Young Hunters Will Get First Crack At Waterfowl And Other Game Birds

Young Hunters Will Get First Crack At Waterfowl And Other Game Birds

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Washington –-(AmmoLand.com)- Young hunters will take to the field Sept. 26- 27 for a special game-bird season that traditionally marks the start of hunting opportunities for waterfowl, pheasant, quail and partridge around the state.

Now in its eleventh year, the special youth-only season is open to hunters under age 16 who are accompanied by an adult. The adult is not allowed to hunt during the special youth season.

“The special youth season was created to give young people a chance to develop their hunting skills under the supervision of an adult,” said Mick Cope, upland game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “That experience is invaluable both for new hunters and for the future of hunting in our state.”

To support those goals, WDFW has joined forces with the Washington Waterfowl Association, Pheasants Forever and other hunting organizations to arrange adult mentors for young people who want to hunt but don’t have anyone to teach them. Young people 16 or under, or their parents, can get more information about this program by calling WDFW at (360) 902-2515.

Other key dates for hunters in the days ahead include:

  • Sept. 20: Early archery season for elk ends statewide.
  • Sept. 20 or 25: Early archery seasons for deer end around the state, varying by management area.
  • Sept. 26: Early muzzleloader season for deer begins in selected game management units statewide.
  • Sept. 28: Special pheasant hunt begins for hunters 65 and older in western Washington.
  • Oct. 3: Early muzzleloader season for elk begins in selected game management units statewide.
  • Oct. 3: General hunting seasons begin for pheasant and quail in western Washington, and for quail, chukar and gray partridge in eastern Washington.
  • Oct. 17: General hunting seasons for ducks and geese get under way (except in specific areas of southwest Washington).
  • Oct. 17: Deer-hunting season with modern firearms begins in selected game management units statewide.
  • Oct. 24: General hunting season begins for pheasant in eastern Washington.

Before heading out, hunters are advised to check WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm ) or the Big Game Hunting pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm ) for area-specific regulations.

The first day of the youth-only hunting season coincides with National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of September since 1973 to promote the conservation efforts of hunters and fishers. Events, including a booth at the Puyallup Fair, are listed on a national website at http://www.nhfday.org .

Meanwhile, anglers are reminded that Oct. 1 marks a change in seasons for many salmon fisheries around the state. On the Olympic Peninsula, more than a dozen rivers will open to fall salmon fishing that day, while several tributaries to the Columbia River will close to retention of adult chinook salmon. Trout fishing on a number of eastern Washington lakes is also scheduled to close Oct. 1.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife-viewing opportunities available throughout the state, see the regional reports below:

North Puget Sound

Fishing: The bulk of the pink salmon run has moved into the rivers, where anglers have had success hooking humpies. Meanwhile, catch rates for coho salmon are starting to improve, likely signaling the arrival of ocean silvers into Puget Sound.

Some of the best coho harvest numbers were seen at fish checks in central Puget Sound. For example, 214 anglers were checked with 137 coho Sept. 12 at the Shilshole Ramp, while 423 anglers brought home 295 at the Everett Ramp. The following day, 221 anglers were checked with 172 silvers at Shilshole, while 214 anglers were checked with 163 coho at Everett.

Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, said John Long, statewide salmon manager for WDFW. Anglers fishing those areas, or other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook. In Marine Area 9, anglers also must release chum through Sept. 30.

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are also open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. All chinook salmon must released.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but can only keep one chinook. Anglers in Marine Area 7 must release wild coho and chum.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to catch crab but the opportunity is limited. In northern Puget Sound, only Marine Area 7 remains open for crab. Marine Area 7 is open Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 30. The region’s other marine areas are closed for a catch assessment.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW’s sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 7 should record their catch on their winter catch card which is valid from Sept. 8 through Jan. 2.

In the freshwater, anglers are hooking pink salmon on several rivers, including the Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skagit and Green.

Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish is open for salmon fishing, with a daily limit of four salmon, up to two chinook may be retained. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

Lake Washington opens today (Sept. 16) to coho fishing. Anglers are allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all freshwater and saltwater fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).

