Fall is in the air, signaling yet another change in season as hunters prepare to head out into the field.
It’s not quite time to stow away the fishing gear, however, as salmon fisheries are underway in the Columbia River, Puget Sound and other waters, and anglers are still reeling in trout from lakes.
Most areas of Puget Sound closed to crab fishing on Sept. 2. The only two areas that remain open are marine areas 7-South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and 7-North (Gulf of Georgia) until Sept. 30, Thursdays through Mondays only.
Crabbers are reminded that summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by midnight Oct. 1 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab. Crabbers who don’t submit reports for 2019 will face a $10 fine when they apply for next year’s Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed summer cards can be mailed in or submitted online.
Winter crab seasons for Puget Sound will be announced in early October.
Coho or pink salmon can be landed from one of several marine areas in Puget Sound and Juan de Fuca Strait that are open this month for salmon fishing.
Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) is open through Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all chinook, chum and wild coho salmon. Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) is also open through Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all chinook and chum salmon.
Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) is open from the area south and west of a line between the Clinton and Mukilteo ferry docks and select dates within the Tulalip terminal area, with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all chinook and pink salmon.
Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) is open through Sept. 15 with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all chinook and wild coho salmon. Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is open through Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two fish. Anglers must release all chinook, chum and wild coho salmon.
The statewide trout fishing derby continues through Oct. 31.
Speaking of lakes, a variety of them in the region have good warmwater fishing in September.
Notable hot spots to catch smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, panfish or catfish include larger waters such as Lake Whatcom. Yellow perch is a species that will bite throughout the day and is a great way to introduce kids or new anglers to the sport.
Meanwhile, archery-only hunts for black-tailed deer continue through Sept. 27, while archery hunts for elk are open until Sept. 19.
For those looking to hunt black-tailed deer at higher elevations, areas within GMUs 418 (Nooksack), 426 (Diablo) and 437 (Sauk) can be accessed by USFS roads and trail systems that lead to mountain areas, such as the Mount Baker Wilderness Area in Whatcom County and northern portions of the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area in southeastern Skagit County. Both of these areas are open for the high buck hunt Sept. 15-25.
The early hunting cougar season is underway and hunters may use any legal weapon. Some GMUs in North Puget Sound that provide opportunities include 448 (Stillaguamish), 450 (Cascade), 460 (Snoqualmie) and 466 (Stampede).
General hunting seasons for black bear opened Aug. 1 in the Puget Sound zone. Hunters are allowed to harvest two bears, only one of which may be taken in eastern Washington. All hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.
Bear hunters in GMUs 418 and 426 of the North Cascades Zone are reminded that it’s possible to encounter some protected grizzly bears, so species identification is critical. This year, for the first time, successful completion of WDFW’s online Bear Identification Program is required if hunting bears in those and other eastern Washington units.
Forest grouse hunting season is open statewide. The daily bag limit is four of any species, with no more than three of one species.
Youth-only pheasant hunts are open Sept. 21-22, while hunters 65 years or older and hunters with disabilities will also have the chance for an early hunt Sept. 23-27. The regular season for western Washington begins Sept. 28, and hunting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Whale watchers should have several opportunities in September to spot orcas near the San Juan Islands. The resident orcas are feasting on salmon runs now making their way along the shores of the islands. One of the best spots to view whales is from Lime Kiln State Park on the western shore of San Juan Island.