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spectr17
08-25-2008, 11:29 PM
Countdown to Labor Day Weekend Includes Good Fishing, Preparations For Early Hunts

8/21/08

Salmon fishing is going strong at the mouth of the Columbia River, catch rates remain steady off the coast and the popular Elliott Bay chinook fishery in Puget Sound will open for one more weekend, Aug. 22-25.

Those are just a few of the attractions awaiting anglers in the days leading up to the Labor Day weekend. Meanwhile, bowhunters are preparing for the deer and elk archery seasons that start early next month, when hunting seasons for upland birds also get under way around the state.

"Outdoor recreation traditionally reaches a peak around the Labor Day weekend - and for good reason," said Dave Brittell, assistant director of the wildlife program at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "A lot of people have time off from work and it's a great time to get outdoors."

The Buoy 10 fishery in the Columbia River estuary came on especially strong during the week ending Aug. 17, yielding more than 2,800 chinook salmon - plus 350 coho - in seven days of fishing. Some of those fish have been weighing in at close to 50 pounds apiece, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist.

"Anyone who wants to catch chinook salmon at Buoy 10 should go now," Hymer said.

Hymer recommends that anglers planning a trip to Buoy 10 check the Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) or the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) for any updates on the fishery, where the chinook harvest is limited to 6,500 fish for the season.

Then again, a variety of other rivers - and a different section of the Columbia - will open to fishing for chinook salmon Sept. 1. See the regional reports below for details.

All areas of Puget Sound will be open for crab fishing Wednesday through Saturday, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, after which eight marine areas will close for a catch assessment. Waters closing Sept. 1 at one hour past sunset include 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).

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 15 and must be returned whether or not they caught or fished for crab during the season. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information on the fishery is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crabreg/crabindex on the WDFW website.

For more information on fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities available in coming weeks, see the regional reports below.

North Puget Sound

Fishing: Mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon have wrapped up in central Puget Sound, but anglers still have other opportunities in the region. Coho fisheries remain open in the marine areas, where crabbing also continues through Sept. 1. In the freshwater, anglers can cast for steelhead while they await the Sept. 1 salmon opener on several rivers in the region.

But the best bet for anglers might be the last weekend of the Elliott Bay salmon fishery. Catch rates for chinook and coho have been steady over the last couple openings in the bay, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "Fishing tends to pick up in the bay toward the end of August," he said.

Time is running out, however. The Elliott Bay chinook fishery is open for only one more weekend of fishing - Aug. 22-25. Anglers fishing Elliott Bay have a two-salmon daily limit but must release chum. "This last opener will likely be the best weekend since the fishery opened in July," Thiesfeld said. "So this is the time to get out there and fish for chinook."

Elliott Bay re-opens Aug. 27 under the same regulations as Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release chinook and chum.

Elsewhere in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), anglers are still hooking some resident coho salmon. Catch counts at the Shilshole Ramp indicate 74 anglers took seven coho Aug. 16, and 54 anglers checked seven silvers the following day.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers fishing in nearby Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) that they also have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release chinook, chum and wild coho, which can be identified by an intact adipose fin.

Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) also are open for salmon, but fishing has been slow the last couple weeks in those three areas, said Thiesfeld.

Meanwhile, the summer crab fishery is winding down. The region's marine areas close one hour past sunset Sept. 1. Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 15 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information on the fishery is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crabreg/crabindex.

In the rivers, anglers can still find some steelhead along the Reiter Ponds section of the Skykomish River. But most freshwater fishers are gearing up for Sept. 1, when the Snohomish and portions of the Skykomish, Skagit and Snoqualmie open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing those four rivers must release chinook. Anglers fishing the Snohomish, Snoqulamie and Skykomish also are required to release pink salmon.

A portion of the Green (Duwamish) River also will open Sept. 1 for salmon. The Green will be open from Tukwila International Blvd. to I-405. Anglers fishing that stretch will have a daily limit of six salmon, only one of which may be a chinook, and no more than three adults.

