What’s Fishin’ In Washington (7-28-11)

Chromers and crabs, socks and cutts, ‘eyes and ‘gills — they’re all available around Washington this month.

And where, might you ask?

Well, let the good folks at WDFW who put together the Weekender be your guide:

NORTH PUGET SOUND

Anglers are reeling in chinook and coho in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Others are also having some success at Baker Lake, which recently opened for sockeye salmon.

Anglers fishing Baker Lake can retain up to three adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from the log boom barrier at Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the upper Baker River. All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.

“The fish are biting, it’s just a matter of finding them,” said Brett Barkdull, fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Most anglers have done well once they get over them, and I expect that to continue into August as more sockeye make it into the lake.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: For more, see Wayne Kruse’s excellent column today in the Everett Herald.)

The sockeye salmon fishery at Baker Lake is open until further notice, said Barkdull, who reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

Meanwhile, freshwater anglers are gearing up for upcoming salmon openers on select rivers. Those rivers include:

Skagit River: Opens Aug. 1 from the mouth of the river to the mouth of Gilligan Creek. The Skagit from the mouth of Gilligan Creek to the Dalles Bridge at Concrete opens for salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers fishing those sections have a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. All chinook and chum must be released.
Snohomish River: Opens Aug. 16 with a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. Chinook and chum must be released.
Green River: Opens Aug. 20 from the 1st Ave. South Bridge to Interstate 405. Anglers fishing the Green have a daily limit of six salmon; up to three adult coho and chum (combined) may be retained. Chinook must be released.

Beginning Aug. 16, Lake Sammamish will also be an option for freshwater salmon anglers, who will have a daily limit of four salmon, and can retain up to two chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

On Puget Sound, anglers can fish for salmon in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Those fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. They must, however, release wild coho and chum starting Aug. 1.

Anglers fishing marine areas 9 and 10 can keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.  Wild chinook must be released. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon, and – effective Aug. 1 – so will those fishing Marine Area 10.

August brings other opportunities in the region to catch and keep salmon. Beginning Aug. 1, marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two areas will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook.

Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details on current salmon fishing opportunities.

Prefer shellfish? The Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15.

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW’s crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

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.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

SOUTH SOUND/OLYMPIC PENINSULA

Summer salmon fishing is in full swing along the coast, where anglers are hooking bright chinook and nice-size coho.

“Fishing has been good for both chinook and coho in all marine areas,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “In the coming weeks, I expect fishing to get even better as more salmon return to our coastal waters.”

Anglers fishing marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) can keep up to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed. Marine areas 1, 3 and 4 are open to salmon fishing seven days a week, while Marine Area 2 is open Sundays through Thursdays each week.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. However, fisheries in those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

Anglers are reminded that regulations in Marine Area 4, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, change beginning Aug. 1. Anglers fishing that area will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus one additional pink salmon. But they must release chinook, chum and wild coho.

Elsewhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers are still having some success hooking salmon in marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), as salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), the southern portion of 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (South Puget Sound) continue to gain momentum.

Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, the Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15.

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW’s crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

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.

Halibut fishing is also still an option. The late season for halibut in Marine Area 1 opens Aug. 5. The fishery there will be open three days per week (Friday through Sunday) until the quota is taken or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is currently open in the northern nearshore area seven days per week until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.

In freshwater, the recreational salmon fishery on the Skokomish River will get under way Aug. 1 downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge and Aug. 2 upstream of the bridge to the Highway 101 Bridge under regulations similar to last year. The daily bag limit on the Skokomish will be two salmon for anglers fishing from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge through Sept. 30. Anglers must carefully release any wild chinook salmon they catch. They also must release chum salmon through Oct. 15.

Anglers will be required to release any salmon not hooked inside the mouth, and retain the first two legal salmon they catch. In addition, single-point barbless hooks are required and a night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect.

