Fishing: Even though the big statewide late April opener is a "non-event" in this region of mostly year-round lake fisheries, anglers should be aware that WDFW fish hatchery crews do ramp up trout stocking at many waters now.
WDFW district fish biologist Paul Hoffarth of Pasco notes large triploid rainbow trout are going into three Tri-Cities area lakes - Dalton Lake, off the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway; Columbia Park Pond, a juvenile-only fishery in Columbia Park in Kennewick; and Powerline Lake, a walk-in only lake in north Franklin county near Mesa.
"These big trout weigh in excess of one pound each and are scheduled to be planted by mid-April," Hoffarth said. "In addition, large numbers of catchable-size trout will be planted in Dalton, Quarry, and Columbia Park Pond in mid-April."
All details of fish stocking by water by county are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants and complete information about all lakes is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/prospects/ .
Hoffarth also notes the numbers of spring chinook salmon moving into the mid and upper Columbia River are starting to rise. Spring chinook seasons are open up to McNary Dam through April - and will open in the Tri-Cities area in late April and the first of May - including sport fisheries in the Yakima River and at WDFW's Ringold Hatchery. Many of these fisheries are listed in the WDFW Fishing Regulations, but others will open or be modified by emergency rule change; for the latest, see https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ .
"A one-mile section of shoreline in the Columbia River adjacent to our Ringold Hatchery will open for spring chinook on May 1," Hoffarth said. "Original estimates for the hatchery return was 700-plus adult spring chinook, but it could exceed 2,000."
Hoffarth notes this is the final year the Ringold area will be open for spring chinook, and that it will open to bank-angling only. Daily limit is two hatchery chinook. For all details see the Fishing Rules of Washington at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html .
The latest creel survey on the Columbia River John Day Pool (Lake Umatilla) showed an estimated 24 boat trips and 122 bank anglers fishing. The majority of the boats were fishing for walleye or sturgeon and the bank anglers were primarily fishing for chinook salmon. No catch was reported for salmon.
Fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass , and channel catfish is picking up in the Columbia, Walla Walla, and Yakima rivers.
Kids fishing events in the region are scheduled for May 1 at Columbia Park Pond in the Tri-Cities and May 8 in the Yakima area. Cost per kid five to 14 years of age is $5, which includes fishing for stocked rainbow trout and a rod and reel. Pre-registration is required. For the Tri-Cities event, contact Kennewick Recreation at 509-585-4293 or online at www.ci.kennewick.wa.us . For the Yakima event, contact WDFW Southcentral Regional Office, 1701 S. 24th Ave., 509-575-2740 or Yakima Greenway Foundation, Office 111 South 18th St., 509-453-8280. Information on both events is also available at the Go Play Outside Alliance of Washington (GOPAW) website at http://www.gopaw.org/kids_fish-in_program .
Hunting: The general spring wild turkey hunting season runs April 15-May 31 and the region has several good areas of opportunities, including the 91,000-plus-acre WDFW Colockum Wildlife Area, south of Wenatchee in Kittitas and Chelan counties.
Turkey hunters are reminded they must report hunting activity after the seasons and harvest should be reported within 10 days of taking a turkey. For all the rules, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/game_species/turkey
Another kind of popular "hunting" in the spring is for the shed antlers of deer and elk. WDFW biologists say deer, elk and other wildlife are still "winter-weary" and should not be disturbed during the increasingly popular quest for "sheds."
WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area, west of Yakima where elk are winter-fed, is one of the most popular areas for shed hunting. Oak Creek’s new manager Ross Huffman reminds visitors that area and road closures - including Forest Service Road 1400 (Oak Creek Road), the Bethel Ridge Road which goes through the Oak Creek headquarters, and the Bethel Ridge/ Meloy Canyon Road - remain in effect until 6 a.m. on May 1 to limit disturbance to animals during the critical time of late winter and early spring.
Vehicle gates are closed to all entry on other wildlife areas in the region, too. The Mellotte Road into the Wenas Wildlife Area, the Robinson Canyon and Joe Watt Canyon roads into the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, and roads on the Whiskey Dick and a portion of the Quilomene wildlife areas in Kittitas County are closed until May 1 to protect elk.
Wildlife viewing: The huge waterfowl and shorebird migrations are now past at McNary National Wildlife Refuge, just southeast of the Tri-Cities. But many bird species are now nesting here, including mallard and redhead ducks, black-crown night herons, great blue herons, pied-billed grebes, long-billed curlews, burrowing owls, long-billed marsh wrens, and yellow-headed, red-winged, and Brewer's blackbirds. Ring-billed gulls, California gulls, Forester's terns and spotted sandpipers also nest in colonies on the river islands in the Hanford Islands Division of the refuge. For more information and updates on the new environmental education center under construction, see http://nwr.mcnary.wa.us/ .