Bass and walleye: Diehard anglers know that November offers good bass and walleye fishing as these fish pack on pounds before slipping into lethargy for the winter. Virtually every section of the Columbia and Snake rivers in south central Washington holds large populations of both smallmouth bass and walleye. Anglers should start in water 15 to 25 feet on the edges of the main river channels, but don’t be afraid to work the deeper waters as well.
Salmon and steelhead: The Columbia, Snake and Yakima rivers are closed to salmon fishing in the South Central region. The Snake River is open for hatchery steelhead from Couse Creek boat ram upstream to the Idaho/Oregon state line. Only steelhead with clipped adipose fins can be retained. Anglers should note that the limit is one hatchery steelhead on the Snake.
Trout: Anglers can look forward to reeling in hefty broodstock rainbow trout from a half-dozen small lakes and ponds in and around Yakima and Ellensburg. Stocking dates have not been set yet, but WDFW usually starts planting these 3- to 10-pound fish in mid- to late November. Anglers can check the Trout Plant Reports to see when these fish are available.
North Elton Pond near Selah will also be stocked with half-pound rainbow trout prior to a “Black Friday” opening on that lake Nov. 29.
Anglers are reminded that nearly all of the rivers and creeks in the Yakima Basin closed to fishing Oct. 31. Exceptions include the Yakima River between Roza Dam and Easton Dam and the lower Cle Elum River (below Cle Elum Dam), which remains open to catch-and-release fishing year-round.
White Sturgeon: The fall is the perfect time to fish for sturgeon. Water temperatures have cooled which greatly improves the bite and the fight. The river flows are typically much lower in the fall which allows most anglers the opportunity to fish waters that they might deem too hazardous during the spring and summer. The Columbia and Snake River is closed to the harvest of sturgeon in most areas but catch & release is allowed.
Whitefish coming soon: Looking ahead, several waters reopen Dec. 1 for winter whitefish fishing, including:
The Yakima River between Sunnyside Dam and 3,500 feet below Roza Dam;
Roza Dam to Easton Dam;
The lower Cle Elum River; and
The lower Naches River below the confluence with the Tieton River.
Waterfowl: Local mallards and other ducks should start arriving this month, when the birds – driven south by northern storms – start pushing down from Canada and Alaska. General hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe are underway as of Nov. 2, and run through Jan. 26. Mallards make up most of the harvest in the region and dabblers prefer shallow wetlands, particularly those that flood seasonally.
Elk: This year’s modern firearm season for elk runs through Nov. 3 in most areas, but remains open through Nov. 15 in game management units (GMUs) 373, 379 and 381. Hunters with muzzleloaders can also hunt GMUs 373, 379 and 381 through Nov. 15.
Archers will return to the field for spike bulls and antlerless elk starting Nov. 27 in several GMUs.
Black bear and cougar: The black bear season ends Nov. 15, but cougar hunting is scheduled to run through December. For more information on these hunts, see the Big Game Pamphlet.
Migrating birds: Late November is typically the time when large numbers of migrating ducks and geese move south into Washington from far-north locations seeking open water and warmer temperatures. The spectacle of waterfowl can be amazing when bad weather concentrates large numbers of birds in areas such as the McNary National Wildlife Refuge.
Mule deer: Bucks are in the rut, looking for does and often encountering male challengers. It’s rare to witness bucks fighting, but it is very common to see bucks walking around in broad daylight when their hormones get the upper hand over their survival instinct.
Christmas Bird Count: Birders throughout the nation are making preparations for the Christmas Bird Count scheduled Dec. 14, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. Sponsored by Audubon, the annual event enlists tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas to count and categorize the birds they see for science.
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.
Recreational opportunities are abundant on the new property, and include hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and bird watching. The low-elevation and close proximity to Yakima make it an ideal destination for local outdoor recreationists and visitors. Read more in the recent news release.
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. 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.