Hunting: Hunters under the age of 16 will go afield for ducks, geese, coots and pheasants during a special youth hunt Sept. 26-27. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult – at least 18 years old – who is not hunting.

Hunters 65 years or older will have the opportunity to go afield for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 28-Oct. 2. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 3.

Pheasant hunters should note that the department will release pheasants this fall at the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Samish Unit rather than the Headquarters Unit, where a substantial portion of land is no longer suitable for pheasant hunting. WDFW is temporarily moving its pheasant release program to the Samish Unit because an estuary restoration project has returned portions of recreational land on the Headquarters Unit to intertidal habitat for fish and wildlife.

“This is a stopgap solution for this year to address the loss of suitable pheasant release sites at Headquarters,” said Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager for WDFW. “We will continue to work toward securing alternative sites in the region where we can permanently relocate our pheasant release operations.”

Pheasants will be released several days a week on the Samish Unit from Sept. 25 to Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, the early archery season for elk in select western Washington Game Management Units remains open through Sept. 20, while the region’s early archery seasons for deer and cougar run through Sept. 25. However, early muzzleloader seasons in select units are just around the corner. Muzzleloader hunts for deer and cougar get started Sept. 26, and elk hunts get under way Oct. 3.

Bear hunts also continue in the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons also are in full swing. The dove hunt lasts through Sept. 30, while the season for forest grouse runs through Dec. 31.

Before going afield, 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: Numerous birders throughout the region are reporting sightings of nighthawks . One birder spotted some hawks circling her home in Bellingham before dark, while another saw a lone nighthawk in a sky full of bats at Camp Long in west Seattle at dusk. The “bat/nighthawk flight” lasted about 10 to 20 minutes, and then they were all gone, according to the report on Tweeters birding website ( http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters ). Small numbers of nighthawks breed in western Washington and can be found from Puget Sound out to Ocean Shores from early June into September.

Elsewhere, a group of birders at Marymoor Park spotted a number of interesting species including a few green herons , a western tanager , a barn owl , an evening grosbeak , several warbling vireos , numerous orange-crowned warblers and three Wilson’s warblers .

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: With the ocean salmon season coming to a close, anglers are focusing on the coho fishery heating up along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition, more area rivers are now open to salmon fishing, although anglers are reminded of a partial closure on the Puyallup River.

Salmon fishing at Westport, (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) closes Sept. 20, while Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) will remain open through Sept. 30.

However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 26 – Oct. 11 for a late-season fishery targeting coho and chinook salmon returning to the Quillayute River system. “The La Push fishery is very popular,” said Wendy Beeghley, WDFW fish biologist. “There’s still fish out there and judging from this year’s overall results, anglers should be successful.”

Anglers heading to the area may want to take part in the La Push Last Chance Salmon derby, scheduled Sept. 26 and 27. For more information, call the Forks Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-443-6757, or send an email to [email protected]

Other coastal areas open to fishing include the salmon fishery east of Buoy 13 in Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2), which is open daily through Nov. 30, while Willapa Bay is open daily until Jan. 31.

Beeghley advises anglers to check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for specific retention rules, limits and boundary guidelines. Anglers are also advised to check the Fishing Hotline at (360) 902-2500 for updated information on changes in coastal fisheries.

On the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers fishing in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will be able to retain two wild coho as part of their two-fish daily limit when the non-selective coho fishery opens Sept. 19-30. All chinook and chum must be released. Starting Oct. 1, anglers in the area may retain one chinook salmon as part of their two-fish daily limit.

Meanwhile, a non-selective fishery for coho and chinook gets under way Oct. 1 in Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles), where anglers will be able to retain one chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit. Through Sept. 30, all chinook, wild coho and chum must be released.

In south Puget Sound, anglers fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) will be allowed to retain wild chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit beginning Oct. 1. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 13 may also retain wild chinook, but must release all wild coho.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays in northern Hood Canal.

