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Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife - Weekender Report

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
November 2017
Region 1: Eastern Washington
(Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens,  Walla Walla and Whitman counties)

Trout: WDFW Central District Fish Biologist Randy Osborne of Spokane reminds anglers that southwest Spokane County’s Amber Lake remains open through the end of November for catch-and-release, selective-gear fishing fo rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Osborne also notes that other lake fishing in the region continues this month at several waters that are open year-round. Good rainbow trout fishing is available now at Lake Spokane (Long Lake) and should get even better through the fall.  Rainbow trout fishing is also good at Sprague Lake on the Lincoln/Adams county line; Osborne reminds anglers that Sprague’s five-trout daily catch limit includes the rule that only two trout over 20 inches may be retained.

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, provides some of the best year-round trout fishing for anglers willing to brave late fall/early winter conditions. 

In the southeast district, while most of the Tucannon River impoundments on the Wooten Wildlife Area closed to fishing Oct. 31, Blue and Spring lakes remain open year-round. Both were just stocked with catchable rainbows in mid-October that should provide catches through the month and beyond.

For those who would rather be fishing than shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, two winter-only-season rainbow trout-stocked lakes open on “Black Friday,” Nov. 24, for special holiday catches. Fourth of July Lake on the Lincoln-Adams county line just south of the town of Sprague, has lots of catchable size rainbow trout available. This spring, Fourth of July received 60,000 rainbow trout fry and 20,000 rainbows that were two to 10 pounds at stocking and have grown to catchable size now. In Stevens County, Hatch Lake, five miles south of Colville, also opens on Nov. 24. This spring, Hatch was stocked with 10,000 rainbow fry that are now catchable size.

Anglers should note that both Hog Canyon Lake,  which is 10 miles northeast of Sprague in Spokane County, and Williams Lake, which is 14 miles north of Colville in Stevens County – will not have a trout fishery this season, but will be re-stocked with trout next spring and provide fishing in the fall and winter of 2018-19. These lakes were treated with rotenone in October to remove species ranging from bass and bullhead to stunted panfish.

Mixed species: Waitts Lake in Stevens County is open through February and provides rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, and yellow perch.

Eloika Lake in north Spokane County is open year-round for largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and some brown trout

Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County, and Silver Lake in southwest Spokane County, are also open year-round for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, plus an occasional tiger muskie or eastern brook trout.

Steelhead: Due to extremely low returns of hatchery steelhead this year, most of the Snake River (from the mouth near the Tri-Cities to the Washington-Idaho state line at Clarkston) is open only to catch-and-release steelhead fishing. The stretch from Clarkston upstream to the Couse Creek boat ramp is open to daily retention of up to two hatchery steelhead less than 28 inches. The stretch from Couse Creek upstream to the Idaho-Oregon state line is open to daily retention of up to two hatchery steelhead of any size. See the rule change from mid-October for all details.

On the Grand Ronde and Tucannon rivers (Snake River tributaries) and on the Walla Walla and Touchet rivers (Columbia River tributaries), the daily catch limit is two hatchery steelhead. More details are available in those rule changes.

Region 2: Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)

Trout: Fall fishing opportunities for trout are available throughout the region in year-round-open waters and at lakes under selective gear regulations that close at the end of November. 

In the Columbia Basin, the year-round-open Seep Lakes outside of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, including Canal, Heart and Windmill, have decent rainbow trout fishing in early November.    

Year-round-open Homestead Lake, north of Moses Lake, has 20-inch-plus brown trout along with smaller rainbows. It’s under selective gear rules and a catch limit of one trout per day. Also open year-round is the Desert Lake Chain within WDFW's Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, including Harris, Sedge, Tern, and Dune lakes, all under selective gear rules. 

Open through Nov. 30 in the Columbia Basin are  Dusty, Dry Falls, Lenice, Merry, and Nunnally lakes, all under selective gear rules and one-fish catch limits, and all excellent for trout this month. Lake Lenore, just north of the town of Soap Lake, is best in the fall for its Lahontan cutthroat trout that often run up to or more than 30 inches; it’s also under selective gear rules, a one fish catch limit, and closes Nov. 30.  

In Okanogan County, Bonaparte Lake is open year-round and has fair fishing this month for brook, tiger, and rainbow trout, plus kokanee. Okanogan County’s catch-and-release trout waters – Upper or Big Green, Lower or Little Green, and Rat lakes – shift to catch-and-keep on Dec. 1.

WDFW crews are still conducting prescribed burns in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County this month to improve forest health and wildlife habitat and to reduce the impact of wildfires. Although the crews are making every effort to be considerate of outdoor recreationists with a minimum of smoke and road congestion on weekends, weather determines when they can take advantage of times for optimal burning conditions.

Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)

Bass and walleye: Diehard anglers know that November offers good bass and walleye fishing as the fish pack on pounds before slipping into lethargy for the winter. Virtually every section of the Columbia and Snake rivers in south central Washington holds large populations of both smallmouth bass and walleye. Anglers should start in water 15 to 25 feet on the edges of the main river channels, but don’t be afraid to work the deeper waters as well.

