May is the month that shrimpers wait for all year. Areas of Puget Sound opened May 5 to recreational spot shrimping with seasons similar to last year’s. Fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day in all areas.


Steelhead: Anglers can retain two hatchery steelhead daily while fishing the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers on the north coast.

Salmon: The Chehalis River opened May 1 for spring chinook fishing. Anglers have a daily limit of one chinook. Marine Area 13 (South Sound) remains open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing there have a daily limit of two fish but must release wild coho and wild chinook.

Anglers should also be aware that the Hoh River will open earlier than usual — on June 1 — to fishing for hatchery chinook and trout. 

Trout: Trout are biting at dozens of lakes throughout the region. A good bet is Failor Lake (Grays Harbor County) where WDFW staff and volunteers have stocked more than 2,000 trout of which 675 fish average 4 pounds or more each. In Kitsap County, Wye Lake has been stocked with more than 10,000 trout. Spencer Lake in Mason County also was stocked with more than 10,000 trout. And Lake St. Clair in Thurston County has received roughly 30,000 rainbow trout since March.

Halibut: Most Puget Sound marine areas and the coast will be open for halibut fishing this month. The scheduled season dates are May 11, 13, 25 and 27, and June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30, provided there is sufficient quota to accommodate all these fishing days. These dates apply to halibut fishing in Puget Sound marine areas 5-10 and in ocean marine areas 2-4.

Halibut fishing in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) got underway May 3, but will be open three days per week (Thursday, Friday and Sunday) until the quota has been met. In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. New for 2018, in response to stakeholder input, there will be an annual limit of four halibut. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card. 

Lingcod: The ocean lingcod fishery continues this month, while the Puget Sound fishery is just getting underway.

In Puget Sound, the lingcod season opened May 1 for hook and line fishing and opens May 21 to spearfishing in all Puget Sound marine areas except Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), which is closed to lingcod fishing.

Rockfish: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) opened May 1 for rockfish fishing. All other Puget Sound marine areas remain closed. Washington’s ocean waters also are open to fishing for rockfish. See the regulation changes for canary rockfish listed below.

Cabezon: Fishing for cabezon also opened May 1 in all Puget Sound marine areas except Hood Canal (Marine Area 12). There’s a minimum size limit of 18 inches and daily limit of one fish.

Cabezon fishing continues in Washington’s ocean waters. Anglers have a daily limit of two fish with no minimum size in areas 1-3. Those fishing either east or west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line in Marine Area 4 have a daily limit of one fish, which must be 18 inches or larger.

Spot shrimp: May is the month that shrimpers wait for all year. Areas of Puget Sound opened May 5 to recreational spot shrimping with seasons similar to last year’s. Fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day in all areas. Shrimping is open year-round in Washington’s ocean waters, including marine areas 1-3 and 4, west of Tatoosh-Bonilla Line.


Apply for special hunting permits: Hunters have through May 23 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To apply for a special permit, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and submit the application with their preferred hunt choices. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in June.

Applications must be submitted on the website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose and “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Results of the special permit drawing will be available online by the end of June. Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Wildlife Viewing

Birds: The annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) will be held on Saturday, May 12, when birdwatchers celebrate the migration of nearly 350 bird species from their wintering grounds south of the U.S. border to nesting habitats in North America. This year’s theme is “Year of the Bird,” commemorating the 25th anniversary of the annual event.

Although IMBD is traditionally celebrated on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year to help connect people to nature through birds.

One way that people can help birds along their way is to transform their backyards into safe stopover sites by planting native vegetation, providing fresh water, and keeping cats indoors. WDFW’s Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program provides detailed information about how to help birds in this way.

Whale-watching: The seasonal migration of whales north toward the Arctic Ocean is in full swing. Check the latest sightings posted on the Orca Network. Anyone whale-watching from a boat should be aware of boating regulations that protect southern resident killer whales.

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