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September 2018
Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)
Woman holding the coho salmon she caught in the Sol Duc River
Coho caught in the Sol Duc River
Photo credit: Ryan Lothrop

Ocean salmon: The salmon fishing season is winding down in Washington’s ocean waters. Marine areas 2 (Westport) and 3 (La Push) are open daily to salmon fishing through Labor Day (Sept. 3). Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will be open Sept. 2 and 3 only.

Anglers fishing these areas have a daily limit of two salmon but must release wild coho in all three areas.

Marine Area 4 is closed to salmon fishing.

Salmon (Puget Sound): Salmon fishing is open in much of Puget Sound, where coho are making their way through the marine areas.

Anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) can keep two salmon plus two additional sockeye each day but must release chinook, chum, and wild coho. Both areas close to salmon fishing Sept. 30.

In Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet), anglers have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook (except for anglers fishing the year-round docks and piers where they may retain one wild or hatchery chinook), chum, and wild coho.

Anglers fishing marine areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook. In area 10, anglers must also release chum through Sept. 15. Area 11 closed Aug. 26 to hatchery chinook retention per an emergency rule after anglers met the summer harvest quota. However, anglers fishing the year-round docks and piers in Marine Area 11 may retain one wild or hatchery chinook.

In south Sound (Marine Area 13), anglers have a daily limit of two salmon but must release wild chinook and wild coho.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), anglers can retain four salmon per day. Those fishing north of Ayock Point must release chum and chinook while those fishing south of Ayock Point must release chum and wild chinook.

Salmon (freshwater areas): Salmon fishing will get underway this month in several rivers, including the Humptulips and Clearwater on Sept. 1, and the Hoh on Sept. 16.  

Fishing continues in sections of the Chehalis, Naselle, North Nemah, and Willapa rivers. In the Chehalis, which closes to salmon fishing Sept. 15 and reopens Oct. 1, anglers can keep six salmon but must release adults. In the Naselle, North Nemah, and Willapa rivers, anglers have a six salmon limit, up to four of which may be adults and one of those adults may be a wild coho, but anglers must release wild chinook.

Further north, the Quilcene River is open with a daily limit of four coho. Selective gear rules are no longer in effect on the Big Quilcene, per an emergency rule. On the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, hatchery summer coho should be moving up the Sol Duc River. Anglers can keep six salmon, up to three of those may be adults. Of the three adults, only one may be a sockeye and only one may be a chinook. Anglers must release wild adult coho.

In Pierce and Thurston counties, the Nisqually and Puyallup rivers remain open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing either river have a daily limit of six salmon, two of which may be adults. On the Nisqually, anglers must release chum, coho, and wild chinook, while those fishing the Puyallup must release wild coho and wild chinook. The Nisqually is closed to all fishing on Sundays. The Puyallup is closed Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. Night closures are in effect for both rivers.  

Crab: Many areas of Puget Sound are open to crab fishing through Labor Day, Sept. 3, before closing for the summer season. However, marine areas 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) and 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) remain open through Sept. 30. Crabbers are reminded that areas 11 and 13 are not open for crab fishing to allow Dungeness crab populations to rebuild.

The daily limit for crab fishers throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may also keep six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. WDFW's recreational crabbing webpage has additional information on regulations and on reporting crab catches.

All Dungeness crab harvested through Sept. 3 must be recorded on a summer catch record card. Any Dungeness crab harvested after Sept. 3 must be recorded on a winter catch record card.

Summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2018 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2019 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed summer catch cards can be mailed in or submitted online after Labor Day. Additional information is available on WDFW's website.

WDFW will announce winter crab seasons for Puget Sound in early October after completing its assessment of the summer fishery.

Crabbing in Washington’s ocean waters is open year-round.

Shrimp: Recreational spot shrimp harvesting remains open only in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and 5 (western Strait of Juan de Fuca) through Sept. 15. Those areas will also remain open to the harvest of pink and coonstripe shrimp through Oct. 15.

Areas of Puget Sound that are open to fishing for coonstripe and pink shrimp through Oct. 15 include marine areas 6 (Port Angeles Harbor, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District), 7 East (northern Rosario Strait, Bellingham Bay, Sucia and Matia islands, Strait of Georgia), 8-1 (Saratoga Passage, Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner, Everett), 9 (Edmonds, Port Townsend Bay, Admiralty Inlet), 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), and 13 (south Sound, Carr Inlet).

The daily limit for all shrimp in most Puget Sound marine areas is 10 pounds, with a maximum of 80 spot shrimp (in areas open for harvesting spot shrimp). Shrimpers should be aware that all the areas that are open only for coonstripe and pink shrimp fishing have depth restrictions.

Marine areas 1-3 and 4 (west of Bonilla-Tatoosh line) are open year-round for all species. Check WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing webpage for more information.

Ring-tailed pheasant in flight.
Ring-tailed pheasant
Photo credit: Richard Eltrich

Hunting prospects: Hunters planning their season may want to check WDFW's 2018 Hunting Prospects report and Game Harvest Reports, which together provide a look at upcoming opportunities and previous success rates in specific game management units (GMUs).

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for rules and regulations. Both are available online.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is also highlighting a browser-based, hunting regulations web map for 2018-19 hunting seasons. The web map, also available at the hunting section of our webpage, provides more convenient access to Washington’s 2018-19 hunting regulations and allows hunters to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice and more.

