Temperatures are warming, birds are singing and spring chinook salmon are starting to move into the lower Columbia River. Spring is still a ways off, but February offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

This year’s return of spring chinook is expected to be lower than in the past few years, but the fishery still offers anglers an opportunity to catch some of the Northwest’s most highly prized fish, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We’ve already received a few reports of anglers catching springers, and the action should pick up in the weeks ahead,” Hymer said. “The size of the run is one factor in catching fish, but being in the right place at the right time counts for a lot, too.”

For information about the spring chinook season, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jan3013a/.

State fishery managers also point to several other promising fishing opportunities available this month:

  • Blackmouth salmon: More areas of Puget Sound are opening to fishing for blackmouth chinook salmon, including Hood Canal, Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon) and – later in the month – Sekiu. Good fishing for blackmouth has also been reported around the San Juan Islands and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • Razor clams: An evening dig has been approved Feb. 7-12 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches. Another dig is tentatively planned Feb. 23-24 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach. For updates on these and future digs, check the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.
  • Squid: This is also prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliot Bay Pier in Seattle, the Edmonds Pier, Point Defiance Park Pier in Tacoma and the Indianola Pier in Kitsap County. For more information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/squid/howto_fish.html

Anglers and hunters eager to gear up for seasons ahead will have several good chances to do so at a trio of sportsmen’s shows this month. They include the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show, Feb. 6-10 in Portland; the Central Washington Sportsmen Show, Feb. 15-17 in Yakima; and the Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show, Feb. 22-24 in Wenatchee. WDFW will have booths at all three shows, which also feature fly-casting pools, trophy displays, and experts on topics ranging from fly fishing to elk bugling.

Rather count birds for science?  All it takes is 15 minutes of your time to contribute to the Great Backyard Bird Count, an annual survey of birds sighted around the world. From Feb.15-18, birders of all levels of experience are invited to count the number of birds they see in a 15-minute period and enter their tally, by species, online at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Participants can conduct their count in their own backyards, in a neighborhood park or anywhere they choose.

Logo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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