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Regulations
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July 2017
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Photo: Walleye splashing on the surface of the water while being reeled in.
Photo Credit: Danny Garrett

Salmon and steelhead: Summer chinook and sockeye salmon are moving up the Columbia River, providing anglers great fishing opportunities in July. Anglers can keep any sockeye they catch, but only hatchery-raised chinook with a clipped adipose fin may be retained. Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon, as are a current Washington fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement.

Salmon and steelhead regulations vary depending on the section of the Columbia River.

  • In the Columbia River downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge, anglers have a daily limit of six salmon, including up to two adult salmon or one adult salmon and one hatchery steelhead.  Anglers must release all salmon other than sockeye and hatchery chinook. Anglers are not permitted to use two poles in this area.
  • In the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 Bridge anglers with a "two-pole endorsement" may fish with two poles for all species except sturgeon. Wild adult chinook and coho must be released in all areas of the Columbia River upstream of the Hwy. 395 Bridge during the summer salmon fisheries.  Steelhead fishing is not open to fishing upstream of the Hwy. 395 Bridge.

Daily limits for salmon in the Columbia River upstream of the Hwy. 395 Bridge are as follows:

  • Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to the I-182 Bridge
    June 16 - Aug. 15: Daily limit four salmon. Up to one adult hatchery chinook and two sockeye may be retained.
  • I-182 Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam
    June 16 - Aug. 15: Daily limit six salmon. Up to two adult hatchery chinook and three sockeye may be retained.
  • Priest Rapids Dam to Hwy. 173 Bridge at Brewster
    July 1 - Aug. 31: Daily limit four salmon. Up to two salmon may be adult hatchery chinook.

Sturgeon: Anglers may catch and keep legal-size white sturgeon in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor dams) through July 31. Fish must measure 43 to 54 inches (fork length) to be retained.

The annual quotas for sturgeon harvest have been met for the Columbia River downstream of McNary Dam, which means anglers there can not keep sturgeon.  Anglers may however catch and release sturgeon in that stretch of river.

Sturgeon fishing–including catch and release–is prohibited in sturgeon sanctuaries in the Snake River from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam and in the Columbia River upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam, and from the I-82 Bridge at Umatilla upstream to McNary Dam.

Shad: Shad have reached McNary and Ice Harbor dams in numbers that make for great fishing. Averaging 4 pounds apiece, more than a million shad have begun moving up the Columbia River. They're fairly easy to catch and there are no catch limits.

Tips on where, when, and how to catch shad – and how to prepare them – are available on WDFW's website.

Walleye and bass: Walleye and bass are biting throughout the Columbia River, but the best fishing in the Tri-cities area for these species is in Lake Umatilla between Crow Butte and McNary Dam.

For bass fishing, WDFW biologists also recommend the following:

  • Hanford Reach/Columbia River in Benton/Franklin counties
  • Lake Wallula in Benton/Franklin/Walla Walla counties
  • Powerline Lake and Scooteney Reservoir in Franklin County
  • Lake Herbert G. West, Snake River in Franklin/Walla Walla counties
  • I-82 Ponds #1 and #5 in Yakima County   

Kokanee and trout: Hotspots for kokanee, rainbow and cutthroat trout include Bumping Lake, Keechelus Reservoir and Kachess Reservoir.   

Also, recent jumbo trout plants in the 3-to-4 pound range have made for some great fishing in Leech and Dog lakes (Yakima County) and Cooper and Lost lakes (Kittitas County).  

Summer is also the time to hike to high lake hotspots for rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout.  

There are many trailheads leading into the high lakes from areas near Snoqualmie Pass, Chinook Pass and White Pass. Visit the high lakes section of Fish Washington to research options for Yakima and Kittitas counties.  

Student taking aim with instruction at Hunter Education Course.
Photo Credit: Dave Whipple

Hunter Education Courses: Avoid the autumn rush and sign up now for a summer hunter education class. All hunters born after January 1, 1972, must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education training requirement.

The traditional classroom experience includes practical exercises and live-firing activities taught by certified volunteer instructors. The online class offers the same content, but on the student's schedule. An in-person Field Evaluation Course is required with the online class for students to demonstrate what they have learned.

WDFW limits target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area: To reduce the risk of wildfires, WDFW has restricted target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area near Yakima and Ellensburg. The restriction remains in effect through Sept. 30, and limits target shooting to the hours between sunrise and 10 a.m., when the risk of starting a wildfire is less severe.

Fire restrictions: Effective July 1, the department is restricting campfires and other activities on lands WDFW manages east of the Cascade Range. Restrictions on activities ranging from smoking to off-road driving are outlined in a news release issued by the department in late June. Fireworks are prohibited at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. 

View from hilltop of bend in the Yakima River
Photo credit: Justin Haug

Sun and sage birding guide: Audubon Washington has published "Sun and Sage," a birding guide that points travelers to prime birding areas in the southcentral region of the state.  One stop highlighted in the guide is the Wenas Wildlife Area, a popular destination for birders, hikers, anglers and campers located southwest of Ellensburg.

Along with songbirds and raptors, visitors may see elk, deer, bighorn sheep and a myriad of smaller mammals. Beaver are active around Umtanum Creek, which flows past stands of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, black cottonwood, aspen and willow.

Avoid sparking wildfires:  At Wenas and other WDFW wildlife areas, land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors to take precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire.

Effective July 1, the department is restricting campfires and other activities on lands WDFW manages east of the Cascade Range. Restrictions on activities ranging from smoking to off-road driving are outlined in a news release issued by the department in late June. Fireworks are prohibited at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. 

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