Discover South Central Washington

Counties served
Office hours
Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. excluding legal holidays

1701 South 24th Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902-5720
United States

Mike Livingston

Fishing tips and news

WDFW to phase out recreational fishing hotlines

For several decades, WDFW provided phone hotlines where people could listen to prerecorded messages about fishing seasons and rule changes. In the years since we established the hotlines, WDFW launched several new options to find accurate, up-to-date fishing information. In summer 2024, we are phasing out the phone hotlines for recreational fishing and shellfishing. There are no changes to the commercial hotlines.

There are many places to find WDFW fishing regulations and information. We encourage anglers who used the prerecorded hotlines to take advantage of one of the webmobile app, or other customer service phone options we offer. Visit our Fishing Hotlines page to see the full list of new options and find more information.

Salmon Fishing

Sons First Salmon
Photo by James Correia

Anglers can expect good fishing for sockeye this year, as the run is off to a strong start. Popular areas include the bank-only fishery at Columbia Point and boat anglers can expect success through the Hanford Reach. The daily limit is four adults, of which one may be a hatchery summer Chinook. 

Anglers should focus their efforts on the sockeye run in the first week or two of July, as these fish will move through Region 3 portions of the Columbia River quickly. 

Vernita Bridge access area changes

Trucks, trailers and campers in a field
Photo by WDFW

The Hanford Reach fall Chinook fishery is a popular recreational fishery, with river access near the Vernita Bridge on State Route 243. Owned by the Department of Energy, the site is managed by WDFW. Camping is not officially permitted, but dozens camp there during the fishing season. The unsustainable level of use requires changes to address safety and damages to area resources. 

An interim site management plan will be implemented for camping in a smaller footprint, and for a shorter period until 2026, when camping will end. Requirements will be posted, the area will be patrolled by WDFW enforcement, and alternative camping sites are being investigated for future fishing seasons. For more information, please see WDFW’s recent news release and blog.

Releasing salmon properly

Selective fisheries for hatchery-produced salmon and catch-and-release fisheries are increasingly important to providing recreational fishing opportunities around Washington. To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers do their part to comply with all regulations, especially how to properly release unmarked, sublegal (undersized) and out-of-season fish to improve their survival. Watch our YouTube video and read our blog post about how to properly release salmon.

Celebrate Bass Week (July 7-13)

Two people in a boat each holding small yellowish brown fish.
Photo by Jan Van der voort

It’s one of our favorite weeks of the year at WDFW! Join us July 7-13 as we get out on the water to highlight some of the best bass fishing locations in the state, provide bass fishing tips and tackle recommendations, and answer your questions on all thing’s bass.

With more than 1,000 lakes containing bass statewide, and some outstanding river fishing opportunities, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are plentiful in Washington waters. And you don’t have to own a boat to catch bass – some of the state’s best fishing can be done from docks or along the shoreline.

During Bass Week we’ll highlight some of the best bass waters in Washington, provide bass fishing tips, and answer your questions on all thing’s bass. Submit your best bass fishing photos to be featured on our Facebook and Instagram.

Bass, catfish, and walleye heating up

Walleye and bass are biting throughout the Columbia River and Snake River, but the best fishing for these species is in Lake Umatilla (John Day Reservoir) from Crow Butte upstream to McNary Dam. Other popular locations are Lake Wallula (McNary Reservoir) from Wallula Junction to Priest Rapids Dam. Hots spots in the lower Snake River reservoirs are Lake Wallula below Ice Harbor Dam and Lake Herbert G West (Lower Monumental to Little Goose Dam). Scooteney Reservoir, Potholes Reservoir, and Moses Lake are great lakes for walleye and bass.

For bass fishing, try Hanford Reach/Columbia River in Benton/Franklin counties; Lake Wallula in Benton/Franklin/Walla Walla counties and the lower Walla Walla River; Powerline Lake and Scooteney Reservoir in Franklin County; I-82 Ponds #1 and #5 in Yakima County; and Lake Herbert G. West, Snake River in Franklin/Walla Walla counties.

