Monday, March 4, 2024

The Washington Outdoors Report

The Weekly Round-Up



Elk season for modern firearm hunters opens November 2nd and runs through the 13th in Western Washington.  According to WDFW, the Willapa Hills in SW Washington and areas adjacent to Olympic National Park offer your best chance to bag an elk this year.

The white-tailed deer season in Northeast Washington was a less than stellar this fall.  WDFW employees manning check stations in Deer Park and Chewelah during the second weekend of the general deer season say hunter numbers were down significantly compared to last year and so was success.  In Chewelah 23 hunters were checked with 2 whitetail bucks and at Deer Park 62 hunters were checked with 12 bucks (eight of them whitetails), along with two moose.  It is thought wet weather coupled with the fact there is no doe harvest during this general season contributed to the lower numbers of hunters in the field. 

Hopes for an early arrival of waterfowl from Canada do not seem to be materializing in Eastern Washington despite the cool fall weather.  In the upper Columbia Basin lesser Canada geese number in the low thousands.  They have been joined by several hundred snow geese, a species becoming more common east of the Cascades. 

Things are looking better in Western Washington.  Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington says in the last week a big push of both ducks and snow geese have arrived in the area, especially near Stanwood at Port Susan.   There is a lot of unharvested feed in the fields of Skagit County and John thinks they should hold ducks and geese throughout the season.


Kevin John (with Holiday Sports) suggests a little-known fishery worth trying from now through March is for saltwater steelhead at Whidbey Island.  These fish are mainly wild ones you have to release and run 8 to 14 pounds.  Anglers cast for them from the beach and no waders are required since the steelhead are close in.   Spoons, spinners and a lure called the Whidbey Special (available at the store) work well.   Fort Casey and Bush Point are two good places to go for these steelhead.

John says coho salmon fishing on the Skagit is also going well from Lyman to Marblemount with some anglers reporting 15 to 20 fish days.   Twitching jigs or fishing eggs in the upper reaches is are effective techniques.

In South Central Washington, the Klickitat River has been a hotspot for both Chinook and coho salmon during the last half of October.  Creel checkers have found anglers averaging close to two salmon apiece. 


Veteran’s Day is a free day to visit Washington State’s Parks, no Discovery Pass is required.  It’s also a great day to visit one or more of our parks that were former military installations.  Many of them were constructed in the late 1800’s and all of them offer scenic vistas and viewpoints.  They include:

  1. Fort Worden in Port Townsend which is where the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed.
  2. Fort Townsend, established in the 1850’s to protect area settlers and used in World War II to defuse enemy munitions.
  3. Fort Flagler, southwest of Port Townsend which together with Fort Worden and Fort Casey, were built to form a “triangle of fire” for any enemy ships attempting to attack Seattle and Bremerton.
  4. Fort Casey on Whidbey Island with extensive fortifications to explore and a beautiful lighthouse to see.
  5. Fort Ebey, a lesser known destination on Whidbey Island that housed coastal artillery in World War II.
  6. Cape Disappointment – Formerly known as Fort Canby State Park, still has a few military fortifications though most visit here to enjoy the beach, the lighthouses and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
  7. Fort Columbia – part of a triangle of defensive forts at the mouth of the Columbia River (along with Fort Canby and Fort Stevens).  Located east of Ilwaco and Cape Disappointment near the bridge to Astoria.


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