Plenty of places to fish in Kittitas County

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Andrew Kollar, Staff Reporter

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The Yakima River Canyon is considered a staple of the Ellensburg area and is known for having a beautiful landscape, carved away by the river, thus making it a popular destination for fishing. In addition to the Yakima River, there is the Teanaway River, which runs into the Yakima River further downstream and the Columbia River all within an hour of Ellensburg’s Historic Downtown.

Rivers are dependent on glacier melt, it causes sediment to come down with the water flow, decreasing visibility and the fish are unable to see the bait, creating an added level of difficulty opposed to fishing in lakes.

People wanting to fish should head to Cle Elum, to the upper section of the Yakima River or try fishing the Teanaway river for more on shore access. The rivers prove to be a bigger challenge considering the fluctuating water levels, clarity and the WFWD regulations prohibiting the use of bait, per Riley Jorgenson, biology education major and avid fisherman.

“If you want to go and fish in the canyon, you are going to have a pretty tough time,” Jorgenson said. “This [is] the period of the year where it’s at its highest and bank access is pretty limited.”

Although the fishing in the Yakima River is more challenging than the local lakes, Sam Gutierrez, molecular biology major, would prefer to fish in the canyon because of the geography surrounding the area. As a biologist, Gutierrez enjoys looking at the erosion caused by the thousands of years of the river cutting through it.

Gutierrez recalled a time when Jorgenson invited him on a spur of the moment steelhead trip. Starting with curiosity looking to see how much water the dams on the Columbia River were letting out and when the they saw the graph reach the lowest point, they took off.

“As soon as we got there: Wham, we were yanking big ass fish out with everyone else looking at us who had been sitting there for hours with nothing to show for it,” Gutierrez said.

Rivers do add the additional element of the natural geography of the river valleys to the fishing experience, but if someone is looking to strictly catch fish, the local lakes are another option.

“The Yakima [River] is a great, beautiful river, but the fish there aren’t planted. They are just wild fish that have a pretty particular pallet. They are a lot tougher to catch,” Jorgenson said.

The Naches Fish Hatchery has planted thousands of rainbow trout, ranging from 1.2 to 4 pounds per fish in the local lakes, including the four-acre Mattoon Lake and the 27-acre McCabe pond, both are within a 15-minute drive of downtown.

The WDFW releases bi-weekly reports with full disclosure on number of fish they plant in every lake in Washington, including the weight in pounds per fish. This information provided by the WDFW will let fisherman know where they will find the most productive lakes.

When fishing lakes, the factors that make river fishing more difficult does not apply. The clarity and water level will remain consistent all year round, except in the case of an algae bloom, making it a reliable source for fishing.

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Plenty of places to fish in Kittitas County