Fishing: Winter has arrived, but area anglers can still catch hatchery steelhead on several coastal streams, salmon in Puget Sound and razor clams on five ocean beaches.
A razor clam dig has been approved at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch. Opening dates and evening low tides are:
- Dec. 31, Fri. – 3:40 p.m., (0 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
- Jan. 1, Sat. – 4:31 p.m., (-0.4 ft.), Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
- Jan. 2, Sun. – 5:18 p.m., (-0.7 ft.), Twin Harbors
Clam diggers are reminded that they should take lights or lanterns for the nighttime digs and to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out. No digging will be allowed before noon on any of the five razor-clam beaches. Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2010-11 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW’s website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.
Meanwhile, winter hatchery steelhead fisheries are in full swing at a number of the region’s streams. “If the weather cooperates, steelhead fishing should be good throughout January,” said Kirt Hughes, regional fishery manager for WDFW.
Anglers fishing the Quillayute and portions of the Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh, and Sol Duc rivers have a daily limit of three hatchery steelhead. In the Grays Harbor area, anglers fishing the Chehalis, Humptulips, Satsop and Wynoochee have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead.
Hughes reminds anglers that they will not be allowed to catch and keep wild steelhead on eight Olympic Peninsula rivers until mid-February. In early 2010, the annual opening date for wild steelhead retention was changed from Dec. 1 to Feb. 16 on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh, Quillayute, Quinault and Sol Duc rivers. Those eight rivers are the only waters in Washington where wild steelhead retention is allowed.
The change, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission last February, was made to protect the early portion of the run, said Hughes. He noted, however, that anglers will still have an opportunity to catch and keep a wild fish during the peak of the return.
Freshwater anglers looking to hook salmon also have opportunities in January. Anglers can find late-run coho salmon in some of the region’s rivers, including the Humptulips, Naselle, Satsop and Willapa, said Hughes. “The Skookumchuck also is a good bet for anglers fishing for late-run coho, as well as steelhead,” he said.
For winter chum salmon, anglers should try fishing the Nisqually.
On Puget Sound, Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) remains open for salmon. However, regulations for Marine Area 13 change Jan. 1, when anglers will have a daily limit of one salmon. Anglers should be aware that salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 12 (Hood Canal) close Jan. 1. Before heading out on the Sound, anglers should check the regulations on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.
The Puget Sound crab fishery closes at sunset on Jan. 2, and crabbers are reminded that they are required to report their winter catch to WDFW by Feb. 1. Reports are due for the season running Sept. 7 to Jan. 2, whether or not crabbers actually fished or caught Dungeness crab. To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system is available Jan. 3-Feb. 1 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html .
Opportunities to dig clams at Hood Canal increase Jan. 1, when Belfair State Park in Mason County opens for littleneck, butter, manila and other clams. Recent surveys indicate that the clam population will support a fishery at the park. For more information on clam-digging opportunities in Hood Canal and elsewhere, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/beaches/.
Hunting: Most big-game hunts in the region will be closed by the start of January, although, waterfowl hunters still have time to bag ducks and geese. Hunters have through Jan. 30 to hunt for ducks in the region. Goose hunts in Goose Management Area 3 also are open seven days a week through Jan. 30. However, hunts in Goose Management Area 2B (Pacific County) are limited to Jan. 2, and Saturdays and Wednesdays only from Jan. 5-15. The brant hunting season in Pacific County is open Jan. 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29 and 30.
Waterfowl hunters should check the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ for details.
Hunters who purchased tags for black bear, deer, elk or turkey are reminded that reports on their hunting activities are due by Jan. 31 for each 2010 tag purchased. Hunters can file a report by calling (877) 945-3492, or by the Internet at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov. Those who miss the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before they can purchase a 2011 hunting license. On the other hand, hunters who submit their reports by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for five deer permits and four elk permits in various areas of the state.
New this year, WDFW is requiring hunters to file separate reports for general-season hunting activities and for special-permit hunts for deer, elk, black bear and turkey. That change will give game managers more information about hunters’ success during both kinds of seasons. Whether reporting online or over the phone, hunters should follow the prompts until they receive a confirmation number for each report.
Wildlife viewing: The Audubon Society continues to compile bird sightings from the annual Christmas Bird Count, which comes to a close in early January. For more information on bird sightings in Washington, check the Current Year Results heading on Audubon’s website at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.
This compilation of sightings provides important information about bird populations, in Washington and throughout the Americas. But keeping a list of birds seen throughout each year is also a personal endeavor, a common practice among birders, veterans and novices alike. Some birders record their sightings in journals, others on computer software programs. Some keep track in their field guides where and when they saw each species. The Washington Ornithological Society (WOS) offers a wealth of information on birds and birding, including a checklist available at http://www.wos.org/.