Don’t be afraid to go outdoors in October
Some of the state’s most popular hunting seasons get underway in October, when hunters take to the field for deer, elk, ducks, geese and other game birds.
Meanwhile, anglers are catching salmon in areas of Puget Sound, and razor clam digs are tentatively scheduled this month on the coast.
The North Puget Sound region offers a variety of lake-fishing opportunities in October for species including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, kokanee, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and yellow perch.
Some of the area’s highlights include Lake Cavanaugh with fishing opportunities that include stocked coastal cutthroat trout, kokanee, and rainbow trout and resident largemouth bass.
There is also Lake Samish, where stocked kokanee and resident coastal cutthroat trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and yellow perch can be caught.
The Nooksack River is open for salmon fishing with a daily limit of two salmon plus two hatchery coho. All wild coho must be released.
In the saltwater, Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) is open for chum and hatchery coho with a daily limit of two fish.
Anglers should be aware that salmon fishing has closed on the Snohomish River, Snoqualmie River, and Skykomish River upstream of the Wallace River through Nov. 15 due to a low wild coho salmon run. In addition, all salmon must be released except for marked hatchery coho on the Wallace River and the Skykomish River from the mouth to the Wallace River.
Areas opened for late-season crab fisheries include marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner).
Crabbing is allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.
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.
In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.
All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.
Winter crab catch reports are due to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife by Feb. 1.
October is prime time for hunting, with statewide seasons opening for deer, elk, ducks, and geese.
The popular modern-firearms hunt runs Oct. 13-31 for black-tailed deer. Meanwhile, muzzleloader hunters have a chance to hunt elk until Oct. 12 in many of those same areas.
The early cougar hunting season continues through Dec. 31, and hunters may use any legal weapon. Some game management units in North Puget Sound that provide cougar hunting opportunities include 448 (Stillaguamish), 450 (Cascade), 460 (Snoqualmie) and 466 (Stampede).
The general hunting season for black bear continues through Nov. 15 in the Puget Sound Zone.
General hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe get underway Oct. 13 and — with the exception of a short break — run through Jan. 27.
General seasons for California quail, northern bobwhite, mountain quail and pheasant continue through Nov. 30, and the forest grouse hunting season continues through Dec. 31.
If watching birds is more your speed, about 80,000 snow geese winter in western Washington each year, and many will make their way to the region this month.
Most snow geese congregate in the Skagit Valley, and can be found in the area from mid-October through early May. A great place to view the birds is at the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit of Fish & Wildlife’s Skagit Wildlife Area.