Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category


KCTS 9 – Explore the Outdoors: Yakima River Canyon

Original articles and images posted to KCTS 9, May 17, 2016

by John Taylor

You might sit on one of these ridges on some warm spring afternoon just to watch the Yakima River glide through the canyon below. You’ll swear that river hasn’t really moved, hasn’t changed, hasn’t heard anything anyone has said for 10,000 years.
The Yakima River Canyon. Photo by KCTS 9

The Yakima River Canyon. Photo by KCTS 9

It’s one of those Northwest constants, you might tell yourself. A comfort in an upside-down world of computerized chaos and political provocation. A free spirit that’s oblivious to the hum of Interstate 82 traffic over the crests to the east, the buzz of boat motors on its surface or the throaty snarls of Harleys that make their way up and down scenic State Route 821 along its banks.
And yet…



A century later, Sockeye return to Lake Cle Elum

By Hannah Mink, American Rivers

Sockeye Celebration - Photo by Hannah Mink.

Sockeye Celebration – Photo by Hannah Mink.

July 10th was a historic celebration! With the sun high and temperatures too, hundreds gathered on the shores of Lake Cle Elum, dressed in everything from colorful native attire to business suits to chacos to rejoice in the release of sockeye salmon into the lake. Hosted by the Yakama Nation Fisheries and open to the public, the Salmon Celebration Ceremony honored and praised the successful return of Sockeye to the lake, as they make their way to the Cle Elum River. This wasn’t any ordinary salmon release. These salmon are the progeny of the first 1,000 fish initially used to restock the Cle Elum River in 2009. These fish were hatched here in the Yakima Basin, travelled to the ocean, and made the journey back up the Columbia and Yakima rivers to the Roza Dam, located about 40 miles downstream of the lake. They were then loaded into trucks, hauled up beyond Roza and Cle Elum dams, and released today where a crowd applauded and Elders of the Yakama Indian Nation sang prayers in honor of the long journey of these fish that until the recent reintroduction were locally extinct.

Yakama Nation Elder, Gerald Lewis - Photo by Hannah Mink

Yakama Nation Elder, Gerald Lewis – Photo by Hannah Mink

Following the sockeye release were speeches from Tribal Elders, a representative from the Bureau of Reclamation, the state legislature, and others, and more prayers and songs were dedicated. Everyone was then invited to gather around tables and share a feast of fry bread and smoked salmon and elk caught and hunted nearby. Today was a moving celebration of the progress made thus far by the Yakima Nation in bringing back the sockeye. It was also significant in its celebration and recognition of the collaboration which went into and continues to go into efforts to protect and restore habitat in the Yakima River basin. Gathered on the shores and then feasting around tables were local and neighboring tribes, community members, local residents, ecologists, biologists, Public Utility Districts, farmers, environmental groups, and legislators who all came together to celebrate. Many speeches mentioned the importance of blending new science and knowledge with the cultural and historical wisdom of those native to these lands. Today was remarkable and tangible evidence of the shared interest that exists in protecting and revitalizing the species and habitat of the region, as well as the collaboration needed in doing so. The Yakima Nation touched on the spiritual, emotional, and very humbling tones of their success of the returning sockeye to a place where they once spawned in the tens of thousands. Now that this progress has been made, we’ll be looking forward to when the fish will be able to make that same journey without the truck ride from Roza Dam and will travel freely through Cle Elum Lake, downstream to the Yakima River, and out to sea before their return to their home waters. A new fish passage system, as proposed in the Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan, will be the next momentous step for the restoration of Cle Elum sockeye. With the recent funding approval by Washington State Legislature for the Yakima Integrated Plan, this is an exciting time for the region as efforts for protecting this incredible Washington state habitat gain serious momentum!


Lower Yakima River opens for hatchery spring chinook

By Michael Garrity, American Rivers

May 16th was the opening of salmon fishing on the lower Yakima River.

Thanks to some recent years with good snowpacks, decent river flows and excellent ocean conditions, this year’s salmon fishing season is projected to be a relatively good one, with over 5,000 hatchery spring chinook and over 6,000 wild spring chinook (wild spring chinook must be released if caught – they’re wild if they still have adipose fins) expected to make it back to the Cle Elum hatchery or spawning grounds in the basin’s rivers and streams.

Yet this year’s salmon run will provide only the slightest hint of the kind of salmon runs a restored Yakima River can support.   The fish passage, floodplain restoration, and flow improvements provided by the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan will allow for an estimated average of over 20,000 spring chinook to return to the Yakima.  During good ocean and runoff cycles like this year, spring chinook runs in excess of 70,000 are predicted.  The Yakima Plan will also restore fishable numbers of steelhead, coho, fall and summer chinook, and what may prove to be the largest sockeye run in the lower 48 with an estimated average of nearly 200,000 sockeye making it back to spawning grounds.  At the same time, the plan will improve flow and habitat conditions for the Yakima’s renowned Blue Ribbon rainbow trout fishery.

For more information on fishing for hatchery spring chinook, check out recent articles by the Yakima Herald-Republic and Seattle Times.

Fish. Families. Farms.
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