For Washingtonians, the start of the new year is prime time to fish for winter steelhead, dig razor clams and enjoy the annual spectacle of bald eagles, snow geese, elk and other wintering wildlife.
Other possibilities include sturgeon fishing, which opens Jan.1 from the mouth of the Columbia River to McNary Dam, and hunting for ducks and geese during seasons that run through Jan. 30 in most areas of the state.
But winter weather is an important consideration wherever you go. Ice fishing can be a dicey proposition in most parts of the state and heavy rains can render a river “unfishable” – even dangerous – virtually overnight.
“Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter,” said Mike Cenci, deputy enforcement chief for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before you head out.”
And, of course, wear warm, waterproof clothes. “We don’t get a lot of T-shirt weather in January,” Cenci said.
Page 1 : Brace for winter and enjoy Wasington Wildlife
Page 2 : North Puget Sound
Page 3 : South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
Page 4 : Southwest Washington
Page 5 : Eastern Washington
Page 6 : Northcentral Washington
Page 7 : Southcentral Washington
All good advice for the hardy souls planning to to dig razor clams on ocean beaches over the New Year’s weekend. Digging will be allowed after noon on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Twin Harbors will also be open for an extra night of digging Jan. 2.
“Digging razor clams on New Year’s Eve is a Northwest tradition,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “Last year, more than 22,000 people marked the season by digging razor clams.”
Rather avoid the crowd? Bald eagles are now on display from the Skagit Valley to Lake Roosevelt, while snow geese and other migratory birds are gathering throughout the coastal lowlands. Wintering elk are also on view in a number of areas, including the feeding station at WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area northwest of Yakima off Highway 12. For information on the feeding schedule, see the southcentral regional report below.
Meanwhile, WDFW is reminding big-game hunters and Puget Sound sport crabbers that deadlines for reporting their harvest in 2010 are drawing near. Hunters have until midnight Jan. 31 to report their success in hunting deer, elk, bear and turkey during the past year. Those who file their reports by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of five deer permits or four elk permits. Sport crabbers have until Feb. 1 to report their catch during the winter season.
For more information on reporting procedures – as well as fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities available around the state – see the regional reports below.