Spring Into The Outdoors

It’s spring and we’re getting regular reminders that things will be warming up and drying up as we barrel towards summer outdoor recreation.  Here’s 10 solid outdoor opportunities to get you started early.

Spring Chinook. This is the #1 salmon fishery in the region and for good reason.  There’s no other salmon on the planet that compares to the rich, buttery taste of “springer”.   This fishery will build to a crescendo in late April/early May but stays strong all the way through June. 

The fishery is open through April 6th in the Columbia, which is a very good place to target from Cathlamet to Beacon Rock from April 1st to the 6th, otherwise it’s a Willamette show from the mouth to Gladstone and for some, up into Oregon City.

Spring turkey. This doesn’t open until April but do your scouting in March and you’ll likely be rewarded when the season opens April 1st.

Spring camping. Want to test your camping skills? This is the time to do it. Plan a car camping adventure to the coast or somewhere in the lowlands.  It’s not so cold that you’ll be miserable from the time you leave your car but you will need to figure out how to stay dry and warm.  Build a fire, set your camp and then hunker down after doing a little sight-seeing or fishing. Here’s a helpful hint…make your meals easy, fast and filling.  Save the more extravagant dishes for the summer and fall when the weather’s a little better.

Pre-spawn bass and panfish. Bass and panfish both build nests in shallow water preparing for the inevitable spawn that comes later in spring.  The males are the first to move up while the females hold and feed in nearby deeper water haunts.  Fishing can be quite good as the water warms into the 50’s headed towards its 60 degree target for spawning.

Walleye. The Columbia isn’t the only place walleye thrive, several lakes in Washington support populations of these tasty fish.  Spring is an ideal time for catching these Midwest transplants as trolled worm harnesses command the lion’s share of attention.

Crabbing. There’s still crab to be caught in Oregon.  Tillamook Bay is a good place to throw your traps.  It’s best when it hasn’t been raining for a few days.  Freshwater rushing through the bay after a rain moves the crab out.  The lower-Columbia just west of Hammond is another option.

Don’t expect the heavy catches you’ll find in the fall.  Heavy commercial pressure in the ocean has a noticeable impact on catches in the estuaries. Still, there’s plenty available for a good meal so it’s well worth the effort.

Clams. There’s some good clamming available in both Oregon and Washington.  Be sure to check the regs.  Oregon is far less restricted than Washington and places like Tillamook Bay are havens for a variety of tasty clam species.  Razor clams are available too with some decent tide sets coming.  The north Oregon Coast and Long Beach Peninsula have both been delivering exceptional clamming for razors this past year. 

Day hikes. There are dozens, probably hundreds of fabulous drive-to, one day excursions in the Northwest that will get you out of the house and into the outdoors.

Be sure to go prepared with plenty of water, food, fire making gear, knife, tarp, warm clothes, gloves, hat, GPS, map and knowledge of how to use everything you’ve packed.

Even if you’re close to home it’s always a good idea to always be prepared for the worse.

Surf perch. This is a fishery that’s really come on strong the past couple of years.  Populations have rebounded nicely but so has the pressure.  Spring is peak fishing up and down the coastline for these wonderful fish.  They migrate down the coast and into nearby bays to spawn.  The gear is somewhat specialized but most coastal tackle shops like Englund Marine will be able to get you equipped with exactly the right gear and info you need to be successful.

Trout. Without a doubt one of the most overlooked yet productive springtime fisheries in the northwest is trout.  Versatile, accessible, close, fun, trout are everywhere and spring is a perfect time to catch them.  You can catch them from the bank or a boat, there are hundreds of lakes across the Northwest that are open and dozens of techniques and tactics that work well. Trout are, by far, the single most popular fishery in the region. 

You’ll find plenty of resources through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as magazines like Northwest Sportsman and several books (The Guide to Fishing In Oregon is excellent) that will provide you with ample ideas on where to go and what to use. 

Again, always check the regulations before wetting a line, going out hunting, clamming or crabbing. 

With winter behind us and summer ahead now’s a good time to reacquaint yourself with the outdoors and all it has to offer.  2022 is poised to be a very good year for us outdoor enthusiasts and you can bet we’ll do our best to tee up what’s coming so you can take full advantage of it.