Discover South Central Washington

Sunrise on hillside at the Quilomene Wildlife Area Unit

Staff furloughs

With state revenue hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, WDFW is planning one day of agency-wide furloughs each month through November. While public safety-related needs will remain staffed, most other WDFW services, including customer service, will be unavailable Friday, Aug. 14, Friday, Sept. 4, Friday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Nov. 25. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience. 

Counties served: Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima

Director: Mike Livingston

1701 South 24th Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902-5720

Telephone: 509-575-2740

Fax: 509-575-2474

TeamYakima@dfw.wa.gov

August fishing tips and news

Catch a fish; win a prize: WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues through Oct. 31. Anglers with an applicable 2020-21 freshwater, combination, or all-in-one Fish Washington fishing license who catch one of more than 1,000 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers located across the state. A list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes is available at the derby website.

trout derby 2020

Walleye: Walleye fishing is going strong on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Some of the best catches have come from Lake Umatilla, the section of the Columbia River stretching from John Day Dam to McNary Dam.  The best fishing is between Boardman OR upstream to McNary Dam. Angling upstream of McNary for the toothy warmwater fish has been a little slow but should improve as flows in the Columbia and Snake Rivers decline in August.

Walleye are active during August on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, as well as on the lower Snake River below Little Goose and Ice Harbor dams. Anglers are using “crawler harnesses” behind a bottom walker and blade baits to catch them, but jigs and deep diving plugs can be effective as well.

“Walleye really tie on the feedbag when the water heats up, so we can expect to see some great fishing in the weeks ahead,” said Paul Hoffarth, WDFW biologist.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that there is no minimum size and no limit on the number of walleye, bass or channel catfish they can keep while fishing in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Sturgeon and shad: Sturgeon sanctuary areas are currently in effect and will remain in effect through August 31. These sanctuary areas, located downstream of all the Columbia River Dams from Priest Rapids to Bonneville, and including Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River, are closed to all fishing for sturgeon—even catch and release. The sanctuary area below McNary Dam now extends downstream to the grain elevators at Patterson Ferry Road. The sanctuary below Priest Rapids Dam was extended downstream to Vernita Bridge. Shad are returned to the Columbia in near record numbers. They’re fairly easy to catch and there are no catch limits.

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 our fishing webpages to find a lake near you.

Kokanee hotspots include Keechelus Reservoir and Kachess Reservoir in Kittitas County, as well as Rimrock Reservoir and Bumping Lake in Yakima County.  These are just a few of the many reservoirs and lakes that feature great kokanee fishing in the region.

Warmwater opportunities:  Marc Divens, WDFW fish biologist, says August is also a great time to pursue warmwater species like largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill and crappie in lowland lakes. Try topwater lures in early morning or evening until dark for some exciting bass fishing.

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. Bumping Lake is another great place.

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 wild steelhead, so anglers need to carefully release any of these fish they may inadvertently catch while fishing for other species,” adds Divens, WDFW fish biologist. 

Fire restrictions: Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and at water access sites around the state. The temporary restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases. It is especially important that the public observe regulations regarding campfires, target shooting, off road driving, smoking, and the use of chainsaws and open flame torches as conditions grow drier.  Wildfire prevention is up to all of us!

August hunting tips and news

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.

image of a hunter ed card

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.

Black bear: General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the East Cascades and Columbia Basin zones, as shown on Page 70 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar beginning in September.

Raffle results: Want to know who was selected for one of Washington’s coveted 2020 raffle hunts? We’ve already started reaching out to winners and the results will be posted on the raffle results page. Folks who didn’t win can also look up their tickets on the main Wild System page.

Fire restrictions: Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and at water access sites around the state. The temporary restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases. It is especially important that the public observe regulations regarding campfires, target shooting, off road driving, smoking, and the use of chainsaws and open flame torches as conditions grow drier.  Wildfire prevention is up to all of us!

Wildlife viewing in August

Go hiking and watch wildlife: Now is the time to see fall migrating birds congregate and feed on insects throughout the region. In the high country of the South Cascades, hikers can often catch glimpses of everything from mountain bluebirds to mountain goats.

Barred owl perched in a tree
Tricia Buti

Don’t forget that the Audubon Washington has published "Sun and Sage," a birding guide that points travelers to prime birding areas in the southcentral region of the state. 

Around White Pass, check out Dog Lake and the surrounding forests and meadows for ring-necked ducks, Barrow’s goldeneye, osprey, red-naped and Williamson’s sapsuckers and pine siskin. Listen for barred owls in the dense forests behind nearby Leech Lake.

At Chinook Pass, look for whistling hoary marmots and browsing mule deer. Scan the peaks for mountain goats, and watch for blue grouse, gray jay, mountain chickadee and a variety of other birds.

Fire restrictions: Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and at water access sites around the state. The temporary restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases. It is especially important that the public observe regulations regarding campfires, target shooting, off road driving, smoking, and the use of chainsaws and open flame torches as conditions grow drier.  Wildfire prevention is up to all of us!

Recreation and habitat projects

4,486 acres of land near Yakima protected for the benefit of wildlife and people

Scenic view of Cowiche Unit landscape

WDFW worked closely with Forterra and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) to buy 4,486 acres of land near Yakima in the foothills of the eastern Cascades. WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Cowiche Unit of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

The site serves as key habitat and a migration corridor for an astonishing array of species, including mule deer, elk, Neotropical birds, raptors, bats, and more than 70 butterfly species. The expanded Cowiche Unit will also conserve more than seven miles of Cowiche Creek, an important spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout, coho, and chinook salmon. 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Key date
  • Public meeting

Meet your South Central Regional Director

Mike Livingston, the South Central Regional Director (Region 3) grew up fishing, hunting and playing in the forests of southeast Michigan. He received a bachelor’s degree in Conservation from Northern Michigan University, a bachelor’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management from Michigan State University and a master’s in Wildlife Science from New Mexico State University.

Photograph of South Central Region Director, Mike Livingston
Mike Livingston, South
Central Region Director

Since 1996 Mike has worked in eastern Washington and held wildlife biologist positions with the Army’s Yakima Training Center, the Yakama Nation, and WDFW as District Wildlife Biologist in the Tri-Cities. In 2012, he was promoted to his current position as WDFW’s Region 3 Director. As Regional Director, he oversees operations in the region and gets to work on big collaborative conservation projects such as the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. When not working, you can often find him outside with his: family, friends, dog, shotgun, fishing rod, and/or backpack.