Before heading out to the rivers, or out on the Sound, anglers should check the rules and regulations for fisheries in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).

Hunting: Bear and cougar hunting seasons continue in the region. Hunters are allowed two cougar during the season, which runs through March 15, 2009. Hunters are also allowed two bear during the 2008 general season (Aug. 1-Nov. 15), but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

Early archery seasons are set to begin in select western Washington Game Management Units. The early deer season runs Sept. 1-30, while the elk season runs Sept. 8-21.

Also opening Sept. 1 are the statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons. Those openings are followed by an early Canada goose hunt that runs Sept. 6-11 in Game Management Units 1 and 3. Before heading out, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm) and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm) for details.

Wildlife viewing: A new baby orca has been spotted in the waters around San Juan Island. The calf - designated L-111 - is a member of L Pod, a group of about 45 resident killer whales found in Puget Sound, according to the Center for Whale Research (http://www.whaleresearch.com). The calf is the sixth baby of L-47, a 34-year-old female orca nicknamed Marina.

Meanwhile, a birder hiking the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail recently spotted a Williamson's sapsucker. The bird, a rare visitor to western Washington, was seen in a stand of alders, cottonwoods and maples where the trail crosses the Preston-Fall City Road, according to a report on Tweeters website (http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/). With its yellow belly and red throat, Williamson's sapsuckers are striking birds. In Washington, they are found east of the Cascades, mostly in the Blue Mountains and occasionally in the Okanogan and Methow valleys.

Elsewhere, a birder at Juanita Bay Park spotted a bank swallow mixed in with a group of barn swallows. Mostly found in eastern Washington this time of year, bank swallows are the smallest swallows in North America. Some occasionally breed in western Washington, where nesting colonies have been documented along the Toutle River in Cowlitz County and the Green River near Auburn.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: The ocean salmon fishery off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) is now closed, but anglers still have other opportunities to catch a salmon off the coast and throughout the region. They can also take advantage of two more days of halibut fishing, try for tuna, or get their gear ready for some river fishing coming up Sept. 1.

Salmon anglers off Westport (Marine Area 2) continue to have fair success this season, with a catch rate of one fish per person, said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. "We're still seeing a lot of chinook, with the catch evenly split between coho and chinook," Beeghley said.

Along the north coast in Marine Area 3 (La Push), the catch rate has been just under one fish per person, with a 50-50 split similar to Westport, Beeghley said. Anglers in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) are fairing a little better, averaging about one fish per person, with coho salmon making up the majority of the catch.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 13 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, or until quotas are reached. Westport is open Sundays through Thursdays only while the La Push and Neah Bay salmon fisheries are open Tuesdays through Saturdays only.

If tuna strikes your fancy, the fishing's been quite good in recent weeks, Beeghley said. "The average catch has been about five fish per person," she said. "August is the best month for tuna and hopefully the weather will cooperate for those venturing out." Tuna season is open year-round with no daily limit.

Meanwhile, anglers have another chance to land a halibut in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) where the recreational fishery will reopen for two more days, Aug. 22 and 23. Recreational halibut fishing is closed in all other marine areas. Anglers are reminded that no other bottom fish may be taken, retained, possessed or landed - except sablefish and Pacific cod - while halibut are onboard the vessel.

Anglers are advised to check the fishing regulations before heading out at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.

Anglers planning to launch their boats in South Bend are advised of an error in the Willapa River listing in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet. The boat launch referenced as the downstream boundary for the Willapa River fishery is operated by Pacific County, not WDFW. For that reason, anglers using that facility should be prepared to pay a launch fee.

Along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the chinook fishery in marine areas 5 and 6 (Sekiu/Port Angeles) is now closed, but both areas remain open for retention of hatchery coho and sockeye salmon. Anglers are reminded that handling rules are in effect and all chum, chinook and wild coho must be released. The salmon fisheries in marine areas 5 and 6 are open seven days a week with a two-fish daily limit.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), great weather and a salmon derby over the Aug. 16 weekend brought out the anglers, who averaged about one fish for every three rods. Fish caught by the top three winners of the eighth annual Hood Canal Salmon Derby, weighed in at more than 20 pounds apiece.

