Discover South Central Washington

Sunrise on hillside at the Quilomene Wildlife Area Unit

Counties served: Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima

Director: Mike Livingston

1701 South 24th Avenue
Yakima, WA 98902-5720

Email: TeamYakima@dfw.wa.gov

Telephone: 509-575-2740

Fax: 509-575-2474

October fishing tips and news

Catch a fish, win a prize 

trout derby logo

WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues through Oct. 31. Anglers with an applicable 2021-22 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.

Salmon

Hanford reach salmon fishing should be good through the middle of October. Daily limit is 6 salmon, with a limit of two adults. Anglers must stop fishing when the adult limit is retained. Anglers can harvest fall Chinook and coho, both hatchery and wild and can use barbed or barbless hooks when fishing for salmon in this area of the Columbia River. Anglers may fish with two poles for any species except sturgeon with two-pole endorsement.

The south-central area of the Columbia River is open for fall Chinook and coho fishing. Both hatchery and wild salmon can be retained. From John Day Dam upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge (Pasco/Kennewick) is open Sept. 1 to Dec 31. Daily limit six. Up to two adults may be retained of which one may be a Chinook. Release all salmon other than Chinook and coho.

The Yakima River is open through Oct. 17 for the retention of Chinook and coho from the Hwy 240 bridge in Richland to the Grand Ave Bridge in Prosser. For additional information see the emergency rule.

Steelhead

The south-central area of the Columbia River is closed to fishing for steelhead. The return is currently projected to be one of the lowest returns in recent history. 

Sturgeon

The fall is a great time to fish for sturgeon. The Columbia and Snake Rivers are open for catch & release only. The flows are low, the weather is nice, and the water temperatures are down, making for a less stressful event for anglers and fish alike. Favorite baits are roll mop herring, salmon bellies, shad, and squid. Remember you must use one single point barbless hook when fishing for sturgeon and fish at night is not allowed.

Walleye

Walleye should draw plenty of attention this month. Many anglers consider these toothy fish, which bite aggressively throughout much of the fall, to be the best table fare. Several of the state’s best walleye fisheries are in the region, including Wallula Junction, the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam, and the Columbia River from Boardman upstream to McNary Dam.

Popular tactics include trolling worm harnesses behind bottom walkers, trolling deep-diving plugs, jigging blade baits, or plastic baits on jig heads.

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass share habitat with walleye, but sometimes run as deep as 50 feet. They move into the shallows as waters cool and food sources become available. Fishing for these hard-fighting fish carries on through October until cold water sends them back to greater depths to spend the winter.

Bass and panfish

With the continued warm water temperatures, anglers can expect good fishing for bass and panfish such as bluegill, crappie, and yellow perch.  

Fishing for these species will only get better in the fall when they typically increase foraging activity in preparation for the winter months ahead. In the South Central Region, there are good opportunities in Scooteney Reservoir (largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and yellow perch) and the I-82 ponds (largemouth bass and panfish). 

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 are the predominant species depending on where you’re fishing in the river. 

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 Marc Divens, WDFW fish biologist. 

Life Outdoors

Our latest Life Outdoors article is all about celebrating National Public Lands Day (NPLD). The nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, NPLD was held on Sept. 25 this year and is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation. This celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation.

You can find other informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more on our Life Outdoors page.

Fire information

Land closures and restrictions

While most WDFW lands that were closed by wildfire are now open, conditions are still dry in many parts of Eastern Washington and fire danger remains high. Check WDFW’s wildfire information web page before heading out; closures and restrictions can change with little notice.

Additional wildfire updates and information is available from the Department of Natural Resources recreation openings webpage and fire prevention information is available at Department of Natural Resources website and recreateresponsibly.org.

October hunting tips and news

New hunting prospects

October is prime time for hunting, with statewide seasons opening for deer and elk as well as ducks and geese. Hunters planning their season may want to check past Game Harvest Reports and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2021 Hunting Prospects for this year’s outlook in specific game management units (GMUs).

Dates and regulations are listed in the Big Game and Game Bird and Small Game pamphlets.

The web map, available at the hunting section of our webpage, provides convenient access to Washington’s hunting regulations and allows hunters to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice and more.

Deer and elk

The muzzleloader season for mule deer runs through Oct. 3 in select GMUs, followed by the popular modern-firearms hunt Oct. 16-26. Meanwhile, muzzleloaders will have a chance to hunt for elk Oct. 2-8 in many of those same areas.

