North Puget Sound
Fishing: With halibut and lingcod fisheries winding down in the region, saltwater anglers are gearing up for salmon season openers. In the freshwater, anglers are already casting for chinook and will soon have an opportunity to hook sockeye.
Baker and Skagit River sockeye fisheries begin June 14, when anglers on each river will have a daily limit of two sockeye salmon at least 12 inches in length. On the Skagit, the sockeye fishery is open from the Dalles Bridge to 200 feet above the east bank of the Baker River. Anglers should note that there are two closures on each river in late June and early July, said Brett Barkdull, WDFW fish biologist. Barkdull suggests checking WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) before heading out on the river.
"We haven't seen any sockeye in the river yet, so I don't expect a lot of fish for the opener," Barkdull said. "But there should a few fish around, and it should pick up after a week or so."
Until those fisheries get going, anglers can cast for chinook salmon on portions of the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15.
"Overall, the chinook fishery has been fair," Barkdull said. "There were plenty of people out for the opener, but since then effort has tapered off." The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length). Barkdull reminds anglers that statewide rules require anglers to stop fishing for salmon once they have kept two adults.
On the Skykomish, hatchery chinook fishing is open from the Lewis Street Bridge in Monroe to the Wallace River through July 31. Anglers fishing the Skykomish have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook salmon.
Out on the saltwater, the northern portion of Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) is open to catch-and-release fishing for salmon. Fishing is allowed north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point. Handling rules are in effect for this fishery. Regulations in Marine Area 10 change beginning July 1, when anglers will be allowed to keep two salmon per day, but they must continue to release all chinook.
Farther north, the Tulalip Bay "bubble" salmon fishery begins June 15. The bubble is open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 1. The bubble will reopen Sept. 6 with fishing allowed Saturdays and Sundays only. Anglers fishing the Tulalip bubble will have a two-salmon daily limit and chinook must be 22 inches in length to retain.
Meanwhile, time is running out to hook halibut and lingcod. The fishery for halibut is only open two more days June 12-13, while the ling fishery goes through June 15. Anglers have a daily limit of one halibut with no minimum size limit. For lingcod, there's a one-fish daily limit, with a minimum size of 26 inches and a maximum size of 40 inches.
Crab fishing is just around the corner. The fishery opens July 2 in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10, and the southern portion of 7 (San Juan Islands). Fisheries in those areas will be open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/) for more information.
Most spot shrimp fisheries are closed in the region. The exception is the Elliott Bay portion of Marine Area 10, which is open for one more day of fishing on June 14 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shrimpers can also drop a pot for coonstripe and pink shrimp in some marine areas. For details on shrimp fisheries check WDFW's website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelf...dex.shtml.
Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all saltwater and freshwater fisheries in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).
South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
Fishing: Late spring storms have slowed salmon fishing off the coast, but anglers have been finding chinook in the calmer waters of southern Puget Sound. Meanwhile, sport fishers still have a chance to catch late-season halibut on the north coast and shrimp in some areas of the Sound, and three marine areas will open to crab fishing June 18.
Rough weather put a damper on all coastal fisheries during the first week of June, including the salmon season that opened in all four ocean areas. Anglers fishing off of Westport and Ilwaco averaged one salmon for every three rods, and catch rates were even lower off the north coast, said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. But on Sunday, June 7, when the waves flattened out, creel checkers counted 65 anglers with 42 chinook at the dock in Westport.
"The first week in June was especially tough on the north coast and few anglers were on the water," Beeghley said. "We'll get a better idea of how good the fishing really is once the weather calms down and more anglers get out on the water."
Under this year's rules, anglers are limited to one chinook salmon per day from June 1-28. All other salmon species - including coho - must be released during that period. Starting June 29, the daily limit will increase to two salmon per day, including one chinook. As in past years, anglers may retain fin-clipped hatchery coho, but must release any unmarked wild coho they intercept.
Salmon fishing in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) is open seven days a week from June 1-28 and will shift to five days a week, Sundays through Thursdays starting June 29. Marine Area 2 (Westport) is open five days a week, Sundays through Thursdays. On the north coast, marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) are open Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Salmon fisheries in marine areas 5, 6, and 12 (Sekiu/Pillar Point, the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal) will open July 3, seven days a week. Because each area has specific rules and regulations, anglers are advised to check the 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet before heading out (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).
Weather has also been a factor in the recreational halibut fishery off the north coast, but anglers will get four more days to fish in June. Fishing will open June 14 and 21 in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay) at all depths, followed by a nearshore fishery June 17 and 19. In the nearshore fishery, halibut fishing will be restricted to waters no more than 30 fathoms deep. Coordinates and other regulations are included in the 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet and available online at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/halibut.
On inside waters, halibut fishing will close June 13 from Port Angeles to Puget Sound (marine areas 6-11 and 13), but anglers can still fish five days a week in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) through July 21. Those fishing in that area might want to sign up for the 13th annual Sekiu Halibut Derby, which will be held June 14 and 15. For a $15 entry fee, anglers will get a chance to win the $10-per-pound purse. Call Olson's Resort for more information at 360-963-2311.
