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 and Fraser rivers.
“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 opened to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Various westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also opened for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon on Wednesday, July 10.
Summer steelhead are another option – notably in the 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.
For additional information on fishing regulations, see WDFW’s 2013-14 Fishing in Washington pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound opened for crab fishing July 1. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens Monday, July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Thursday, August 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 was closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4. See 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 WDFW wildlife areas and water access sites, and campfires are limited to three feet in diameter.
The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a summer burn ban that limits campfires to approved fire pits or metal rings within designated campgrounds in some forestlands managed by WDFW and other state and local agencies.
More information on DNR’s summer burn ban is available at 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 wdfw.wa.gov/weekender.