The Skokomish River from the Highway 106 Bridge upstream to the Highway 101 Bridge will be closed to recreational fishing on designated Mondays and Tuesdays to avoid potential gear conflicts with treaty tribal fishers. Those closures are scheduled for Aug. 1, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 and Sept. 6.

Recreational fishing downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will remain open seven days a week through the fishing season. For more information, see the fishing rule change on the WDFW website.

Several other rivers are open for salmon fishing elsewhere in the region, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh, Nisqually, Quillayute and the Sol Duc. Beginning Aug. 1, the Puyallup River, from the City of Puyallup outfall structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road to the Carbon River, also opens for salmon fishing.

The lower section of the Puyallup, from the 11th Street Bridge to the City of Puyallup outfall structure, opens to salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers should be aware that the lower section of the river is closed Aug. 28, 29 and Sept. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13.

For more information on the Puyallup River regulations, as well as rules for other fisheries open in August, check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet.

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

This year’s fall chinook fishery opens Aug. 1 on the Columbia River, where a strong run of upriver brights is expected to push the total return well above the 10-year average. Of the 776,300 “falls” included in the pre-season forecast, nearly 400,000 are projected to be upriver brights – the highest number since 1987.

Those fish, together with hatchery coho and summer steelhead, should make August a very good time to fish the lower Columbia River, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We’re definitely expecting a big turnout by anglers for these fisheries,” Hymer said. “The fall chinook fishery usually starts slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August. The great thing about upriver brights is they tend to keep biting as they move upriver.”

MORNING AT "BUOY 10" ... OR AT LEAST A FEW KLICKS EAST OF THERE NERE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

FISH ON! (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

BUOY 10 CHINOOK. (BRIAN LULL, NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN)

While the fall chinook season opens upriver to Priest Rapids Dam, most of the action during the first few weeks focuses on the popular Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the river. Fishery managers estimate that anglers will catch nearly 11,000 chinook salmon by Aug. 28, when the retention fishery for chinook closes in the Buoy 10 area. They also estimate anglers will catch 7,000 coho in that area by the time that fishery closes at the end of the year.

The daily limit for the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. However, anglers may retain only one chinook salmon (minimum size, 24 inches) per day as part of their daily limit through Aug. 28. Only those steelhead and coho marked with a missing adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained. This requirement does not, however, apply to fall chinook, which may be retained whether marked or unmarked.

Additional rules for the Buoy 10 area and other waters upriver are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River should be aware they will need to purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. With some exceptions, the pass is now required to park a vehicle on lands managed by State Parks, WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources. The Discover Pass was created by the Legislature earlier this year to keep recreation lands open to the public in the wake of steep budget cuts.

An annual Discover Pass costs $35 and a one-day pass is $11.50, when purchased online from WDFW (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone, or from retail license vendors. However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For more information, see the Discover Pass website (http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/) or call 1-866-320-9933.

By mid-to-late August, the bulk of the chinook run usually begins to move upstream while increasing numbers of coho move into the Columbia River behind them. For anglers following upriver brights upstream, Hymer recommends fishing deep, between 40 and 50 feet down. For a lure, he suggests a wobbler anchored with a heavy weight.

“Chinook go deep when water temperatures are high so that’s a good place to find them,” Hymer said. “At the same time, anglers should take care not to drop anchor in the shipping channel. That can lead to real trouble.”

While 2011 is not expected to be a banner year for hatchery coho, those fish will help to round out anglers’ daily limits at Buoy 10, Hymer said. WDFW currently expects about 270,000 coho to return this year – similar to 2010 but down significantly from the exceptionally large run of three-quarters of a million fish two years ago.

“Coho will still contribute to the fishery,” Hymer said. “At Buoy 10, they usually bite best on herring and spinners, and then bait and lures later in the tributaries.”

