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May 2018
Region 5: Southwest Washington
(Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties)
Fisherman holding large freshwater sturgeon caught in the Columbia River.
Photo credit: A.J. Porter

Sturgeon: Anglers can catch and keep white sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary for eight days in May and two days in June. The limit is one legal-sized sturgeon per day, and a total of two sturgeon per year. Legal-size sturgeon measure 44-50 inches from their snout to the fork in their tail.

The fishery runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays: May 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, plus June 2 and 4. Sturgeon angling – including catch and release fishing – closes at 2 p.m. on each open day. Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is allowed on all non-retention days.
 
The open area includes the Columbia River from the Wauna powerlines to the mouth at Buoy 10, including Youngs Bay and all adjacent Washington tributaries.

Salmon/steelhead: The lower Columbia River is open to fishing for hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook jack salmon from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point upriver to the I-5. The daily limit is 6 fish, including up to 2 hatchery steelhead. Anglers can also catch and keep an unlimited number of shad in those waters and upstream to Bonneville Dam.

However, the fishery for adult chinook salmon remains closed from the mouth of the Columbia upstream to the Washington/Oregon border near Umatilla. Fishery managers from both states met May 14 to discuss the progress of the spring chinook run, but agreed that too few fish had been counted at Bonneville Dam to warrant reopening the fishery for adult fish at that time.

At that point, only about 50,000 upriver chinook salmon had been tallied, compared to the preseason projection of 166,700 upriver fish. The Columbia has been flowing high and turbid this month, presenting a challenge for migrating fish, anglers, and salmon managers alike.

Key tributaries to watch this month are the Klickitat River, Wind River and Drano Lake, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. The upriver spring chinook count at Bonneville Dam finally climbed past 1,000 fish per day in late April, which means those three tributaries will likely see a lot more fish in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, anglers are catching some nice spring chinook and hatchery steelhead on the Cowlitz River and other tributaries below Bonneville Dam. The lower Kalama River reopened to retention of hatchery steelhead May 4 and the Lewis River will reopen to retention of both hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead May 12. Current regulations for the Cowlitz, Kalama, and Lewis rivers are posted on WDFW’s website.

Fish for prize trout: “Opening day” of the statewide lowland lakes season has come and gone, but many of the 16.5 million trout stocked for the occasion are still snapping up lures. Several popular trout lakes in southwest Washington opened April 28, including Mineral Lake, Fort Borst Park Pond, Carlisle Lake, Rowland Lake, Horsethief Lake and Spearfish Lake. However, the majority of the year-round lakes have also been stocked prior to the opener.

The statewide trout derby kicked off on April 28 as well. Anglers who catch tagged fish in those and other waters can claim prizes – ranging from fishing gear to gift cards – offered by license dealers and vendors from around the state. For more information on WDFW’s ongoing fishing derby, see the department’s website.

Meanwhile, a number of lakes in southwest Washington will receive fresh plants of trout this month. They include:

Goose Lake, in Skamania County, may be stocked if access allows. Please check WDFW’s Weekly Catchable information for the most current information. Anglers are also reminded that Swift Reservoir will not open until the first Saturday in June, as noted in the fishing pamphlet. The later opening is designed to protect downstream migrating salmon and steelhead smolts, which are part of an ongoing reintroduction program under re-licensing agreements with PacifiCorp.

South Lewis County Park Pond will be closed to fishing for the public May 10-12 for the 5th Annual Jim and Penny Lancaster Fishing Derby. The lake will reopen to the public after 2 p.m. on May 12. For information on the derby, contact Penny Lancaster at penny_lancaster@msn.com .

Elsewhere in the region, several streams will open to fishing May 26, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. They include Canyon Creek in Clark County (if road access allows); the upper Little White Salmon River in Skamania County; and Spring Creek in Klickitat County. Due to recovery efforts of the Oregon spotted frog, Outlet and Bird creeks in Klickitat County will not be stocked this year.

Warmwater fishing: Silver Lake in Cowlitz County has been producing good numbers of yellow perch, although catching keeper-size crappie has been slow. Lacamas Lake is doing well for largemouth bass, and panfish are picking up at Kress Lake.

The walleye fishery in the The Dalles and John Day pools on the Columbia River are already on fire, and Tiger musky fishing should pick up in May at both Mayfield Lake and Merwin Reservoir. Rowland and Horsethief lakes will be good options for both panfish and largemouth bass.

Hunter with the Mountain goat he successfully harvested.
Photo credit: Donnie Baker

Special permit applications: Hunters have through May 23 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in June. To apply, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and submit the application with their preferred hunt choices.

Applications and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Applications must be submitted on the website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

If purchasing and applying online, hunters must first establish an online account by creating a username and password. (See how to create a username and password in the WILD system.) Hunters can also click the “Customer Support” link on the WILD homepage for additional assistance.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for hunters under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose, and "quality" categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose, and "quality" categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts are described on pages 12-13 of Washington’s 2018 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online.

Yellow-headed blackbird perched on reeds by water.

Birds: Saturday, May 5, is the Global Big Day for counting bird species, sponsored by eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and other partners. Birdwatchers of all experience levels can spend 10 minutes or the full 24 hours of that day counting bird species seen or heard anywhere, from backyards to public wildlife areas, and reporting them on-line to boost the world-wide citizen scientist database.

More birds: “The Year of the Bird” is the theme for the 25th annual International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 12, when birdwatchers celebrate the migration of nearly 350 bird species from their wintering grounds south of the U.S. border to nesting habitats in North America.

Leave wild babies in the wild: This month and next many wildlife species produce young. WDFW biologists remind outdoor recreationists and backyard wildlife enthusiasts to leave those wild babies in the wild, even when they might appear to be orphaned or abandoned. 

Keep dogs and cats confined to avoid problems with baby birds fledging from nests and on the ground. Give a wide berth to deer fawns found alone; almost always they don’t need your help because parent animals are foraging nearby and leaving them alone to avoid drawing predators with their own body scent.  Learn more about when not to rescue wildlife on WDFW’s Living with Wildlife webpages.

Avoid wildlife conflicts:  Wild animals reproducing this month can become a nuisance if they take up residence under a porch, in a crawl space, or in a garage or attic. Skunks and raccoons are among the most common in this region, but bats, squirrels and woodpeckers can become problems, too. Sealing up spaces where these animals try to nest or den is the first step to avoid nuisance situations. Learn more about Preventing Conflicts With Wildlife

Outdoor recreationists or rural homeowners may inadvertently have closer-than-comfortable wildlife viewing encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife, from protective cow moose with calves to black bears, coyotes or cougars. 

Conflict situations can be prevented by being alert and aware of surroundings and taking some precautions when hiking, picnicking or camping. Most wild animals want to avoid people, so hike in groups and make noise to alert wildlife in the area of your presence. Keep a clean picnic spot or campsite since food odors attract hungry animals, especially bears. Learn more about bears, cougars, coyotes and moose on WDFW’s Living with Wildlife webpages.

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