These seven ponds along Interstate 82 just outside of Yakima offer a mixture of spring trout fishing and at times good fishing for bass, panfish and catfish.
The ponds, which many locals know as the Freeway Ponds but which the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife calls the I-82 Ponds, were formed from mining gravel used to construct the adjacent interstate.
The ponds are legal to fish year-round but five are more popular in the early spring, when trout stocking occurs at these fairly low-elevation ponds. A few of the ponds are hard to reach if the lower Yakima River floods.
All seven ponds also are managed for year-round populations warmwater fish, which may include largemouth bass, crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, catfish or some combination of similar species.
The ponds are scattered along I-82 and the lower Yakima River from outside of Union Gap almost to Zillah.
The ponds in this rich agricultural valley are only 20 minutes or so from Yakima and roughly an hour from the Tri-Cities area.
See the pond listings below for individual locations.
Let’s take a quick look at the various fishing opportunities you’ll find in the I-82 Ponds, starting with plentiful stocked trout and including favorite warmwater fish such as largemouth bass and channel catfish.
In recent years, Pond 4 and Pond 6 have been the most heavily stocked with trout, often with some 5,000 catchable trout spread over a couple of plantings in March and April.
It makes sense: These two ponds have the easiest access and parking and also are larger than several others in the group. You can also expect more angling pressure overall than at the other five ponds, which have walk-in rather than drive-up access.
Ponds 1, 2 and 3 are closer to Yakima but they are smaller and may only be stocked once around March, so fishing is likely to taper off a bit earlier.
It’s possible that some ponds may also get a modest number of larger hatchery trout or even a dose of tiger trout, which are a sterile cross between brown and brook trout that feed more heavily on small fish than rainbows do.
Ponds 5 and 7 aren’t likely to be stocked with rainbow trout, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s schedules.
Expect trout fishing to start getting pretty tough by Memorial Day, and perhaps before that, as hatchery trout tend to get thinned out by anglers.
Also, these relatively low-elevation ponds may get fairly warm for surviving trout to feed readily during the hottest months, although there’s at least a chance to catch them all year.
Most anglers here fish from the bank, where bait-fishing beneath a bobber or closer to the bottom should produce good catches.
Casting lures or flies will also draw strikes from aggressive trout and are fun ways to fish for anglers who enjoy a more active style.
Internal combustion (gas) motors aren’t allowed on any of these ponds, but you could drop in a float tube or kayak to reach more fish and also try out some trolling techniques.
Learn all kinds of trout fishing methods in this article.
At times the lakes also have been planted with channel catfish, an excellent and great-tasting game fish that can grow to impressive sizes. In fact, a previous state record channel cat of over 36 pounds was caught in Pond 6.
The channels, along with black and brown bullheads, will respond well to natural and naturally smelly baits fished on the bottom.
Cut fish and shrimp, nightcrawlers and worms, chicken livers and other baits work well for all types of catfish.
Learn more about catching these whiskery fish in our Catfish Fishing: Simple Techniques and Tips.
The bass fishing at times can be quite good, with impressive bucketmouths to about the 8-pound range reported.
However, populations and fish sizes will vary and a biological study that’s now fairly old showed the bass to be somewhat under-represented and a bit thin in some of the ponds.
Still, it’s worth exploring several of the ponds for bass if you’re in the area, as any bass large enough to swallow a pan-sized trout is only going to get larger after the stocking truck shows up! Try swimbaits or Senkos to imitate an injured trout.
We recommend anglers release bigger bass, which are long-lived, help replenish the population, help keep other fish species from getting over-populated and stunted, and frankly aren’t that great eating compared to most species in the lake.
Pick up some more bass fishing techniques and tips.
Yellow Perch and Sunfish
Some of the ponds at times have become a bit overpopulated with panfish, especially yellow perch and pumpkinseed sunfish, with at times good crappie fishing and perhaps some bluegill.
This over-abundance of some species may hold down the average sizes of these fish and other fish.
