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December 2018
Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)
Razor clamming at sunset on ocean beach.
Razor clamming at sunset. Photo by Leslie Frank.

Hatchery steelhead: The hatchery steelhead fishery is going strong in the rivers. Anglers fishing the lower sections of the Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawah and Hoh rivers have a daily limit of three hatchery steelhead and those fishing the Humptulips have a daily limit of two. Later in the month, hatchery steelhead should be showing up in the Wynoochee, Satsop, and Chehalis rivers and in the upper Quinault River above the lake.

For details on the region’s freshwater steelhead fisheries, check the fishing regulations on the department’s website. Anglers are required to release all wild steelhead and rainbow trout in the north coastal rivers.

Salmon: Portions of Puget Sound are open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) can keep two salmon daily but must release wild chinook. In Marine Area 13 (south Puget Sound), anglers can keep two salmon daily but must release wild coho and wild chinook.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), anglers have a daily limit of four salmon, but only two of those fish can be winter hatchery chinook, known as blackmouth. All wild chinook must be released.

Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound.
There are also opportunities for salmon in sections of the Nemah and Naselle rivers and through Dec. 15 on the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers.

In Pierce County, anglers can keep two adults as part of a six salmon daily limit in the Puyallup River but must release wild coho and wild chinook.

Trout: WDFW stocked regional lakes with trout to provide opportunities for anglers fishing on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). Those lakes should still have plenty of trout throughout December. Stocked lakes include American and Tanwax lakes in Pierce County; and Black and Long lakes in Thurston County.  

Crab: Several Puget Sound marine areas are open for the winter crab season. Those areas include: marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff. 

Maps and descriptions of the two sections of Marine Area 9 are on WDFW’s website.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available online.

Crabbing is open year-round in Washington’s ocean waters (marine areas 1-3 and 4 west of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line).

Razor clams: Diggers should have a couple opportunities to get their limits with two openings planned this month. State shellfish managers will announce whether the digs will proceed about a week prior to the opening date.
Digs are tentatively scheduled for the following beaches, dates, and evening low tides:

  • Dec. 6, Thursday, 6:01 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Dec. 7, Friday, 6:40 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 8, Saturday, 7:16 p.m.; -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Dec. 9, Sunday, 7:53 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 20, Thursday, 4:51 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 21, Friday, 5:35 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Dec. 22, Saturday, 6:20 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Dec. 23, Sunday, 7:05 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and must keep the first 15 clams they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2018-19 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW's website and from license vendors around the state.

Duck hunte rin wetland with his retriever dog.
Duck hunting with retriever. Photo by Richard Eltrich

Elk: Most archery and muzzleloader hunting opportunities for elk are open through Dec. 15 in the region, although the muzzleloader hunt in Game Management Unit (GMU) 652 runs through Dec. 8. Hunters looking to harvest an elk in District 17 (Pacific and Grays Harbor counties) often have the most luck hunting the Willapa Hills elk herd in GMUs 658, 672, 673 and 681.

Deer:  The region’s archery and muzzleloader hunts for deer wrap up on Dec. 31 and Dec. 15 respectively in select game management units. For details, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.

Ducks: Meanwhile, waterfowl hunters have through Jan. 27 to hunt ducks. Some of the best hunting locations in Thurston County are near the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge as well as Henderson, Budd and Eld inlets and near Centralia in Lewis County.

Goose: The hunting season is open through Jan. 27 for most of the region. Pacific County and the portion of Grays Harbor County west of Highway 101 (Goose Management Area 2 – Coast) is open on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only through Dec. 2 but reopens on those same days Dec. 22 through Jan. 20. The section of Grays Harbor County east of Highway 101 (Goose Management Area 2 – Inland) is open Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays only through Jan. 13.

Forest grouse: Upland bird hunters have through Dec. 31 to hunt forest grouse. The harvest of grouse in Clallam County (District 16) rivals all other counties in south Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic National Forest and Skokomish Valley in District 15 also are popular grouse hunting areas.

Online resources: Before heading out, hunters should check the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for details. Also, area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects webpage.

Reporting: As noted on page 6 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet, Jan. 31 is the deadline for hunters to report their hunting activity for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and turkey tag purchased in 2018. Those who do not meet the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before they can buy a license next year. Those who report by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of nine special elk or deer permits.

Birdwatching on the Grays Harbor boardwalk
Birdwatching on the Grays Harbor boardwalk. Photo by Jason Wettstein.

Bird counts: During the holiday season, several Audubon Society chapters throughout the region are coordinating Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), which get underway this month. Sponsored by Audubon, the annual event enlists birdwatchers – veterans and novices – to contribute their sightings over a 24-hour period to the world's longest-running bird database. For more information on the CBC, visit the Audubon website.

Speaker series: Olympic National Park’s winter speaker series resumes Dec. 11 with a presentation about Pacific martens on the Olympic Peninsula. Each monthly talk begins at 7 p.m. at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 South Peabody St., Port Angeles.  More information can be found on the park’s website.

Every Kid in a Park: As part of the Every Kid in a Park program, the Olympic National Forest is offering free tree permits to fourth graders through Dec. 24. To obtain a free tree permit, the fourth grader must be present and show a valid paper voucher or durable pass obtained from the website or participating federal agency. Olympic National Forest has offices in Olympia, Quinault, Forks, and Quilcene.

Region One: Eastern Washington Region Two: North Central Washington Region Four: North Puget Sound Region Six: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula Region Five: Southwest Washington Region Three: South Central Washington