OLYMPIA, Wash. - Summer fishing seasons are now in full swing, requiring anglers to make some tough decisions about how to spend their time on the water. Salmon, steelhead, crab, trout, bass and walleye – all are now available for harvest in various waters around the state.
But for thousands of anglers, nothing beats the thrill of reeling in a big chinook salmon. Many are doing just that as waves of chinook move south along the Washington coast, then east into Puget Sound, coastal streams and the Columbia River.
“Fishing for both chinook salmon and hatchery coho should improve off the coast right through the month,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The same is true for Puget Sound and other inside waters.”
Six marine areas of Puget Sound open to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Various westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also open for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon July 10.
Summer steelhead are another option – notably in Columbia River and many of its tributaries – where 339,200 adult fish are expected to move upriver in the coming weeks. As always, anglers are required to release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in the fishery, which extends from the mouth of the Columbia to the Canadian Border.
Fishing regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s For additional information on fishing regulations, see WDFW’s 2013-14 Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.
Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound will open for crab fishing July 1. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia).
The crab fishery in all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open Thursday through Monday of each week. The season will get under way with a one-day opening (July 1), and will be closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ for all crab-fishing rules.
Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.
Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in WDFW forested areas.
Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. For example, no campfires of any kind are allowed at the four WDFW wildlife areas in Yakima and Kittitas counties until Oct. 15 due to the high risk of wildfires.
Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area. More information on DNR’s summer burn ban is available at http://goo.gl/5jykD
For more information about fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor activities available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities in six regions around the state.