Fishing at Yakima River Canyon

Fishing definitely has its own charm. Cold or not, nothing will keep a motivated angler away from their favorite pastime.

FishingBooker, the world’s largest platform for booking fishing trips, has compiled a list of the top winter fishing destinations in the US for 2023, and Yakima River Canyon made the list. The Yakima River is a great place to cast some flies in the cold months. Washington’s only Blue Ribbon Trout stream is also the only West Coast pick this year.

Unsurprisingly, the main attraction here during the wintertime are Rainbow Trout. It’s at this time of year they get “funneled” to specific zones where anglers in the know will target them. These defined drop-offs and slowdowns following large riffles are known as “feed me” zones and are a hallmark of Yakima River winter fishing.

The gentle Yakima River winds through rolling desert hills and basalt cliffs, some rising more than 2,000 feet, for 27 miles between Ellensburg and Yakima, Washington. The canyon offers excellent wildlife watching, fishing for Blue Ribbon trout, family-friendly rafting, and camping. The canyon’s crevices and cliffs make a perfect home for the densest concentration of nesting hawks, eagles, and falcons in the state. The BLM manages over 9,000 acres in the Yakima River Canyon area, and the Yakima River State Scenic Byway provides access to BLM’s four developed river access sites including Umtanum, Lmuma Creek, Big Pines, and Roza.

Season Yakima River Canyon Recreation Sites are open YEAR ROUND. Overnight fees are $15 and day use is only $5. Cell phone coverage is very limited in several areas of the Yakima River Canyon.

Located just south of Ellensburg, the non-motorized trails at Ringer Road Trailhead offer visitors glimpses of the wildlife and birds that inhabit the riparian areas next to the Yakima River.

Extend Your Weekend Getaway Nearby:

ELLENSBURG – Located just east of the Cascade Range on Interstate 90, Ellensburg is known as the most centrally located city in the state of Washington. It is home to Central Washington University. Downtown Ellensburg has many historic buildings to see, most of which were constructed in the late 19th century. The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a tradition in the town since 1923, and is the largest rodeo in Washington state. Downtown Ellensburg hosts several annual events including the Winterhop Brewfest in January where beers are served from over 21 microbreweries from around the Pacific Northwest in various historic downtown buildings.

Umtanum Creek Recreation Area – A great place to explore, with a fine canyon hike leading to rolling hills above. The canyon, just a quick drive down the Yakima canyon from Ellensburg, is known for wildflowers and sage, aspen, cottonwood, birds, and beaver dams.


Selah – A small city in Yakima County, Washington. It is home to the Tree Top apple processor co-operative’s two processing plants and headquarters. Visitors can get helpful information and a bite to eat at the Tree Top Store & Visitor Center. Selah and the Wenas Valley continuously serve as a “bedroom community” of the larger city of Yakima, just to the south. Due to the nearby orchards and juice processing plants, Selah is commonly referred to as “The Apple Juice Capital of the World”.

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