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 with a friend or loved one - maybe even on Valentine’s Day.
"I suggest that couples looking for a uniquely Northwest experience head to the San Juan Islands for blackmouth salmon," said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "Fishing, antique shops, nice restaurants - there’s something for everyone."
Not that couples can’t find other great get-aways in other parts of the state. While the bulk of the spring chinook run usually doesn’t arrive until March, opportunities abound to enjoy the outdoors right through the month of February. Options include:
- Counting birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count runs Feb. 18-21 throughout North America, where birders of all levels are invited to record the birds they see in a 15-minute period. Participants can conduct their count anywhere they choose - including their own backyards - for the annual survey.
- Catching steelhead: Starting Feb. 16, anglers can catch and keep one wild steelhead for the license year on eight rivers on the Olympic Peninsula - the only rivers in the state where retention of wild steelhead is allowed. Meanwhile, anglers continue to catch hatchery-reared steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries.
- Digging razor clams: If marine-toxin results are favorable, Twin Harbors beach will open for razor-clam digging Feb. 17-19 and four other ocean beaches will open Feb. 18-19. Watch the WDFW website for confirmation that the dig has been approved.
- Fishing Lake Roosevelt: Anglers are reeling in kokanee, walleye, burbot and rainbow trout from the big impoundment in northeast Washington.
- Jigging for squid: Winter is prime time to fish for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier.
- Watching elk and bighorn sheep: WDFW’s winter-feeding program is in full swing at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area 15 miles northwest of Yakima. Watch hundreds of hungry elk and bighorns gather to dine on alfalfa hay and pellets.
For more information about these and other fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, see the regional reports below:
Page 1 : Weekender Report: Enjoy Valentine's Day together fishing for salmon, watching elk
Page 2 : North Puget Sound
Page 3 : South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
Page 4 : Southwest Washington
Page 5 : Eastern Washington
Page 6 : Northcentral Washington
Page 7 : Southcentral Washington