Discover North Central Washington


North Central - Region 2

Customer service staff in the Ephrata Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Counties served
Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan
Office hours
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. excluding legal holidays

1550 Alder Street NW
Ephrata, WA 98823-9699
United States

Brock Hoenes

Fishing tips and news

Columbia river

Columbia River salmon fishing

By September, much of the Okanogan destined sockeye have pushed beyond the Brewster pool and into Canada for spawning.  Anglers have plenty of opportunity through October 15 for Chinook fishing at the mouth of the Okanogan River and below the highway 17 bridge in Bridgeport.  The majority of hatchery fish will be destined for the Chief Joseph hatchery (Bridgeport) and the Similkameen hatchery (Oroville).  Anglers can also do well above and below the Wells Dam fish ladders.   

Trout and warmwater fish species 

Closeup photo of fisherman wearing life jacket holding a freshly caught rainbow trout
Randy Osborne/WDFW

In September, trout fishing concludes in many Columbia Basin waters, including Grant and Adams counties. Year-round fisheries in Grant County are prominent, particularly around the Seep Lakes area south of Potholes Reservoir. Corral Lake, located just south of Potholes Reservoir, offers year-round angling opportunities for rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and crappie. Warden Lake in Grant County is excellent for smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and rainbow trout. 

Banks Lake in northern Grant County is known for its good fishing, hosting rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and lake whitefish. Lakes in the Columbia Basin like Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir, as well as Roses Lake in Chelan County, and Leader, Patterson, and Palmer lakes in Okanogan County, are promising for yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. 

Near Potholes Reservoir, less-pressured hike-in lakes are suitable for largemouth bass anglers. To the south of Potholes, warmwater options like Soda, Long, Upper and Lower Goose, Hutchinson, and Shiner lakes provide good fishing opportunities. In the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, the Pillar-Widgeon Chain (Pillar, Snipe, Cattail, Shoveler, Hourglass, Sago, and Widgeon) offers consistent rainbow trout fishing and is a favorite spot for fly anglers until closing on September 30th. 

WDFW Trout derby 

WDFW 2023 Trout Derby runs April 22 to October 31, 2023

The annual WDFW Trout Derby continues through Oct. 31. Thousands of tagged trout are stocked in 100+ lakes. Catch a tagged trout and you win a prize! Visit the WDFW trout derby page for details. 

Many other lakes statewide are open year-round, and regularly stocked with catchable rainbow trout and other species, including in the lead-up to opening day. See what lakes have been recently planted at our stocking report, and see this year's statewide trout and kokanee stocking plan for more information about when lakes in your area might be stocked.   

Kids fishing events 

WDFW hosts kids fishing events throughout the year. Other fishing groups, clubs, and organizations such as the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation also host yearly events to promote youth fishing. 

High mountain trout lakes 

Angler fishes at alpine lake.

Most high elevation or alpine trout lakes are accessible this month for hikers packing their fishing rods while some may take a while to access due to the longer than expected colder weather this past spring. Almost 200 small lakes, ranging from about 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, lie on public land within Chelan and Okanogan counties, including the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Colockum Wildlife Area. 

Rivers, streams, and beaver pond fishing 

Anglers can head to many of Washington’s statewide rivers, streams and beaver ponds open now through Oct. 31. Beaver ponds located within or connected to streams listed as open to trout and other game fish follow the same rules as the stream. Many Okanogan County rivers should be fishable, but some may be negated by late spring snow-runoff is complete. Be sure to check for special regulations by clicking here

Boating safety 

With saltwater and freshwater fishing seasons in full swing, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program reminds you to take a boater safety education course, if you haven’t already, to be prepared for the season. In Washington, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15-horsepower engine or greater must carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Keep in mind that wearing a flotation device in, on or around water saves lives as drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities especially among young children. 

Hunting opportunities and news


In September, hunting seasons for elk, deer, upland game birds, and waterfowl commence, with regulations detailed in the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet. To aid hunters in planning, the 2023 Hunting Prospects reports outline opportunities in specific game management districts. The hunting regulations web map assists in finding suitable hunts based on location, date, and weapon choice, with 2023 expected to be a productive year. 