Lingcod fishing closes June 15 throughout Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but remains open through mid-October on the coast. Shrimp fishing remains open daily in marine areas 4, 5 and 6, while fishing for non-spot shrimp (coonstripe and pink) is under way in marine areas 11 and 13. All spot shrimp caught in those areas must be released.
Dungeness crab fishing starts June 18 in three marine areas, with more to follow. Here's the summer line-up:
June 18: Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will be open seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2009.
July 2: Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 1 for a catch assessment. These areas will reopen in the fall if recreational harvest quotas have not been met.
July 16: Marine Area 7 East (Bellingham and Samish bays) will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 27.
Aug. 13: Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 27.
Like last year, crab fishers will be required to record their Dungeness crab catch on two separate catch record cards - one for the summer season and one for the fall/winter season. Also like last year, they will have the option of mailing in their catch cards or reporting their catch on the Internet.
Meanwhile, salmon anglers in Marine Area 11 (Vashon Island/Tacoma) have had some success since the season started June 1, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. A WDFW creel check reported about one fish for every four rods over the June 7-8 weekend.
"There are fish to be caught, but anglers going out this time of year need to be persistent and spend some time on the water," Thiesfeld said. "We expect better results when the main run comes in about mid-July."
Thiesfeld also suggests anglers try fishing in south Puget Sound (Marine Area 13), where salmon fishing has been open since March 1.
The fisheries in both areas run seven days a week, with a limit of two salmon a day. Minimum size for chinook is 22 inches, with no minimum for other species. Commencement Bay is closed to salmon fishing until Aug. 1. Selective fishing rules are in effect, requiring anglers to use single, barbless hooks (no treble hooks) and release any wild chinook.
Details on rules and regulations are included in the 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet, wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.
Sport fishing for spring chinook continues on the Sol Duc, where salmon have begun to return to the hatchery. Salmon fishing will open July 1 on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Quinault and Nisqually rivers. Regulations vary for rivers throughout the area and anglers are advised to check 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet before heading out.
Fishing: About one in five private boat anglers have been catching legal-size sturgeon in the lower Columbia River below the Wauna powerlines. Catch rates for fin-clipped summer steelhead are picking up on several area tributaries, and shad are finally starting to show up in creels from Kalama upstream to Bonneville Dam.
"Anglers have a number of good opportunities to catch fish right now, and they'll have even more later this month," Hymer said. He was referring to upcoming fisheries for summer steelhead and summer chinook on the mainstem Columbia, which will open in mid-June.
The steelhead fishery, delayed for a month below the I-5 Bridge by concerns about spring chinook returns, will open June 16 on the Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line up to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. Summer chinook fishing will also open June 16 from Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam and run through July 31. Below Bonneville, anglers can keep jack salmon starting June 16 but may only retain adult chinook June 21-28.
Approximately 52,000 summer chinook - up from 37,200 last year - are expected to return to the Columbia River this season, Hymer said. The upriver summer steelhead run is expected to come in about the same as last year, about 325,000 fish, he said.
Hymer said the fishery for summer chinook - known as "June hogs" due to their size - should draw a strong turnout by anglers above and below Bonneville Dam. "These are big, chrome-bright fish headed for the upper Columbia River," he said. "It's not uncommon for summer chinook to run up to 40 pounds, so it's hardly surprising that it's such a popular fishery."
As in years past, anglers must release all wild, unmarked steelhead, but may keep any chinook salmon measuring at least 12 inches. Daily limits are two hatchery steelhead and up to six chinook - including two adults over 24 inches - in all areas of the Columbia open to fishing for those species.
Hymer said high water throughout the Columbia Basin should benefit bank anglers and advises boat anglers to stick close to shore. "Don't anchor too deep or try to fish fast water," he said. "Most of these fish stay fairly close to the bank." He also advises anglers of all kinds to use heavy gear. "Remember, these fish can get big and there's been lots of water."
Meanwhile, sturgeon anglers are already reeling in substantial numbers of big fish from the Columbia River estuary. Private boat anglers have been averaging a keeper for every five rods, and charter boats have been doubling those odds. In a recent creel survey, 165 boat anglers hauled in 51 legal-size white sturgeon to the Deep River and Knappton ramps. A few more were taken near the mouth of the Cowlitz River and in the Bonneville Pool.
Anglers should be aware that sturgeon retention below the Wauna powerlines is scheduled to end June 24 - and possibly sooner if the 13,143-fish quota is taken before then. Check the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) or the Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) for updates.
Shad have also made a somewhat belated appearance on the mainstem Columbia, as evidenced by the fact that 39,999 were counted crossing Bonneville Dam on June 9. Catch rates have picked up, too, especially in the gorge where Oregon sampled three boats with nearly 200 fish during the first weekend in June. Fifteen boat anglers around Woodland accounted for 58 fish, while bank anglers fishing on the Oregon side below Bonneville Dam took home 4.5 shad per rod.
Hymer said it is still not clear whether this year's shad run is down from past years, or just later than usual. "We'll have a better idea once we see some more dam counts," he said. "But I'd be surprised if we didn't see a million-plus fish pass Bonneville this year."