Salmon and steelhead: 
Fishing for steelhead is closed on the mainstem Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco through Nov. 30.
The good news is Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam) re-opened for the harvest of hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 with a one steelhead daily limit. 

The Columbia River from the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers is also open for the harvest of steelhead. Anglers have a one fish limit and can only keep steelhead that have both adipose and ventral fins clipped.

Trout: Anglers can look forward to reeling in hefty broodstock rainbow trout from a half-dozen small lakes and ponds in and around Yakima and Ellensburg. Stocking dates have not been set yet, but WDFW usually starts planting these three to 10-pound fish in mid- to late November. Anglers can check the Trout Plant Reports to see when these fish are available.

North Elton Pond near Selah will also be stocked with half-pound rainbow trout prior to the “Black Friday” opening on that lake Nov. 24. 

Anglers are reminded that nearly all of the rivers and creeks in the Yakima Basin closed to fishing Oct. 31. Exceptions include the Yakima River between Roza Dam and Easton Dam and the lower Cle Elum River (below Cle Elum Dam), which remains open to catch-and-release fishing year-round.

Whitefish coming soon: Looking ahead, several waters reopen Dec. 1 for winter whitefish fishing, including:

  • the Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam,
  • Roza Dam to Easton Dam,
  • the lower Cle Elum River,
  • and the lower Naches River below the confluence with the Tieton River.

Region 4: North Puget Sound
(Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties)

Blackmouth salmon: Fishing for blackmouth salmon (chinook) gets under way Nov. 1 in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Anglers fishing those marine areas can keep one hatchery chinook salmon.  

Coho salmon: Coho are still found in a number of the region’s rivers. Rivers with coho fishing in the north Puget Sound region include:

  • Nooksack River in Whatcom County is open for salmon fishing with a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional hatchery coho. Anglers must release wild coho as well as pink salmon, as described in September’s fishing rule change.  
  • Snohomish River (Skykomish and Snoqualmie) in Snohomish County is open to salmon fishing with a daily limit of three hatchery coho. All other salmon must be released, as described in last month’s fishing rule change.  

Green/Duwamish River in King County is open to salmon fishing with a daily limit of six fish. Anglers must release chinook salmon in all river sections except from Tukwila International Boulevard/Old Highway 99 to I-405, where anglers can keep one chinook as part of the daily limit. No more than three adults may be any combination of coho and chum.

Samish River: The Lower Samish River, from the mouth (Bayview-Edison Road) to the I-5 Bridge reopened to salmon fishing Nov. 4 with a daily limit of two salmon. Anglers must release all wild coho.

Always make sure to check the sportfishing rules pamphlet and emergency fishing rules webpage before heading out.

Trout: The department will stock at least 45 Washington lakes with catchable-size trout this fall. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of smaller fry and fingerling trout will have grown to catchable size since the department stocked them this past spring. The complete list of lakes to be stocked, and the department’s recently updated stocking plan are available on the WDFW website.

Crab: Several marine areas remain open seven days a week through Dec. 31 for recreational crab fishing including: marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 ¼ inches. Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches.

Sport crabbing will not reopen in marine areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), 12 (Hood Canal), and 13 (South Puget Sound). Additional information is available on WDFW’s recreational crab fishing website.

Region 5: Southwest Washington
(Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties)

Columbia River salmon/steelhead: As this year’s fall chinook season winds down, area anglers are turning their attention to winter steelhead fishing. Thanksgiving Day traditionally marks the start of the popular fishery, but some anglers start working their favorite rivers well ahead of time.

“Steelhead move upriver on pulses of water,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Once the sky opens up, we’ll see more fish start to move.”

Anglers can now retain up to two adult salmonids per day through Dec. 31 from Buoy 10 to John Day Dam, but only one may be a hatchery steelhead. Any wild steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released.

Anglers may retain any chinook salmon – with or without an adipose fin – but all wild coho must be released from the Hood River Bridge downstream.
Fishing the tributaries: The first winter steelhead of the year arrived at the Cowlitz Hatchery in late October and more are sure to follow in the weeks ahead. Other major destinations for hatchery-reared steelhead include the Kalama, Lewis (including the North Fork), Washougal, Elochoman and Grays rivers, along with Salmon Creek in Clark County and Rock Creek in Skamania County.

Starting Nov. 1, several other rivers and creeks open for steelhead fishing, including Abernathy, Coal, Germany, Mill, and Skamokawa creeks and the Coweeman River in Cowlitz County, and Cedar Creek in Clark County.

WDFW’s Hatchery Escapement Reports and 2016 Hatchery Steelhead Smolt Stocking report can provide a good indication of the number of fish returning to each river.

The daily limit on most tributaries below Bonneville Dam is three hatchery steelhead – plus the salmon limit listed for individual rivers in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet. Only hatchery-reared steelhead with a clipped adipose fin may be retained, and anglers are required to keep the first three hatchery steelhead they catch.

