If you’re like me, you simply can’t resist the thrill of the catch. When you see the tip of your pole bend toward the water a split-second before the powerful pull of the “big one” fighting on the other end, that’s the lure of the lake, the draw of the fishing hole, the call of the river. To help you thoroughly enjoy this coming season, I’ve highlighted five of the best fishing areas around the Pacific Northwest.
1. WASHINGTON – Lewis River
Flowing from the western slopes of Mt. Adams, the north fork of Lewis River is among the most popular in Washington. The lower portion of the river, with ample bank and boat access, provides plenty of Coho and Chinook salmon as well as steelhead. Because there are a number of protected species, check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for current and updated information on catch limits.
2. OREGON – Rogue River
Beginning near Crater Lake in southern Oregon, the Rogue River is often called “an angler’s paradise.”The lower section of the Rogue River is heaven for serious fishermen. Exceptionally tasty fish such as King and Silver salmon thrive in the Rogue in the fall and spring.
3. OREGON/IDAHO – Brownlee Reservoir
Part of the Snake River, the 57-mile long Brownlee Reservoir is in the uppermost section of the Hells Canyon recreation area. Many have claimed Brownlee to be the best warm water fishery in the western United States. Expect smallmouth bass, catfish, and crappie, as well as perch, bluegill, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout. The reservoir acts as the border between Oregon and Idaho, so anglers who possess a fishing license in either state can fish the reservoir as long as they do not fish from the shore of the state in which they do not possess a valid license.
4. IDAHO – River of No Return (Salmon River)
The Salmon River is often referred to as the “River of No Return” because years ago a boat could navigate down river but not back up through the fast water and rushing rapids. The Salmon is located in the second largest wilderness preservation area in the lower 48 states. The deep canyon which the Salmon runs through hosts a variety of landscapes while running its course. Rainbows, cutthroats, graylings, and brook trout are all common catches.
5. IDAHO – Kelly Creek
Located in the northern part of Clearwater National Forest, Kelly Creek is world-renowned as the premier fly fishing water in Idaho. In addition to its beautiful scenery, Kelly Creek is an excellent river to fish for west-slope cutthroat, or “cuts” as the locals say. You’ll also see mountain whitefish, rainbows, and the occasional bull trout. Seasoned anglers at Kelly Creek will tell you the fish are plentiful and not too picky about flies.
In your haste to find great fishing, don’t forget to pack important essentials. Of course, you’ll have the obvious — a rod, tackle, and a fillet knife. Pack a fishing light, too. Even though many boats come equipped with fishing lights, bringing a hand-held fishing light will add security to your trip. I’d recommend getting a quality flex light for optimal beam direction and hands-free use.
~Richard McNeal, 2009