Meanwhile, plenty of hatchery steelhead are still available for harvest, said Hymer, noting that the smaller “A-run” fish should keep biting through mid-August. By then, the larger “B-run” steelhead – many weighing in the teens – will start arriving to pick up the slack. Together, returns of both runs are expected to total about 367,000 fish, about the same size of last year’s total run.

The succession of hatchery steelhead, fall chinook and coho salmon should also provide good fishing on area tributaries for months to come, Hymer said.  Like the mainstem Columbia River, most tributaries open for fall chinook Aug. 1, although fishery usually doesn’t take off until September. Meanwhile, Drano Lake and the White Salmon River are good places to try for steelhead looking for cooler waters.

Like last year, anglers will be allowed to retain up to six adult hatchery coho on all tributaries to the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal.

Chinook retention is limited to marked, hatchery fish on these river systems, except on the Klickitat and Deep rivers where unmarked chinook can also be retained. Mark-selective runs will also be in effect on the Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake. Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and any emergency rules applicable to specific waters before leaving home.

Of course, salmon and steelhead aren’t the only fish available for harvest in August. Walleye fishing can be good in the Columbia River near Camas, as well as in The Dalles and John Day Pools. Bass fishing is also heating up from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.

For trout, the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens offer unparalleled fishing experiences for those willing to brave the mosquitoes. Riffe Lake in Lewis County is still giving up some nice landlocked coho, and Goose Lake north of Carson has received 6,200 brown trout, 6,000 cutthroat and 500 rainbow since the end of June.  Hatchery sea-run cutthroats should also provide some opportunity on the lower Cowlitz beginning in late August.

Anglers planning to fish Northwest Lake in Klickitat County should be aware that all boat access will be closed as of Aug. 15, when PacifiCorp will start drawing water from the lake in preparation for decommissioning Condit Dam. Boat ramps at the campground and off Powerhouse Road will also be closed, effective July 29. Bank fishing will still be allowed, but PacifiCorp representatives caution anglers to be careful of mucky shoreline conditions.  Crews are scheduled to breach the 123-foot dam in late October, opening up miles of salmon and steelhead habitat.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

The month of August usually means a slow-down in fishing throughout the region, but this summer’s cooler and wetter conditions are keeping the action decent on both trout and warmwater fish species.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) district fish biologist Chris Donley said the most successful trout fishing is still during very early morning or late evening hours. But mid-day anglers under cloud cover are also reeling in nice catches.

Some of the best rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes close to Spokane are Amber, Badger, Clear, Fish, Williams, and West Medical lakes in Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County. The lower Spokane River has nice rainbows and browns, but river anglers need to be aware of catch limits, gear restrictions, and other rules listed in the fishing pamphlet.

Mixed species waters are also a good bet. Along with some trout, yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie can usually be caught at Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County, Downs and Chapman lakes in southwest Spokane County, Newman and Liberty lakes in eastern Spokane County, Eloika Lake in north Spokane County, and the Spokane River reservoir of Long Lake and Deer and Waitts lakes in Stevens County.

In the north end of the region, rainbow trout, kokanee and walleye fishing continues to be good at Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam. Kokanee fishing is also productive at Stevens County’s Loon Lake during night time hours.

Some of the high elevation lakes on U.S. Forest Service property in the northeast district that are stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout may be good destinations for camping and fishing weekends. In Ferry County, try Davis, Ellen, Empire, Swan and Trout lakes. In Stevens County, try Gillette, Heritage, Sherry, Summit, and Thomas lakes. In Pend Oreille County, try Carl’s, Cook’s, Frater, Halfmoon, Leo, Mystic, Nile, No-Name, Petit, South and North Skookums, and Yokum lakes. Find specific locations and more about these mostly small fishing lakes in WDFW’s 2011 Fishing Prospects.

Catfish and sturgeon fishing is usually productive in the Snake River system in the southeast part of the region in August. Catfish are often landed in the backwaters and sloughs throughout the mainstem Snake, as well as in or near the mouths of tributaries like the Tucannon River.