Anglers are reminded that recreational fishing on the Puyallup River is closed from noon Sundays to noon Tuesdays, Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 27-29 due to public safety concerns and to reduce gear conflicts between sport anglers and tribal fishers. The section closed extends from the 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma to the City of Puyallup Outfall Structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road. Recreational fishing will remain open seven days a week upstream of the closed section. The lower section will reopen seven days a week beginning at noon Sept. 29.

Salmon fishing is now under way on the Chehalis River, which opened Sept. 16 from the Hwy 101 Bridge in Aberdeen to the Porter Bridge. The daily limit is six fish. Up to two adults may be retained, but only one may be a wild adult coho . Adult chinook and chum must be released.

Area rivers opening Oct. 1 for fall salmon fishing include the Elk, Hoquiam, Humptulips, Johns, Satsop, Wishkah and Wynoochee in Grays Harbor County; Kennedy Creek (upriver to the Hwy 101 bridge) in Thurston County; the Nemah River in Pacific County; and the Skokomish River in Mason County.

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 specific regulations.

Anglers fishing in the Quillayute system – which includes the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Dickey rivers – can keep two adult salmon, plus two additional adult hatchery coho as part of the six-fish daily limit.

Recreational crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab .

Those who file their catch reports by the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2010 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

Hunting: Hunters under the age of 16 will go afield for ducks, geese, coots and pheasants during a special youth hunt Sept. 26-27. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. Goose Management Area 2B (Pacific County) is not open for Canada geese during the youth hunt.

A special pheasant hunt for hunters 65 years or older is scheduled Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in all areas of western Washington, followed by a general pheasant hunt for all ages beginning Oct. 3.

Early archery deer season concludes in certain western Washington Game Management Units (GMU) on Sept. 20 or Sept. 25, depending on the GMU. These areas are listed on page 18 of the 2009 Big Game Hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm .

The modern firearm and muzzleloader seasons for high buck hunts in Olympic Peninsula wilderness areas are currently under way and will continue through Sept. 25, followed by an early muzzleloader general deer season that runs Sept. 26 through Oct. 4 in western Washington. The general deer season for modern firearms is scheduled Oct. 17-31.

The statewide early archery season for elk wraps up Sept. 20, followed by the early muzzleloader season that runs Oct. 3-9.

Meanwhile, the archery-only general hunting season for cougar , which runs through Sept. 25, will be 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 to harvest one cougar per license year.

Bear hunts are also an option 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 statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons are in full swing. The dove hunt lasts through Sept. 30, while the season for forest grouse runs through Dec. 31.

Before heading out, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/hunter/hunter.htm , and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm for details.

Wildlife viewing: From the San Juan Islands to south Puget Sound, orca whales have been putting on a show for boaters, residents and shoreline observers. According to reports on the whale-watching site http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html , at least five orca whales were recently seen traveling north to south through Case Inlet between the Key Peninsula and Harstine Island.

A three-day festival celebrating wildlife and the environment will be held Sept. 25-27 at Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim. The Dungeness River Festival features presentations, events and hands-on environmental activities offered by local, state, federal, tribal and nonprofit groups.

For sheer numbers, the Washington coast between Ocean Shores and Tokeland is still offering sightings of many shorebirds and other migrants. Birders reporting on the Tweeter bird watching website ( http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/TWET.html ) noted approximately 4,000 western sandpipers at Bottle Beach State Park, located in southern Grays Harbor a few miles east of Westport.

Southwest Washington

Fishing: Anglers are still averaging a coho per boat most days in the Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia River, but the action is shifting to the Cowlitz River and other tributaries below Bonneville Dam. Several rivers will close to chinook retention Oct. 1, but new fishing opportunities – including a catch-and-keep sturgeon season above the Wauna powerlines – are also on the horizon.

Starting Oct. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep white sturgeon Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from the Wauna powerlines upriver to Bonneville Dam.

“Fishing opportunities in the Columbia River Basin are again in flux,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “The chinook catch is tapering off, but we now have coho salmon in all of the major tributaries. “That fishery will continue to build through the end of the month, as the sturgeon fishery gets under way above Wauna.”

