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November 2018
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Fisherman releasing the 10 pound walleye he caught.
Fisherman releasing the 10 pound walleye he caught. Photo by Jerry Han

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. Starting Nov. 10, steelhead fishing will also close due to low returns on the Hanford Reach from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite powerline towers. The Snake River is open for hatchery steelhead from the mouth (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge) to the Oregon state line. Only steelhead with clipped adiposefins 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. 23. 

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.

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.
Winter elk gathering
Winter elk gathering. Photo by Gentry Scott

Waterfowl: While there have been unseasonably warm weather temperatures in Alaska and Alberta, reinforcements for 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 continue through Jan. 27, except for Nov. 1-2.

Elk: This year’s modern firearm season for elk runs through Nov. 4 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. 22 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, available on WDFW’s website.

Mallard duck standing in water at shoreline.
Mallard duck. Photo by Dennis Werlau

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. Barring early storms, those migrants won’t arrive until later this fall, but resident ducks and geese are already on display throughout the region. Casey Pond near Burbank at McNary National Wildlife
Refuge 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.

Be aware of 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.

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