Salmon/Steelhead: Southeast Washington's Snake River is open through Oct. 31 for the harvest of hatchery-marked (adipose-fin-clipped) fall chinook salmon alongside the ongoing hatchery steelhead season.
Anglers fishing for steelhead should note that fishery managers are reducing the daily catch limit for hatchery steelhead to one fish beginning Sept. 4 on the Snake River, as well as on the Grande Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla rivers to protect weak runs.
Chris Donley, WDFW regional fish program manager, said monitoring at Bonneville Dam now indicates that 96,500 upriver steelhead will return to the Columbia River this year, down from 182,400 fish projected before the fishing season began. Many of those fish are bound for the Snake River and its tributaries.
Details on the steelhead season are available in the rule changes on WDFW's website.
Randy Osborne, WDFW district fish biologist, said West Medical has poor fishing because of a goldfish infestation. A “rehabilitation” of the lake is proposed for this fall to remove all fish and re-stock with popular rainbow and brown trout. Fishing rules at the lake recently changed to allow anglers to remove as many trout as might be in the lake before the treatment. Anglers are now allowed to retain trout only and there is no daily catch limit for trout. Check the rule change for information.
Plenty of other lakes throughout the region remain open through October. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake in Spokane County, typically produces good catches of brown trout, crappie, and largemouth bass as fall advances. Liberty Lake has good yellow perch and largemouth bass fishing through October.
Year-round lakes continue to provide good fishing for bass and panfish, including Spokane County’s Silver and Newman lakes. Lake Roosevelt and Sprague Lake both offer good-size rainbows in September. Lake Spokane (Long Lake) is usually good this month for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.
Black bear: General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the Columbia Basin Zone (including Game Management Units 133, 136, 139, 142), and Aug. 15 in the Northeastern B Zone (GMUs 124-130), as shown on page 70 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.
Northeastern A Zone (including GMUs 101-121) bear hunting opens Sept. 1. Bear hunters in that area in particular are reminded that it’s possible to encounter some protected grizzly bears, so species identification is critical. This year for the first time successful completion of WDFW’s online Bear Identification Program is required if hunting bears in GMUs 101, 105,108, 111, 113, or 117.
The Blue Mountains Zone (GMUs 145-154 and 162-186) also opens Sept. 1.
Successful hunters are required to submit a bear tooth to WDFW to determine the animal’s age. All hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.
Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk, and cougar beginning in September. “This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Mick Cope, WDFW deputy assistant wildlife director. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to stay hydrated and be aware of fire danger.”
Limited-entry deer hunt: Deer hunters have until Aug. 13 to apply for an opportunity to hunt this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-28), muzzleloaders (Sept. 29-Oct. 7) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 13-23). See the WDFW news release for more information.
Raffle results: Want to know if you’ve been selected for one of Washington’s coveted 2018 raffle hunts? The deadline for the drawing was July 15 and WDFW will notify winners and post the results online by mid-August.
Fire precautions: Hunters are reminded that restrictions on campfires, smoking outside of vehicles, and other activities on WDFW lands east of the Cascade Range remain in effect to prevent wildfires. Most of this region is considered in high or very high/extreme wildfire danger by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also has restrictions in effect; for more information, see DNR's fire danger webpage.
W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman reports that despite the rising danger and many posted signs about the restrictions, some campers are still having campfires on the area in Columbia County.
“Please use a propane or other contained fuel camp stove for cooking,” she said. “And set the stove up in a clear area on a stable surface, with a bucket of water on hand just in case. Campfires may be nice to gather around at night, but if we have a wildfire there won’t be any place to gather at all.”
Birds: Southbound bird migration gets underway this month, especially among waterfowl and shorebirds. The Snake River area in the southeast district is a great place to view concentrations of ducks, geese, and other waterbirds gathering to fly to wintering areas, some as far as South America.
Shorebirds, including curlews, plovers, and sandpipers, that summered farther north in Canada are now making stopovers to rest and feed in the region. WDFW’s Reardan Audubon Lake Wildlife Area, just outside the town of Reardan in Lincoln County, is a good spot to look for them this month.
Some raptors, or birds of prey, are also on the move. Ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks that summered in parts of the region are migrating south. Some red-tailed, sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s hawks that summered farther north are moving into or through the region.
Songbirds of many species continue to gather this month into migrating groups, most noticeable in riparian or streamside area treetops and along power lines. Some, including warblers, wrens, vireos, swallows, sparrows, flycatchers and hummingbirds, may have already left the region for more abundant food in southern climates.
Moose: September is the rut or breeding time for moose, and bulls can be expected to be a little more aggressive than usual. Always give any moose a wide berth and enjoy them only from a distance, using binoculars and telephoto camera lenses. Learn more about moose at the Living With Moose webpage.
Elk: September is the time to hike into elk country – the Blue Mountains to the south or the Selkirks to the north – to hear roaring bulls. Bull elk should be into pre-rut or breeding activities, which include their unique bugling, creating wallows and gathering harems of cows. The peak of the rut is about the third week of September, but a lot of bugling and displaying occurs before then. Learn more about elk at the Living With Elk webpage.