Sports

Washington state free fishing weekend is June 7-8

Anglers are reeling in sturgeon on the lower Columbia River, halibut from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and trout from lakes throughout the state. And, on June 1, the ocean salmon fishery opened off the south coast of Washington, with the rest of the coast opening two days later.

Sound like fun? Washingtonians who are interested in fishing but haven’t tried it have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend June 7 and 8.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle-use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the 500 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to revive an old hobby or to introduce friends and family to fishing,” said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. “Adults can introduce kids to fishing on a wide variety of waters around the state.”

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and season closures will still be in effect.

For example, no crab fishing will be allowed in Puget Sound during Free Fishing Weekend, because the fishery will still be closed as of June 7 and 8.

Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch during the weekend.

Catch record cards and WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. The rules pamphlet is also posted at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.

In North Puget Sound spring fishing seasons are winding down, but saltwater anglers still have their pick of halibut, lingcod or shrimp fisheries during the next few weeks.

In the freshwater, anglers can cast for trout, and now have an opportunity to turn their attention to chinook salmon.

Portions of the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers opened for chinook salmon fishing June 1, said Brett Barkdull, WDFW fish biologist. The Skagit will open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers will be allowed to fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15.

The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers will be four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length). Barkdull reminds anglers that statewide rules require anglers to stop fishing for salmon once they have kept two adults.

On the Skykomish, hatchery chinook fishing is open from the Lewis Street Bridge in Monroe to the Wallace River through July 31. Anglers fishing the Skykomish will have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook salmon.

Trout fishing also opened at several of the region’s rivers and streams June 1.

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.

Meanwhile, time is running out to hook a lingcod. The fishery runs through June 15 in the region, where fishing has been decent for lings recently. During the hook-and-line season (May 1-June 15), there’s a one-fish daily limit for lings, with a minimum size of 26 inches and a maximum size of 40 inches.

The halibut fishery is winding down as well. The season for the big flatfish is open through June 13. Until the fishery closes, anglers can fish five days a week, Thursday through Monday, with a daily limit of one halibut and no minimum size limit.

Of course, fishing opportunities don’t begin or end with Free Fishing Weekend. Crabbers can look forward to the first round of crab openings, set for June 18 in Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound).

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