Fishing: High water contributed to a slow start in the fishery for hatchery summer chinook salmon on the Columbia River downriver from Priest Rapids Dam and for hatchery steelhead downstream from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco. None of the 60 anglers surveyed in the John Day Pool had caught any salmon or steelhead, although fishing was good for other species.
During the week ending June 20, anglers fishing the John Day Pool caught 259 shad from 15 boats and 15 bass and seven walleye from 10 boats.
“The Columbia, Snake, Yakima and Walla Walla rivers are all running high, improving some fisheries, such as catfish, but making most of the fisheries, especially salmon, problematic,” said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Pasco.
Hoffarth is optimistic that fishing will pick up for salmon and steelhead as river conditions improve and more summer chinook move past McNary Dam into the mid-Columbia and its tributaries.
Hoffarth reminds anglers that all wild, unmarked chinook salmon and steelhead must be released. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, up to two of which may be adults. Anglers must stop fishing once they retain the adult portion of their daily limit. Any steelhead retained counts toward the daily limit of two adult fish, Hoffarth said.
Steelhead fishing will remain closed for the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge and in the Snake River until the fall.
The spring chinook fishery runs through June 30 on the Yakima, and anglers continue to catch fish in the area between Union Gap and Roza Dam. Surveys indicate that the best fishing is between the Naches River and Roza Dam. There is a daily limit of two hatchery salmon with a clipped adipose fin; wild chinook must be released unharmed.
Water levels in the upper Naches and upper Yakima tributaries are continuing to drop and clear up. Eric Anderson, WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Yakima, said his trend should continue in the weeks ahead into the summer months, when fishing in most tributaries should be good for wild trout, cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout.
Even though waters in the Columbia and Snake rivers remain high, fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye should improve as those waters recede and get warmer, Anderson said.
Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. Be aware, sturgeon fishing is prohibited from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River (white sturgeon sanctuaries).
Anderson reminds anglers that most streams have reduced catch and size limits for trout. In addition, there are catch-and-release zones on the Yakima River above Roza Dam, in sections of the Naches River and in Rattlesnake Creek where all trout must be released unharmed. In most large mainstem rivers and streams in the Yakima basin, anglers must use single barbless hooks and no bait.
Lake fishing in Central Washington remains strong, and WDFW is continuing to stock many lakes in the days leading up to the long Fourth of July weekend. Alpine lakes are also an option in the weeks ahead.
“The high country is starting to open up as the snow levels recede,” said Anderson. “There are many excellent opportunities to fish high mountain lakes, most of which are hike- to only.”
Information on high lake stocking in Yakima and Kittitas counties can be obtained from the website link at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/plants/regions/reg3/r3_highlakes.htm. Anglers need to check directly with WDFW’s regional offices for high lake fish stocking information in other areas.
Meanwhile, kokanee are biting at Keechelus and Rimrock lakes. While they generally run small (9-11 inches), Anderson points out that anglers can keep up to 16 of them daily.
Powerline Lake and Marmes Pond were planted with rainbow trout earlier this spring, but Hoffarth said the cooler temperatures this spring should keep the bite going for a couple more weeks. Both of these lakes are walk-in only.
Jumbo triploid trout are being planted at Lost Lake in Kittitas County, as well as in Dog and Leech lakes in Yakima County. These fish are running about 1.5 pounds each. Leech Lake is fly-fishing only. Also in June, 4,500 catchable-size trout and 200 jumbos are being planted in Easton Pond in Kittitas County.
Other recent lake stocking reports can be checked at the WDFW website http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/stocking/weekly/
WDFW advises anglers to always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream, including what gear is allowed and catch limits. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. The pamphlet also can be downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/index.html. That web page also contains a link to emergency rules that have been enacted since the pamphlet was published.
Hunting: WDFW has published this year’s special hunt drawing results. Hunters can find out how they fared in the lottery by going to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/ and typing in their 11 digit WILD ID number.
Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by going to the hunt page on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. Nearly 65,000 hunters submitted 229,761 applications for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and wild turkey. The permits will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-July.
Wildlife viewing: The “Great Washington State Birding Trail” pamphlet published by Washington Audubon highlights six prime routes, and two of them are in Central Washington. The Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway is to the north, and the Sun & Sage Loop stretches from the juncture of state highways 123 and 410 on the west to Walla Walla on the eastern edge of the loop. The Columbia River marks the southern boundary.
Within that loop is WDFW’s Wenas Wildlife Area, which is located southwest of Ellensburg in both Yakima and Kittitas counties. The area includes parts of the upper Wenas Valley which is considered an Audubon Important Bird Area. Among the birds you can view there are yellow breasted chat, bobolinks, white pelican and horned lark.
The riparian areas in particular provide glimpses of eastern kingbird, tree, violet-green and other species of swallows, gray catbird, yellow warbler, black-headed grosbeak, Lazuli bunting, Bullock’s oriole and many others.
Forestland at higher elevations host red-naped sapsucker, downy and white-headed woodpeckers, western wood pewee, mountain chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, house wren, veery, warbling vireo, Nashville, yellow and MacGillivray’s warblers, red crossbill, and western and mountain bluebirds. In the shrub-steppe habitat look for horned lark, sage thrasher, Brewer’s and vesper sparrows and loggerhead shrike.
Audubon Washington has produced colorful and informative maps for all six trails. The maps feature drawings of the birds likely to be encountered on the trails and locations of the wildlife viewing areas and points of interest. Each map costs $4.95 and can be purchased at: http://wa.audubon.org/birds_GreatWABirdingTrail.html. Viewed online, the maps include links to information about all of the wilderness areas and the birds that can be viewed there.
Be aware that no matter where in Central and Eastern Washington you go this time of year you’re likely to encounter animals that are considerably larger, and potentially more dangerous than birds. To minimize the chance of a bad experience, avoid surprising wildlife, don’t feed wild animals and keep your distance so that they can go about their business, providing you with a glimpse into how they live when humans aren’t around.
For more information, WDFW’s “Living With Wildlife” series is available at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/.
WDFW biologists are asking hunters and hikers to keep an eye out for Canada geese that have been banded as part of an ongoing effort to track their movements, their lifespan and how they use rural and urban habitat.
This is the third consecutive year of the study. As in past years, WDFW is asking waterfowl hunters and hikers to report leg band information if they harvest or encounter a marked goose. The highly visible collars can be reported by any observer.
Reports of band or collar codes, along with locations and dates, should be made to U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory at 1-800-327-BAND, or online at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/call800.htm