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Washington Fishing Calendar

Ocean Halibut        Salmon & Steelhead        Big Chinook Salmon

Gold highlighted areas are peak fishing times for salmon & steelhead in Washington.
indicate fishable months. Best sturgeon fishing dates/times at bottom.
Crab Creek Lakes
Cowlitz River
Hoh River
Kalama River        
Klickitat River        
Puget Sound
Quillayute System
Queets River
Skagit River
Stillaguamish River
Sauk River
Skykomish River
Snoqualmie River
Wind River / Drano            
Yale Reservoir (Kokanee salmon)      
Yakima River
Ocean Charters
Salmon / Bottomfish
Ocean Charters
Halibut / Tuna (Seasons vary)
Good Fishing  
Best Fishing

[ More locations ]

White Sturgeon
Best sturgeon fishing, upper Columbia River above Bonneville Dam - (January-April).
Mid river, Bonneville to Wauna - (October-March). Lower river Wauna to mouth - (May-Sept).
Oversize sturgeon (100-300 pounds) below Bonneville Dam - (late April-early June).

Best walleye fishing, upper Columbia River above Bonneville Dam - (March-October).
Below Bonneville Dam - (July-Sept).

Whale Watching
By early April, almost 20 percent of the eastern Pacific population of gray whales are off the coast of Washington. The rest are strung out along the Pacific Coast of North America from Central California to SE Alaska on their journey north. More species info ....

[ Guide referral request 503-720-9033

[ Prices & Policies[ Columbia River sturgeon rules ]  [ WA fishing reports ]

A Fishing License as well as applicable tags should be obtained prior to your trip.
Prices: Oregon- $12.00
purchase online. Washington- $9.00 purchase online.

Fishing Regulations: [ Oregon ]  [ Washington [ Air travel rental car and lodging discounts ]

Halibut seasons: [ Oregon ]  [ Washington [ About Pacific Halibut ]

[ Pacific halibut fishery information NMFS ]  [ Halibut catch reports ]

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Washington Fishing Reports 11/12/08

North Puget Sound

Fishing: Heavy rains and high winds made fishing difficult in mid-November. Many freshwater fisheries are on hold as anglers wait for several swollen rivers to drop back into shape. Fishing effort also is down on Puget Sound as saltwater anglers wait for blustery conditions to subside.

"Fishing has been tough recently throughout the region, mostly due to the poor weather," said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "We’ve seen a big drop in angler effort out there, but that will likely pick up once weather conditions become more favorable." 

Once the weather does improve, Thiesfeld recommends fishing for blackmouth salmon - resident chinook - in marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Anglers fishing Marine Area 10 can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Those fishing in Marine Area 9 also have a two-salmon daily limit but can keep up to two hatchery chinook per day. Wild chinook salmon, which have an intact adipose fin, cannot be brought aboard the boat in Marine Area 9.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that there are still a lot of shakers out in the Sound, and suggests using larger spoons and plugs to minimize the catch of those juvenile chinook. "Treat those fish with extreme care when releasing them because they are next year's crop of blackmouth," he said.

Sport crabbing also is an option out on the Sound. Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) recently reopened for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2. Crab fishing also remains open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) or 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual quota.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6� inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm .

Meanwhile, freshwater anglers waiting for rivers to become fishable again might want to try casting for trout at Beaver Lake. About 1,800 hatchery rainbows - averaging approximately 3 to 5 pounds each - were recently released in the lake. Beaver Lake, one of several westside lowland lakes open to fishing year-round, is best fished by small boat, although anglers can also be successful fishing from shore. The daily bag limit is five fish, and bait anglers must keep the first five trout they catch.

Before heading out to the lakes, rivers, or Puget 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 ).     

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Fall rainstorms temporarily stalled chum fishing in mid-month, but anglers can look forward to catching some winter-run steelhead once rivers drop back into shape. Meanwhile, the late-season Dungeness crab fishery is now under way in a number of marine areas, and a razor-clam dig is coming up soon.

Salmon fishing on coastal rivers has been hampered by recent heavy rains, but catch rates should improve once the weather gets better, said Scott Barbour, WDFW fish biologist. "Virtually every river is out of shape right now, but on the bright side, the rain is also bringing in the fish," he said.

