Fish & Wildlife Weekender for second half of April


For many anglers, “opening day” is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 27 this year. Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians typically descend on trout-stocked lakes to kick off the state’s biggest outdoor event.

To prepare for the upcoming season, hatchery crews from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife have been working since last year to stock more than 17 million fish in over 600 lakes throughout the state. Anglers can find how many went where at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.

But anglers – and hunters, too – are also looking forward to a variety of other “opening days” this month for seasons ranging from razor clam digs on ocean beaches to turkey hunting throughout the state. Many communities throughout the state are also hosting festivals this month to mark major bird migrations including sandhill cranes, waterfowl and shorebirds.

For most people, a valid 2013-14 fishing or hunting license will be required to participate in those activities after March 31, when all 2012-13 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who may fish for free.

Licenses and permits are avaiIable online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state. A list of license vendors (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/) is available online and from local Fish & Wildlife offices around the state.

Key dates to keep in mind in April include:

• April 15 – The general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31. See the department’s Washington Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ for more information.

• April 24-30 – The month’s second morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches. For details, see FIsh & Wildlife’s razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

• April 26-28 – The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, based in Hoquiam, celebrates shorebirds. For information, see http://www.shorebirdfestival.com/.

• April 27 – Hundreds of lakes open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest “opening day” of the year.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Anglers can look forward to a number of new fishing opportunities in the weeks ahead, including the opening of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, shrimping and halibut fishing.

To prepare for the popular statewide trout opener, hatchery crews from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife have been working since last year to stock more than 17 million fish in over 600 lakes throughout the state. The statewide trout-stocking plan shows where those fish are going, county by county.

Fish & Wildlife has also tentatively scheduled two morning razor clam digs this month, one running April 9-14 and the other April 24-30. As usual, final approval of those digs will depend on the results of marine toxin tests, which will be announced about a week ahead of time.

For more information on those digs, see the department’s Razor Clam website. Also, sport clam and oyster seasons are opening early at Oak Bay and South Indian Island. For those interested in these areas, please check the fishing rule change.

Whether planning to dig clams or catch trout, everyone age 15 and older will need to purchase a 2013-14 license to participate in the April openings, since current fishing licenses expire at midnight March 31. Licenses are available online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-320-9933) and from license dealers around the state.

Anglers fishing marine areas 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 11 and 12 have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing the Strait of Juan de Fuca (marine areas 5 and 13) have a daily limit of one salmon.

Lingcod fishing is also open in marine areas 1-4 under rules described in the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. The fishery expands to areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on May 1.

In freshwater, anglers still have an opportunity to hook wild steelhead on some rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. As in years past, anglers may retain only one wild steelhead per license year on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh, Quillayute, Quinault and Sol Duc rivers. Wild steelhead retention continues through April 15 on the Clearwater, Hoh and Quinault rivers, and through April 30 on the other rivers. For more information on steelhead fishing regulations, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

In addition to the fisheries opening this month, anglers can look forward to seasons opening in May for halibut and shrimp. For information on the upcoming halibut season, see the news release on the Fish & Wildlife website. A news release outlining the 2013 shrimp season is also available on the website.

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season runs Monday through May 31 around the state. The general season follows a special hunt April 6-7 for people age 15 and younger. For more information, check out the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet.

Wildlife viewing: The annual festival in Hoquiam, the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, will be held April 26-28. This event takes place during the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds as they stop at the Grays Harbor estuary to feed and rest before departing for their nesting grounds in the Arctic. For more information, visit the shorebird festival website.

Finally, don’t miss the “Welcome the Whales” parade and festival, April 20 and 21 in Langley, Whidbey Island. For more information, visit the Orca Network’s event website.