Best bets for hatchery coho in the coming weeks are the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Toutle, Elochoman and Grays rivers, Hymer said. Anglers have been catching both hatchery coho and chinook salmon at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Toutle rivers and where the Green River flows into the North Toutle.

Anglers may retain up to six hatchery-reared adult coho on all lower Columbia tributaries with hatchery programs, including the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal rivers. Except on the Klickitat River, only those fish with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained.

While coho are expected to be abundant this year, Hymer acknowledges that they can be reluctant to bite. The best time to catch them is after a heavy rain, or when water levels rise, he said. “Nothing cures lockjaw as well as a good hard rain,” he said. “The action should also pick up when the late-run fish move into these river systems.”

Meanwhile, after a record catch in August, the fall chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam has tapered off in recent days. Although fisheries for hatchery coho and steelhead remain open, anglers fishing the mainstem Columbia River must now release any chinook they intercept from the Lewis River downstream (see boundary map at http://bit.ly/AF4Qt ).

However, anglers still have an opportunity to harvest fall chinook on the mainstem Columbia from the Lewis River upstream. One of the best spots should be in Bonneville Pool at the mouths of the tributaries plus in Drano Lake and the Klickitat River, Hymer said.

The Lewis is scheduled to close to chinook retention to protect wild fish, which are expected to return in numbers just above the minimum escapement goals. Effective Oct. 1, anglers will be required to release all chinook salmon on the Lewis River including the North Fork. In addition, fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek. Also effective Oct. 1, Colvin Creek will be closed to all fishing upstream to Merwin Dam to protect naturally spawning fish.

Several other regulations also come into play Oct. 1 to protect naturally spawning fish. All chinook must be released on the North Fork Toutle River from the Kidd Valley Bridge near Highway 504 upstream. Adult chinook – but not hatchery jacks – must be released on the Green, Washougal (from Little Washougal River upstream) and the White Salmon River (from ½ mile above the Hwy. 14 Bridge upstream). Marked, hatchery fall chinook – both adults and jacks – may still be retained on the Grays, Elochoman and Kalama rivers.

“This is one of the benefits of moving toward selective fisheries for fall chinook salmon,” Hymer said. “We need to protect naturally spawning fish, but anglers can continue to catch abundant hatchery salmon throughout the season.”

Looking for something a little different? Anglers should try fishing for hatchery sea-run cutthroats on the lower Cowlitz River. Bank and boat anglers stand a good chance to catch these aggressive foot-long fish on bait, lures, or flies.

While fishing opportunities routinely change with the seasons, Hymer admits that a recent influx of mackerel into the lower Columbia River caught him by surprise. “First Humboldt squid off Sekiu and now this,” he said. “Mackerel seldom come this far north and this is the first time I can remember fish reported in the lower river. Ocean conditions are clearly topsy-turvy this year.”

Hunting: Hunters under the age of 16 will go afield for ducks, geese, coots and pheasants during a special youth hunt Sept. 26-27. Young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. Goose Management Area 2A in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties is not open for Canada geese during the youth hunt.

A special pheasant hunt for hunters 65 years or older is scheduled Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in all areas of western Washington, followed by a general pheasant hunt for all ages beginning Oct. 3.

Early archery seasons for elk and deer will wrap up in late September, with muzzleloaders next scheduled to take the field. For elk , the early archery season ends Sept. 20, followed by an early muzzleloader season that runs Oct. 3-9 in selected Game Management Units (GMU). The early archery season for deer ends Sept. 20 or Sept. 25, depending on the GMU, followed by an early muzzleloader season Sept. 26 through Oct. 4.

Hunters should note that the Weyerhaeuser Company has closed the St. Helens Tree Farm to motorized access due to ongoing concerns about wildfires. Archers and muzzleloaders planning to hunt in the Tree Farm can check Weyerhaeuser’s toll-free hotline at 1-866-636-6531 for updated information on access to the area.

