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March 2019
Region 3: Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)
Fisherman holding his record walleye.
John Grubenhoff with his record walleye.

Rainbow trout: Many of the lakes in southcentral Washington are open year round, so catchable trout plants begin earlier in southcentral Washington than in many other areas of the state. Some of the lakes scheduled to receive fish in the Yakima and Ellensburg areas include Granger Pond, I-82 Ponds 1-4 & 6, Myron Lake, Rotary Lake, Reflection Pond, Mattoon Lake, McCabe Pond, North Fiorito Lake, and Woodhouse Pond. Lakes in the Tri-Cities area include Columbia Park Pond (14 years and younger or holders of disability licenses only), Dalton Lake and Marmes Pond near Lyons Ferry. These lakes are typically planted in the late winter/early spring but the stocking may be postponed if ice is still on the lake or access is blocked due to heavy snow.

The 2019 Statewide Trout and Kokanee Stocking Plan will be posted on the WDFW website soon.

Salmon and steelhead: Fishing for salmon and steelhead is open on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 at the mouth of the river upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge near Pasco.
The Snake River is also open, but anglers’ chances may be better in places like the Walla Walla, Touchet, Tucannon, and the lower Grand Ronde rivers. Reminder: the daily limit in the Snake River and tributaries is one hatchery steelhead. The fishery will close March 31.

White sturgeon: Lake Wallula, the 64-mile reservoir from McNary Dam to Priest Rapids Dam, is open for the harvest of sturgeon through July 31. Lake Umatilla, which extends from John Day Dam upriver to McNary Dam, is also open for sturgeon. This year’s quota in Lake Umatilla is 105 fish. The fishery will remain open until the quota is reached. Anglers may retain only those white sturgeon that measure between 43 inches and 54 inches when measured from the tip of their snout to the fork of their tail.

Walleye: Some of the year’s biggest walleye are caught in the Columbia River in the late winter/early spring. These fish are now preparing to spawn and are nearing their highest weight of the year. Walleye are routinely caught this time of year in both Lake Wallulaand Lake Umatilla.

Boating safety: The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program wants boaters to be prepared for the upcoming season by taking a safety education course. In Washington state, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower engine or greater must be certified and carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course.

More information about courses and the boater education card can be found at www.boatered.org

Kids’ fishing events: Youth fishing events are taking place in April. Some of these events have begun to take registrations and may fill up before the end of March. See our youth fishing page to learn about events around Washington.

Hunter posing with one-point buck he successfully harvested.
Successful hunt for young buck. Photo by Les Tobias

Apply for a multiple-season tag: Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their names into the drawing for a 2018 multiple-season tag, which can greatly increase the opportunity for success in the field.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold the drawing in mid-April, randomly selecting names for 8,500 multiple-season deer tags and 1,000 multiple-season elk tags.

Winners of the drawing can purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader, and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2019. Winners who purchase the multiple season elk tag can participate in general elk hunting seasons in both eastern and western Washington.

The deadline to purchase the multiple-season tag is July 31.

Winners may also choose any weapon type when applying for a special hunt permit for deer or elk.

"With the multiple season tag, hunters have the opportunity to extend their seasons this fall," said Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager. "Winners do not need to choose one hunting method over another, so they have more options and flexibility."

Aoude noted that the tags can be used only during general seasons and in game management units open during a modern firearm, muzzleloader, or archery general season. For example, winners may not hunt during the muzzleloader general season in an area not open for the muzzleloader general season.

Hunters can apply only once for each species and their bag limit remains one deer or elk.

A multiple season application can be purchased from authorized license dealers, online at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/, or by calling 866-246-9453. The application costs $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.

A 2019 hunting license is not required to submit an application, but winners of the drawing must purchase one before they can purchase a multiple season tag.
For more information, visit WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/, or call the Licensing Division at 360-902-2464.

Northern goshawk perched on tree limbs.
Northern goshawk. Photo by Susan Jenkinss.

Sandhill cranes are making their annual migration stopovers in the Columbia Basin to feed and rest up before moving farther north. Look for cranes foraging in local corn stubble fields near the towns of Mesa, Connell and Basin City. When water levels are right, they can be observed roosting on the mudflats of local lakes.

In celebration of these majestic birds, the City of Othello will host the annual Sandhill Crane Festival March 22-24. The festival features tours of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and Potholes area, Missoula Floods and the channeled scablands.

Migrating waterfowl continue to increase in number on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and local wetlands. Many Canada geese – along with mallards, pintails, and other ducks – are concentrated on WDFW’s Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area and federal refuges, including McNary and Umatilla.

Elk feeding at Oak Creek is underway. Hundreds of hungry elk and big-horn sheep are descending on WDFW's Oak Creek Wildlife Area, where visitors can watch them dine on alfalfa hay and pellets.
To check the status of the feeding program, Oak Creek visitors can hear a recorded message on the headquarters phone by calling (509) 653-2390. Tour reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance by calling (509) 698-5106.

A valid state Discover Pass or WDFW Vehicle Access Pass is required to park at the Wildlife Area. Visitors can purchase a One-Day Discover Pass at the Wildlife Area with cash or check. Vehicle Access Passes are free with the purchase of certain fishing and hunting licenses.

There are also elk viewing opportunities at Joe Watt on L.T. Murray Wildlife Area as well.

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