By Douglas Scott
Since humans first entered the land now known as Grays Harbor, fish and game have always been abundant. From the rainforest to the old growth timber around the Wynoochee, the hills of Capitol Forest and the rivers stocked full of salmon, life thrived in this region we call home, providing food and sustenance for locals and visitors alike. Today, fish and game are still a popular attraction for locals and tourists from around the world. From kids to the elderly and everyone in-between, the world-class hunting and fishing around the beautiful lands of Grays Harbor are waiting for you.
However, despite ample options for hunting and fishing the region, finding information on where to hunt and fish around Grays Harbor County can sometimes be confusing difficult. The best spots are usually kept secret, and information that is available tends to be hard to read for those without a lot of experience. Luckily, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as other experts in the region, has put together an amazing selection of resources, all in hopes to help you have an amazing time fishing and hunting in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Best Hunting Regions
Hunters in Grays Harbor tend to have great seasons due to the region’s excellent hunting opportunities for deer, elk, bear and numerous species of birds. Before you head out, always check with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to make sure the area you are heading to is open for hunting.
One of the popular areas to hunt elk and deer is up in the forests of the Wynoochee. The best bets for elk and deer tend to be along Fulough Creek, Jones Creek, East Wishkaw River and the East Fork of the Hoquiam River. In clear cuts, take a look at the large stands of trees that remain — these are the areas where you’re most likely to find large deer lurking.
While elk hunting is good along the Wynoochee forests, many local hunters tend to head out toward the Quinault region, specifically on the southeast side of Lake Quinault. The best way to access this region is Forest Service Road 2220, but be aware that there are many clearings where you can hunt. The most recommended way to hunt along this road is to slowly drive down and look for signs where deer and elk have recently moved through the thick underbrush. According to the experts at HuntWashigntonState.com, a common technique used here is to see where elk have recently crossed the road, stop your vehicle and chase after them. If that isn’t your style, another area nearby is the Quinault Ridge Road. Elk and deer migrate along the ridge line often.
Finally, for those looking for a good area to get a deer, the Satsop area shouldn’t be skipped. Unlike the Wynoochee and Quinault regions, the best hunting near Satsop is located on private timber land. The best spot historically has been just south of Gosnell Creek, while the areas around Bingham Creek are also quite good. If you know a spot on private land where deer are often seen, contact the land owner and see if they will grant you permission to hunt.
For all the hunting information you will need for Grays Harbor and Washington State in 2015, please visit the Washington State Fish and Wildlife website and reviews its annual magazine and information booklet. You can also find an interactive map on the website as well.
Best Salmon Fishing Regions
While most know of numerous hidden holes and sections of rivers that are perfect for fishing, a vast majority of those interested in fishing around Grays Harbor might have a little difficulty getting started. Luckily, there are four excellent areas around Grays Harbor that not only offer great angling, but also provide a chance to catch record sized salmon. From the coast to high upriver, Grays Harbor will get you out to the some of the best fishing in the world.
Fishing for salmon doesn’t get much better than along the Wynoochee River. In October and November, large Coho and Chinooks are caught, often weighing more than 18 pounds. The salmon that return to spawn are mostly headed to Carter, Shafer and Helm Creeks, and the river has multiple locations fantastic for anglers of all skill sets. For a complete and detailed list of excellent locations along the Wynoochee, visit the website of Fishwaters West Guide Services.
Home to the longest Chinook salmon run in Washington State, the Humptulips River is one of the best salmon fishing rivers in all of North America. Starting in September and continuing through November, salmon fishing along the Hump is rumored to have 40-pound beasts lurking in its waters. For the best locations and information about the Humptulips, head over to Lip Ripper’s Fishing Adventures’ website.
Starting in late September or early October, the Satsop River is a popular place for those hoping to catch Coho. In the Satsop, Coho weighing as much as 15 pounds are commonly caught, with a few 20-pounders being hauled in, too. Later in October, the Satsop becomes a madhouse for those looking to catch chum. Lasting well into January, the best place to catch these is on the East Fork along a few drifts, which can get quite crowded when the fish are running full.
Westport is considered by many to be the salmon capitol of the west coast, and those who head out into the waters off this small coastal city rarely return without their limit and a smile on their faces. While the best salmon fishing is usually found off the coast in late spring and early summer, the city of Westport and Westport Marina gives visitors a fishing experience year-round. Tuna and ling cod are often caught well into October, while salmon are still plentiful. Please visit the Port of Grays Harbor website for more information on fishing in Westport, as well as the seasons and charter boats fishing.
For hunting and fishing guides around the region (and to stay in the know about other Grays Harbor happenings), give the Grays Harbor Tourism website a visit: http://visitgraysharbor.com/activities/hunting/.