The Cowlitz, Kalama, and Lewis rivers are closed for retention of chinook salmon, but bank anglers are still reeling in springers from the Wind River. The best action has been near the coffer dam, where 51 anglers were checked with 36 fish during the week ending June 8. Spring chinook fishing on Drano Lake, on the other hand, "is pretty much over for the year," Hymer said.
On the other hand, hatchery steelhead has been picking up on the Cowlitz River and several other tributaries to the lower Columbia River. Effort has been light on the lower Cowlitz River, but 22 boat anglers accounted for 16 hatchery steelies in a recent creel check. Anglers are also catching some steelhead from the mainstem and North Fork Lewis. Bonus bag limits for hatchery steelhead are in effect on portions of the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis.
Like last year, WDFW has began transporting hatchery summer-run steelhead that are not needed for broodstock to Kress Lake near Kalama, where anglers can count two against their five-fish trout limit. Through early June, several hundred fish had been trucked to the lake. At Riffe Lake, bank anglers fishing around the dam are catching landlocked coho, and Mayfield Lake has been providing some good fishing for rainbows, especially around the hatchery. Goose Lake near Carson may not be accessible until July 4th this year because of heavy snow.
Fishing: Marc Divens, WDFW fish biologist, reports good bass and crappie fishing at Spokane County's Downs, Eloika and Newman lakes. Crappie fishing is also good now at Long Lake, the Spokane River reservoir. Anglers are catching tiger muskies at Ferry County's Curlew Lake and Spokane County's Newman and Silver lakes, while kokanee are averaging 11 inches at Loon Lake in Stevens County.
Trout lakes throughout the region remain productive, Divens said. In Spokane County, Amber, Badger, Clear, Fish, and West Medical lakes are among the best. Lincoln County's Fishtrap Lake is also a good bet, he said.
Meanwhile, many rivers and streams are still out of shape for fishing, with continuing rainfall throughout much of the region.
North Central Washington:
Fishing: Art Viola, WDFW district fish biologist, notes spring chinook salmon fishing is now open on the Entiat River through July 15. The special season, which is not listed in the rules pamphlet, is possible because approximately 1,600 non-endemic, hatchery-origin spring chinook are expected to return to the Entiat River, along with 137 to 214 natural origin-spring chinook.
"The selective fishery will target non-endemic hatchery spring chinook that pose a risk to the natural origin spring chinook in the Entiat River, which are listed as endangered," Viola said. Fishing is open for the non-endemic, hatchery-origin fish - which can be identified by a clipped adipose fin - with a daily limit of two, minimum size 12 inches.
Angling is allowed from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River, upstream about six miles to 400 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery discharge channel. Selective fishery rules are in effect, requiring the use of single barbless hooks, non-buoyant lure restriction, night closure and mandatory release of chinook with an intact adipose fin and all steelhead. Handling rules are also in effect for this fishery. Bait is allowed. Fishery duration may be modified as necessary for protection of the ESA-listed spring chinook.
South Central Washington:
Fishing: Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist, reports that salmon fishing on the Yakima River between Union Gap and Roza Dam is very good. "River flows have dropped, fish are moving and the weather has improved, making the prospects good for the rest of the season," Cummins said. The majority of the catch are adipose-clipped hatchery fish, and more than half are jacks. Wild chinook, which can be identified by an intact adipose fin, must be released. The season ends June 30.
Anglers should note that the daily limit for hatchery spring chinook on the Yakima has also increased from two to six fish, Cummins said. Complete rules for this fishery are online at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.
Fishing is also good at Clear Lake in Yakima County, said Cummins. "In spite of cold, windy weather, 146 anglers caught 404 rainbow trout at a June 7 fishing derby," he said. Nearly half were caught and released. Triploid trout have been planted at Clear Lake, but access to Leech and Dog lakes is blocked by snow, Cummins said. "We hope to plant triploids before the end of June in those lakes, and in Lost Lake (Kittitas County)," he said.
Most rivers and streams opened to trout fishing June 1, but high, turbid water flows kept anglers off the rivers through the first week of the month. Fishing should pick up, but higher than normal flows due to late snowmelt may reduce fishing success for several weeks, Cummins said.
The Naches River is one of many rivers still flowing high. Best bets might be small tributary streams, such as the Teanaway, Naneum, Taneum, Little Naches and Rattlesnake Creek, Cummins said. These creeks have a number of special regulations, and starting this year there are new regulations on the Teanaway River and tributaries. Some reaches are closed to fishing and the mainstem Teanaway is catch and release. The new rules on the Teanaway are designed to protect a dwindling bull trout population. Before heading out, anglers should check the 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).
For anglers interested in bass, crappie and bluegills, the I-82 Ponds are good bets, Cummins said. Several of those ponds are also planted with trout. Fish planting information for the I-82 Ponds and other lakes can be found on the WDFW website at: wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/weekly/.
An emergency regulation corrected a problem with the new regulation for the North Fork Tieton River. Contrary to the 2008-09 Fishing in Washington pamphlet, fishing is open for all game fish except bull trout on the lower North Fork Tieton River between Rimrock Lake and Clear Lake Dam. Details are available on WDFW's emergency rule website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).