Fishing: Anglers will have more options to catch salmon in the days ahead as coastal area open to retention of hatchery coho and unmarked chinook, and new fisheries open on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Crabbers will also be able to drop pots in seven popular areas of Puget Sound, starting July1.
Through June 20, salmon anglers had caught 2,759 marked chinook salmon in the state’s first selective chinook fishery off the Washington coast. All but a few hundred of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 (Westport), where three in four anglers took home a fish. Mark rates for chinook have been averaging about 70 percent.
“The ocean fishery has been up and down from one day to the next, but anglers have definitely been taking home some nice chinook salmon,” said Doug Milward, WDFW ocean fisheries manager. “Chinook caught off Westport have been averaging around 15 pounds, which is big for this point in the season.”
Starting July 4, anglers fishing off Westport will also be able to count hatchery coho and unmarked chinook toward their daily limit. The new rule will take effect July 1 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay).
“Like the chinook, this year’s coho have been bigger than usual,” Milward said. “This fishery should keep getting better and better.”
Wendy Beeghley, a WDFW fish biologist who monitors the catch, asks that all anglers return completed logbooks after each day’s trip to help fishery managers keep track of the catch. “If you like this fishery, you can help keep it going by filling out the logbook and returning it to WDFW,” she said. Logbooks can be returned to fish checkers or by pre-paid mail.
Elsewhere, a chinook fishery will open in marine areas 5 and 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca) on July 1. The daily limit in those two areas is two fish at least 22 inches in length. All wild salmon must be released.
Meanwhile, recreational halibut fishing went out with a bang June 19, when anglers fishing off Neah Bay and La Push closed out the season by catching most of what was left of this year’s quota.
The one-day opening, plus good weather, gave coastal anglers the chance to catch both salmon and halibut on the same day, and some took advantage of that unique opportunity, said Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler.
Looking ahead, seven popular areas of Puget Sound will open to fishing for crab July 1, including marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass/Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan/Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).
Dungeness and red rock crab seasons include:
· Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 and 13: Opened June 18 and run through Jan. 2.
· Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) – Will open at 7 a.m., July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6 ¼-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.
The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.
Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .
Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.
Trout and steelhead fishing got under way June 5 in area rivers, including the Skokomish, South Fork Skokomish and Dungeness. Anglers should note that selective gear rules are in effect on those rivers to protect wild summer steelhead. Details on rules and limits are online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .
Tanwax Lake in Pierce County is off to a good start for largemouth bass and rainbow trout. In Kitsap County, Wildcat, Buck, Island and Wye lakes have all received high marks from anglers fishing for largemouth bass and trout. Duck Lake in Grays Harbor County also has been getting accolades from anglers fishing for trout and crappie.
Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.
Wildlife viewing: July Fourth is always a big day for enjoying the outdoors, and this year’s three-day weekend provides the opportunity for an extended stay in one of the state’s campgrounds or wilderness areas.
If it’s birding you’re interested in, our state has six routes in the “Great Washington State Birding Trail” and one of them circles the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Loop stretches from the Nisqually River delta in south Puget Sound west to the Pacific Ocean and north to Cape Flattery before turning east at the Strait and then south to Hood Canal.
Depending on where you are in the Loop, bird watchers can see clouds of shorebirds circle and land on sandy beaches, and birds that appear to fly underwater in bubbling streams. Birds that regularly appear this time of year include dunlin, sanderlings, western sandpipers and nesting rare tufted puffins. Coastal birds include black turnstones, surfbirds and wandering tattlers.
Audubon Washington has produced colorful and informative maps for all six trails. The maps feature drawings of the birds likely to be encountered on the trail. Each map costs $4.95 and can be purchased at: http://wa.audubon.org/birds_GreatWABirdingTrail.html. You can link to the Olympia Loop map by clicking on the image to the left.
Be aware, no matter where in the woods you go you’re likely to encounter something considerably larger, and potentially more dangerous than birds. To minimize the chance of a bad experience, avoid surprising wildlife, don’t feed wild animals and keep your distance so that they can go about their business, providing you with a glimpse into how they live when humans aren’t around.
WDFW enforcement officers and land managers are reminding outdoor recreationists that fireworks are not allowed on any of the Department’s 900,000 acres in 32 wildlife area complexes and over 150 water access sites across the state and many do not allow camp fires or any other kinds of open fires.
Where campfires are allowed, they are usually restricted to metal fire rings and must be kept to less than three feet in height and diameter. Specific rules by property can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/index.html .