Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.
As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.
I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.
A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.
As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.
The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.
Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!