Black bear hunting

A black bear in the woods

Fall black bear season continues through Nov. 15.  Bear hunters in certain Eastern Washington GMUs are reminded that it’s possible to encounter some protected grizzly bears, so species identification is critical. If you're hunting in those areas, you must score 80% or higher and carry proof that you have passed the WDFW test or an equivalent test from another state. 

Hunters are strongly urged to not shoot a female bear with cubs. During the fall females may be accompanied by cubs (weighing 30-50 lbs) which tend to lag behind when traveling, so please observe and be patient before shooting. 

Grizzly bears are present in northeast Washington and are occasionally documented in other areas near the Canadian border and are protected under state and federal law. A mandatory bear identification test is required in some GMUs. Visit the bear identification program page for more information.  

From Sept. 1, mourning dove, cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare, raccoon, fox, and bobcat hunting starts, offering prime mourning dove prospects in the Columbia Basin district until October. 

Special hunting opportunities include a youth-only waterfowl hunt on Oct. 1 and pheasant hunts for youth on Sept. 17-18, and for those 65+ or with disabilities on Sept. 19-23. 

Four waterfowl hunters sitting outdoors
John Pleau

2023-2024 Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons and Rules available 

Check out this year's regulation pamphlet details rules for migratory waterfowl and upland game. There are some bird hunting opportunities that get underway in September so hunters can start making plans now by checking out the upcoming seasons. 

Sign up for in-person hunter education 

Hunters – big game seasons are here! Don’t forget to complete mandatory hunter education. These courses fill fast as hunting seasons get closer. The Department offers fully in-person hunter education courses as well as hybrid courses that combine online and in-person learning.  For more information, visit our Hunter Education page

Reporting your harvest 

Mandatory hunter harvest reporting allows the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to better manage game species throughout the state and set permit levels for upcoming seasons. This in turn allows for more hunting opportunities. For more information, visit the hunting reporting webpage. 

Wildlife watching and recreation

Wild Washington lesson plan

Wild Washington 

Getting ready for school again? Check out our Wild Washington lesson plans and family educational resources that help your learners engage with Washington’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems. Lesson plans and educational resources include both classroom and outdoor learning components. Click here to learn more.

Don’t be a litterbug: Not littering… It’s that simple! 

Pile of garbage dumped at water access site

If everyone does their part, we can keep Washington beautiful and litter free. While 75 percent of Washington residents never litter, 18 million pounds of waste accumulates on roads, parks, and recreation areas every year and costs the state millions of dollars in cleanup efforts, and negatively impacts the environment, wildlife, and public safety. Simple tips to avoid this issue is to have a container for collecting trash; when visiting parks and recreation areas, bring a bag with you to pack out what you packed in; hold onto trash until you reach a waste receptacle at a gas station, rest area or your destination; safely secure your cargo on the road. When we all look out for each other, it makes a big difference! Visit the Washington Department of Ecology website for more information. 

Help prevent wildfires

Smoke from wildfires on Snoqualmie Pass

Despite cooler weather and some rain, fire danger remains high in eastern Washington due to hot temperatures and dry conditions throughout much of August. Fire and target shooting restrictions are in place on WDFW-managed lands in eastern Washington. That means campfires, target shooting at certain shooting ranges, smoking outside of vehicles, operating motor vehicles off established roads, and other activities are not allowed at this time to reduce the chance of wildfire. All restrictions will remain in effect until further notice except for the target shooting restriction, which runs through Sept. 15.   

Visit our website for more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands. 

Alpine mountain goats and wildlife viewing 

Mountain goat
Andrea Nesbitt

Mountain goats are occasionally viewed at higher elevations in North Cascades National Park Complex, the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth, Alpine Lakes and Pasayten Wilderness Areas, and the North Cascades National Scenic Area.  Observations are more frequent on the Blue Lake and Cutthroat Pass trails in the Washington/Rainy Pass area and in the core Enchantment Permit Zone of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Although typically shy and retiring, habituated mountain goats craving salt may approach humans and can become potentially dangerous. Please give them their space. Learn more about mountain goats in Washington

September also provides lots of opportunity for viewing alpine and subalpine wildlife while hiking at elevation to beat the heat. The best opportunities are at higher elevation areas where hoary marmots, pikas, Columbian ground squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels, ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches, and many wildlife species are active and visible.