Deer: Early archery hunts for deer start Sept. 1 and overlap with archery hunts for elk later in the month. Most early muzzleloader seasons for deer start Sept. 29, while modern firearm general seasons for deer begin in mid-October.

Both elk and deer hunters should note that several private timber companies in the region are charging fees for access. Hunters are advised to check WDFW's hunter access webpage for details.
Elk: Early archery hunts for elk begin Sept. 8, overlapping with archery hunts for deer. Most early muzzleloader seasons for elk start Oct. 6 in designated game management units (GMUs) throughout the region.

Hunters seeking mature bulls should focus on the Quinault Ridge (638) Matheny (618) or adjacent Clearwater (615) GMUs in District 17 (Grays Harbor and Pacific counties). All three GMUs are adjacent to Olympic National Park and have the reputation of producing some very nice bulls. The best success for five-point or better bulls is garnered by the September rifle permit hunters in either the Quinault Ridge (638) or Matheny (618) GMUs.

Bear: Bear hunts are underway in the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The prospects for harvesting a black bear in District 16 (Clallam and west Jefferson counties) remain good to excellent.

Cougars: Cougars are widespread in the forest lands of District 11 (Pierce and Thurston counties). Areas supporting high numbers of deer and elk also provide great opportunity for cougars. The Skookumchuck (GMU 667) annually provides the highest cougar harvest in the district.The early cougar season starts Sept. 1.

Forest grouse: The statewide hunting season opens Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. Although grouse occur throughout District 15 (east Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties), Mason County offers the most opportunity. 

In District 11 (Pierce and Thurston counties), hunters targeting ruffed grouse should focus on elevations below 2,500 feet, particularly in riparian forest habitats, early seral forests (5-25 years old), and deciduous-conifer mixed forest types. Prime forest grouse hunting may be found on JBLM (GMU 652), Elbe Hills and Tahoma State Forests (GMU 654), Weyerhaeuser’s Vail Tree Farm (GMU 667), and Capitol State Forest (GMU 663).

Canada goose: Early goose hunting seasons run Sept. 1-9 in goose management area 2 (which includes Grays Harbor and Pacific counties) and Sept. 8-13 in goose management areas 1 and 3 (which includes Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties).

For those new to waterfowl hunting, check the "Let's Go Waterfowl Hunting" webpage to learn more about the sport.

Band-tailed pigeon: The season runs statewide Sept. 15-23. In District 17 (Grays Harbor and Pacific counties), there is only one mineral site where band-tails are known to congregate. If a hunter is lucky enough to locate a mineral site where band-tails congregate, it is likely to be a successful season. Band-tailed pigeons also frequently congregate in areas with red elderberry and cascara. These small trees are most abundant in 5- to 10-year-old clearcuts where hunting can be exceptionally good.

Pheasants: Western Washington hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Sept. 29. Hunters under the age of 16 take to the field for a special hunt Sept. 22-23, while hunters age 65 and older and hunters with disabilities can participate in a special pheasant hunt Sept. 24-28.

Grouse study: With upland gamebird seasons drawing near, state wildlife managers are asking hunters to submit the wings and tails of forest grouse they harvest for use in a long-term study of the species in Washington state.

“Our goal is to build datasets to evaluate changes in species composition, sex and age structure of harvested grouse over time,” said Sarah Kindschuh, a wildlife biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “This information will provide insight into trends in our grouse harvest and populations.”

The department is seeking the wings and tails of four species of forest grouse – spruce, ruffed, dusky, and sooty – collected in the eastern, northcentral, southcentral, and coastal regions of the state.
Collection barrel locations are posted on WDFW’s website. If you are not able to submit wings and tails on the day of harvest, please freeze them until you are able to take them to a collection barrel or WDFW office.

Orcas swimming the Puget Sound
Boaters are reminded to keep their distance as orcs travel the Puget Sound
Photo credit: Ken Rea

Salmon-viewing: The return of hatchery salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia is another draw for wildlife-watchers. Onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia before they enter Capitol Lake and move up the fish ladders to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

Coastal cleanup: The Ocean Conservancy hosts its International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 15. Volunteers have the chance to spot some marine mammals and shorebirds while helping to pick up trash on Washington's beaches. Sign up on the conservancy's webpage.

Guided talks: Olympic National Park wraps up its ranger-led programs this month. Guided nature walks are offered at Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch and Staircase. Schedules are listed in the park’s newspaper.  

Wings over Willapa: The Long Beach Peninsula, located in the southwestern-most corner of Washington state, will host a new festival showcasing the extraordinary birding opportunities in and around this 28-mile long finger of land. Slated for Sept. 28 to 30, “Wings over Willapa” will celebrate the region’s birds and nature, as well as the art they inspire with classes, workshops, guided tours and more. Space is limited, and registration is required for each of the events. For more information and a schedule of events, please visit the event website.

Whale-watching: Resident orcas are traveling through Washington’s waters, with multiple sightings reported on Orca Network. WDFW reminds boaters to keep their distance from these and other marine mammals and asks boaters to observe the new voluntary no-go zone for boats along western San Juan Island. For information on Washington’s regulations regarding boaters and whales, visit WDFW’s orca whale management webpage. Federal guidelines can be found online.

Fire restrictions: WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors to take precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire. Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. So is throwing a lit cigarette or any other burning material from a motor vehicle on a state highway. WDFW has also put into place a temporary statewide restriction on firearm use on WDFW-managed lands.

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