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September 2018
Region 2: Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)
A caught kokonee in net.
Banks Lake kokanee are biting this month.

Salmon: Hatchery chinook salmon fishing continues on portions of the Upper Columbia River and the Chelan, Wenatchee, Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.

The portion of the Columbia from Wells Dam to the Hwy. 173 bridge at Brewster closed Aug. 31, but from Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam and from Rocky Reach to Wells Dam, fishing continues through Oct. 15. The Okanogan River from the Hwy. 97 bridge upstream of the mouth to the bridge in Oroville, and the Similkameen River close Sept. 15. The Wenatchee River closes Sept. 30, the upper Okanogan River closes Oct. 15, and the Chelan River closes Oct. 31.

The retention fishery, which opened in late July and early August, is possible because of stronger-than-expected returns of summer chinook salmon moving past Priest Rapids Dam. The daily catch limit of hatchery adult chinook (24-inch minimum with clipped adipose fin and a healed scar at the fin location) is two fish per angler. Salmon anglers on all of these waters are required to have the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. Additional regulations are described in the Fishing Rule Change.

Based on current projections of summer chinook passage over Priest Rapids Dam, WDFW Northcentral Region Fish Manager Chad Jackson is confident there are surplus fish from the Chelan Falls, Entiat, and Chief Joseph hatchery programs available for harvest. "Hatchery fish produced from these programs are solely intended for harvest," Jackson said. "Removal of surplus hatchery fish will also help achieve conservation objectives by reducing hatchery-wild interactions on the spawning grounds."  

The gear restrictions that were eased last month for summer chinook salmon fishing on the Entiat River in Chelan County continue through September. The rule change removes the selective gear requirement, allows the use of bait, and allows the use of one line with up to two single point barbless hooks. The changes should improve anglers' effectiveness at removing hatchery-origin summer chinook from the spawning grounds to help reduce interactions with endangered spring chinook farther upstream.

Trout / Mixed species:September is the last month of trout fishing for many Columbia Basin (Grant and Adams counties) waters and a few others – Spectacle Lake and Washburn Island Pond in Okanogan County and Blackbird Island Pond in Chelan County. 

Banks Lake, the year-round-open Columbia River reservoir in Grant County, usually provides good fishing in September for rainbow trout, kokanee, largemouth bass, walleye and lake whitefish.

Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir in the Columbia Basin, Roses Lake in Chelan County, and Leader, Patterson, and Palmer lakes in Okanogan County, can provide good opportunities for yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

Sturgeon: Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing continues on the Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam. WDFW Chelan/Douglas District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland reports sturgeon are still being caught in both the Priest and Wanapum pools, with the best fishing currently just immediately downstream of Rock Island Dam on the Wanapum pool.   

Fire precautions: Anglers 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.

Scouting the high country for hunting prospects.
High buck hunt opens Sept. 15 in northcentral wilderness areas.
Photo by Colin Crook.

Planning your hunt: September marks the start of this year's hunting seasons for elk, deer, upland game birds and waterfowl. Dates and regulations are listed in the Big Game and Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlets, available on this website.

Hunters planning their seasons may also want to check WDFW's 2018 Hunting Prospects reports, which outline hunting opportunities in specific game management districts. See Game Harvest Reports for past harvest rates by district. Hunters looking for places to hunt can find information on both private and public lands on the Hunting Access webpage.

Fire danger remains high with a statewide burn ban in effect throughout the month of September. Hunters should check the status of fires and access at the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ wildfire information webpage

Deer: September 1 is the start of early archery deer hunting in select northcentral region (200-series) Game Management Units (GMUs). Most is for mule deer, but white-tailed deer opportunities are available, too.
Modern firearm and muzzleloader high buck hunting begins Sept. 15 in the wilderness area of the North Cascades and Lake Chelan Recreation Area.

Prospects for Okanogan and Chelan-Douglas district mule deer hunting for both early archers and high buck hunters are relatively favorable, but access could be an issue in some areas due to active wildfires. If a hot and dry weather pattern continues, the high country could be drier than usual and deer may be more concentrated on cooler and comparatively moister northerly aspects.

Small game: Hunting throughout the region begins Sept. 1 for mourning dove, forest grouse, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare, raccoon, fox, and bobcat.   

The Columbia Basin district provides the best opportunities for mourning dove hunting, which runs through October. An increasing number of exotic Eurasian collared doves continue to be found throughout the region and since hunting for them is open year-round without bag limits, they might provide opportunity when native mourning doves migrate out.

In Okanogan County, the past moderate winter and good forage growth this year make the outlook good for doves. Look for birds in planted food crops in the Sinlahekin Valley and at lower elevations on other public land. Hunting success will depend on warm weather keeping the birds in the area through the season.
Forest grouse – blue (dusky), ruffed and spruce grouse, depending on elevation – should be in fair numbers in the forested lands of the Okanogan and Chelan-Douglas districts. 

Special youth, senior, disabled hunter opportunities: September 22-23 is the special youth only upland game bird (pheasants, quail, partridge) hunting season, and Sept. 29-30 is the special youth only hunt for ducks and geese. These special seasons give hunters under 16 years of age a jump start on the general seasons that open later this fall. Non-hunting adults at least 18 years of age must accompany young hunters pursuing birds.

A special pheasant hunting opportunity only for hunters 65 years of age or older and hunters with disabilities is Sept. 24-28.

Details of these special season rules are in the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet. Information on bird release sites is available in the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program. Non-toxic shot is required for all upland bird hunting on all pheasant release sites statewide to protect other wildlife species including waterfowl and raptors.

Kids posing with Sammy the Salmon at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery sign.
The 28th annual Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is Sept. 20-22 in Leavenworth.

Birds: This is usually the last month for a good look at, or at least a listen to, neotropical migrant species. Bluebirds, blackbirds, flycatchers, sparrows, swallows, tanagers, warblers, wrens and many other species begin gathering for southward migrations. 

Almost any riparian or streamside area with lush vegetation is a good bet for finding these colorful birds, including those on the region’s many wildlife areas. But full, late summer foliage can make seeing some of these seasonal visitors more difficult than hearing them. Improve your bird song identification skills, but get up early or stay out late during cooler hours when birds are more active.  

Those who have been providing sugar-water nectar in backyard feeders for hummingbirds should be especially diligent about keeping those feeders clean during the heat. Many hummingbirds will begin migrating out of the region by mid-August.

Alpine wildlife: August provides lots of opportunity for viewing alpine and subalpine wildlife while hiking at elevation to beat the heat.

WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin says the best opportunities are at higher elevation areas where mountain goats, hoary marmots, pikas, Columbian ground squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels, ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches, and many other bird species are active and visible. 
By the end of the month, migrating raptors should be evident along high elevation ridges.

Butterflies: The Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in northcentral Okanogan County is a good destination for butterfly watching this month while many wildflowers are still in full bloom. Watch for several species of whites, sulphurs, coppers, hairstreaks, blues, fritillaries, checkers, nymphs, and skippers.

Fire precautions: Wildlife viewers 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.

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