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

January fishing tips and news

Steelhead: Fishing for steelhead is closed upstream of the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland. Anglers can continue to fish for steelhead downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco through March 31. Daily limit is one hatchery steelhead (release all salmon). Anglers are reminded that barbless hooks are required for salmon and steelhead downstream of the Washington/Oregon border at Hwy. 730.

The Snake River from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge) upstream to Lower Granite Dam, and the Touchet, Walla Walla, and Tucannon Rivers remain open until further notice. Daily limit is one hatchery steelhead. The Snake River above Lower Granite and the lower Grand Ronde River are also open with a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead. Anglers must follow gear restriction listed in the fishing pamphlet based on the river section you are fishing including barbless hooks or selective gear rules when fishing for steelhead in the Snake River and tributaries.

A boy holds a large steelhead he caught.

Sturgeon: The John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) opens January 1 for retention of white sturgeon measuring 43 to 54 inches from their snout to the fork in their tail. The fishery will remain open until the quota is reached. Check the WDFW website for emergency closures in this area.  Anglers are reminded that the Columbia River upstream of McNary Dam and the Snake River are restricted to catch-and-release only during open seasons. Fishing for sturgeon is only permitted during daylight hours.

Walleye: Anglers don’t typically catch as many walleye in winter as during the summer months, but the fish they do catch are often much larger. In fact, some record-holders have caught their fish in the dead of winter. Hot spots for winter walleyes in the Tri-Cities area include from the Snake River downstream to Badger Island and from McNary Dam downstream to Boardman. Some of the best spots are within a half-mile of the boat launches. 

Winter whitefish:  The fishery is open through February 28th on the Naches River (mouth to Tieton River) and on the Yakima River (Sunnyside Dam to 3,500 feet below Roza Dam and from Roza Dam to Easton Dam).  The catch limit is 15 per day, but anglers are required to use only one hook measuring no more than 3/16-inch from point to shank (hook size 14) and bait is allowed.  Anglers must release all fish except whitefish.

North Elton Pond recently stocked: WDFW stocked piles of jumbo rainbows in North Elton Pond, which opened in late November. In addition to North Elton Pond, several lakes in Yakima and Kittitas County receive some large brood stock rainbow trout ranging from 3 to 10 pounds since September.  Lakes include Fio Rito North, Tim’s Pond, as well as Reflection Lake in Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima. 

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

January hunting tips and news

Upland game birds:   Please check out the new blog on hunting multiple upland game species in Eastern Washington and across the state.

A Canada goose in flight

Waterfowl: If you haven’t taken advantage of the waterfowl season yet, consider giving it a try in January. Most big-game hunts are closed for the year, but waterfowl season runs through Jan. 31 in some areas. The rules are outlined in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet.

As colder weather is settling in, larger geese and ducks are shifting from higher altitudes and more northern regions, providing a final opportunity for those ready to bundle up, fill their thermos, and get outside for some great waterfowl hunting.

Washington is one of the few states where all five diving ducks occur in the winter. The deeper waters and islands of the Columbia River serve as the perfect habitat for full plumage canvasback, redhead, scaup (lesser and greater), and ring-necked duck to congregate as ice and snow limit the amount of open water on the landscape.

Deadline to report hunting activity: Jan. 31 is the deadline for hunters to report their hunting activity for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and turkey tag purchased in 2020.

Those who do not meet the deadline must pay a $10 penalty before they can buy a license next year. Those who report by Jan. 10 will be entered into a drawing for one of nine special elk or deer permits.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Wildlife viewing in January

Portions of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, located 15 miles northwest of Ellensburg are closed to protect wintering elk. Gates will reopen on May 1.

This is an annual closure of the roads leading up Joe Watt Canyon and Robinson Canyon to protect between 1,200 and 2,000 wintering elk. Winter recreational activity can physically stress elk and increase the movement and scattering of the herd.

The boundary of the closure can be viewed on the L.T. Murray Green Dot Road Management map.

For information, call the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area at 509-899-9686 or 509-899-3428.

Christmas Bird Count: Audubon Society chapters around the region are preparing for the annual Christmas Bird Count scheduled Dec. 14, 2020, through Jan. 5, 2021. Sponsored by Audubon, the annual event enlists birdwatchers – both veterans and novices – to contribute their sightings over a 24-hour period to the world's longest-running bird database. For more information on the CBC, and to check for advice regarding COVID-19 changes, visit the Audubon website.

Elk at Oak Creek Wildlife Area
Tony Sirgedas

Winter elk feeding program: In winter, hundreds of hungry elk and bighorn sheep descend on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, where visitors can watch them dine on alfalfa hay and pellets. The department’s winter-feeding program gets underway once the snow starts to pile up, possibly in  January. To check the status of the feeding program, call 509-653-2390 to hear a recorded message.

A valid state Discover Pass or WDFW Vehicle Access Pass is required to park at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. Vehicle Access Passes are free with the purchases of certain fishing and hunting licenses.  

Due to COVID-19, there won’t be any volunteer support or truck tours this season. In addition, the Visitor’s Center and associated restrooms will remain closed, but three outdoor vault toilets will remain open. Remember to #RecreateResponsibly and keep a safe distance from others.  

Visitors who would like to donate to the winter elk feeding program can send their contribution by mail to Oak Creek Wildlife Area, 16601 US Hwy 12, Naches, WA 98937.

Share your volunteer photos

We want to see the outstanding work you’ve done to benefit fish and wildlife! We're grateful for all the volunteers who provide their time and talents by contributing to projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and habitat. Volunteer hunter education instructors are committed to ensuring that hunters have safe, legal, and ethical hunts. Many volunteers work directly with WDFW, but many also volunteer through partnerships and local projects around the state.

Share your photos or videos of your volunteer time with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category "Volunteer Activities". 

Recreation and habitat projects

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

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. 

Digital Open House for South-Central WA with RMEF and Forterra

 

Event calendar

Types of events

  • 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.