Meanwhile, salmon fishing near Point Defiance in Marine Area 11 produced about one fish for every ten rods over the Aug. 16 weekend. Anglers fishing at Narrows Marina faired somewhat better with a catch rate of one fish for every five anglers.

As August draws to a close, chinook will be entering the rivers and saltwater anglers should start targeting coho salmon, which are beginning to show up in the catch, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "Mid-September is generally good for coho in Hood Canal and southern Puget Sound," he said.

Thiesfeld reminded anglers that salmon fishing opens Sept. 1 north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal. The daily limit is two coho. All other salmon species must be released. Dabob and Quilcene bays, also part of Marine Area 12, opened for salmon fishing on Aug. 16.

Several rivers around the region open to salmon fishing Sept. 1, including the Carbon River in Pierce County; Copalis River, Van Winkle Creek and Joe Creek in Grays Harbor County; the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County; and Clearwater River in Jefferson County. The Puyallup River opened Aug. 16 this year.

Also beginning Sept. 1, anglers fishing in the Quillayute system - which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers - can keep two wild chinook as part of their limit of three adult fish. The total daily limit is six fish; all wild adult coho must be released.

On the Hoh River, anglers will be able to fish for salmon seven days a week as of Sept. 1 and keep up to two adult fish as part of their six-fish daily limit.

Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) for specific regulations throughout the region.

For those interested in winning a boat, some cash or just getting out on the water, two derbies in the 14-event Northwest Salmon Derby Series are coming up in the region. The 10th Annual Kitsap Poggie Club - Sinclair Inlet Salmon Derby will be held Aug. 23-24. Weigh-in will take place on the S.E. corner of the Port Orchard Marina. For more information, contact Gramdiok@msn.com

Anglers traveling to the coast can participate in the Tokeland Marina, Willapa Bay Salmon Derby, which will be held Aug. 30. For more information, contact VickieWilburn@comcast.net

All participants in both derbies will be entered in a raffle for a 23-foot welded aluminum fishing boat and trailer, while kids will be entered into a raffle for a 14-foot boat, motor and trailer. For more information, visit http://www.discovernorthwestfishing.com.

Recreational crabbers should be aware that the summer Dungeness crab fishery will close for a catch assessment in several areas of Puget Sound after the Labor day weekend. Areas closing Sept. 1 one hour after sunset include 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). Crabbing will be open over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30 - Sept. 1)

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 15 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crabreg/crabindex.


Hunting: Bear and cougar hunting seasons continue in the region. Hunters are allowed two cougar during the season, which runs through March 15, 2009. Hunters are also allowed two bear during the 2008 general season (Aug. 1-Nov. 15), but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

Early archery seasons are set to begin in select western Washington Game Management Units. The early deer season runs Sept. 1-30, while the elk season runs Sept. 8-21.

Also opening Sept. 1 are the statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons. In Pacific County, Goose Management Area 2B will be open for goose hunting Sept. 1-15. Before heading out, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm) and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm) for details.

Wildlife viewing: A popular attraction this time of year is the return of chinook salmon to the waters near Olympia as they begin their annual spawning run. For the next several weeks, onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia and enter Capitol Lake. From there, the fish will move up the Deschutes River to spawn. The salmon can also be seen from the trails at Tumwater Falls Park.

Birders touring the coast in Grays Harbor recently have reported seeing several rare elegant terns flying among the Caspian terns near Ocean Shores.

Southwest Washington

Fishing: After a slow start, salmon fishing suddenly caught fire at Buoy 10 in the Columbia River estuary, where anglers kept more than 2,800 chinook - plus 350 coho - during the week ending Aug. 17. Joe Hymer, WDFW fish biologist, said the heavy rain that fell two days later could draw even more salmon into the fishery, which has a catch allocation of 6,500 chinook for the season.

