Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Washington Outdoors Report October 20 - 26

Outdoors Roundup


The modern firearm deer season and waterfowl season opened up the weekend of Oct. 14, and there is other outdoor news to share as well this week.

NORTHEAST WASHINGTON DEER HUNTING RESULTS: Staci Lehman, a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, shared the results from check stations in Eastern Washington during the opening day weekend.  In her words, “This weekend, we collected 105 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) samples from harvested deer throughout Region 1. For comparison, last year's opening weekend, we collected 95 CWD samples. Districts 1 and 2 (NE Washington) were the slowest and saw fewer samples compared to District 3 (SE Washington) that collected 65 samples.

Overall, we heard from staff and officers that things were pretty slow in northeast Washington. That could be a result of the warm weather, but hard to say for sure. A reminder that WDFW has teamed up with the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to encourage folks to provide samples from their harvested deer or elk. BHA helped to purchase 100 multi-season deer tags. Anyone who has their harvest sampled for CWD will go into a random drawing for the tags for next year.”

COLUMBIA BASIN DUCK HUNTING HARVEST:  WDFW has three regulated access areas for waterfowl hunters in the Columbia Basin.  A small, limited number of hunters hunt these improved habitat areas in the Desert Wildlife Area on a first come, – first served basis.  Hunters are asked to register before they hunt and report their harvest when their hunt is complete.

Hunters did best at the Frenchman’s Wasteway Regulated Access Area, where 27 hunters reported shooting 117 ducks (an average of 4.33 birds per hunter).  At the Winchester Wasteway Regulated Access Area, 20 hunters harvested 47 birds, averaging 2.35 birds per hunter.  Meanwhile, the North Potholes Regulated Access Area continues to suffer from drought conditions. That’s why only two hunters went there, though they did get five ducks.

COHO ARE ON THE BITE:  The Icicle River near Leavenworth is open for coho salmon.  I spoke with Rick Graybill at Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee about the current state of affairs there.  Rick says anglers were doing pretty good on the Columbia River prior to the closure on Oct. 15, and while a few fish are now in the Icicle River, Graybill says the first big rain event we get will likely send a flood of fish into this stream for anglers to catch.

As for how to catch them?  Rick recommends twitching a jig from where you cast it and twitch it back as you retrieve it (it’s a fun way to trigger a bite).  As for colors to use, Rick says, “Every year it’s different what they want, but consider getting a jig with a couple of different colors.  Consider a bright pink head with a black and orange body or purple and blue, etc.  Another option is using a Blue Fox spinner.”  Rick recommends silver and orange or silver and pink.  If you have more questions, contact Rick at the Hooked on Toys Sporting Goods store fishing counter.

Meanwhile, down in the Columbia River Gorge, guide Marc Bush reports the numbers of coho salmon in the Dalles and John Day Pools of the Columbia River are unexpectedly down this Fall thus far.  Bush says a few salmon are being caught, but the fishing for Fall Chinook is a better bet right now, and he has been catching a fair number of them off the mouth of the Klickitat River.  Bush recommends checking the Bonneville Dam fish ladder count, and when the numbers increase for coho, head down to the Gorge.  You can fish for them off the mouth of the Klickitat or the Deschutes River.  If you would like to book a trip with Marc Bush, contact him through his website at

GO ON A HAUNTED HIKE:  With Halloween coming up, consider hiking a local trail said to be haunted by ghosts!  The trail in question is the Iron Goat Trail, just west of Stevens Pass, that takes you to the old Great Northern rail line and tunnels where the Wellington disaster took place in 1910, causing some 100 souls to perish after an avalanche hit their stranded train.

One website ( reports, “ Some hikers have reported hearing screams in the tunnel, others have spotted apparitions, and stories of hearing out-of-body voices of souls trapped in the tunnel, trying to escape, frequent the area.”  Even if you don’t see ghosts, you’ll enjoy the 5.7-mile-long loop trail and interpretive signage along the way.

John Kruse – and




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