General hunting seasons for cougar is also about to change. The archery-only season for cougar will run through Sept. 25, followed by a muzzleloader-only season Sept. 26-Oct. 16. Bear hunting with any weapon remains an option through Nov. 15 in selected GMUs throughout the state. Hunters are allowed two bear during the season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons also are in full swing. The dove hunt lasts through Sept. 30, while the season for forest grouse runs through Dec. 31.

Before going afield, 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: In a recent trip to Vancouver Lake, a local birder reported seeing 20 great egrets , four greater yellowlegs , two lesser yellowlegs , a large flock of western sandpipers , a Pacific-slope flycatcher and a Baird’s sandpiper .

All but one of those species are common to Clark County, according to a new County Checklist recently posted on the Washington Birder website at http://wabirder.com . The Baird’s sandpiper is identified as a rare visitor to Clark County, according to the latest compilation of sightings throughout the state.

“The idea behind this project is to step away from individual year lists and see what it would look like to track combined lists,” writes Washington birder Matt Bartels. “While mostly done for enjoyment, it can be interesting to see which species are being found everywhere, and which are proving harder to find around the state this year.”

A total of 375 species are represented on the County Checklist for 2009. An updated list of “county-firsts” is also available on the site, noting a vesper sparrow made its first appearance in Cowlitz County and a parasitic jaeger was reported in Skamania County this year.

Maybe a new bird will be spotted at the BirdFest and Bluegrass festival, scheduled Oct. 10-11 in Ridgefield. As its name suggests, the two-day festival includes events celebrating avian life and music at and near the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, call (360) 887-9495 or check the website for the event at http://www.RidgefieldFriends.org .

Eastern Washington

Fishing: Snake River steelhead and chinook salmon fishing is slowly picking up. Catch rates are still very low for chinook in the only two open sections for that species – from the Highway 12 Bridge (near the mouth of the Snake River) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Ice Harbor Dam, and from Highway 261 Bridge crossing the Snake River (about one half mile upstream from Lyons Ferry Hatchery) upstream to the no-fishing zone below Little Goose Dam.

Steelhead catches are increasing in the upper river near the Idaho border, and along the “wall” and walkway area upstream of the juvenile fish bypass return pipe below Little Goose Dam.

Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, reminds anglers that in the “wall” area below Little Goose Dam, the daily chinook catch limit is just one hatchery (adipose-fin-clipped) adult (24 inches or greater) chinook and up to two jack (less than 24 inches) chinook. In the rest of the two sections open for chinook, the daily catch limit is two marked hatchery adult chinook and four chinook jacks either wild or hatchery-marked.

WDFW Enforcement Sgt. Jim Nelson said that some anglers believe they can legally fish with two poles for steelhead and salmon in the Snake River reservoirs behind dams. Washington’s new two-pole option went into effect last month, but waters with anadramous and/or ESA-listed species are excluded from two-pole fishing, as described at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/twopole .

“I think since these reservoirs all carry names like Lake Bryan, Lake Sacajawea, Lake Wallula, some people are confused by the two-pole option, which is available at most of our lakes, ponds and reservoirs,” Nelson said. “Adding to the confusion is the fact that the state of Idaho allows two-pole fishing in anadramous-species waters.”

In Washington, the two pole endorsement is not valid on the Columbia or Snake rivers mainstem, except Rufus Woods Reservoir and Lake Roosevelt.

Whether with one or two poles, Lake Roosevelt is currently producing good catches of big rainbow trout , according to Chris Donley, WDFW central district fish biologist.

“Sprague Lake is also really cooking, too,” Donley said. “But both Roosevelt and Sprague are open year round, so this might be the time to take advantage of the last couple weeks of fishing on trout lakes like Badger, Coffeepot, Fish, and Williams, which all close Sept. 30. Badger, in particular, has some nice carryover cutthroat trout .”

Donley noted September can be really good for yellow perch fishing at southwest Spokane County’s Downs Lake, which also closes Sept. 30. Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, has brown trout biting now and usually produces good catches of crappie and largemouth bass in late fall. Clear Lake remains open through October.

