WDFW Weekender Report

If you’ve ever had questions about fishing and hunting regulations, or want to keep updated on recent changes to seasons, etc., you should bookmark the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Web page. Just about everything you want to know is at http://wdfw.wa.gov.

That said, I recommend you check out the WDFW Weekender Report. Scroll down the column on the right side of the page and you’ll see it. It updates recreational opportunities and updates from regions throughout the state.

On the current site, you can read about some upcoming salmon derbies, among others things, in the South Sound/Olympic Peninsula. Here’s an example of what you’ll find on a regular basis. If you’re a hunter or fisher, you’ll like it.
South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Salmon fishing continues to clip along off the coast where anglers may now keep up to two chinook as part of their daily limit. Meanwhile, pink salmon are making their way from the ocean to Puget Sound, where Hood Canal recently opened to crab fishing.

From Ilwaco to Neah Bay, anglers are consistently catching their limits due to good weather and a slug of coho salmon, said Erica Crust, WDFW ocean port sampler.

“Folks are mainly catching coho, but some chinook in the 30-pound range have been caught off Westport with the coho weighing about six pounds,” Crust said. In Ilwaco, the catch makeup has been about one chinook for every nine coho, while anglers fishing off La Push and Neah Bay are catching a mix of coho and pink salmon .

Crust reminds anglers that the limit for chinook is now two fish per day in all ocean areas. “There was enough fish remaining in the quota to ease the one-chinook limit, which is good because we’re still in the midst of some primetime fishing,” Crust said

All coastal areas are open seven days a week, including llwaco and Westport (marine areas 1 and 2), and La Push and Neah Bay (marine areas 3 and 4).

The daily limit in all marine areas is two salmon – two chinook, or two hatchery coho or a combination of both. All wild coho must be released. Westport anglers may add one pink salmon to their limit, while those fishing the north coast may add two. As of Aug. 1, all chum and chinook must be released east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).

On the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers will be required to release all chinook salmon in marine areas 5 and 6 (Sekiu and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) after the end of the day Thursday, Aug. 6, which is earlier than scheduled. The decision to end the fishery was based on conservation concerns for wild chinook, which must be released if encountered by anglers, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.

Pattillo reminds anglers that fishing opportunities for pink salmon, hatchery coho and sockeye still abound on the Strait. “The fishing has been excellent and anglers should enjoy a good season through September,” Pattillo said.

Creel checks conducted during the Aug. 1-2 weekend near Sekiu (Marine Area 5) showed 762 anglers catching 406 pink salmon and 328 coho. The salmon fisheries in marine areas 5 and 6 are open seven days a week, with a two-fish daily limit. All chum, chinook and wild coho must be released. In addition, anglers may add two pink salmon to their daily catch.

Pink salmon heading for the Puyallup River basin should help boost fishing success near Tacoma (Marine Area 11), where a creel check taken Aug. 2 at the Dash Point Dock showed 94 anglers with 20 pink salmon. Salmon fishing in Commencement Bay got under way Aug. 1.

The salmon fishery in Marine Area 11 runs seven days a week, with a two-fish daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. The minimum size for chinook is 22 inches with no minimum limit for other species. All wild chinook must be released.

Area rivers may also be an option for salmon anglers. The Skokomish River in southern Hood canal is now open and anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Hwy. 101 bridge. The daily limit is one salmon; all chum must be released. In northern Hood Canal the Quilcene River opens Aug. 16 from Rodgers Street to the to the Hwy. 101 bridge. The fishery is open seven days a week through Oct. 31. The daily limit is four coho only, with a minimum size of 12 inches.

The Puyallup River, which empties into Commencement Bay, also opens Aug. 16. Before heading out, anglers are advised to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for details on size and catch limits.

For those interested in winning a boat, some cash or just getting out on the water, three derbies in the Northwest Salmon Derby Series are coming up in Puget Sound. On Aug. 8, participants in the Gig Harbor Salmon Derby can try for the $1,000 first prize for catching the largest chinook or coho salmon. For more information, contact psa-gh07derby@earthlink.net .

The ninth annual Hood Canal Salmon Derby will be held on Aug. 15 and 16. Tickets are $25 and participants can try for a first prize of $1,000. Weigh-ins will be at the Port Dock near Hoodsport. Contact Clint Muns at 360-490-8482. Coming up Aug. 22-23 is the Sinclair Inlet Salmon Derby, located near Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula. Contact Gramdiok@msn.com for more information.

Participants in all of these derbies will be entered in a raffle for a 20-foot Stabi-Craft fishing boat, motor and trailer. For more information, visit http://www.discovernorthwestfishing.com <http://www.discovernorthwestfishing.com/>  .

In other derby news, The Westport/Grayland Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Summer Beach Perch Fishing Derby Aug. 15 along the beaches around Westport. The event starts is sponsored by Angler Charters at 2401 Westhaven Drive, across from Float 8 at the Westport Marina. Participants can register for the derby by calling 1-800-422-0425, or visit www.anglercharters.net <http://www.anglercharters.net/>  .

Meanwhile, the Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) Dungeness crab fishery is now under way and will run through Jan. 2. Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will be open Aug. 12-Sept. 30. Both are open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend.

Crab fisheries in marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11 are open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus Labor Day weekend, closing the evening of Sept. 7. Crabbing is open seven days a week in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 and 13 through Jan. 2.

Crab fishers may retain male Dungeness crabs only with shells measuring at least 6π inches. The daily limit is five crabs. All undersized crabs, female Dungeness crabs and softshell crabs of either sex must be returned to the water. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/ or http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear is under way in most areas of the state. Hunters are allowed two bear during the season (Aug. 1-Nov. 15), but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. The general hunting season for cougar will start with a statewide archery-only season Sept. 1-25, followed by a muzzleloader-only season Sept. 26-Oct. 16. Beginning Oct. 17, hunters may use any legal weapon to target cougars in most areas of the state.

Hunters are allowed one cougar during the season. Applications to participate in a permit-only cougar hunt held after the general season are due to WDFW by Aug. 31. Check the Big Game Hunting Season and Regulations for details: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm

Wildlife viewing: Spectacular views, fresh air and blooming wild flowers are bringing thousands of summer visitors to Mount Rainier. Hikers and wildlife viewers are taking to the many trails that start at the Sunrise Visitor Center on the eastern side of the mountain in search of views and alpine wildlife.

A prize sighting is the white-tailed ptarmigan , which is a small grouse that makes it home in alpine habitat. Recent visitors on the Mount Fremont Trail reported seeing a male and female ptarmigan accompanied by several offspring. The ptarmigan, which turns totally white in winter, is streaked brown and gray during the summer. Hikers also noted gray-crowned rosy finch, pine grosbeak, rock wren, young mountain bluebirds, American pipit and juncos . Sightings of several dozen mountain goats have also been reported.

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