An exception is the Cowlitz River from the Lexington Drive/Sparks Road bridges upstream to the markers below the barrier dam. In those waters, the limit is two hatchery steelhead per day, and the mandatory retention rule has been lifted.

Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River should also be aware that all chinook salmon must be released downstream from the barrier dam due to low returns to the hatchery.

The daily limit at Drano Lake is three adult salmonids, of which only one two may be coho. At Drano Lake, the daily limit is also three adult salmonids, but only two may be hatchery steelhead. Wind River remains closed to all fishing from Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge to protect the low number of summer steelhead arriving to spawn.

Anglers are strongly advised to check for new emergency rules before heading out.

Sturgeon: Catch-and-release fisheries are open in all areas of the Columbia River below Priest Rapids Dam, but retention fishing for white sturgeon is closed in those waters.

Warmwater fish: Walleye fishing is still going strong in the Columbia from The Dalles to McNary dams. Channel catfish has also been good above John Day Dam.

Night fishing is now allowed from Buoy 10 upstream to the wooden powerline towers near old Hanford for warmwater fish, including bass, walleye, burbot, catfish, crappie, perch, peamouth, suckers and sunfish.

Trout: State fish managers are stocking lakes throughout the state with thousands of large trout averaging 15 to 16 inches for WDFW’s Black Friday event, starting the day after Thanksgiving. Approximately 2,000 of those lunkers are headed for:

  • Clark County: Battleground Lake and Klineline Pond in Clark County.
  • Cowlitz County: Kress Lake.
  • Lewis County: Ft. Borst Park Pond, and South Lewis County Park Pond. 

Each of these waters will be closed the Monday before Thanksgiving and opening on the day after the holiday. 

Anglers should be aware that Swift Reservoir closes Nov. 30. 

Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)

Salmon and steelhead (rivers): Popular chum salmon and other fishing spots include the Hoodsport Hatchery area of Hood Canal, the mouth of Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, and Satsop River. The Satsop and Chehalis rivers also offer some good opportunities for coho fishing.

The Quillayute River, as well as sections of the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah and Dickey rivers re-opened for fishing Nov. 4, via an emergency fishing rule. Anglers must release hatchery and wild chinook salmon in all of these areas.

Salmon fishing also continues this month on the Quinault and Humptulips rivers. On the Quinault, anglers can keep six salmon, including two adult chinook or coho, but must release sockeye and chum. On the Humptulips, anglers can keep six salmon, including two adults but must release all chinook and wild coho.

The Humptulips and Bogachiel are open for hatchery winter steelhead fishing, which traditionally kicks into high gear around Thanksgiving. The first fish to arrive usually head for the Humptulips and Bogachiel rivers, followed by runs to other area rivers.

Anglers should note that the Dungeness River will be closed to salmon fishing Nov. 8 through Nov. 30, per an emergency fishing rule.

Salmon (marine areas): November is also good for “blackmouth” or hatchery chinook fishing opportunities in Puget Sound and Hood Canal.

Marine area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) re-opens for salmon fishing beginning Nov. 1, while areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (south Puget Sound) remain open.

Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 may keep one salmon daily but must release coho and wild chinook while those fishing area 10 can keep one hatchery chinook as part of the two-salmon daily limit. In Marine Area 10, anglers must release wild coho and wild chinook.

In marine areas 11 and 13, anglers have a daily limit of two salmon but must release wild chinook and wild coho.

Anglers fishing Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) can keep two hatchery chinook as part of their four-salmon daily limit but must release wild chinook.

Trout: Thousands of trout are waiting to be caught in area lakes as part of the Fall into Fishing effort by the WDFW. Hatchery crews have already stocked Leland Lake (Jefferson County); Isabella and Island lakes (Mason County); Harts Lake (Pierce County); and St. Clair and Lawrence lakes (Thurston County). Black and Long lakes (Thurston County) will be stocked with trout just in time for Black Friday fishing on Nov. 24.

Crab: Sport crabbing is open in several areas of Puget Sound, including marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 ¼ inches.  Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches.  More information about crabbing regulations and catch cards is available online.

Sport crabbing is closed in marine areas 10 (Seattle Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), 12 (Hood Canal), and 13 (South Puget Sound).

Crabbing is open year-round in Washington’s ocean waters (marine areas 1-3 and 4 west of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line).

Razor clams: Diggers can return to four ocean beaches for an opening in early November. State shellfish managers have given the OK for the dig after toxin test results indicated clams from Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks are safe to eat.

The upcoming dig is approved on the following beaches, dates and evening low tides:

  • Nov. 2, Thursday, 6:03 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Copalis
  • Nov. 3, Friday, 6:47 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Nov. 4, Saturday, 7:31 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Nov. 5, Sunday, 7:16 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on WDFW's website at and from license vendors around the state.

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container.

WDFW has tentatively scheduled another dig for Dec. 1-4, pending results of future toxin tests.

More information about razor clamming can be found on the department’s webpage.

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