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March 2017
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Photo: Close-up of rainbow trout.
Photo Credit: Jim Cummins

Rainbow trout: WDFW is launching its annual stocking of area lakes this month. Many of the lakes in southcentral Washington are open year round, so catchable trout plants often occur earlier in southcentral Washington than in many other areas of the state. 

Some of the lakes scheduled to be planted after the ice thaws in the Yakima and Ellensburg areas include Granger Pond, I-82 Ponds 1-4 & 6, Myron Lake, Rotary Lake, Reflection Pond, Mattoon Lake, McCabe Pond, and Woodhouse Pond. Lakes in the Tri-Cities area include Columbia Park Pond (14 years and younger or holders of disability licenses only), Dalton Lake and Marmes Pond near Lyons Ferry. 

The 2017 Statewide Trout and Kokanee Stocking Plan will be posted on the WDFW website soon.

Steelhead: Fishing for steelhead in March could improve, but is likely to remain slower than last year. Fisheries for hatchery steelhead in the Columbia River and in the Snake River are open through March 31. The daily limit is two hatchery steelhead in the Columbia River and three hatchery steelhead in the Snake River. The Columbia River is closed to fishing for steelhead upstream of the wooden powerline towers at the Old Hanford town site.

White sturgeon: Lake Wallula, the 64-mile reservoir from McNary Dam to Priest Rapids Dam, is open for harvest of sturgeon through July 31. Lake Umatilla, which extends from John Day Dam upriver to McNary Dam, is also open for harvest of sturgeon and is expected to remain open through at least the end of March. In both areas, anglers may retain only those white sturgeon that measure between 43 inches and 54 inches when measured from the tip of their snout to the fork of their tail.

Walleye: Some of the year's biggest walleye are caught in the spring. These fish are now preparing to spawn and are nearing their highest weight of the year. Once commonly caught in Lake Umatilla below McNary Dam, walleye are now routinely caught above McNary Dam in Lake Wallula, including the lower Snake River and the Hanford Reach.

Channel catfish & smallmouth bass:  In early spring, channel catfish and smallmouth bass begin moving into the Yakima and Walla Walla rivers. In March, large numbers of both bass and catfish are present in the lower mile or two of these two rivers and in the delta areas. Just like walleye, these fish are preparing to spawn. Smallmouth in excess of four pounds and channel catfish over 10 pounds are not uncommon.

Photo: A pair of hunters posing with three-point buck they successfully hunted.
Photo credit: Viva Dennis

Apply for a multiple-season tag: Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their names into the drawing for a 2017 multiple-season tag, which can greatly increase the opportunity for success in the field. WDFW will hold the drawing in mid-April, randomly selecting names for 8,500 multiple-season deer tags and 1,000 multiple season elk tags.

Winners of the drawing will be eligible to purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader, as well as modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2017. The deadline to purchase the multiple-season tag is July 31.

Winners may choose any weapon type when applying for a special permit to hunt deer or elk. Winners who purchase the multiple season elk tag can participate in general elk hunting seasons in both eastern and western Washington.

A multiple season application can be purchased from authorized license dealers, online, or by calling (866) 246-9453. The application costs $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.

Photo: Sandhill cranes performing their mating dance during their annual migration through Washington.
Photo credit: Jim Cummins

Migrating waterfowl continue to increase in number on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and local wetlands. Many Canada geese – along with mallards, pintails, and other ducks – are concentrated on WDFW's Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area and federal refuges, including McNary and Umatilla.

Sandhill cranes are making their annual migration stopovers in the Columbia Basin to feed and rest up before moving farther north. Look for cranes foraging in local corn stubble fields near the towns of Mesa, Connell and Basin City. When water levels are right, they can be observed roosting on the mudflats of local lakes.

In celebration of these majestic birds, the City of Othello will host the 20th annual Sandhill Crane Festival March 24-26. The festival features tours of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and Potholes area, Missoula Floods and the channeled scablands.

Region One: EasternWashington Region Two: North Central Washington Region Four: North Puget Sound Region Six: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula Region Five: Southwest Washington Region Three: South Central Washington