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  More to do Outside!

July 2018
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Girl holding the large walleye she caught
Girl holding the large walleye she caught.
Photo credit: David Dalan

Catch a fish; win a prize: WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues through Oct. 31. Anglers with an applicable 2018-19 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.

WDFW's Free 'Fish Washington' Mobile App: Whether you are an experienced angler or just getting started, the “Fish Washington” phone app should be on your mobile device.

The free mobile app conveys up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state. The exception, for now, is the app does not yet include information on shellfish and seaweed collection rules. The app is available for download at Google Play and Apple's App store.

Salmon: Salmon fishing season opens July 1 on most areas of the upper Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Chief Joseph Dam. The exception is the section of the river from Wells Dam to the Hwy. 173 bridge at Brewster, where the fishery gets underway July 16.

With sockeye salmon returning in higher numbers than expected, state fishery managers recently added sockeye to the daily bag limit. As outlined in a Fishing Rule Change notice, anglers fishing upriver from Priest Rapids Dam can retain up to two hatchery chinook, plus two adult sockeye per day.

The total daily limit is six fish, including jack salmon. All salmon other than hatchery chinook and sockeye must be released. Additional information about the fishery is available in the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Steelhead fishing: The fishery is open on the Columbia River downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge (Pasco/Kennewick) and in the Snake River. Fishing is typically very slow through the summer months, but the bite picks up in late August as water temperatures cool.

Walleye and bass: Walleye and bass are biting throughout the Columbia River, but the best fishing for these species in the Tri-cities area is in Lake Umatilla between Crow Butte and McNary 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
  • 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

High lakes fishing: There are many trailheads leading into the high lakes from areas near Snoqualmie Pass, Chinook Pass and White Pass. Visit the high lakes section of Fish Washington to research options for Yakima and Kittitas counties.   

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

Sturgeon: The annual quotas for sturgeon harvest have been met for the Columbia River downstream of McNary Dam, but Lake Wallula (McNary Reservoir), Priest Rapids Reservoir and Wanapum Reservoir will remain open to the retention of sturgeon.

On Lake Wallula, the daily limit is one legal-size sturgeon, and two fish per year (statewide). Angling for sturgeon is not permitted in this area of the Columbia River after an angler has retained their annual limit. To be retained, sturgeon must be between 43 inches and 54 inches in length as measured from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail. The fishery is open in this area through July 31.

In Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs, the daily limit is two sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches long. Anglers are not required to record these sturgeon on a catch record card as described in this rule change.

Sturgeon sanctuary areas are in effect. These areas, located immediately downstream of all the Columbia River Dams from Priest Rapids to Bonneville, including Ice Harbor, are closed to all fishing for sturgeon--even catch and release--through July 31. Check the Washington Sport Fishing Rules for a detailed description of the closures.

Shad have reached McNary and Ice Harbor dams. Weighing up to eight pounds apiece, they’re easy to catch and there are no catch limits. Tips on when, where, and how to catch shad – and how to prepare them – are available on WDFW’s website.

WDFW Hunter Education instructor with girl at target practice.
WDFW Hunter Education instructor with girl at target practice.

Hunter education courses: Avoid the autumn rush and sign up now for a summer hunter education class. All hunters born after January 1, 1972, must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license. WDFW offers both traditional and online options to complete the hunter education training requirement.

The traditional classroom experience includes practical exercises and live-firing activities taught by certified volunteer instructors. The online class offers the same content, but on the student's schedule. An in-person Field Evaluation Course is required with the online class for students to demonstrate what they have learned.

WDFW limits target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area: To reduce the risk of wildfires, WDFW has restricted target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area near Yakima and Ellensburg. The restriction remains in effect through Sept. 30, and limits target shooting to the hours between sunrise and 10 a.m., when the risk of starting a wildfire is less severe.

Hiking trail through forest lands on the Wena Wildlife Area.
Hiking trail through forest lands on the Wena Wildlife Area.
Photo credit: Nathan Longoria

Fire restrictions: The arrival of hot, dry weather has prompted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to restrict fires and other activities beginning June 30 on agency-managed lands in eastern Washington. A new, temporary rule prohibits the following activities in wildlife areas and access areas on the east side of the state:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum, or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and operating chainsaws. Operating a torch with an open flame and all equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.
  • 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.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. The temporary restrictions will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases.

Sun and sage birding guide: Audubon Washington has published "Sun and Sage," a birding guide that points travelers to prime birding areas in the southcentral region of the state.  One stop highlighted in the guide is the Wenas Wildlife Area, a popular destination for birders, hikers, anglers and campers located southwest of Ellensburg.
Along with songbirds and raptors, visitors may see elk, deer, bighorn sheep and a myriad of smaller mammals. Beaver are active around Umtanum Creek, which flows past stands of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, black cottonwood, aspen and willow.

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