906-6776

TeamRidgefield@dfw.wa.gov

August fishing tips and news

Fall salmon season

Salmon fishing near buoy 10
Ken Stunz

Fall Chinook and coho fishing opens on much of the lower Columbia River in August, drawing thousands to the popular Buoy 10 fishery near the river’s mouth. Fall salmon fisheries on the Columbia River look significantly different from last year, and anglers should check the 2020-21 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet before heading out to make sure they know the rules for the section of river or tributary where they hope to fish. 

The Buoy 10 fishery begins later this year, on Aug. 14, with a daily one-adult salmon limit. Anglers must release all salmon and steelhead other than Chinook and hatchery coho. Beginning Aug. 28, all salmon and steelhead other than hatchery coho must be released. 

The preseason forecast anticipates a run of 420,430 fall Chinook to the Columbia this year – an increase from last year’s return of 375,769 fish, and 57 percent of the 10-year average. The 2020 forecasted return of Coho to the Columbia River is 140,190, which represents 39 percent of the 10-year average.  

Returns of upriver summer steelhead are predicted to remain low again this year, in particular the B-index stock at only 32 percent of the recent 10-year average. As a result, the Columbia will remain closed to steelhead in August from Buoy 10 to John Day Dam. Anglers may keep one hatchery steelhead daily from John Day Dam upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. For more information on preseason predictions and management objectives, visit the season summary

Here are some strategies for maximizing success in August: 

  • Go deep for chinook: Fish from 40 to 60 feet down in the mainstem Columbia River, using wobblers anchored with a heavy weight on outgoing tides. Anglers also troll large flashers with spinners during in-coming tides at depths ranging from mid-column to the bottom. Chinook salmon prefer the cooler, deeper water in summer.

  • Change-up for coho: Herring and spinners work well for catching coho at Buoy 10, but bait and lures are your best bet in the tributaries. 

  • Buoy 10 results: Check out the creel-sampling results from Buoy 10 on https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports/creel/buoy10 to see where other anglers are catching fish. That website also includes catch data from previous years, which can also be useful in deciding where to start trolling or make your first cast.  

Trout

Anglers can still find trout in a few lakes, and we stocked a number of area lakes with rainbow trout in July, including Mayfield and Mineral lakes in Lewis County, and Goose and Takhlakh lakes in Skamania County. Long Lake in Lewis County was also stocked with 1,000 brown trout in early July.

Kokanee fishing is still good in Merwin Reservoir and Yale Reservoir (Cowlitz County).

Warmwater fish

All lakes are great for panfish with the standouts being Rowland (Klickitat); Kress (Cowlitz); Lake Sacajawea (Cowlitz) and Carlisle (Lewis). Some largemouth are being caught in Silver (Cowlitz) and Lacamas (Clark). Smallmouth bass are being caught in Riffe (Lewis). Tiger muskie are having a fantastic season at both Merwin (Cowlitz) and Mayfield (Lewis).

Get paid to fish

Northern pikeminnow in a net on a dock
Jim Souders

The Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward fishery, which pays anglers $5-$8 for each qualifying fish, continues through September.

Funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, this program targets large northern pikeminnow, which is the main 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.

Catch a fish, win a prize

The fourth-annual statewide trout fishing derby kicked off May 23 and runs through Oct. 31. The derby prize portal opened June 1. All you need to participate is a valid 2020-21 fishing license! We stocked more than 1,000 tagged fish in lakes around the state. For a list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes, visit the derby website

August hunting tips and news

Black bear season

General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1. Hunters can to harvest two bears during the license year statewide. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs. Find regulations and areas online

Successful hunters are required to submit a bear tooth to WDFW to determine the animal’s age.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar beginning in September.

2020-2021 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons and Rules available

Check out this year's regulation pamphlet details rules for migratory waterfowl and upland game.

Take hunter education online

It’s a good idea to take Hunter Education classes to get ready for fall hunting seasons. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, WDFW has cancelled all in-person Hunter Ed classes until further notice.

You still have a couple of options. 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. More information is at https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/requirements/education/deferral-program

Another option is to enroll in a later course. You may choose to postpone completion of hunter education and enroll in class after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Both the traditional classroom course and the online class plus in-person field skills evaluation course will be available.

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

Wildlife viewing close to home

Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly logo

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

  • 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.

Birds fly south

Summer is far from over, but shorebirds are anticipating the season’s change. Tens of thousands of them – sandpipers, yellowlegs, dowitchers and other species – are already flocking to Washington’s coastal areas en route from their Arctic breeding grounds to points south. Clouds of shorebirds, especially sandpipers, can be seen in August from Ilwaco to Ocean Shores.

Unlike their spring migration, shorebirds’ flight south is a disorderly affair. Adults often leave the Arctic before their chicks are fledged and join flocks departing at different times. They also travel at a more leisurely pace, departing anytime from July to October. Rare birds, such as off-course Asian shorebirds, are far more likely to join the others in their southward flight than on their trip north.

Recreation and habitat projects

Mount St Helens Wildlife Area got a 1,453-acre addition!

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) transferred 1,453 acres of land to create a new unit of the Mount St Helens Wildlife Area. This partnership exemplifies the missions of RMEF and WDFW to protect habitat for elk and other wildlife, while also securing public access for hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists.

The new Merrill Lake Unit features a combination of wildlife, unusual geology, spectacular waterfalls, and dense forest, making it an ideal destination for an outdoor adventurer. A stunning waterfall on the Kalama River is a popular site for hikers. The unit includes old-growth forest, located primarily on an ancient lava flow—tree casts can be found in the lava flow—and also has a large stand of lodgepole pine, which is a very unique feature. 

Waterfall with surrounding forest

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Public meeting