The leaves have not yet browned, popped free of their constraints and floated lazily to the ground. The air does not have that crisp edge to it yet. Summer is still in its height and glory here in southwest Washington, but one fall-themed venture is about to open up: the fall coastal salmon run.
There are a handful of rivers in the counties surrounding Lewis County that open for fall salmon on Aug. 1, which means local anglers can get an early start on the season — with a bit of traveling — while they wait for the Chehalis and Skookumchuck rivers to open in October.
The Cowlitz River is set to open Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, where up to three adults may be retained. All salmon other than hatchery Chinook and coho must be released during this period.
The Lewis River, from the mouth to the east fork, opens Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, where up to three adults may be retained. All salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho must be released.
The Kalama River also opens Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, and up to three adults may be retained. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho as well.
Out west in Pacific County, a few river systems also open Aug. 1 and could provide early fall salmon opportunities, despite being a bit of a drive.
The Willapa River — from the mouth at the South Bend boat launch to the state Route 6 bridge about two miles below the mouth of Trap Creek — opens Aug. 1 to Jan. 31.
The section of the Willapa River from the state Route 6 bridge near Trap Creek upstream to Fork Creek will open for salmon a couple weeks later, from Aug. 16 to Jan. 31.
Further upstream, from the mouth of Fork Creek to the state Route 6 bridge near Lebam, salmon opens Oct. 1 to Jan. 31.
The south fork of the Willapa is closing four months earlier than usual, opening Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. In 2019-20, the south fork was open Aug. 1 to Jan. 31.
Portions of the Naselle River in south Pacific County are also open for salmon Aug. 1 to Jan. 31. Other sections of the Naselle further upstream open Oct. 16 to Jan. 31.
The north fork of the Nemah River in Pacific County also provides some early fishing, starting from Aug. 1 and running to Sept. 15 or Sept. 30, depending on the section. That represents a closure four months earlier than in year’s past. Public access is limited on this river.
Up north, the popular Puyallup River in Pierce County could be worth the long drive, providing yearly big runs of Chinook, coho and pinks. From Aug. 16 to Nov. 30, up to four adults may be retained, two of which may be coho or Chinook, or one of each. All chum and wild Chinook must be released.
September brings another Southwest Washington river to the fold. The Humptulips River main stem, north of Aberdeen, opens Sept. 1 to Sept. 30 with a two-adult retainment. Wild Chinook and wild coho must be released.
October brings the opening of river systems further inland, including the Chehalis River and a few Grays Harbor County systems.
On Oct. 1, the Chehalis, Hoquiam (main stem, east and west forks), John’s, Wynoochee and Satsop rivers, along with Fork Creek, all open for salmon.
The Chehalis River — from the mouth of the Black River near Oakville to the high bridge on Weyerhaeuser 1,000 line (CRC 313) — opens Oct 1. through Dec. 31.
Pacific County’s Fork Creek, from the Forks Creek Hatchery rack upstream 500 feet at the fishing boundary sign, opens for salmon Oct. 1 to Jan. 31.
Two weeks later, Lewis County gets its long-awaited salmon season in the Skookumchuck and Newaukum rivers.
The Skookumchuck River — from the mouth to 100 feet below the outlet of the steelhead rearing pond at the base of the Skookumchuck Dam — opens for salmon from Oct. 16 to Dec. 31. The Newaukum River, including its south fork, will be open from Oct. 16 to Nov. 31.
For more information and a full list of rules, regulations and opening dates, visit the WDFW’s eRegulations section at eregulations.com/washington/fishing.