Fishing: Anglers are reeling in chinook and coho in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Meanwhile, anglers are having some success at Baker Lake, which recently opened for sockeye salmon.
For the first time, anglers are fishing for sockeye salmon in Baker Lake, where the fish are returning in significantly higher numbers this year. Anglers fishing Baker Lake can retain up to two adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the Baker River. All other salmon must be released, and no fishing is allowed between the dam and the log boom at the lower end of the lake.
“The fish are biting, it’s just a matter of finding them,” said Brett Barkdull, fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Most anglers have done well once they get over them, and hopefully that will continue into August.”
The sockeye salmon fishery at Baker Lake is open until further notice, said Barkdull, who reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. Separate sockeye salmon fisheries on portions of the Skagit and Baker rivers run through July 31.
Elsewhere, anglers can still find some steelhead along the Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River. But most freshwater anglers are gearing up for Sept. 1, when the Stllaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish and portions of the Skagit, Snoqualmie and Green (Duwamish) rivers open for salmon fishing.
Beginning Aug. 16, Lake Sammamish will also be an option for freshwater salmon anglers, who will have a daily limit of four salmon, and can retain up to two chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.
On Puget Sound, anglers can fish for salmon in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Those fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild coho and chum starting Aug. 1.
Anglers fishing marine areas 9 and 10 can keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon, while anglers in Marine Area 10 are required to release chum beginning Aug. 1.
The chinook selective fisheries in marine areas 9 and 10 run through Aug. 31. Beginning Sept. 1, anglers in those two marine areas will be required to release all chinook and chum. Anglers are reminded that regulations vary for inner Elliott Bay, Sinclair Inlet and public fishing piers in those marine areas.
August brings other opportunities in the region to catch and keep salmon. Beginning Aug. 1, marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two areas will have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook.
Meanwhile, the crab fishery is under way in Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:
· Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (South Puget Sound) are open through Jan. 2, seven days a week.
· Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
· Marine areas 7 South and East are open through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.
· Marine Area 7 North will open Aug. 11 on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule through Sept. 30, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/) for more information.
Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in most of the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season (Aug. 1-Nov. 15), but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm) for details.
On tap for next month are early archery seasons for elk, early archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer, and the general hunting season for cougar that gets under way with a statewide archery-only season followed by a muzzleloader hunt. Also opening in September are seasons for forest grouse, mourning dove, band-tailed pigeon and Canada geese.
Wildlife viewing: There’s still time to see salmon at the Ballard Locks. Several hundred sockeye pass through the fish ladder viewing window daily, and chinook should start showing up in greater numbers throughout the month. The Ballard Locks are located in northwest Seattle where the Lake Washington Ship Canal enters Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound. For information, call the locks' Visitor Center in Seattle at (206) 783-7059.
Anyone watching wildlife or pursuing other outdoor activities should be aware that the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has instituted a burn ban on all state lands, including those owned or managed by WDFW. Exceptions include recreational fires in approved fire pits or self-contained stoves and barbeques using gas or propane. See http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx for more information.