Bird watching 

Bird watching

Bird watching in late summer and early fall offers a chance to spot various neotropical migrant species as they gather for southward migrations. Lush riparian areas and wildlife zones are great spots to find these colorful birds. Improve your bird song identification skills by listening for them during cooler hours when they are more active. Remember to keep hummingbird feeders clean during the heat, as many will start migrating by mid-August. 

The Chelan Wildlife Area's Entiat unit hosts a diverse range of birds, while the Bridgeport Bar unit of the Wells Wildlife Area along the Columbia River is perfect for spotting American white pelicans and various duck species. The Methow Wildlife Area in Okanogan County has an array of bird species, including Lazuli buntings, warbling vireos, and woodpeckers. 

Remember to respect the birds by observing them from a distance, especially near nests or distressed loons. For more information and summer activities, check out the North Central Washington Audubon Society website. Happy bird watching! 

Closeup of an Oregon spotted frog peering just above the water's surface
Andy O'Connell

Amphibians and reptiles 

Did you know Washington is home to at least 25 species of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) and 28 reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards)? If you hadn’t noticed there’s a lot of ribbit-ribbit, croaking, hopping, and slithering happening right now around ponds, waterways, and greenbelts. Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) ecosystems, and they may use different habitats throughout the year, and it is especially noticeable and visible during spring. Click on the WDFW amphibian and reptile webpage or the species webpage to find out more information. 

Negative wildlife interactions 

black bear pushing trash can

Don’t feed bears. Often people leave food out for bears so they can take pictures of them or show them to visiting friends. Over 90 percent of human-bear conflicts result from bears being conditioned to associate food with humans. A wild bear can become permanently food-conditioned after only one handout experience. The unintended reality is that these bears will likely die, being killed by someone protecting their property, or by a wildlife manager having to remove a potentially dangerous bear. 

Manage your garbage. Bears will expend a great amount of time and energy digging under, breaking down, or crawling over barriers to get food, including garbage. If you have a pickup service, put garbage out shortly before the truck arrives—not the night before. If you’re leaving several days before pickup, haul your garbage to a dump. If necessary, frequently haul your garbage to a dumpsite to avoid odors. 

Keep garbage cans with tight-fitting lids in a shed, garage, or fenced area. Spray garbage cans and dumpsters regularly with disinfectants to reduce odors. Keep fish parts and meat waste in your freezer until they can be disposed of properly and clean food scraps off of your grill after use. 

If bears are common in your area, consider investing in a commercially available bear-proof garbage container. Ask your local waste management company if bear-proof garbage containers are available or if individually purchased containers are acceptable and compatible with their equipment.  You should also remove bird feeders and outdoor pet food to reduce the chance of conflict with bears, raccoons, and skunks in your neighborhood. 

Picking huckleberries


Huckleberries are starting to come on strong in many areas, after being a little bit delayed by the cool start to the summer. There are lots of great spots on public lands. Pack a lunch and make a day of it but be aware that you may have competition so take your bear spray. 

Feeding wildlife 

Many well-meaning Washington residents in urban and suburban areas enjoy feeding deer in their yards, not realizing the grave harm it can cause. Although some people see this type of feeding as helping these animals, it can hurt them and potentially cause illness and death for the animal. View this brochure to help us keep wildlife wild by following more tips

Backyard wildlife activities 

Anna's hummingbird

Learn how to landscape for wildlife: Vegetation is key to attracting a variety of wildlife. Native plants provide the food, shelter, and nesting habitat for songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. You can use this extra time at home to map out how you’d like your property to look and figure out which plants would thrive where you live. Visit the Washington Native Plant Society’s website for resources. 

Add a water source to your yard: Put in a birdbath, garden pond, or other source of water outside your home. A safe place to bathe and drink will act as a magnet to many animals. You can make a simple birdbath with things you probably already have. Visit the Audubon’s website for an easy do-it-yourself bird bath using an old cake pan or flower-pot tray. 

