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September 2017
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Fisherman holding up the largemouth bass he caught.

Salmon: The fall chinook fishery is underway on the Columbian from the Hwy. 395 bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers may keep up to two adult chinook or coho as part of their six fish limit and anglers can harvest both adipose clipped and unclipped salmon.The best fishing during this early season is usually right in the Tri-Cities near Bateman Island.

The Yakima River will open for fall chinook and coho fishing Sept. 1. Just like the Columbia River, the daily limit is six salmon and anglers may keep two adults as part of that limit.The fish do not need to be adipose clipped to be harvested. The Yakima River is closed to fishing for salmon at night. The Yakima River and the Columbia River from the Hwy. 395 bridge upstream are closed to fishing for steelhead.

Walleye: Walleye should draw plenty of attention this month. Many anglers consider these toothy fish, which bite aggressively in September and throughout much of the fall, to be the best table fare. The Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam is one of the region’s best walleye fisheries, as is the Columbia River below McNary Dam.

Popular tactics include trolling worm harnesses and spinners behind bottom walkers, trolling deep-diving plugs, and jigging blade baits or plastic baits on jig heads.

Smallmouth bass: Smallmouth bass share habitat with walleye, but sometimes run as deep as 50 feet. They move into the shallows as waters cool and food sources become available. Fishing tends to improve for these hard-fighting fish in September and carries on through October until colder water sends them back to greater depths for winter.

Other warmwater opportunities: Fisheries biologists are reporting good opportunities for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie and yellow perch at Scooteney Reservoir and largemouth bass and panfish at the I-82 Ponds.

Kokanee: Kokanee are plentiful atRimrock Reservoir along Hwy. 12 as well as Kachess and Keechelus lakes off Hwy. 90. These are just a few of the many reservoirs and lakes that feature great kokanee and trout fishing in the region.

High lakes trout fishing: The high lakes around White Pass, Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass are now accessible to trout fishing. WDFW stocks many small, hike-in lakes with rainbow or cutthroat trout fry, and some also have naturally reproducing eastern brook trout populations. Visit WDFW’s high lakes page on Fish Washington to find a stream near you.

Stream trout fishing: With streams and rivers flowing more slowly in the upper Yakima basin at this time of year, it is a great time to try your hand at trout fly or spin fishing. Cutthroat, rainbow and eastern brook trout will be the predominant species depending on where you’re fishing in the river.

Cutthroat and brook trout tend to occupy higher elevation areas in the drainage.Anglers need to be aware of which stream or section of river they are fishing as there are trout catch and release sections, bait restrictions and selective gear rules in many areas.

“All waters in the Yakima basin are closed to the taking of bull trout and steelhead, so anglers need to carefully release any of these fish they may inadvertently catch while fishing for other species,” adds Eric Anderson, WDFW fish biologist.

Sturgeon: The Columbia River in Lake Umatilla and Lake Wallula (John Day Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dam) is now closed to the harvest of sturgeon. Anglers may fish catch and release for sturgeon.

Late summer and early fall can be great times to fish for sturgeon. The river flows typically begin to drop, making anchoring a little less hazardous, and cooling river temperatures mean the fish can be a bit more active.

Say no to rock dams: Now is the time of year when bull trout and salmon migrate and spawn in local Yakima basin tributary streams. Please do not build rock dams as they block instream migration for native fish species.

Plan for wildfires: As of the first of the month, many areas of the Okanogan-Wenatchee region were closed and evacuations in place due to the Jolly Mountain Fire, north of Cle Elum. Additionally, campgrounds and trails in the Teanaway Community Forest were closed as of Thursday, Aug. 31. If travelling in the area for recreation, please be aware of current area closures due to fire danger.

Updated information on wildfires in Washington, including local travel and access restrictions, is available at this website.

Woman hunter and her dog posing with the pheasant they successfully harvested.
Photo Credit: Fran Seagren

September hunts: September marks the start of hunting seasons for deer, upland game birds and waterfowl. Dates and regulations are listed in the Big Game and Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlets.

Free hunting clinics: WDFW is offering free hunting clinics geared towards teaching participants the basics of hunting turkey, waterfowl and upland game birds in southcentral and southwest Washington.

The clinics, which run through Oct. 31, last two to four hours and cover the basics of hunting. In addition to classroom time, the clinics may include range time for patterning shotguns. Visit our hunting clinics page to learn more and sign up.

Dove,grouse, and geese: Throughout the region, hunting seasons are open for dove Sept. 1-Oct. 30 and for forest grouse Sept. 1 through the rest of the year. The early season for Canada geese is Sept. 9-10.

Youth and senior hunts: Hunters under the age of 16 have an opportunity to take the field for ducks, Canada geese, coots and snipe during the youth waterfowl weekend Sept. 16 and 17, followed by a youth hunt weekend targeted at pheasants and other upland gamebirds Sept. 23 and 24. Hunters age 65 and older can participate in a special pheasant hunt Sept. 25-29.

Deer and elk: Early archery hunts for deer got underway Sept. 1, overlapping with archery hunts for elk Sept. 9-21 in some area GMUs. Early muzzleloader hunts for deer follow in a number of area GMUs on Sept. 30.

Hunting prospects: Hunters planning their season may also want to check WDFW's 2017 Hunting Prospects, which provide a look at both upcoming opportunities and previous success rates in specific GMUs.

Private land access: Hunters looking for a place to hunt should check out WDFW's Private Lands Access Program, which provides a variety of options around the region.

Plan for wildfires: Hunters are reminded that they should plan their season around access restrictions and wildfires still burning in parts of the state. In some cases, hunters will need to consider alternative hunt locations.

As of the first of the month, many areas of the Okanogan-Wenatchee region were closed and evacuations in place due to the Jolly Mountain Fire, north of Cle Elum. If travelling in the area for recreation -- including special permit or bear hunting as well as area scouting for the upcoming deer season -- please be aware of current area closures due to fire danger

Updated information on wildfires in Washington, including local travel and access restrictions, is available at this website.

Sagebrush sparrow perched in branches of sagebrush.
Photo credit: Jim Cummins

Songbirds: Various species of songbirds continue to gather into migrating groups around the region, most noticeably in riparian or streamside area treetops and along power lines. Some, including warblers, wrens, vireos, swallows, sparrows, flycatchers and hummingbirds, may have already left the region for more abundant food in southern climates.

Shorebirds: Curlews, plovers, and sandpipers are also migrating south this month. Some are summer visitors here returning to winter homes; others summered farther north in Canada and simply make resting and feeding stopovers in the region.

Raptors on the move: Ferruginous and Swainson's hawks that summer in parts of the region are migrating south. Some red-tailed, sharp-shinned, and Cooper's hawks that summer further north are moving into or through the region.

Hike or bike Cowiche Canyon: Escape to the canyon and see the famous shrub-steppe on 30 miles of scenic desert trails. Please visit the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy’s website to learn more about the importance of this area’s unique animals and habitat. September is a time to view and take part in recording butterfly sightings.

Elk: Now is the time to visit elk country to hear the big ungulates' unique bugling. The peak of the rut is about the third week of September, but a lot of bugling and displaying occurs before then. 

Plan for wildfires: As of the first of the month, many areas of the Okanogan-Wenatchee region were closed and evacuations in place due to the Jolly Mountain Fire, north of Cle Elum.  Additionally, campgrounds and trails in the Teanaway Community Forest were closed as of Thursday, Aug. 31. If travelling in the area for recreation, please be aware of current area closures due to fire danger.

Updated information on wildfires in Washington, including local travel and access restrictions, is available at this website.

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