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May 2018
Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)
A large shrimp being held in hand.Photo credit: Eric Winther

Steelhead: Anglers can retain two hatchery steelhead daily while fishing the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers on the north coast.

Salmon: The Chehalis River will open May 1 for spring chinook fishing. Anglers have a daily limit of one chinook. More information is available in this emergency fishing rule. Marine Area 13 (South Sound) remains open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing there have a daily limit of two fish but must release wild coho and wild chinook.

Anglers should also be aware that the Hoh River will open earlier than usual – on  June 1 – to fishing for hatchery chinook and trout.  More details are available in the emergency fishing rule.

Trout:  Trout are biting at dozens of lakes throughout the region. A good bet is Failor Lake (Grays Harbor County) where WDFW staff and volunteers have stocked more than 2,000 trout of which 675 fish average 4 pounds or more each. In Kitsap County, Wye Lake has been stocked with more than 10,000 trout. Spencer Lake in Mason County also was stocked with more than 10,000 trout. And Lake St. Clair in Thurston County has received roughly 30,000 rainbow trout since March. Be sure to check WDFW’s online fish stocking reports before heading out. 

Catch a fish, win a prize:  WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues in May and runs through Oct. 31.  Anglers with an applicable 2018-19 freshwater, combination fishing license, or Fish Washington license, who catch one of hundreds of tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers located across the state. A list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes is available at the derby website.

Even if you don’t land a prize, plenty of trout are available to harvest. WDFW has been stocking in the region for months. A complete trout-planting schedule for southcentral lakes and ponds is available on the region's catchable trout plant reporting page.

Mobile App: Whether you are an experienced angler or just getting started, the 'Fish Washington' phone app should be on your mobile device.

The free mobile app is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules. The app is available for download at Google Play and Apple's App store.

Halibut: Most Puget Sound marine areas and the coast opened for halibut fishing this month. The scheduled season dates are May 11, 13, 25 and 27, and June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30, provided there is sufficient quota to accommodate all these fishing days. These dates apply to halibut fishing in Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4.

Halibut fishing in the near shore area Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) got underway three days per week earlier, but will be open seven days per week beginning May 24. The all-depth fishery closed at the end of the day May 11, when fishery managers anticipate the quota will be met. More information is available in this emergency rule.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. New for 2018, in response to stakeholder input, there will be an annual limit of four halibut.  Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card. Details on Washington’s halibut fishing seasons can be found on WDFW’s halibut webpage.

Lingcod: The ocean lingcod fishery continues this month, while the Puget Sound fishery is just getting underway.

In Puget Sound, the lingcod season opens May 1 for hook and line fishing and May 21 to spearfishing in all Puget Sound marine areas except Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), which is closed to lingcod fishing.

Rockfish: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) opens May 1 for rockfish fishing. All other Puget Sound marine areas remain closed. Washington’s ocean waters also are open to fishing for rockfish. See the regulation changes for canary rockfish listed below.

Cabezon: Fishing for cabezon also opens May 1 in all Puget Sound marine areas except Hood Canal (Marine Area 12). There’s a minimum size limit of 18 inches and daily limit of one fish.

Cabezon fishing continues in Washington’s ocean waters. Anglers have a daily limit of two fish with no minimum size in areas 1-3. Those fishing either east or west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line in Marine Area 4 have a daily limit of one fish, which must be 18 inches or larger.

Ocean bottomfish regulation changes: WDFW recently announced changes to recreational bottomfish limits. Anglers fishing in all coastal marine areas west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line can now keep three flatfish (excluding halibut) per day. The new daily limit does not apply to an angler’s overall limit of nine bottomfish. Also, anglers fishing in marine areas 1 and 2 can now keep two canary rockfish per day and those fishing areas 3 and 4 can do so beginning May 9.

Spot shrimp: May is the month that shrimpers wait for all year. Areas of Puget Sound open May 5 to recreational spot shrimping with seasons similar to last year’s. Fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day in all areas. Shrimping is open year-round in Washington’s ocean waters, including marine areas 1-3 and 4, west of Tatoosh-Bonilla Line.

Check WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing webpage for details.

Razor clams: The spring razor clam season has ended for 2018. State shellfish managers plan to conduct population assessments this summer and will announce in September a tentative schedule of fall openings.

Youth fishing events: The department teams up with a variety of businesses and organizations to host youth-fishing events around the state from April through June. Visit the WDFW youth fishing calendar to find local family friendly opportunities to introduce kids to fishing.

Hunter enjoying the view from an overlook in the mountains.Photo credit: Ryan Driver

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

To apply for a special permit, 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. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in June.

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. Information on how to create a username and password in the WILD system can be found here. Hunters can also click the “Customer Support” link on the WILD homepage for additional assistance.

Hunters who already have a username and password can login to purchase and submit their applications.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth 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.

Results of the special permit drawing will be available online by the end of June. Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Poster for Year of the Bird: World Migratory Bird Day 2018

Birds:  The annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) will be held 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. This year’s theme is “Year of the Bird,” commemorating the 25th anniversary of the annual event.

Although IMBD is traditionally celebrated on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year to help connect people to nature through birds.

One way that people can help birds along their way is to transform their backyards into safe stopover sites by planting native vegetation, providing fresh water, and keeping cats indoors. WDFW’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program provides detailed information about how to help birds in this way.

South Sound Prairies: The annual Prairie Appreciation Day, which celebrates South Sound Prairies, takes place May 12. Thurston County’s Glacial Heritage Preserve, which is typically closed to the public, and Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, will both be open. Activities include wildflower walks, talks about birds, bees and butterflies of the prairies, and prairie restoration efforts. More information is available on the event website.

Whale-watching: The seasonal migration of whales north toward the Arctic Ocean is in full swing. Check the latest sightings posted on the Orca Network. Anyone whale-watching from a boat should be aware of boating regulations that protect southern resident killer whales.

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; they seldom 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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