Fishing: Summer salmon fishing is in full swing along the coast, where anglers are hooking some bright chinook and nice-size coho. “Some days are better than others, but for the most part fishing has been good for both chinook and coho,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “In the coming weeks, I expect fishing to get even better as more salmon show up and the weather settles down.”
Anglers fishing marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed. All four ocean marine areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week.
Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 3 and 4, through Sept. 19 in Marine Area 2 and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. However, salmon fisheries in those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
So far this year, angler effort has been lower than expected likely because of rough weather, Milward said. “Conditions should improve as we move into August, making it easier for anglers to get out on the water,” he said.
In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers are still having some success hooking chinook and the occasional coho in marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), while salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (South Puget Sound) continue to be slow.
Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/) before heading out on the water.
Prefer shellfish? The Dungeness crab fishery is going strong in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and most areas of Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:
· Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 are open through Jan. 2, seven days a week.
· Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 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.
Meanwhile, WDFW enforcement officers will be increasing resource-protection patrols on the Skokomish River, where recreational salmon fishing opens Aug. 1 under several new regulations.
The daily bag limit has been increased this year from one to two salmon for anglers fishing from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge through Sept. 30. However, a new rule in effect this year requires anglers to carefully release any wild chinook salmon they catch. As in previous years, anglers must release chum salmon through Oct. 15.
Another change this year is that recreational fishing will be closed from the Highway 106 Bridge upstream to the Highway 101 Bridge on six Mondays to avoid potential gear conflicts with treaty tribal fishers. Those closures are scheduled for Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and Sept. 13. Recreational fishing downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will remain open seven days a week through the fishing season.
Anglers fishing the Skokomish River also will be required to release any salmon not hooked inside the mouth and retain the first two legal salmon they catch. In addition, single-point barbless hooks are required and a night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect.
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: Spectacular views, crisp air and blooming wild flowers are bringing thousands of visitors to Mount Rainier this summer. Hikers and wildlife viewers are taking to the many trails that start at the Sunrise Visitor Center on the eastern side of the mountain in search of views and alpine wildlife. A prize sighting is the white-tailed ptarmigan, which is a small grouse that makes it home in alpine habitat. Recent visitors on the Burroughs Mountain trail reported seeing five ptarmigan – one female and four chicks. The ptarmigan, which turns totally white in winter, is streaked brown and gray during the summer. Hikers also noted several mountain bluebirds, four horned larks and an American kestrel.
A popular attraction in late-August and September is the return of hatchery chinook salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia as they begin their annual spawning run. Onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia before they enter Capitol Lake. From there, the fish will move up the river to spawn.
Just south of Olympia, Wolf Haven International will be hosting Howl-Ins each Saturday in August from 6-9 p.m. Howl-Ins include 15-minute sanctuary tours, environmentally friendly children’s activities, an eco-scavenger hunt, an interactive conservation table, Wolf-TV, family oriented entertainment, and a howling competition. For more information on the Howl-Ins, visit Wolf Haven’s website at http://www.wolfhaven.org/.