Your Best Spring Fishing in Washington
March 19, 2014
Spring fishing in Washington has never been better. Whether you're angling for steelhead or planning on slamming walleyes, these are the best places to hit.
Olympic Peninsula rivers, WA
The hatchery run might peak in January, but steelhead action in the Sol Duc, Calawah, Hoh, Bogachiel, and Queets continues through April. In March there is a good chance to put a trophy in the net. Fin-clipped steelhead average six to eight pounds and wild fish run a little bigger.
Watch the calendar and time the trip to hit the water after two days of rain when the water is 'steelhead green' and dropping with a visibility of three to five feet. Early in the morning, steelhead like to lay close to the bank. Always make a few short casts before you wade in.
Use floats and jigs in clear water, and fish drift gear and bait when the water is emerald green. When the water is high, pull plugs and run them in softer water close to the bank.
Check out http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/rt for current river flows. For a drift boat run, call Jim Mansfield (360-374-9018, www.jim-mansfield.com).
Columbia River, OR/WA
On February 28, 2014, Washington angler John Grubenhoff boated a fish that weighed in at 20.32 pounds, a walleye that set a new state record.
April marks the pre-spawn on the Columbia River between The Dalles and the Tri-Cities. This is your chance to get your biggest fish of the year.
An effective rig that will take fish throughout the season employs a three-foot leader, a light spinner blade, fluorescent green beads, and double hook setup baited with a whole nightcrawler. The nightcrawler is rigged to hang straight down on the two hooks. Five inches of hollow core lead on a slider rig keeps the bait bouncing along the bottom.
Baits should be presented on a long line or off to the side of the boat's path of travel. When you feel the strike, drop the rod and count to three before gently lifting.
For a guided trip, call Ed Iman at 971-235-0448.
Brown Trout AND Rainbows
Southwest Washington Lakes, WA
At 30 surface acres, Cowlitz County's Kress Lake is another sure bet for fast action early in the season. WDFW stocks 20,000 rainbows and brown trout each year. Kress is located north of the town of Kalama, just off I-5. No boat is required on this accessible lake.
Bring a boat or a float tube for the best action on southwest Washington's Battleground Lake. This 28-acre stillwater is surrounded by trees and fills the crater of an extinct volcano. WDFW stocks legal and brood-stock rainbows, browns, brooks, and surplus steelhead. Bank anglers can circle the lake on a nice trail. Fallen timber provides shoreside cover for trout and perilous footing for fishermen.
A 315-acre, 65-foot deep lake, Lacamas Lake is conveniently located near Vancouver for thousands of anglers in search of an early-season limit of browns or rainbows. Bring a boat. The best trout fishing is in the main lake north of the boat launch.
Few lakes can top little Honeoye, in Ontario County, for numbers "keeper" largemouths. Experienced bass anglers often do 40 or 50 bass a day.
Don't forget to share your best fishing photos with us on Camera Corner for your chance to win free gear!