Adult and young boy walking through brown grassy meadow into large green trees
Chuck Lathrope

Bear and cougar

General hunting seasons for black bear continue through Nov. 15 in the region. Successful hunters are required to submit a bear tooth to WDFW to determine the animal’s age, and all hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs. Consult the regulations for details. The early cougar-hunting season runs through Dec. 31.

Migratory game birds

General hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe get underway Oct. 16 and – with the exception of short break – run through Jan. 30. Mallards make up most of the harvest in the region and dabblers prefer shallow wetlands, particularly those that flood seasonally. Morning dove hunters get their final chances to hunt prior to the season close on Oct. 30.

Upland game birds

General seasons for California quail, partridge and northern chukar kick off Oct. 2, and pheasant hunting for all ages begins Oct. 23. The Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program pamphlet has locations and area maps for all the sites WDFW releases male pheasants for hunters during the season. It’s an opportunity to get new hunters or train dogs on some game birds! Non-toxic shot is required at all release sites. Forest grouse season continues through the month into January.

Hunter Education and Master Hunter Permit Program

WDFW is offering in-person hunter education classes, and also has an online course option. Visit the hunter education webpage for details. Avoid the autumn rush and sign up now for a hunter education class. All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. 

Online course: The online hunter education course takes approximately 10 hours to complete, but students can do it in multiple sittings. You can register for and complete the online hunter education course at https://www.hunter-ed.com/washington/. Next, register for and complete the online Virtual Field Day course at https://www.huntercourse.com/virtualfieldday/

Hunter Education Deferral: You may also qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime Hunter Education Deferral, which allows a one year deferral for individuals new to hunting who are accompanied by an experienced hunter. More information is available on the Hunter Education Deferral webpage.  

For assistance, please email huntered@dfw.wa.gov or call 360-902-8111.

Changes to animal sealing requirements

When you harvest a bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain goat, or river otters this season, you must schedule an inspection for pinning or sealing through the South Central/Region 3 office by calling 509-575-2740.

In addition to scheduling your inspection, we require that you practice physical distancing and wear a face covering to your inspection.

Life Outdoors

Our latest Life Outdoors article is all about celebrating National Public Lands Day (NPLD). The nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, NPLD was held on Sept. 25 this year and is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation. This celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation.

You can find other informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more on our Life Outdoors page.

Fire information

Land closures and restrictions 

While most WDFW lands that were closed by wildfire are now open, conditions are still dry in many parts of Eastern Washington and fire danger remains high. Check WDFW’s wildfire information web page before heading out; closures and restrictions can change with little notice.

Additional wildfire updates and information is available from the Department of Natural Resources recreation openings webpage and fire prevention information is available at Department of Natural Resources website and recreateresponsibly.org.

Wildlife viewing in October

Migratory birds heading south

Millions of mallards, teal, wigeon and other ducks are expected to fly south from their northern breeding grounds this year, and many of those birds will be heading down the Pacific Flyway through our region. Some of these ducks have already starting arriving and

A group of wigeons flying with brown trees in the background. Group includes 7 males and 1 female

resident ducks and geese are already on display throughout the region. Drake ducks are beginning to regain breeding plumages and numbers of snow and white-fronted geese will build this month along with familiar Canada geese. The viewing and photography blind at the Headquarters of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge near Burbank is a great place to watch them dabble and preen.

Along with waterfowl, large numbers of bald eagles will begin to flock to the region in pursuit of salmon carcasses and waterfowl as the month progresses.

Shared space with hunters

Birders and others afield in the coming weeks should be aware that a number of hunting seasons are underway throughout the region. While the majority of hunters follow safety rules and carefully verify their targets, non-hunters can help to avoid an accident by wearing hunter’s orange clothing and making their presence known to hunters.

Watch wildlife, drive carefully

With vivid fall colors emerging across the region, October is a good time to see wildlife, but with that opportunity comes danger on the roads. As temperatures cool, animals become more active, including young animals without much road savvy. Be sure to keep a watchful eye while traveling.

Life Outdoors

Our latest Life Outdoors article is all about celebrating National Public Lands Day (NPLD). The nation's largest single-day volunteer event for public lands, NPLD was held on Sept. 25 this year and is organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation. This celebration sees thousands of volunteers help restore and improve public lands around the nation.

You can find this and other informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more on our Life Outdoors page.

Fire information

Land closures and restrictions

While most WDFW lands that were closed by wildfire are now open, conditions are still dry in many parts of Eastern Washington and fire danger remains high. Check WDFW’s wildfire information web page before heading out; closures and restrictions can change with little notice.

