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, as well as 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, feisty 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 River.
“With strong salmon runs predicted for the Columbia River this year, ocean fishing is likely to remain productive through the summer,” said Wendy Beeghley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fisheries biologist for the coastal region.
Several marine areas of Puget Sound open to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Some westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also open for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon July 10.
Summer steelhead are another option – notably in the Columbia River and many of its tributaries – where 281,000 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.
Fishing regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .
Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound will be open for crab fishing beginning July 3. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 17 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia). See http://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 precautions to avoid sparking 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 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in most WDFW forested areas