No matter the size, they are fun and easy to catch and a good choice for taking the kids not just fishing but catching on a summer day.
Also, panfish are very good eating if you find them large enough to bother cleaning, and anglers have at times scored nice stringers of crappie and yellow perch in the ponds.
Common carp and other species found in the adjacent lower Yakima River may also end up on your hook, perhaps including the occasional smallmouth bass or the rare walleye.
Brown trout and possibly kokanee have been stocked in the past but planting focuses on rainbows these days.
I-82 Ponds (With Map Links)
Here’s a quick look at each of the seven I-82 Ponds.
This pond is located alongside Pond 2 near the small community of Donald.
This pond typically has been stocked with roughly 1,500 catchable rainbow trout in March and trout fishing may hold up somewhat into April.
You can catch sunfish and perch (likely mostly small) and a modest number of bass, with fish to 3 pounds or better reported by WDFW.
Pond 1 is roughly 15 acres and sits right along the north side of I-82 just west of the Donald exit. (It’s the western pond of the two at this location.)
This pond neighbors Pond 1 (immediately east with just a dike separating the two) but is larger at over 20 acres.
The fishing species and experience here is very similar to Pond 2, although being a larger body of water, it’s likely to get more trout stocked in March.
Like Ponds 1 and 2, this pond also sits right along the north side of I-82 near Donald, except that this pond is east of the Donald exit.
Pond 3 is a little under 20 acres in size and might be fairly lightly stocked with rainbows in March, although at least one recent year it also received a batch of young tiger trout.
In addition to spring trout fishing, Pond 2 has a year-round population of warmwater fish that is likely to include yellow perch, sunfish and perhaps some nice channel catfish.
At just under 30 acres, this is one of the larger and more accessible of the I-82 Ponds, which is why it’s stocked with larger numbers of fish.
At last check, WDFW scheduled plants of more than 5,000 catchable rainbow trout here in March and April, so fishing can hold up well for a good part of the spring.
The pond at times also has been stocked with large brood or trophy trout.
Pond 4 also has largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, yellow perch and likely some channel catfish from periodic stockings. These warmwater fish will provide most of the action in the summer, when trout fishing is typically slow here.
Pond 4 is along the southwest side of I-82 but is best reached from the Yakima Valley Highway through a tunnel underpass on Flint Road. The parking area is at the north end of this pond, just a few hundred feet from the underpass tunnel.
From the parking area, you can walk on either side of the Pond to fish the banks or keep walking to Pond 5, which sits immediately south of Pond 4 and is separated only by a dike.
You will walk to Pond 5 from the parking lot at the end of Pond 4.
Pond 5 isn’t stocked with trout but offers a similar variety of warmwater fishing found in Pond 4 and likely will see less fishing pressure, so it might be worth a shot.
Pond 6 (Buena Pond)
Like Pond 4, Pond 6 has very good public access and is stocked with more trout than most of the I-82 Ponds.
This more naturally shaped pond, locally known as Buena Pond, sits a little bit off of I-82 on the northwest side of the Buena Road interchange.
There is a convenient public access and parking area on the north side along Buena Loop Road maybe a quarter mile west of Buena Road.
Trout are often stocked here a few times in the spring, perhaps both March and April, offering up several months of good trout fishing before catch rates plummet by summer.
As with Pond 4, WDFW may also decide to stock a more modest number of larger trophy trout in Pond 6.
As with other ponds in this group, Pond 6 (Buena Pond) has a population of warmwater fish. Your catches might include largemouth bass, black crappie, sunfish and perhaps even a giant channel catfish.
A 36-pounder caught in Buena Pond was a previous state record and at the time bigger than any catfish ever officially recorded in Washington.
This smallest and likely least-fished of the I-82 Ponds sits east of Buena and across the interstate on the south side, wedged between the roadway and meandering Yakima River.
Pond 7 isn’t typically stocked with trout but does have a fair population of warmwater species, likely including largemouth bass and black crappie.
WDFW has not typically stocked this pond with channel catfish either.