North Puget Sound: Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of fishing opportunities ranging from salmon in freshwater or salt to trout and bass at local lakes. Crab fishing is also getting under way in most areas of Puget Sound.
July is the typical kickoff for salmon fishing for most Puget Sound marine areas, said Ryan Lothrop, recreational salmon fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "We are looking at a solid hatchery chinook run this year, and coho and sockeye also are on the move in areas around the Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca."
Lothrop reports the following projections for Puget Sound:
283,000 chinook salmon returning in the months ahead;
873,000 coho salmon moving in behind them; and
23 million sockeye bound for the Fraser River, many by way of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands.
Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca salmon fishing opportunities for July include:
Marine Area 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point) opens July 1. Anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional sockeye, but must release wild chinook, wild coho, and chum.
Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) opens July 1. Anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional sockeye, but must release wild coho and chum. Additionally, anglers must release wild chinook west of the #2 buoy/Ediz Hook line, and must release all chinook east of that line.
Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) opens July 1. Anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional sockeye, but can keep only one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.
Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) open July 1. Anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release all chinook through July 15. Beginning July 16, anglers can retain one hatchery chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin but wild chinook must be released. Chinook retention is expected to last through early August and will close when the guideline is attained. Anglers should note that chum must also be released in marine area 9 throughout July and in marine area 10 starting July 16.
Sinclair Inlet, a portion of Marine Area 10, opens July 1. Anglers fishing Sinclair will have a daily limit of three salmon, but must release wild chinook. Anglers are allowed to use two fishing poles with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.
Tulalip Bay "bubble" fishery, a portion of Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), remains open each week from Friday through noon on Monday through Sept. 1. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit, and can use two fishing poles with the purchase of a WDFW two-pole endorsement.
It's also time to break out those crab pots. Most areas in Puget Sound will open for crab fishing in July. The exception is in part of Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 15 in the area's southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia).
The crab fishery in marine areas of Puget Sound will be open Thursday through Monday of each week, except in Marine Area 13, where crabbing is allowed seven days a week. Here is a schedule of this year's crab season for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca:
Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) open July 3 through Sept. 1. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) Opens July 17 through Sept. 29. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) Opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 29. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marine Area 13 (south Puget Sound) Opens June 1 through Sept. 1. Crabbing is allowed seven days per week.
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.
Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW, said test fisheries indicate the crab population in Puget Sound remains abundant. "We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout Puget Sound," he said. "With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season."
Three of the region's major rivers also remain open to fishing for hatchery chinook salmon during all or part of July, including:
Skagit River: Open through July 15 for hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River Road.
Cascade River: Open through July 15 for hatchery chinook salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.
Skykomish River: Open through July 31 for hatchery chinook salmon from mouth of the "Sky" to the mouth of the Wallace River.
The daily limit on the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers is four hatchery chinook, only two of which may be adults (measuring at least 24 inches in length.)
Farther north, anglers will have an opportunity to hook sockeye salmon at Baker Lake beginning July 10. Anglers will have a daily limit of three adult sockeye salmon (minimum size 18 inches in length). All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.
Trout fishing is open at several of the region's rivers. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region's rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep.
Of course, trout aren't the only fish available for harvest in Washington's lakes. Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and panfish (yellow perch, pumpkinseed sunfish, bluegill, and black crappie) is in full swing as water temperatures increase and warmwater species become increasingly active.
As July progresses, early morning and late evening hours are great times to target bass in the shallows with top-water lures, though bass will look for shade or deep water refuge during the heat of the day, Garrett said.
But yellow perch, the most abundant warmwater gamefish species in western Washington, may be the best target in July. Perch actively feed throughout the daytime, and provide excellent table fare. For more information on where yellow perch are located, and how to catch them, visit the yellow perch species page on the Fish Washington website and WDFW's YouTube video on perch fishing.
And if you bought a fishing license, but need a combo, WDFW is offering current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders the opportunity to upgrade to a combination license for under $27 through July 20. The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, WDFW licensing manager. Visit WDFW's news release to learn more about mid-season upgrades to licenses.