State fishery managers were scheduled to meet the afternoon of Thursday Aug. 21 for an update on the Buoy 10 fishery.

"Anyone who wants to catch chinook salmon at Buoy 10 should go now," Hymer said. "With boat anglers averaging a chinook for every two rods, the allocation can go pretty fast." He noted that some of those fish have been weighing in at close to 50 pounds apiece.

To track the fishery's progress, anglers can check daily catch-sampling summaries posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regions/reg5/buoy10.htm. The site also includes links to area web cameras, along with marine forecasts and information on water temperatures and salinity.

Hymer also recommends that anglers planning a trip to Buoy 10 check the Fishing Hotline (360-902-2500) or the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) for any updates on the fishery, which will remain open to retention of hatchery coho through the end of the year.

Beyond Buoy 10, anglers eager to catch chinook salmon can look forward to Labor Day (Sept. 1), when the Columbia River opens for chinook retention upriver from Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line to Bonneville Dam. By then, more fish should be exiting the estuary and heading upriver.

From Sept. 1-16, anglers fishing that area may retain two adult salmon - only one of which may be a chinook - as part of their six-salmon daily limit. An exception is the eight-mile fall chinook sanctuary area near the mouth of the Lewis River, where all chinook salmon must be released. That area is defined on page 79 of the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).

Above Bonneville Dam, chinook salmon are already appearing on an increasing number of stringers in the Bonneville Pool and in Columbia River tributaries currently open to chinook retention. At Drano Lake, those chinook salmon helped to make up for a slowdown in the fishery for hatchery steelhead amid low water conditions. But hatchery steelhead still account for most of the catch in area waters, including the Bonneville Pool where anglers averaged three steelhead for every four rods (counting fish released) in a creel survey ending Aug. 17. Bank anglers were also catching a combination of chinook and hatchery steelhead near the mouth of the White Salmon River.

Meanwhile, boat anglers fishing the Cowlitz River around the trout hatchery have been averaging about one hatchery steelhead for every two rods. Some steelhead and sea-run cutthroat are being caught in the lower river. Some hatchery steelhead are also being caught in the Lewis River. Hymer reminds anglers that new fishing rules were adopted earlier this year during the North of Falcon season-setting process to conserve chinook salmon in those and several other area tributaries, including:

Lewis River: Anglers are required to release all chinook salmon intercepted on the Lewis River, where wild chinook returns are expected to reach only about half of the 5,700-fish escapement goal. The requirement to release chinook is in effect in the Lewis River, the North Fork Lewis River and in the chinook sanctuary area on the mainstem Columbia River noted above. Fishing for hatchery coho and hatchery steelhead remains open, but fishing from boats is prohibited on the North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek upstream to Merwin Dam to minimize chinook handling.

Cowlitz and Toutle Rivers: Anglers must continue to release all chinook - except marked, hatchery-reared jacks - because hatchery returns are not expected to meet management goals. Anglers may still retain hatchery steelhead and hatchery coho caught in both rivers.

Kalama, Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake: Anglers may retain any adult chinook salmon, but must release any wild, unmarked chinook jacks they encounter.

In addition, the lower portion of Mill, Abernathy, Germany, and Coal creeks and Coweeman River will be closed to all fishing in September and October to protect spawning fall chinook.

On the other hand, the Grays River (including the West Fork) will open to fishing for hatchery coho and adipose and/or ventral fin clipped chinook Sept. 1. Fishing will also open that day on the Elochoman River for hatchery coho and hatchery chinook jacks. Bonus limits will be in effect for adult hatchery coho on both rivers.

Meanwhile, anglers have been catching a few legal-size white sturgeon in the Columbia River gorge, the only area between the Wauna powerlines and Bonneville Dam where any catch was observed during the week ending Aug. 17. Sturgeon may be retained in that area Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the year. Boat anglers fishing in the Camas/Washougal area have been catching walleye.

At Mayfield Lake, bank anglers have been reeling in rainbows around the trout hatchery, while those fishing Riffe Lake have been catching landlocked coho. Ollalie Lake in Skamania County was planted with 1,430 catchable-size rainbows Aug. 7.

