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


Telephone: 509-575-2740

Fax: 509-575-2474

July 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.

Walleye and bass

Walleye and bass are biting throughout the Columbia River and Snake Rivers, 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 below Ice Harbor Dam (Columbia River upstream to dam) and from Lyons Ferry Marina upstream to Little Goose Dam.

For bass fishing, WDFW biologists also recommend the following:

  • 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   
  • Lake Herbert G. West, Snake River in Franklin/Walla Walla counties

Celebrate Bass Week (July 11-17)

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.  Our second annual “Bass Week” will take place July 11-17, when we’ll highlight some of the best bass waters in Washington, provide bass fishing tips, and answer your questions on all things bass.


The annual quotas for sturgeon harvest have been met for the Columbia River. The Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission approved several changes to sturgeon regulations two years ago. This included moving to catch and release only in McNary reservoir (Lake Wallula) including the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and an expansion of the sturgeon sanctuaries below McNary and Priest Rapids Dams. 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— through August 31. 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.

High lakes fishing

There are many trailheads leading into the high lakes from areas near Snoqualmie Pass, Chinook Pass and White Pass. 

Kokanee and trout

Hotspots for kokanee, rainbow, and cutthroat trout include Bumping Lake, Keechelus Reservoir and Kachess Reservoir.   

Life Outdoors

Informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more. Find them on our Life Outdoors page.

Help fish beat the heat

The historic Pacific Northwest heat wave may be over for now, but the summer weather continues, and fish need our help staying cool as air and water temperatures remain high. Fishing in the early morning, when air and water temperatures are cooler, can help reduce stress on fish -- and on the fisher! High lakes are also a great option this time of year thanks to cooler temperatures at higher elevations.

If you fish the same areas every year, try to be aware of water levels and temperatures – if the water seems especially low, or hotter than usual, maybe give fish a break by coming back another time.

If you're fishing an area where you may have to catch and release, it's critical to take steps to minimize the impact. Using appropriate gear and landing the fish quickly can help, as can making sure not to remove the fish from the water once it's reeled in. Quickly remove hooks, or cut the line if the hook is especially deep. You can also help the fish revive by pointing it into a slow current, and letting it swim out of your hands whenever possible.


July hunting tips and news

Hunter education

All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must show proof of hunter education course completion before purchasing their first Washington hunting license. A hunter education certificate is required before hunting this year, as every year. You can find information on the online course at our hunter ed website

Life Outdoors

Hunter education

Informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more. Find them on our Life Outdoors page.

Wildlife viewing in July

Where the wild things are?

WDFW and Washington State Parks partnered for a virtual live event from Millersylvania State Park. Presenters provided tips on how to make camping reservations, find ADA-accessible recreation opportunities, and camp around wildlife. Watch it here.

Umtanum Creek

Along with songbirds and raptors, visitors may see elk, deer, bighorn sheep and myriad smaller mammals. Beaver are active around Umtanum Creek, which flows past stands of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, black cottonwood, aspen and willow.

Lands Showcase L.T. Murray Wildlife Area   

The L.T. Murray Wildlife Area gets lots of horseback riders and ATV riders in July before it gets too warm. Hiking is popular in the Gnat Flat and Grasshopper Flat areas where folks can enjoy higher elevations and a mixed conifer forest.

Life Outdoors

Informative blog posts, recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and more. Find them on our Life Outdoors page.

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:  

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

  • Key date
  • Community event
  • 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.