The Washington Outdoors Report

by John Kruse, January 16, 2020


Steelhead fishing has been slow this winter throughout the state to include rivers in Southwest Washington and the Olympic Peninsula that usually see good runs this month. The Skagit River is also not opening this year for a catch and release season due to low numbers of returning fish.

There are some bright spots though. One is the Bogachiel River on the Olympic Peninsula where anglers were averaging over a hatchery steelhead apiece last week. The Elochoman River near Cathlamet has also been fishing well. Creel checkers contacted 11 anglers there with 12 steelhead. Another good bet is the Snake River near the mouth of the Grande Ronde where guide Kyle Jones with Jones Sportfishing has been filling out his one hatchery steelhead per client limit on a routine basis.

Marine Area 10 blackmouth salmon fishing has been disappointing since it opened up for anglers in the greater Seattle region of Puget Sound on January 1st. During the weekend of January 11th and 12th, creel checkers interviewed 43 anglers and only one of them had a Chinook salmon to show for their efforts. A lack of bait in the area may be to blame.

In Southern Washington, Silver Lake in Cowlitz County, Little Ash Lake in Skamania County and Maryhill Pond in Klickitat County were all stocked with catchable size rainbow trout during the past week.

Lake Roosevelt rainbow trout and Kokanee fishing in Eastern Washington is going strong. Guides reporting on Northwest Fishing Reports have been showing off good numbers of sizeable trout and Kokanee between Keller and the confluence of the Spokane River the last few weeks, making this the hot spot for quality fishing this month.


The general waterfowl season closes January 26th for ducks and geese though a few limited hunts will continue into February. The recent winter storms have provided very good duck hunting for those willing to venture out if social media posts are any indication. One bit of advice for waterfowl hunters this time of year…Don’t give up too early. The ducks that fly out to feed at first light may feed a couple of times during the day this time of year and both the patient hunter (and the ones who sleep in) can be rewarded.


The Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, which has been chronically underfunded through the general budget for over a decade, is facing a 26-million-dollar shortfall. Governor Jay Inslee has proposed giving the agency 15 million dollars and making up the rest with increased license fees, a proposal that has met with much resistance by hunters and anglers frustrated by a lack of opportunities and several perceived mismanagement mistakes in recent years.

However, if the agency doesn’t get this money, even more cuts will be made to an operation that has been running very lean in recent years. Earlier this week, representatives from 45 conservation minded organizations wrote an open letter to state legislators asking that WDFW be fully funded so the agency can accomplish its mission of “preserving, protecting, and perpetuating the state’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.”


The winter storms of the last week in both Washington and Idaho have highlighted the danger of both falling trees and avalanches. Backcountry enthusiasts need to be extremely cautious about both right now and a great resource to check before heading out to play in the snow is the Northwest Avalanche Center which has current condition and forecasts for geographic regions throughout the state.


The Washington Sportsmen’s Show takes place at the State Fair Events Center in Puyallup from Wednesday the 22nd through Sunday the 26th. Trey Carskadon with O’Laughlin Trade Shows says last year’s inaugural outdoors cooking competition has expanded and includes presentations from some of the best chefs in the northwest. Another expanded attraction is the kayak fishing pavilion, reflecting the growth of this niche style of angling. In addition to this and the hundreds of exhibitors here there will be seminars covering fishing, hunting and survival techniques. Find out more about the show at

John Kruse – and


Goose hunting closes in most of the state January 26th – Photo by John Kruse


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