Hunting: Early archery seasons are set to begin in select Game Management Units in Southwest Washington and the rest of the state. The early deer season runs Sept. 1-30, while the elk season runs Sept. 8-21, as outlined in WDFW's Big Game Hunting pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm).

Also opening Sept. 1 are the statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons. Before heading out, hunters should check and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm) for details.

Hunting seasons for bear and cougar also continue statewide, although cougar-hunting rules will change significantly Sept. 9 in Klickitat County, where the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission recently approved a new pilot cougar hunt with the aid of dogs. To accommodate the new pilot hunt - set for Dec. 1 through March 31 - the existing general hunt had to be restructured mid-season, said Donny Martorello, WDFW carnivore specialist.

Under the new rules, the general-season cougar hunt will be restricted to hunters using muzzleloaders and archery equipment from Sept. 9 through Oct. 10. The same will be true for the period from Nov. 20-30. The only remaining period when hunters can use any type of weapon - including modern firearms - to hunt cougars during the general season is Oct. 11 through Nov. 19.

Those regulations are consistent with those in effect in the other five counties where hunting cougar with the use of dogs has been approved. Included in that list are Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. "The measure approved by the commission effectively moves the hunt from one set of regulations to another," Martorello said. "We want to make sure hunters are aware of those new rules, especially since the general season is already under way." General hunting seasons in other counties are not affected by the changes in the Klickitat County hunt.

Wildlife viewing: With the breeding season coming to an end, growing numbers of such songbirds as warblers, vireos, thrushes and sparrows are pulling up stakes and heading south to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. For many people, this broad-scale migration involving millions of birds goes virtually unnoticed - in part, because most neotropical migrants travel at night.

"The main movement is just getting started and will continue well into September," said Bill Tweit, a WDFW fish manager and avid birder. "Most nocturnal migrants will fly all night, some covering up to 500 miles, then stop for a few days to rest and fuel up."

One advantage of traveling at night is that songbirds are less visible to predators, such as hawks. Cooler temperatures at night also help the migrants from overheating and tend to provide more stable air currents, Tweit said. On the downside, the birds miss out on some sleep and can't take advantage of rising air currents ("thermals") that help keep daytime migrants such as hawks aloft.

Because the birds travel on a fairly broad front, just about anybody can see - or hear - them if they stay up late enough. All that's required is a calm and relatively quiet night, and the patience to listen for the "contact notes" the birds emit as they fly over. "It's kind of like looking for shooting stars," Tweit said. "Sometimes there are only a few and sometimes there are a lot." For an especially dramatic view, Tweit suggests training a telescope on the moon when passing birds are abundant and viewing them in silhouette.

Salmon and steelhead are also on the move, a fact that is readily apparent by looking through the fish-viewing windows at Bonneville Dam. Since Aug. 15, more than 1,000 fall chinook - and nearly 5,000 steelhead - have been counted passing up the fish ladder each day on the Washington side of the river. But those proportions are expected to change soon. Last year, the chinook count jumped to more than 6,000 fish per day by the end of August, while the steelhead run began to taper off. To watch this year's returns first-hand, take Washington State Highway 14 east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and turn into the Bonneville Dam visitor center. The visitor center is the glass building at the end of the powerhouse.

Eastern Washington

Fishing: The Snake River steelhead catch-and-keep season opens Sept. 1, and an abundant return of fish is expected back this year. The mouths of tributaries, such as the Tucannon and Grande Ronde, as well as the confluence with the Clearwater on the Idaho border, should be productive from the start. Steelheaders are reminded that the daily trout catch limit of six fish includes up to three hatchery-marked steelhead (healed scar at clipped adipose or ventral fin), and barbless hooks are required.

Chris Donley, WDFW central district fish biologist in Spokane, said that the late summer/early fall can be a transition for both fish and anglers. Fish habits can change with cooler weather and precipitation, and anglers need to figure out new strategies for catching them.