Trout and kokanee fishing in lakes

Kids trout fishing
Photo by Matt Marx

Look for kokanee on Rimrock Reservoir in Yakima County, and Keechelus and Kachess reservoirs in Kittitas County. Many lakes in the south-central region are open year-round, and due to the cooler weather this past spring there are thousands of rainbow trout waiting to be caught in early summer.

Try for trout at Easton, Fiorito North, Kiawanas, Lavender, Mattoon, McCabe, Mill and Naneum (juvenile youth only), and Woodhouse Pond in Kittitas County. You can also find planted trout in Clear, Dog, Granger Pond, Lost, Myron, Rotary, Sarge Hubbard Park, and the I-82 ponds in Yakima County. Check the Weekly Trout Plant Reports to see what’s happening in area lakes. You can find out what Region 3 lakes were planted by going to the WDFW trout stocking plan.


High mountain lakes fishing

There are many trailheads leading into the high lakes from areas near Snoqualmie Pass, Chinook Pass and White Pass. Most high elevation or alpine trout lakes are accessible this month for hikers packing their fishing rods. Almost 200 small lakes, ranging from about 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, lie on public land around Washington. You can find information on high lakes on the WDFW webpage.

WDFW Trout Derby

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! Click on WDFW trout derby link 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.  

Get paid to fish!

Fish held in a hand.
Photo by WDFW

The 2024 Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward fishery, which pays anglers $6-$10 for each qualifying fish, continues until the end of September. This program targets large northern pikeminnow, the primary fish predator of juvenile salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia and Snake River systems. Anglers are paid for each Northern Pikeminnow that they catch (from within program boundaries) that is 9 inches or larger in total length, and the more you catch, the higher the reward. In 2024, rewards begin at $6 each for the first 25 Northern Pikeminnow caught during the season. Anglers are paid $8 for each fish they catch from 26-200, and $10 for every fish caught over 200 cumulatively. Anglers are also paid $500 for each specially tagged Northern Pikeminnow.

The goal is to harvest 10 to 20 percent of the larger fish that might prey on endangered or threatened salmon and steelhead species. To see where anglers have been having luck reeling in pikeminnow, more information on the program, and helpful tips on how to catch pikeminnow, visit the program webpage

White sturgeon fishing

Fishing is limited to catch-and-release only. Lake Wallula (McNary Reservoir), except for the Hanford Reach upper section, is open year-round for sturgeon but limited to catch-and-release only. The fishery extends from McNary Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River and upstream to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. Sturgeon sanctuaries located immediately downstream of the lower Columbia River dams and Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River go into effect now through August 31. No fishing, not even catch-and-release, is allowed within these sanctuaries during these months to allow mature sturgeon to spawn and recover. 

Remember you must use one single point barbless hook when fishing for sturgeon and fishing at night is not allowed. Please review the Washington Sport Fishing Rules for additional restrictions on sturgeon fishing including the upstream section of the Hanford Reach.

Hunting opportunities and news

Target shooting

Youth target shooting
Photo by Brandon Troyer, WDFW

Fire restrictions in effect: Beginning in July, there are a number of restrictions in effect for activities on WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington to help reduce the risk of wildfire. As a reminder, fireworks are prohibited year-round on WDFW-managed lands statewide.

Starting July 1, the following activities are restricted on WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings. Personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Discharging firearms for target shooting or other purposes, aside from lawful hunting, unless otherwise posted. 
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle. Do not throw lit cigarettes out your window.
  • Welding and operating chainsaws, including the use of an acetylene torch or other open flame.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways. 

Summer target shooting is not allowed on the WDFW-managed Wenas Wildlife Area. Target shooting is restricted every year in an effort to reduce the risk of wildfire. Seasonal restrictions improve safety for adjacent landowners and protect wildlife habitat by reducing fire risk. WDFW staff ask that visitors to any wildlife area check local fire danger information and take precautions to avoid igniting a wildfire.