Clean your birdbath: Be sure to clean your birdbath often, two or three times per week, to avoid spreading bacteria from one bird to another. Use vinegar and water. Commercial cleaning products contain chemicals that can hurt birds. Wear gloves when doing this to further avoid the spread of bacteria. 

Build a bird house or nest box: Add bird houses to your property, or better yet, try to leave snags (dead trees) if they don’t pose any risk. Cavity-nesting birds have been especially impacted by urban development. A bird house of the proper dimensions can substitute for snags where these birds used to nest. There are lots of easy instructions online to build your own bird house or nest box. Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Backyard Birding webpage for resources. Be aware that two invasive species, European starling and house sparrow, are secondary cavity nesters and readily take advantage of birdhouses and snags, so you may want to actively discourage these species from taking up residence. 

Keep your cats and wild birds safe: Domestic cats can make great pets, but when they are allowed to roam outdoors, there can be serious consequences to local wildlife. Cats kill about 2.4 billion birds every year in the U.S. alone. Visit the American Bird Conservancy website for information on their Cats Indoors Program and learn how to keep pet cats and wild birds safe. You may even consider an outdoor enclosure for your cat. 

Make a window cling to protect birds: Up to a billion birds die each year from flying into glass. You can help prevent that from happening at your house by making your own window clings using recycled plastic and puffy fabric paint. Check out this tutorial video from the Audubon Society. 

Watch out for invasive Asian giant hornets: These new pests were discovered near Bellingham, and researchers are still tracking how widely the hornet has spread. Asian giant hornets are the world’s largest hornet and attack most insects but prefer honeybees and can kill entire hives. They also pose a human threat as their venom is more toxic than any native bee or wasp. Report any sightings of the Asian giant hornet to the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Do not approach these insects as they can sting through normal clothing. 

Report bat observations: Have you seen a bat flying during the day or in freezing weather? These could be signs of a serious disease called white-nose syndrome. Please report your observations online or call 360-902-2515. White-nose syndrome does not pose a threat to humans, pets, or other wildlife. 

Recreate Responsibly 

person hiking on a trail with mountains all around
Naomi Gross

As the weather warms up and more folks head outdoors for summer-time activities, it is wise to #RecreateResponsibly for potential hazards and dangers. 

Here are more tips on staying safe right now: 

Plan ahead 

  • Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be home. Travel with a buddy when possible. 

  • Always carry survival gear with you. The 10 Essentials include clothing, shelter, and food in case you must spend the night outside. 

  • Have a reliable map and compass skills to traverse snow-covered trails. These can be challenging to follow, particularly in backcountry areas. 

  • While electronic locators and communication can be helpful, they cannot be always be relied upon while in the backcountry. 

Conserving species and habitats

Habitat at Home

Birdbath illustration

Check out WDFW’s new Creating Songbird Habitat page to start creating more habitat for songbirds in your area.  

A bird bath can be a great addition to your backyard wildlife habitat. Bathing is essential for songbirds in order to maintain their feathers. Clean feathers are necessary for flight, insulation, and to keep them waterproof and safe from disease.  Dampening their feathers loosens dirt to make cleaning easier, while washing away parasites and bacteria.   

During fall migration, bird baths will be used by more birds than usual as flocks stop by for the night. Please clean and refill your bird baths more often during the migration season in response to increased traffic.  

Be sure to clean your birdbath often, two or three times per week, to avoid spreading bacteria from one bird to another. Use vinegar and water. Commercial cleaning products contain chemicals that can hurt birds. Wear gloves when doing this to further avoid the spread of bacteria. 

Create a wildlife habitat tailored to local songbirds this fall! 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Community event
  • Public meeting
  • Commission meeting
  • Advisory group meeting

Meet your Regional Director - Brock Hoenes

Brock Hoenes
Brock Hoenes, North Central Regional Director

Brock Hoenes is the North Central Region (Region 2) Director. Brock started his career with WDFW in 2008 and has held positions with the department including ungulate section manager, assistant district wildlife biologist, district wildlife biologist, statewide WDFW elk specialist, and deer and elk section manager.

Prior to moving to Washington, Hoenes worked for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on a variety of research projects focused on mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk, cougars, black bears, and pronghorn. Hoenes received his B.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his M.S. in Wildlife Sciences from New Mexico State University.