Weekend Fun… Ideas from WDFW

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) sent a press release reminding all outdoor enthusiasts that there’s a lot of stuff to do outside this coming weekend….

  • Trout: The statewide trout derby kicked off May 23 and continues through Oct. 31.
  • Columbia River sockeye: Sockeye fishing opens on a large portion of the Columbia River on June 16, with a 2-fish limit.
  • Puget Sound rivers: Anglers can fish for hatchery Chinook salmon in several rivers in north Puget Sound, including the Skagit, Cascade, North Fork Nooksack, and Skykomish. 
  • Bird watching: June is a great month to view birds throughout Washington, particularly at WDFW wildlife areas and other public lands.
  • Shrimp: Some marine areas in Puget Sound will open for recreational spot shrimp fishing June 11.
  • Hiking: The wildflowers are blooming and attracting a multitude of butterflies in many of our mid-elevation wildlife areas.

And don’t forget all of the clamming and oyster hunting that can be done….

Guest Editor Provides Tips for Outdoor Recreation

Safety Tips for Taking a Socially-Distant Adventure in Your Nearby Woods

By Jason Lewis

Image via Pexels

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the routines of millions of Americans upside down. One significant way it has done this is through governmental orders to stay at home. 

While abiding by social distancing guidelines is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, being quarantined indoors for months on end can raise significant physical, mental, and emotional health concerns. In short, people need to spend time outdoors. And besides the backyard, the nearby woods is the only option for most families across the country. This means recreational activities like hiking, camping, and mountain biking are a saving grace. If you’re new to one or all of these activities, consider this advice for staying safe and enjoying your time.

Hiking 

As with the other activities listed here, it’s important to have the right equipment when you go hiking. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food, the right clothes, a compass, and a map, and research any other items you might want to bring. 

Before you head out, research the area where you will be hiking, especially if you don’t know much about local poisonous plants, wild animals, and hunting zones. Also, try to schedule your hikes during the day, look at the weather forecast, and remember to stay together, especially if you have young children. Nothing can ruin a nice, refreshing hike like losing sight of your kids.

Camping

You will need many of the same essentials for camping as you would for hiking. However, there are some camping-specific items that can make your venture safer and more enjoyable. For example, a quality headlamp can allow you to see better at night and perform tasks with both hands. With headlamps, it’s important to find one that is waterproof, bright, and comfortable to wear. It’s also important to get a reliable tent, sleeping bags, first-aid kit, and cooler. 

If your family goes camping, be sure to stay hydrated and inform yourself of any poisonous plants and potentially dangerous animals. Keep your campsite clean so that it doesn’t attract unwanted guests (e.g., bears, raccoons, etc.), and never leave a fire burning without someone there to watch it. You’ll also want to confirm local rules and regulations as many areas restrict fires at 2500 feet and above. Moreover, if you plan on using a propane stove, be sure to follow all the general safety guidelines. For example, only run the propane when you are lighting the stove, and make sure you know how the ignition switch works.

Mountain Biking

Along with getting the right kind of bikes for each family member, you want to make sure everyone has the protection they need. Depending on the age of your kids, this may mean investing in helmets, elbow/knee pads, and other protective gear. Generally speaking, adults and kids alike should always wear a helmet.

If your kids are fairly new to riding bikes, wait until they have a firm grasp on the basic skills and knowledge required. And when you do decide to take them along, ride on any trails you’re considering taking them on beforehand so that you know the terrain. This will help you determine which trails are good for your children and which ones are too difficult.

These days, venturing into your nearby wooded areas is really the only option when it comes to vacation and leisure time away from home. Consider going hiking, camping, and/or mountain biking, and do your research to make sure you have all the gear you need and that you take all the necessary safety precautions. In no time, your entire family will be experiencing the wide array of benefits that come with spending time in the great outdoors.

Jason Lewis is a personal trainer, who specializes in helping senior citizens stay fit and healthy. He is also the primary caretaker of his mom after her surgery. He created StrongWell.org and enjoys curating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.

To Angle, or not to Angle…

A Press Release from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

May 28, 2020

Anglers can fish for free June 6-7, 2020 
State reminds anglers to continue to recreate responsibly this Free Fishing Weekend

OLYMPIA – Anglers can forget the fishing license June 6-7, but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is still asking everyone to remember to recreate responsibly for this year’s “Free Fishing Weekend” to keep their communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great to see that based on our conversations with public health officials, conditions are right to be able to continue on the department’s long-standing practice of offering a Free Fishing Weekend,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW’s fish program director. “This is about providing everyone an opportunity to give fishing a try—in a safe and responsible way.”

Anglers will need to follow state guidelines and health advice for the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to recreate in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping six feet apart. 

Anglers should check ahead of time if their preferred destination or launch is open. Some local marinas or facilities – including some tribal lands – remain closed, and anglers should be prepared to change plans if their first choice is closed or too congested. 

Before heading out, anglers should also check the current fishing regulations valid June 6 and 7 at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/. While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, rules such as size limits, bag limits, catch record card requirements (a fee is required for a halibut catch record card) and area closures will still be in effect. 

Halibut and razor clam harvest on the coast and intertidal shellfish in Puget Sound will remain closed due to continued port closures and concerns about the spread of coronavirus in local communities.  

While non-resident license sales are still suspended, non-residents can participate in Free Fishing Weekend since no license is needed. Anyone participating in Free Fishing Weekend should follow responsible recreation guidelines, which include staying local and fishing as close to home as possible.  

For those who want fishing advice, WDFW’s YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/thewdfw) provides “how to” fishing videos designed to introduce techniques to both new and seasoned anglers.

Anglers who take part in Free Fishing Weekend can also participate in the department’s 2020 Trout Fishing Derby and redeem blue tags from trout caught over the weekend. Interested anglers should check for details online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/contests/trout-derby.  

Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at water-access sites maintained by WDFW or Washington State Parks. 

It is important to note that a Discover Pass will be required on Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ lands both days. 

In addition, the free “Fish Washington” app, available on Google Play, Apple’s App store and WDFW’s website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app) is designed to convey up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.  

Catch record cards, required for some species, are available free (except halibut will still cost $5.50) at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. See https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers on the WDFW website to locate a license dealer. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.