South Central Washington: Catch rates for hatchery steelhead have picked up in the Hanford Reach, where bank and boat anglers are working the slots and seams where the steelies hold. Paul Hoffarth, a district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said fishing should remain productive through March as steelhead mill around waiting for the spring spawn.
The question, though, is whether anglers will brave the elements to catch those fish as they move upriver. Angler participation definitely drops off as we head into the winter months, Hoffarth said. The fish are still out there, but fishing tends to get spotty good one day, bad the next.
As with all area steelhead fisheries, only hatchery fish with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained. All wild steelhead must be released.
Ringold offers ample shore fishing access, as well as excellent boating opportunities. Bank anglers work the seams close to shore, working progressively deeper throughout the day as the sun climbs higher and as anglers casts and boat traffic spook fish deeper and further from shore. First thing in the morning, steelhead often lie in as little as 5 feet of water, but can be found as deep as 20 feet late in the day.
The Yakima River Basin is closed to steelhead fishing, but the whitefish season opens Dec. 1 on both the Yakima and Naches rivers. As in years past, the catch limit is 15 fish per day, but anglers are required to use a single-point hook, measuring no more than 3/16 inch from point to shank (hook size 14).
Anglers fishing the Yakima River from Easton Lake to Keechelus Dam can catch eastern brook trout under selective gear rules. No size or daily limits are in effect for eastern brook trout, but fishing is strictly catch-and-release for all other species of trout.
In other waters, WDFW will stock half-pound rainbows in the North Elton Pond near Selah, which opens to fishing Dec. 1 with a two-fish daily limit. In addition, the department recently planted excess rainbow trout brood stock weighing 5-10 pounds apiece in North FioRito and Mattoon Lakes near Ellensburg.
Additional waters may be stocked with the large rainbow trout brood stock in the next few weeks, depending on availability. Watch for further word on weekly fish plants on WDFWs website.
And dont forget walleye. The fall can be an excellent time of year to fish for walleye. Anglers dont typically catch as many fish each day as during the summer months but the fish they do catch are often much larger.