Sturgeon fishers are reminded of the minimum 43-inch and maximum 54-inch tail fork length and daily catch limit of one sturgeon. The Snake and its tributaries upstream of Lower Granite Dam are catch-and-release only for sturgeon. The section of the Snake just east of the Tri-Cities, from the mouth to Ice Harbor Dam, is also catch-and-release for sturgeon starting Aug. 1.

On the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County, anglers are still catching lots of hatchery-stocked rainbow trout in several of the area’s man-made lakes. WDFW area manager Kari Dingman reports that cooler temperatures this summer have helped keep those fisheries productive longer than normal.

“Anglers who camp on the Wooten are reminded there are no campfires allowed at this time,” Dingman said. “Even though it’s still relatively green for this time of year here, especially on the south end of the wildlife area, it’s drying out fast and the grass is quite tall and thick. We recently had several campfires left unattended when the campers packed up and left.”

Wherever anglers go, they are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on state or federal public lands.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a burn ban in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. That means all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self contained stoves are allowed. Visit DNR’s website for fire information by county.

NORTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Anglers fishing for chinook and sockeye salmon are starting to pick up fish on the mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to below Chief Joseph Dam. Sockeye running three to four pounds and chinook up to 20 pounds are being taken in that area, reports Bob Jateff, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Chinook are best caught on trolled plugs or cut herring,” he said. “Sockeye are caught primarily with prawn spinners.”

Jateff reminds salmon anglers of the night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect in three areas – from Rocky Reach Dam to the most upriver point of Turtle Rock, the Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, and the Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Beginning Aug. 1, anglers can retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack summer chinook salmon in the lower mainstem Wenatchee River, where summer chinook returns are predicted to exceed spawning escapement needs. The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped summer chinook (adult or jack). All other fish must be released and selective gear rules and night closure are in effect.

The section of the Wenatchee River opening for chinook fishing Aug. 1 extends from the mouth (confluence with the Columbia River) to a point 400 feet below Dryden Dam is open through Oct. 15. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, the fishery will expand to include waters stretching from the confluence of Peshastin Creek to a line perpendicular to the river at a marker on the opposite shore, (approximately 1,000 feet above Dryden Dam) to the Icicle Creek road bridge on the west end of Leavenworth. All chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or caudal punch must be released.

On the Methow River, an increasing number of trout anglers are starting to show up as water levels start to recede after a prolonged period of high flows, Jateff said. “At this time of the year, weighted nymphs will be the choice for fly anglers, but large dry flies will also produce fish,” he said, adding that anglers should still be extremely cautious when wading or floating the river.

Resident rainbow, cutthroat, and whitefish are the main species available in the Methow. All bull trout must be released and must not be removed from the water.  Selective gear rules are in effect in this catch-and-release only. Jateff advises checking the current sportfishing pamphlet carefully as there certain sections on the Methow that are closed to all fishing.

WDFW habitat biologist Ken Bevis of Winthrop confirms that fly fishing can be highly productive as rivers and streams in Okanogan County drop into shape. “Try skittering a bushy dry fly across tail-outs of deep pools in the crystal clear streams,” he said. “The action can be fast and furious, even if the fish are only eight inches or so. But be sure you know the difference between trout, so you can follow the regulations.”

As water temperatures warm, some lowland lakes will provide angling opportunities for spiny ray fishermen, Jateff said. He notes that Patterson Lake, near Winthrop, has yellow perch as well as smallmouth bass. Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket, has yellow perch in the 10 inch range as well as a sizeable rainbow trout population.

Leader Lake, near the town of Okanogan, has bluegill in good numbers, but yellow perch were illegally introduced there and are now threatening that fishery, Jateff said. “We are urging anglers to remove as many perch as possible from Leader Lake – regardless of size – to maintain the current quality bluegill fishery there.”