"It's usually a good time for catching yellow perch at lakes like Long, Eloika, Bonnie, and Downs," Donley said. "But it can also be good for rainbow and cutthroat trout at all the usual waters like Amber, Badger, Clear, Fish, Fishtrap, West Medical and Williams lakes."

Donley noted Loon Lake's kokanee fishing has been strong, especially at night, but recent hard rain might slow the action there. Lake Roosevelt anglers continue to catch big rainbows throughout the reservoir and walleye above Kettle Falls.

Sandy Dotts, WDFW habitat biologist in Colville, said fishing for cutthroat trout is still pretty good at Davis Lake in Ferry County. "The fish are small, but they bite readily on worms or eggs," she said. "Time of day doesn't really seem to matter, but early morning was best."

Dotts noted that Davis Lake is one of Ferry County's "no internal combustion engine" lakes, along with Ferry, Long and Swan lakes.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but fishers are reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Hunting: Sept. 1 is the opening of mourning dove and forest grouse hunting statewide. WDFW staff throughout the region have noted an influx of doves in recent days, and if windy, rainy weather doesn't push them further south, it could be a productive opener. Although no specific surveys are conducted, blue (or dusky), ruffed and spruce grouse are expected to be in relatively healthy population "pockets" in the region's northeast and southeast forests.

Sept. 1 is also the start of the month-long archery hunting season for deer, and both white-tailed and mule deer are in relatively good numbers throughout the region. Archers should check out all season information in the big game rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html.

Sept. 2 is the opening of black bear hunting in portions of the region that traditionally support some of the healthiest bear populations and best hunter harvest rates in the state - northeast game management units 101-117 and the Blue Mountains units 145-154 and 162-186.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but hunters are reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Wildlife viewing: WDFW Central District Wildlife Biologist Howard Ferguson said this is a great time to watch birds grouping up for fall migrations. "Shorebirds are already moving through this area on their way to wintering grounds further south," Ferguson said. "Watch for big groups of them making resting stopovers on the muddy shorelines of lakes and ponds throughout the region."

Blackbirds, nighthawks, sparrows, swallows, and many other songbirds are grouping up in trees and on powerlines and will be moving on soon. Good numbers of mourning doves recently moved into the region from the north on their way south. Ferguson also notes it's a good time for a sunset drive into the country to watch for groups of foraging whitetail and mule deer and elk.

With crowds of campers, hikers, picnickers, and wildlife watchers expected at many public recreation areas over the Labor Day holiday weekend, recreationists should be alert and aware of potential conflicts with wildlife. Keep camps clean to avoid attracting animals that could be harmful, especially black bears and cougars. See WDFW's "Living With Wildlife" detailed information at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/index.htm

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but all outdoor recreationists are reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

North Central Washington

Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW fish biologist from Okanogan, reported that fishing on the Methow River has been good recently with anglers reporting catches of 18-inch rainbow and cutthroat trout. Jateff noted this is a selective gear, catch-and-release-only fishery.The area currently open to fishing is from the Lower Burma Road Bridge upstream to Foghorn Dam, about one mile upstream of Winthrop. Jateff also reminded anglers that the entire Methow River is closed to fishing for steelhead.

"Salmon fishing above Wells Dam on the Columbia River has been spotty lately, with just a few anglers catching summer chinook that range from 12 to 15 pounds," Jateff said. He noted that the area from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster closes to salmon fishing Aug. 31. The area from the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport will remain open to salmon fishing until Oct. 15.

The Okanogan and Similkameen rivers will remain open to salmon fishing until Sep. 15. Jateff reminded anglers that there is a non-buoyant rule restriction and night closure for the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers during the salmon season.

Ken Bevis, WDFW habitat biologist, noted from recent personal experience that low waters make trout fishing "challenging" in many streams. "Find the deep slots and try weighted nymph patterns," he advised.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but fishers are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Hunting: Sept. 1 is the opening of mourning dove and forest grouse hunting statewide. The Columbia Basin is seeing many recently arrived doves and only time and weather will tell if they stick around for the opener.