Sign up for hunter education

New to hunting? Beat the fall rush and take your hunter education course this summer.  Visit our hunter education page for more information.

Wildlife watching and recreation

Wildlife viewing

Photo by WDFW

The Oak Creek, Wenas, LT Murray, Sunnyside, and Colockum wildlife areas are open, and visitors are required to display a current WDFW Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass for vehicle access to all WDFW lands and boat launches. Information about purchasing a state Discover Pass is available on the Discover Pass website

Most of these areas are part of a cooperatively managed “Green Dot” road management system, which allows vehicle travel on the roads marked with a round green reflector on a white route marker, providing access for camping, hunting, wildlife viewing, and other uses, while protecting fish and wildlife and their habitats. Green Dot Maps are now available for download from the WDFW’s Green Dot page. The Sunnyside Wildlife Area is not part of the Green Dot road system.

There are no developed campgrounds in any of these areas, and campfires are prohibited through Oct. 15. In addition to WDFW’s Wildlife Areas page, the Washington Trails Association is a great resource for information on hikes in the southcentral region and across the state.

Negative wildlife interactions

deer fawn
Photo by Don Ashmore

A reminder that if you run into fawns, baby birds, or other young animals, please leave them be, even if they appear to be orphaned or abandoned. Most animals have a parent foraging or hunting nearby. Read our blog to learn about when not to rescue wildlife and what to do if you encounter certain species. 

Be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes now that we are in the middle of summer. Visit our Living with Wildlife page for mare information.

Black bears are active this summer! We're asking for your help to secure unnatural food sources to reduce bear encounters – especially around your home or while on the trail.  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. Unintentionally feeding bears can also lead to habituated bears. If you live in bear country, be sure to secure your trash inside a garage or shed or invest in a commercially-available bear-proof trash container. For more information on avoiding bear conflicts of all kinds, visit the black bear WDFW webpage. 

Feeding wildlife 

Many well-meaning Washington residents in urban and suburban areas enjoy feeding deer in their yards. 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 as their digestive systems aren’t designed to process certain kinds of foods. View this link (PDF) to help us keep wildlife wild by following more tips (PDF).

Report bat observations

A small brown bat with large ears hanging from a ceiling.
Photo by Laura Rogers

Have you seen a bat flying during the day? This could be a sign 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. 

A case of white nose syndrome was recently confirmed at Boulder Cave on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in central Washington. Boulder Cave visitors and others spending time outdoors can do their part to limit the spread of the disease. For more information, please see the news release. To get the most up-to-date decontamination protocols and guidance on limiting the spread of white-nose syndrome, visit

Conserving species and habitats

Habitat and Landscape Survey

Landscape with bushes and sky
Photo by WDFW

WDFW wants your input about the landscapes and habitats in this area! How do you think and feel about local habitats and landscapes? 

Take this survey to help inform WDFW's work when it comes to lands in south central Washington. 

This short, web-based bilingual survey (English and Spanish) will be open until Oct. 1, 2024. Adults (18 years and older) living in Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, and Yakima counties are invited to participate.

Take survey now!

Fire Bans

Fires are restricted on WDFW Wildlife Area lands beginning July 1, as well as target shooting. Check our wildfire information page for more information on seasonal restrictions aimed at preventing wildfires and be vigilant of posted notices.

Habitat at Home

Monarch Butterfly on Gray Rabbitbrush
Photo by WDFW

It’s a great time to get outside and see your local pollinators! From bees to butterflies and moths to hummingbirds, all of Washington’s pollinators have a role to play in plant reproduction. Discover who’s buzzing and fluttering around your neighborhood, and learn how to support their habitat. Keep an eye on our social media pages and events webpage for celebrations near you.  

Meet your Regional Director - Mike Livingston

Photograph of South Central Region Director, Mike Livingston
Photo by WDFW
Mike Livingston, South 
Central Region 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.

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.