SOUTHCENTRAL WASHINGTON

Walleye fishing has been very good on Lake Umatilla this summer – and will likely heat up even more as water temperatures rise through August. Meanwhile, the summer heat is also clearing a way through the snow to trout fishing opportunities on dozens of alpine lakes.

As of late July, anglers were averaging more than three walleye per rod on Lake Umatilla, the 67-mile reservoir below McNary Dam on the Columbia River, according to Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stationed in the Tri-Cities.

“Fishing has been terrific at all the usual spots – Umatilla, County Line, Irrigon, Boardman and Paterson,” Hoffarth said. “Walleye really put on the feed bag when the water heats up, so we can expect to see some more great fishing in the weeks ahead.”

There is no minimum size limit for walleye at Lake Umatilla, although there is a daily limit of 10 fish, only five of which can measure over 18 inches and only one of which can be over 24 inches. There is also no minimum size for smallmouth bass, which are also showing up in the catch. There is a five-fish daily limit for smallmouth bass, only three of which can exceed 15 inches.

Still fishing for sturgeon? Be aware that sturgeon fisheries switch to catch-and-release rules Aug. 1 at Lake Wallula (the McNary Pool of the Columbia River) and the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam.

On the other hand, anglers can catch and keep up to two hatchery steelhead – identified by a clipped adipose fin – from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Highway 395 bridge at Kennewick/Pasco. Fishery managers are projecting a strong run of 390,900 summer-run steelhead this year, many bound for the Snake River and mid-to-upper Columbia River.

The Snake River will open for hatchery steelhead fishing Sept. 1, and WDFW expects to open sections of the Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge later this summer or early fall. Look for announcements at the WDFW website.

Anglers can also look forward to good fishing for fall chinook salmon in the weeks ahead. A strong run of 760,000 “falls” is expected to cross McNary Dam this year, including 175,000 upriver brights headed for the Hanford Reach and points north.

“The fishery officially kicks off Aug.1 up to Priest Rapids Dam, but fishing doesn’t really catch fire in our area until September,” Hoffarth said. “With so many fish expected this year, fishing should be good once it gets going.”

The daily limit on the Columbia River is six chinook, of which two may be adults. Anglers are not required to release chinook with intact adipose fins, but must stop fishing after they retain two adult chinook. See the current Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet for additional information.

On the Yakima River, salmon fishing closes July 31 at the end of the day, but will reopen Sept. 1 for fall chinook in the lower river. Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist in Yakima, said the spring chinook fishery in the upper section between Union Gap and Roza Dam finished strong, despite high flows in May and June.

“Catch rates for springers really picked up in July as water levels dropped and more fish moved into the area,” Anderson said. “Now anglers are looking ahead to the fishery for fall chinook.”

Water levels are also dropping in streams flowing into the upper Yakima and Naches rivers, improving fishing conditions for wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, Anderson said. Anglers should be sure to check the regulations for those streams, and release all salmon, bull trout, and steelhead, he said.

An increasing number of high lakes are also becoming accessible to trout fishing around White Pass, Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass as the snow continues to melt under the summer sun. WDFW stocks some small, hike-in lakes with rainbow or cutthroat trout, and some also have naturally reproducing eastern brook trout populations. Specific information on trout stocking in area lakes is posted on the WDFW website.

“Good fishing is now available for planted trout at Clear and Dog lakes in the White Pass area, and for kokanee averaging nine inches at Rimrock Lake off Highway 12,” Anderson said. “Kokanee is also available at Kachess and Keechelus lakes off Highway 90, and fishing is good for both kokanee and cutthroat at Bumping Lake off Highway 410.”

Anderson notes that all of those waters are closed to the taking of bull trout, “so anglers need to release any bull trout they intercept,” he said. Anderson adds that hikers and anglers should check trail conditions before heading out, because some are still covered in snow. Information about current trail conditions is available from the U.S. Forest Service office in Naches and the Forest Ranger office in Cle Elum.

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