Brace for winter and enjoy waterfowl, steelhead, views of wintering wildlife

Weather is an important consideration when preparing for any outdoor activity

For Washington residents, the start of the new year is a great time to hunt for waterfowl, fish for steelhead, and enjoy the annual spectacle of bald eagles, snow geese, elk, bighorn sheep and other wintering wildlife.

But weather is an important consideration. Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter. Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before heading out.

Those hardy souls that do head outdoors this month can enjoy:

  • Waterfowl hunting: Winter storms are good news – up to a point – for waterfowl hunters, who welcome the surge of ducks and geese that comes with wet, blustery weather. The waterfowl season runs through Jan. 27 in most areas.
  • Steelhead fishing: Fishing for hatchery steelhead continues on several rivers on both sides of the Cascades.
  • Sturgeon fishing: Anglers can catch and keep hefty white sturgeon in the three pools of the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam until further notice.
  • Blackmouth salmon: Several marine areas of Puget Sound are open to blackmouth fishing, including the San Juan Islands, which traditionally reward anglers with some of the highest salmon catches during winter months.
  • Puget Sound squid: Winter is prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier.
  • Bird watching: Now is a great time to see congregations of wintering birds, from snow geese in the Skagit Valley to bald eagles along the Snake River.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at

These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

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