“Amber Lake is taking off now for cutthroat and rainbow trout fly fishing,” Donley said. “It’s open through November, but the last two months are catch-and-release with selective gear rules.”

Hunting: Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide two-day season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

About 1,200 rooster pheasants will be released on a couple dozen sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season. Pheasants will be released at several Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sherman Creek in Ferry County; Fishtrap Lake on the Lincoln-Spokane county line; John Henley in Whitman County; Willow Bar and Rice Bar in Garfield County; Hartsock in Columbia County; Chief Timothy in Asotin County; and Mill Creek, Wallula, Two Rivers Peninsula, Hollebeke and Lost Island in Walla Walla County. For information about these sites see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm or call the WDFW Eastern Regional Office at 509-892-1001. Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites, mostly in the south half of the region, found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist Joey McCanna. “After several pilot brood surveys north of the Snake River, pheasant broods appear to be up from previous years. We’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

WDFW Waterfowl Specialist Mikal Moore suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for the youth hunt.

“There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”

Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (use ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet.

“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said. “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or report online at http://www.reportband.gov/ . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”

Wild turkey early fall general season (no special permit required) hunting is open Sept. 26-Oct. 9 in northeast and central district units in the region. Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said numerous “casual” observations of large turkey broods over the summer suggest this should be a good season. Special permit turkey hunting gets under way at the same time in southeast district units in the region where turkey numbers are also relatively good.

Wildlife viewing: Fall bird migrations are under way throughout the region, and one of the best spots to look for rare species this month and next is WDFW’s Reardan Audubon Lake Wildlife Area, 30 miles west of Spokane off Hwy. 2 on the edge of the town of Reardan in Lincoln County. Shorebirds, waterfowl, and other birds use this 277-acre site for feeding and resting stopovers on their way south to wintering grounds. Besides more common species, watch for snowy plover, upland sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, red knot, American avocet, black-necked stilt , and Wilson’s, red , and red-necked phalaropes . You might also see sandhill cranes or trumpeter swans .

Fall migrations of Canada geese are making for great wildlife viewing in areas where big flocks of the big birds are stopping in to feed. Wheat and other grain crop stubble fields throughout the region, including north Spokane County’s Peone Prairie, for example, are hosting the transients.

Turkey vultures , distinguished from hawks by their more V-shaped wing position and separated primary feather tips, are also migrating. Noticeable, too, at this time is the nearly complete absence of so many common summer species, including hummingbirds, swallows , and bluebirds.

North Central Washington

Fishing: Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan District fish biologist from Twisp, reports chinook salmon are still being caught in the Brewster/Bridgeport area on the upper Columbia River. That salmon season is scheduled to close Oct. 15.

“The Methow River trout fishery is scheduled to close September 30th, but anglers should be aware that if incidental steelhead take limits are approached, sections of the river could close early,” Jateff said. “Anglers should avoid targeting steelhead during the trout fishery.”

Jateff also noted lowland lakes fishing in Okanogan County will pick up this month and next as water temperatures cool and trout become more active. Selective gear rule lakes, such as Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, and Big and Little Twin lakes near Winthrop, should all provide good fishing during the later part of September and through October.

Many Columbia Basin trout lakes close to fishing Sept. 30. Check the 2009-2010 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm for details.

The Columbia Basin’s year-round Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir continue to provide fishing for trout, perch, crappie , and bluegill . Potholes’ annual MarDon Marathon Dock Tournament is Sept. 25-27; see http://www.mardonresort.com for details.

Hunting: Rich Finger, WDFW Columbia Basin district wildlife biologist from Moses Lake, says the basin is still holding a good number of doves , and depending on the weather, hunting could remain productive through the end of the season Sept. 30.

“Some dove hunters are having success around food plots planted by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the southeast corner of Section Four in the Gloyd Seeps area,” he said. “Hunters can also have success by focusing efforts on roost sites during the evening or harvested wheat fields during mornings and evenings.”