By the time conditions improve, anglers can start thinking about the winter steelhead season, Barbour said. "December is the big month for hatchery steelhead on the North Olympic Peninsula - including the Quillayute River system ad Hoh River - but early returns start showing up around Thanksgiving," he said. Starting Dec. 1, wild steelhead retention rules go into effect on those rivers. Before heading out, anglers are advised to review retention rules in WDFW's 2008/2009 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).

Four evening razor clam digs are scheduled at Copalis and Mocrocks Nov. 13-16, while Long Beach and Twin Harbors are scheduled for three evening digs Nov. 14-16. Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park is closed for the fall season due to a low abundance of razor clams.
Evening low tides during the dig are at 6:27 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 (-1.6 ft.), 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 (-1.8), 8:04 p.m. Saturday Nov. 15 (-1.6), 8:54 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 (1.2).

Clam diggers are encouraged to take lights or lanterns with them due to the timing of the low tides. He also recommends checking weather and surf forecasts before heading out. Digging is restricted to the hours between noon and midnight.

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2008 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov . Clam diggers are not required to display their licenses on outer clothing.

Meanwhile, as the chum salmon season nears its peak, the big fish can be found in virtually every small stream in the area. The most popular fishing spots include the mouth of Kennedy Creek on Totten Inlet (where 68 anglers were checked with 13 fish on Nov. 8 and 9) and near the Hoodsport Hatchery on Hood Canal (where 91 shore anglers recently landed 177 chum). Anglers are reminded that the daily limit on the Hoodsport "hatchery zone" is four salmon, with a maximum of two chinook.

Although the chum fishery is producing results for anglers, the overall run size is lower than expected, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "We now expect to see about 350,00 chum returning to south Puget Sound, which is about half our original forecast," he said. "We’ll learn more as the season progresses."

Other areas now open to chum-salmon fishing include the Dosewallips and Duckabush rivers in Jefferson County, and Minter Creek in Pierce/Kitsap counties. Thiesfeld advises anglers to check WDFW's 2008/2009 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ) for other stream openings and closures.

Thiesfeld also noted that November's blackmouth fishery off Sekiu (Marine Area 5) has been producing results for those making the trip north. "The effort’s been low, but folks going out have been averaging a fish per rod," he said.

Recreational crab fishing got under way Nov. 1 in four marine areas of Puget Sound and will be open seven days a week through Jan. 2. Crab fishing is open in marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6� inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm .

Southwest Washington

Fishing:   Winter-run steelhead are moving into Columbia River tributaries where anglers are still catching hatchery coho , but fishing success for both species depends a great deal on the weather.  Rainstorms, followed by clear skies, have made stream conditions highly variable in recent days.

"The Kalama River has been running high and dirty, but fishing conditions could improve there and elsewhere if the rain lets up," said Joe Hymer, WDFW fish biologist.  "Especially at this time of year, it really pays to check river conditions before you head out."

Hymer recommends that anglers check stream-flow conditions on two websites before leaving home: http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/river.cgi?zoom?2?,343?165,253 and http://waterdata.usgs.gov/WA/nwis/current/?type=flow .

Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the fishery for winter-run hatchery steelhead , although the season is already under way on several tributaries to the lower Columbia River.  On the Grays River, fishing for hatchery steelhead opens from the mouth to the Highway 4 Bridge on Nov. 15.

But the best bets for hooking up with hatchery steelhead or coho salmon right now are the Lewis and Cowlitz rivers, where dams help to moderate stream flows, Hymer said.  On the Lewis River, anglers have been averaging about one hatchery coho for every two rods, although about half of those fish were released because they had turned dark.  Some bright winter steelhead have also been showing up in the catch.  Bank anglers had the best luck fishing near the salmon hatchery.

Bank and boat anglers are also catching hatchery steelhead - some weighing in the teens - downstream from the trout hatchery on the Cowlitz River.  They are also still catching some hatchery coho, although that run is clearly winding down.  As of Nov. 5, more than 47,000 adult coho had returned to the hatchery, already one of the top 10 returns to that facility on record.  In addition, nearly 10,300 coho jacks were counted by that date, the second-highest return since 1990.

