Catch trout, salmon, crab across Washington during Free Fishing Weekend

Some of the most popular fishing opportunities are available for anglers in the coming weeks, including trout in hundreds of rivers, crab in south Puget Sound, chinook in the Columbia River and salmon in ocean waters along the coast.

Sound like fun? Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license can get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 7-8.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. In addition, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size restrictions and bag limits will still be in effect.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or halibut they catch that weekend. They also must fill out a catch record card for crab, which is open only in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) during Free Fishing Weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Of course, this month’s fishing opportunities don’t begin and end with Free Fishing Weekend. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • May 31 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon open in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 1 – Crab fishing opens in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • June 7 – Trout fishing opens in hundreds of rivers across the state.
  • June 14 – Traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • July 3 – Crab fisheries open in most areas of Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at . These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities around the state.

Rain or shine, 2014 holds promise for hunting and fishing in Washington

With the new year dawning, thousands of hunters and anglers across Washington state were quietly hoping for a winter storm. Duck hunters and steelheaders, in particular, had come to see the dry, mild weather that marked the end of 2013 as too much of a good thing.


“Dry, calm weather is nice, but it doesn’t make for great duck hunting conditions,” said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Ducks like water, and that is in short supply in the fields around the state.”


A good downpour would also improve fishing for winter steelhead on the Columbia River and elsewhere around the state, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist based in Vancouver, Wash.


“Salmon and steelhead get active and move upriver when rivers and streams rise,” Hymer said. “A lot of anglers would welcome a good hard rain, the sooner the better.”


Statewide waterfowl seasons run through Jan. 26, while steelhead seasons vary by area, as described in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet (


Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to celebrate the new year by heading outdoors, including:



  • Trout fishing: WDFW is stocking 13 rivers in southwest Washington with 30,000 rainbows through the end of the month. For weekly stocking reports there and elsewhere, see


  • Wildlife watching: Bald eagles, snow geese, elk, big-horn sheep and other wintering wildlife are on display in many parts of the state.


Rain or shine, winter weather is an important consideration wherever you go. Ice fishing can be a dicey proposition in many parts of the state and a sudden rainstorm rains can render a river “unfishable” – even dangerous – virtually overnight.


“Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter,” said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement. “Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before you head out.”


WDFW fish and wildlife managers want to pass along a few other seasonal reminders:


  • Crab reports: The Puget Sound crab fishery closed Dec. 31, and crabbers are required to report their winter catch by Feb. 1.


  • Hunter reports: Hunters who purchased tags for black bear, deer, elk or turkey are reminded that reports are due by Jan. 31 for each 2013 license, permit or tag they purchased.


For more information about the full array of fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available over the next month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

WDFW Weekender: Summer fishing in full swing as hunters begin to take the field

In sheer numbers, pink salmon will dominate the catch by Puget Sound anglers over the next month. Nearly 6 million pink salmon are expected to return to the Sound this year, many of them during the next few weeks.


The smallest of the five Pacific salmon species, pink salmon run three to 12 pounds and return to Washington’s waters in odd-numbered years. In most marine areas of Puget Sound, anglers are allowed to catch and keep two pink salmon in addition to daily limits for other species.


“A bumper crop of pink salmon always generates a huge response from anglers,” said John Long, WDFW statewide salmon manager. “You can catch them from a boat, you can catch them from the shore and you can catch them throughout most of Puget Sound. It’s a great fishery for kids and whole families.”


Another big draw is the Buoy 10 chinook salmon season, which runs Aug. 1 through Sept. 1 at the mouth of the Columbia River. A big run of 678,000 fall chinook is expected to return to the river this year, with expectations that anglers will catch about 20,000 of them during the month – most of them between Buoy 10 near the mouth of the river and Rocky Point, 16 miles upstream.


The daily limit for the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. But through Sept. 1, only one of those salmon may be a chinook (marked or unmarked). For steelhead and coho, only fish marked with a missing adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.


“Buoy 10 is a very popular fishery, drawing tens of thousands of anglers every year,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.  “Fishing tends to start out slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August.”


Rather catch shellfish? Crab fishing is open throughout the month in most areas of Puget Sound, the exception being Sub-Area 7 North which opens for crabbing Aug. 15. In all open areas, crab fishing is allowed Thursday through Monday each week. The daily catch limit is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches.


See the WDFW Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet at for more information on these and other fisheries open around the state. For hunting seasons, see the Big Game Hunting pamphlet at


For a region-by-region description of fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available in August, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at These reports are updated throughout the month to provide up-to-date information about recreational opportunities around the state.