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist from Moses Lake, suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for that special opportunity. “There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”

Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (see ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist/index.htm ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .

“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said. “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or reporting online at http://www.reportband.gov . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”

Finger noted that in preparation for the youth hunt, WDFW will fill the northwest cell of the Winchester Regulated Access Area (WRAA) with water, starting the week of Sept. 21. “Our ability to completely fill the basin will depend on the water level in the Winchester Wasteway,” Finger said, “At full pool the non-reserve huntable portion is about 10 acres and can support two to three groups of hunters.”

Such management efforts and assistance by the Washington Waterfowl Association in the Regulated Access Areas have resulted in an increase in smartweed, millet, and other moist-soil vegetation preferred by dabbling ducks, Finger noted.

“We expect this area to attract large numbers of waterfowl this year,” he said. The Frenchmen Regulated Access Area will not be flooded for the youth hunt because of ongoing management activities, but water will be released prior to the October general season opener. “Desirable, moist-soil vegetation is increasing in this unit but it is not yet producing the abundance of forage resources that the Winchester area is producing,” Finger said. “The Gloyd Seeps area was not farmed this year but will be flooded in preparation for the October opener, as it has been in past years.”

Finger recommends that hunters contact the WDFW North Central Regional office in Ephrata (509) 754-4624) or see the Migratory Waterfowl rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm for Regulated Access Area locations and restrictions.

About 1,000 rooster pheasants will be released on sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Sinlahekin and Chiliwist in Okanogan County, Chelan Butte and Swakane in Chelan County, and Banks Lake, Steamboat Rock, Gloyd Seeps, Quincy, Warden and Lower Crab Creek in Grant County.

For information about these sites, call WDFW’s North Central Regional Office at (509) 754-4624, or see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm . Pheasants will also be released at some “Feel Free To Hunt” and “Register To Hunt” sites found on the WDFW mapping website GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt .

“Wild pheasants have been holding tight in cover with water due to the lack of rain in the past month,” said Joey McCanna, WDFW Upland Game Bird Specialist. “Biologists are reporting good pheasant broods in the Columbia Basin, so we’re cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the season ahead.”

Scott Fitkin, WDFW Okanogan District wildlife biologist from Winthrop, says forest grouse hunting should be fairly good in the Okanogan District based on the abundance of broods noted in the spring and early summer. Blue grouse in particular seem to be in good numbers and are now moving to higher elevations. Berry fields, meadow edges and forested ridges are good places to look, Fitkin says.

Higher elevations are also a good bet for early archery deer hunters. “Despite a meager snow pack, mild temperatures and summer rains have kept many high elevation meadows greener longer this year,” Fitkin said.

Wildlife viewing: The 19th annual, national-award-winning Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is Sept. 19-20 at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. Salmon Fest is devoted to free, fun-filled “edu-tainment” to help families connect with nature and learn about salmon and other wildlife. For more information, see http://www.salmonfest.org .

The Columbia Basin is a sure bet for watching waterfowl and other bird migrations now and throughout the fall. Good destinations include WDFW’s many wildlife areas throughout Grant and Adams counties. For specific information on these areas, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/columbia_basin . The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (see http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=13510 ) is also a good bet. Just cruising the backroads with scopes and binoculars at the ready between these sites is bound to be productive at this time of year, especially when weather changes bring new birds into the area.

South Central Washington

Fishing: “This is a great time to fish for rainbow trout in the Yakima River upstream from Roza Dam and the Naches River,” said Jim Cummins, WDFW fish biologist from Yakima. “It’s catch-and-release in this stretch and the low flows and mild days make fishing this time of year a real pleasure.”

Cummins says the upper Yakima should produce rainbow trout for both boat and bank anglers. “Water is no longer being released from upper Yakima River reservoirs as the result of the annual ‘flip-flop’ designed to reduced flows where chinook salmon spawn in the upper Yakima,” he said. “Not only does this increase salmon spawning habitat and protect redds from winter low flows, but anglers can enjoy the increased fishing opportunity resulting from the low flows.”

