Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Opening Day is a Tradition in our Valley. For many Valley residents spring signals the start of fishing season. With hundreds of outlets for fishing and some of the best conditions in the country, Yakima County is truly a Mecca for anglers of all ages. According to Rob Phillips, experienced angler and guest columnist for the Yakima Herald-Republic, “The Yakima River, once one of the most prolific rivers in the West, still provides some great fishing opportunities. Fly anglers from around the country come to fish for trout on the upper Yakima River and on the lower Yakima anglers can fish for trout, smallmouth bass, and even catfish. Many of these areas give anglers plenty of good chances to catch fish all year long as well.”
The season kicks into high gear on April 27th. To prepare the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been busy planting trout in local waters. Click here for a list of popular lakes in Yakima County. Fishing is truly a national pastime and it gets a lot of attention in the Yakima Valley. Whether you are after world class fly fishing opportunities on the Yakima River or want to introduce your kids to angling at a local lake, there are plenty of options in our Valley for people of all interests and ages. Fishing is one of the many outdoor activities locals enjoy but it wasn’t long ago that fishing, along with hunting, was the primary food source for the various Native American tribes living in eastern Washington.
For several millennia these 14 tribes fished salmon, steelhead, and many other species. Today, the Yakama Indian Nation, in corporation with the Yakima Klickitat Fisheries Project, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Columbia Basin Fish Accords, work diligently throughout the Yakama Nation’s ceded land ensuring the primary rivers and their tributaries remain healthy ecosystems for fish migration. Thanks to their management of hatcheries and river habitats, fishing enthusiasts begin prepping their gear in February because March and April are the two months when their season unfolds. For the more experienced angler salmon fishing is already underway south of Yakima County in the lower Columbia River near Oregon while steelhead fishing is taking place near Bonneville Dam farther to the north. In addition, the WDFW has stocked several ponds in Yakima and Kittitas counties with rainbow trout and it is these ponds where you’ll find families teaching their children how to fish and about the environment. According to Joe Stohr, deputy director of the WDFW, “Some winter fisheries are still going strong, but the annual cycle is beginning again with a new near of outdoor activities.”
Fishing is a terrific way for families to enjoy nature and a perfect opportunity for them to learn about the ecosystem and how important it is to preserve it. The Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program (YBEEP) is a non-profit organization that partners with local school districts teaching thousands of students annually about environmental science and salmon lifecycles using a hands-on approach and the outdoors as its classroom. Students learn to take care of salmon eggs, watch them hatch then place them in streams and rivers when they’re ready. It’s programs like these that prepare our next generation to love fishing and the majestic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. It’s important to ensure you have the proper license to fish throughout the year.
Here are a couple of links providing information where to fish, fishing seasons, and licensing: