Photo credit: Danny Garrett
Bass and walleye: Diehard anglers know that November offers good bass and walleye fishing as the 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: Fishing for steelhead is closed on the mainstem Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco through Nov. 30.
The good news is Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam) re-opened for the harvest of hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 with a one steelhead daily limit.
The Columbia River from the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Kennewick/Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers is also open for the harvest of steelhead. Anglers have a one fish limit and can only keep steelhead that have both adipose and ventral fins clipped.
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 three 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 the “Black Friday” opening on that lake Nov. 24.
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.
Photo credit: Kelly Stewart
Waterfowl: Local mallards are providing excellent early-season hunting opportunities for waterfowl hunters throughout the region. Reinforcements should start arriving this month, when ducks – driven south by northern storms – start pushing down from Canada and Alaska.
General hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe continue through Jan. 28.
Upland game birds: General seasons for California quail and partridge hunting are also underway, as outlined in this year’s Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet.
Elk: This year’s modern firearm season for elk runs through Nov. 5 in most areas, but remains open through Nov. 15 in game management units (GMUs) 373d, 379d and 381. Hunters with muzzleloaders can also hunt GMUs 373d, 379d 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.
Photo credit: Susan Jensen
Migrating birds: Late November is typically the time when large numbers of migrating ducks and geese move south into Washington from far-north locations seeking open water and warmer temperatures. The spectacle of waterfowl can be amazing when bad weather concentrates large numbers of birds, in areas such as the McNary National Wildlife Refuge.
Mule deer: Bucks are in the rut, looking for does and often encountering male challengers. It’s rare to witness bucks fighting, but it is very common to see bucks walking around in broad daylight when their hormones get the upper hand over their survival instinct.
Hunter orange recommended: With hunting seasons underway in many parts of the region, birders have called WDFW to ask whether they should wear hunter-orange clothing while in the field. While it is not a legal requirement, it only makes sense to make every effort to let hunters know where you are when sharing the same area as hunters.
Christmas Bird Count: Birders throughout the nation are making preparations for the 118th Christmas Bird Count scheduled Dec. 14, 2017, through Jan. 5, 2018. Sponsored by Audubon, the annual event enlists tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas to count and categorize the birds they see for science.