Cummins also noted fishing success for rainbow, cutthroat , and eastern brook trout in high mountain lakes is generally best this time of year. “You can enjoy mild daytime temperatures, cool evenings, and colorful vegetation and most of the bugs found in July and August are gone,” he said. “Just be aware that some hunting seasons are in progress as you hike in and out of these lakes.”

Hunting: Dove hunting is reportedly excellent in the south end of the Columbia Basin around the Tri-Cities and could remain productive if warm weather holds birds in the area through the season’s end Sept. 30.

Hunters under 16 years of age have a jump on both upland game birds and waterfowl with a special statewide season, Sept. 26-27. Participating young hunters must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is not hunting.

Mikal Moore, WDFW waterfowl specialist, suggests youth waterfowl hunters take time now to scout out hunting spots for that special opportunity.”There are some good concentrations of mallards, northern pintail , and American green-winged teal throughout the state right now, particularly in the Columbia Basin and the Skagit,” she said. “White-fronted geese are also passing through.”

Moore recommends young hunters and their mentors brush up on duck identification, (see ‘Ducks at a Distance’ by Robert Hines, available on the Internet at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckdist ), and review the species bag limits in the waterfowl pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm .

“Keep in mind that early season ducks have not achieved their breeding plumage yet and many drakes will have female-type coloration,” she said. “Also remember to report any banded ducks or geese you harvest by calling 1-800-327-BAND or reporting online at http://www.reportband.gov . The band is yours to keep and you will receive a certificate detailing the age, sex, and banding location of the bird.”

About 700 rooster pheasants will be released on several sites throughout the region for the special youth-only hunting season Sept. 26-27. Pheasants will be released at several eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program sites, including Colockum, Millerguard and Cottonwoods on Wenas/L.T. Murray in Kittitas County, Sunnyside in Yakima County, Big Flat and Ringold in Franklin County, and Hill Road in Klickitat County. For information about and maps of these sites, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/ewapheas.htm or call WDFW’s South Central Regional Office at (509) 575-2740.

Wildlife viewing: Fall bird migrations are underway and one of the best spots in the region to view waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds is McNary National Wildlife Refuge near the Tri-Cities. The refuge encompasses over 15,000 acres of backwater sloughs, shrub-steppe uplands, irrigated farmlands, river islands, delta mudflats, and riparian areas. Watch for Canada geese, mallards, wigeons, green-winged teal, shovelers, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup ducks , and other species. For more information on the refuge, see http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=13520 .

Bull elk will continue their bugling well into October as they maintain breeding territories. Ted Clausing, WDFW regional wildlife program manager, says the break between early archery elk hunting season (which ends Sept. 20) and early muzzleloader elk hunting season (which starts Oct. 3) is a good time for non-hunters to be out in the woods listening and watching.

The Raven’s Roost area in the Little Naches River drainage in the far northwestern corner of Yakima County (follow Hwy. 410 northwest of Naches), is traditionally one of the best places to listen. For the best opportunities, arrive just before daylight (or plan to camp in one of the many forest service campgrounds in the area), and walk the Cougar Valley trail. Elk may be visible on the open hillsides until about 7 a.m., when they move down into timber. But their bugling might be heard throughout the day, particularly early and late.

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Tenring Rob
8 years ago

Great thing about America, you get to have an opinion. Without hunters dollars, wildlife management areas wouldn’t exist, refuges would lose their revenue source, and more hunters money is spent on habitat than any other source. No habitat, no animals. If your concerned about wildlife, shut your mouth and open your wallet.GET INVOLVED

C. Kuha
C. Kuha
8 years ago

Guess I got on your site by accident since I believe hunting is a selfish sport depriving the rest of the citizens of these beautiful animals. It takes more skill to capture them with a camera. Conserving them?? When do you shoot the sick and lame animals? If you are going to hunt them, forget the bait, forget the dogs, forget the weapons – just follow their scent and use your instincts and feet. Hunting is cruel. Thank you.