Additional wildfire updates and information is available from the Department of Natural Resources recreation openings webpage and fire prevention information is available at Department of Natural Resources website and recreateresponsibly.org.

Habitat at Home

New Habitat at Home Program

Habitat at Home, formerly known as the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program, is the department's effort to encourage Washingtonians to connect with nature where they live. We hope these resources will help you discover fun and effective ways you can help support wildlife, regardless of your expertise, how much space you have, or where you live.

Girl prepares plants for garden

By creating habitat for wildlife at home, you are helping to offset the acres of habitat that are lost to housing and urban development each year in Washington. Every little bit can help decrease habitat fragmentation, especially in highly urbanized areas. 

Starter kit

Our new Habitat at Home Starter Kit provides an introduction to the basics of gardening for pollinators, selecting native plants, and how to identify common backyard birds. Contact us to request a starter kit. 

Habitat at Home yard sign

If you already provide wildlife habitat at home (food, water, shelter, and space to raise young), you can apply for a Habitat at Home yard sign. We want to learn about your habitat and recognize your efforts to help Washington wildlife. 

Planning your garden

Are you thinking about what to plant in your garden this year? Whether you garden for the beauty of being surrounded by plants or to produce fruits and vegetables, you can help wildlife at the same time! 

Co-planting is a great way to benefit both your garden and pollinators. Consider including an herb garden close to your produce garden to attract pollinators. Include plants that pollinators love, such as thyme, lavender, rosemary, sage, and oregano. Produce such as squash, eggplant, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and other flowering plants may increase in yield because of pollination. 

If you’re looking to specifically help pollinators, look for plants that provide nectar at different times of the year to increase food availability year-round. Plants that flower around April or August and September are especially helpful for pollinators.  

Need help picking out plants? Check out this native plant finder: https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/.  

Bird feeder hygiene

During cold months like March, birds need more energy to survive. Ordinarily, this is a great time to put out bird feeders, especially if you don’t have the space for plants. However, we are still seeing reports of salmonellosis in birds and are asking residents to keep bird feeders down.  

Feeders can pose health risks to birds if not maintained correctly and many people don’t realize that like humans, birds are susceptible to diseases, including salmonellosis, mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, avian pox, and more. Proper feeder hygiene is something you’ll need to uphold if you plan on keeping up your feeder up or have bird feeders in the future. 

Use proper feeder food 

Preventing disease at your feeders starts with the type of food you are providing. One way to help keep your feeder clean is to avoid using seed mixes, as it can encourage overcrowding and food waste. Mixes are good at attracting birds that enjoy both large and smaller seeds, but unless both types of birds visit your feeder on a regular basis, the leftover seeds - that often are pushed to the ground - can be a recipe for mold and attracting rats, mice, coyotes, bears, skunks, racoons, and other wildlife. This can lead to wildlife that become habituated to being fed and can pose future problems. For this reason, it is also best to only put out one day’s worth of food in your feeder so that it won’t spoil before it’s eaten. 

Using seeds that have already been hulled can also prevent waste, as hulls will be dropped to the ground anyways when birds are feeding. Start with smaller quantities and add more as needed. If you’d still like to offer a variety of seeds, opt for several bird feeders that are well-spaced from one another that each hold their own type of seed. If using a platform feeder, be sure to clean it daily with new seed put out. These feeders get particularly messy and can pose a greater risk to keeping birds healthy. 

Keep it clean 

Cleaning your feeders is critical to keeping your birds happy and healthy. With the current salmonellosis outbreak, we recommend cleaning feeders daily by first rinsing well with warm, soapy water. Then, soak in a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can spray the surfaces with this solution if that’s easier and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse well with cool water and let dry for at least 10 minutes to air out any fumes. 

If you also provide a birdbath, this cleaning regimen works for that, too. It’s equally important for birds to have access to clean drinking water! Just be sure to either remove or cover the birdbath while it is soaking in bleach to avoid pets, children, or animals from encountering the bleach. 

It’s also important that the areas below and around your feeder be kept free of seed and feces that can create unsanitary conditions. Placing feeders above surfaces that are easy to clean like decks or concrete will make the cleanup much quicker and easier. You can also opt to place a mesh screen or mat beneath feeders. Additionally, you can opt to attract birds that are less messy eaters, like chickadees and nuthatches. 

To learn what seeds attract different birds, check out this Audubon Guide to Birdseed

Event calendar

Types of events

  • Public meeting
  • Community event
  • Key date

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.