Ken Bevis, WDFW habitat biologist, noted this year's late spring may have affected bird reproduction success, or perhaps resulted in second nesting efforts so that many grouse are younger than usual at this time.

Sept. 1 is also the start of the month-long archery deer hunting season. Archers should check out all season information in the big game rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html.

Black bear hunting has been underway since the first of the month and continues through Nov. 15.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but hunters are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Wildlife viewing: Ken Bevis, WDFW habitat biologist, reported migrant birds are starting to flock up throughout the region, getting ready for fall south-bound migrations. This year's late spring may have resulted in second nesting efforts by many species, he noted. So juvenile birds, which challenge birdwatchers' species identification skills, seem to be more common than usual for this time of year.

With crowds of campers, hikers, picnickers, and wildlife watchers expected at many public recreation areas over the Labor Day holiday weekend, WDFW staff advise being alert and aware of potential conflicts with wildlife. Keep camps clean to avoid attracting animals that could be harmful, especially black bears and cougars. See WDFW's "Living With Wildlife" detailed information at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/index.htm

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but all outdoor recreationists are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

South Central Washington

Fishing: Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist, said high lake trout fishing is at its peak in August and September.

"As we get nearer the end of August, mosquitoes begin to become less of a nuisance," Cummins said. Rainbow, cutthroat and eastern brook trout generally will hit small spinners or flies. "Most lakes can be fished from the bank, but anglers may want to consider taking a light-weight inflatable raft or float tube for large lakes and lakes with extensive shallow water near shore. Be sure and take a personal flotation device," he said.

Rimrock Reservoir has been providing excellent kokanee fishing, Cummins said, with fish up to 10 inches. "Fish in the top 20 feet of water early and late in the day and deeper during mid-day hours," he said. "Trolling with a wedding ring spinner and hook baited with maggots has been the most productive method."

Cummins noted the other Yakima Basin reservoirs also have kokanee, but with the possible exception of Bumping, none are as productive as Rimrock. The water level at Cle Elum makes launching boats on trailers difficult if not impossible. Kachess Lake has been slow.

Fishing in rivers and streams should also be productive for trout anglers, Cummins said. Rainbow at the lower to mid-elevation streams and cutthroat trout in the higher elevation steams, most in the eight to 10-inch range, are often best caught-and-released with fly-fishing gear. Most streams in the region have special regulations, including the requirement to use single barbless hooks and no bait. A few areas are closed to protect bull trout. Check the fishing regulations pamphlet for all details.

Based on steelhead passage over McNary Dam well above the 10-year average, Cummins also suggested there could be some good steelhead fishing in the McNary pool up from the Highway 395 Bridge and between McNary and The Dalles dams on the Columbia River.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but fishers are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Hunting: Sep. 1 is the opening of mourning dove and forest grouse hunting statewide. Sep. 1 is also the start of the month-long archery deer hunting season; archers should check out all season information in the big game rules pamphlet, available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regs_seasons.html.

Black bear hunting has been underway since the first of the month and continues through Nov. 15.

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but hunters are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Wildlife viewing: Flocks of shorebirds and songbirds are moving throughout the region these days as summer wanes and fall advances. Watch for concentrations of many species along the region's waterways.

With crowds of campers, hikers, picnickers, and wildlife watchers expected at many public recreation areas over the Labor Day holiday weekend, WDFW staff advise being alert and aware of potential conflicts with wildlife. Keep camps clean to avoid attracting animals that could be harmful, especially black bears and cougars. See WDFW's "Living With Wildlife" detailed information at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/index.htm

Recent rain and cooler weather are helping firefighters contain wildfires throughout the region, but all outdoor recreationists are still reminded to be careful with anything that could spark further problems afield. Check out wildfire risk and restrictions information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources at http://www2.wadnr.gov/burn-risk/ or the status of ongoing wildfires at http://www.inciweb.org/state/49.

Media Contact:
(Fish) 360-902-2700, (Wildlife) 360-902-2515