Sea-run hatchery cutthroat are also keeping anglers busy fishing below the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery.  More than 4,700 cutthroat had returned to the salmon and trout hatcheries through Nov. 5, and more are still on the way. 

The fishery below the trout hatchery is ideal for anglers who permanently use a wheelchair, because Tacoma Power built a fishing site specially for them at the hatchery outfall.  The daily trout limit is five fish per day, with a minimum length of 12 inches.  Most returning fish average 14 inches, Hymer said.

Anglers are still reeling in some legal-size sturgeon from the Wauna power lines upstream to Bonneville Dam, but the fishery - like the water temperature - is starting to cool down.  Hymer suspects the action will shift to the area around the Willamette River, where higher water temperatures are more inviting to chilled sturgeon.

In October, anglers made 16,000 fishing trips to catch Columbia River white sturgeon and took home 3,000 legal-size fish, Hymer said.

Eastern Washington

Fishing:   Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, continues to produce fast and fat catches of rainbow trout , at least for anglers willing to brave recent rain and wind. Chris Donley, WDFW district fish biologist from Spokane, said hatchery trout stocked last spring are at least 16 inches long and many are one-and-a-half pounds. Donley reminded anglers the daily catch limit is five trout.

Southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake remains open for catch-and-release-only fishing through November for rainbow and cutthroat trout .  

Snake River hatchery steelhead fishing continues to be productive, according to anecdotal reports at this time. The latest WDFW creel surveys will be posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/creel/snake/index.htm .

North Central Washington

Fishing:   Bob Jateff, WDFW district fish biologist from Omak, said the hatchery steelhead fishery on the upper Columbia River that opened Nov. 6 continues with a daily catch limit of two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead of at least 20 inches. The open area is from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to 400 feet below Wells Dam. Steelhead with an intact adipose fin, and those bearing an anchor floy tag, must be immediately released unharmed without being removed from the water.

Jateff explained this special fishery (not listed in the rules pamphlet) targets the abundant return of hatchery fish that exceeds the number needed to meet spawning goals. Removing hatchery-origin steelhead allows more wild steelhead onto the spawning grounds to help further wild fish recovery efforts. Jateff encourages anglers to keep the first two hatchery steelhead caught to help protect the wild population.

Night closure and selective gear rules apply. While anglers are required to use single, barbless hooks and knotless nets, motorized vessels and bait are allowed. The fishery is scheduled to remain open through March 31, 2009, but could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild steelhead is reached.

Jateff also noted the Similkameen River, from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam, will open to fishing for adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead Nov. 15 and continue until further notice. Jateff said this special fishery (also not listed in the rules pamphlet) is designed to achieve the same goal as the upper Columbia -- reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead and increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds.

"It will improve genetic integrity and stock recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage," he said. "So again, we strongly encourage anglers to retain the first two adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead caught. And once you’ve caught your two fish, you’re done for the day."

Jateff reminds Similkameen steelheaders to immediately release any steelhead with an intact adipose fin without removing it from the water, and to release any steelhead with an anchor floy tag attached. Selective gear rules and night closure apply. Whitefish gear rules do not apply during steelhead season.

Fall fishing on the Columbia Basin’s Potholes Reservoir , where water levels are rising, is producing largemouth bass from the Sand Dunes area and walleye for trollers. Big rainbow trout from earlier net pen releases also continue to be caught.

South Central Washington

Fishing: The fishery for hatchery steelhead in the Ringold area of the Columbia River near the Tri-Cities has been picking up this month with anglers allowed to keep any hatchery steelhead with a clipped adipose fin. Earlier in the season anglers were restricted to keeping only those with both a clipped adipose fin and a clipped right ventral fin, said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fish biologist from Pasco.
"The dual clippings identify fish reared in the Ringold Hatchery," Hoffarth said. "Until November, we target those fish exclusively to make sure we get enough fish above Priest Rapids Dam to meet escapement goals."

The fishery is open through March 31, 2009 from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site.





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