August is here, and with the new month comes some new opportunities in the outdoors.
As of today, some new salmon fishing seasons open on parts of the Columbia River. In the upper Columbia, from the State Route 173 Bridge at Brewster, up to the SR 17 Bridge at Bridgeport, anglers are now allowed to take two hatchery summer chinook.
This part of the Columbia has become a very popular fishery over the years, but this year it looked like it wasn’t going to open as the prognosticators were calling for not enough salmon to open a season.
But late last week Department of Fish and Wildlife officials determined there were going to be enough hatchery-origin chinook above Wells Dam, so the fishery was opened. And just in time. Every year the town of Brewster puts on a salmon derby in early August, so with the emergency opening, the derby is a go for this weekend.
In mid-July, a season on summer chinook opened below Wells Dam, and anglers have had some good fishing during the early days of the season. With that in mind, it is looking like anglers who get up to Brewster in early August will have the best opportunity to catch a nice chinook or two, and if you have entered the derby, you might have a chance to win money and other prizes.
At the other end of the Columbia, the popular fishery known as Buoy 10, at the mouth where it flows into the Pacific Ocean, opens today. Now through Aug. 20 anglers can keep one chinook salmon and one hatchery coho salmon. After that only hatchery coho will be legal to catch and keep.
A potential resurgence in the coho numbers returning to the Columbia has many anglers looking forward to the fishing for the feisty salmon later this month and beyond as they make their way up the Columbia.
Steelhead fishing on the Columbia and at other popular fishing holes closed Wednesday. The run of the seagoing rainbow trout is definitely down this year, with very few hatchery fish showing up in the catch this summer.
Fall chinook fishing opens Thursday, too, at Drano Lake. So far numbers of chinook over Bonneville Dam are not great, but as the month progresses, anglers should have a chance to catch a nice upriver bright.
In September those fish will start showing up in the Hanford Reach, where anglers will also have a shot at catching the biggest of the salmon species.
Hot weather has put a bit of a damper on other fisheries, although anglers working some of the reservoirs in Eastern Washington have been catching some walleye and bass. Trout fishing has been off in many lakes, but anglers working the Columbia in what is known as Rufus Woods, below Grand Coulee Dam, have been having some luck catching some of the big triploid trout that were planted there recently. The fat trout are running from 4 to 7 pounds.
For hunters, August’s arrival marks the first of the hunting seasons with several more to follow in early September. Bear hunters can start hunting Thursday. In September the early archery seasons for deer and elk get going.
Bird hunters will be able to hunt doves and grouse on Sept. 1.
With these seasons just around the corner, now is the time to start getting ready. Getting your hunting dog into some kind of shape before the season opens is always a good idea. Running them in the heat, though, is not recommended. I like to take my dogs to a lake and get them to retrieve in the water, where they stay cool and get some good aerobic exercise.
If the mornings or evenings are cool enough, I will take the dogs down to work in some of the weedy fields in the lower Yakima Valley. It is good exercise for both of us, and also gives us a chance to do a little scouting to see where the birds might be hanging out.
If you do get your dog out, just a heads-up: This has been a bad year for ticks, so make sure to check them often. Dogs can get Lyme disease, just like humans.
It is also a good idea to get your pup into the veterinarian before the season starts. A good physical exam will help determine if there are any problems that might pop up as the dog gets a much heavier dose of exercise as the hunting seasons get underway.
The same goes for us human hunters. The hunting seasons will be here before you know it, and it is so much easier to follow our dogs, or climb the hills if we get ourselves into some kind of shape before the seasons begin.
It’s hard to believe, but August has arrived. With it comes some new fishing opportunities, and it reminds us that the fall hunting seasons are just around the corner.
Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org