Lots of stuff to do this spring


March 28, 2024

I reckon at this point it’s officially Spring. Or least it would appear so based on the lilacs, Italian plums, peaches, apricots, daffodils, and on and on in bloom here at the house. The jetty sparrows – y’all know them simply as song sparrows – have started nesting, the ‘little’ geese (the Cackling geese, Aleutians, and Lesser Canadas) have, with a handful of exceptions, gone home to The Great White North, and I expect to see yellow balls of fluff, i.e. Canada goose goslings, on local farm ponds and backwaters any day now.

That all said, April – not to mention the month of May – is a busy time for those who enjoy Washington’s Great Outdoors. So this week, and we’ll do into the future, The Eagle brings y’all a calendar of events designed for the hunter, angler, camper, hiker, boater, shellfisher-person (?)…whatever you are. Whatever you aspire to be or do, I’m willing to bet there’s something for you in southwest Washington during April.

Author’s Note – Even the best-laid plans of mice and men…and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the agency responsible for overseeing and managing all of the state’s wildlife resources…will from time to time change mid-stream. It’s always suggested you check, and perhaps double-check, the WDFW website (wdfw.wa.gov) for the latest updates. For fishing information, you can download the WDFW’s nice-to-have Fish Washington app rather than carry a hard copy of the current fishing regulations in your rig. Like I do.

April 1 – New 2024 fishing license required

Effective April 1, if you fish, you’re going to need a 2024 fishing license, which, if you’re bellyaching about the price of fuel, milk, and essentially everything else, and rightfully so, remains THE single best bargain on the planet. A Combination Fishing License lets you fish in freshwater, saltwater, and collect/dig shellfish for 365 days for just $55.35. Do the math. That’s 15 cents – FIFTEEN CENTS – a day. Throw in a $35 Discover Pass, needed to park and/or use many state-owned properties in Washington, and you’re still only looking at 24 cents a day. Try going to the movies for 24 cents!

April 5 – Spring chinook season closes from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock

Scuttlebutt has it there are some kings being caught around the Cathlamet area as of this writing (March 23), but’s it nothing remotely close to red-hot. Dam counts at Bonneville through Friday, March 22, were only 19 adult chinook, while on the Oregon side at Willamette Falls, the count, same day, was 10 adults. It will get better; have faith. The challenge is for the fishing to improve before the scheduled April 5 shut-off. There may be an extension, or not. Time will tell.

April 6 – Waterfowl Advisory Group (WAG) to meet in Yakima

I’m currently, as I’ve been for some time now, a member of Washington’s Waterfowl Advisory Group, or WAG. Our purpose for being is to serve as a liaison between the hunting public and the WDFW rule-makers on matters dealing with migratory waterfowl. This Spring, the WAG will meet in Yakima on April 6 for a day-long meeting moderated by Kyle Spragens, lead waterfowl program manager for the WDFW, to discuss seasons, bag limits, habitat projects, and a long list. It will, I’m certain, be a most interesting day.

April 8-14 and 23-29 – TENTATIVE razor clam digs on select beaches

TENTATIVE is the key word here. The WDFW will conduct testing to ensure marine toxin levels are where they need to be, i.e. safe (!!) before they confirm these dates, but if I had a crystal ball and the weather stays as is, I’m pretty certain they’ll be a GO. Diggers should know that not all beaches will be open to harvest on all days; however, Long Beach is only scheduled to be closed a couple of the proposed dates. Good morning low tides during mid-April, so get the shovels and hip boots ready!

April 15 – Washington’s wild turkey season begins

I love turkey hunting, and used to do a lot of it before moving back to southwest Washington in 2015. Maybe this is the Spring I get back into the field? Turkey hunters get the Green Light on Monday, April 15, for this year’s six-week season, which will close on May 31. Turkey populations in western Washington are stable and even expanding slightly in some cases; in eastern Washington, they’re off the charts to the point of being problematic in some areas.

April 27 – Black Lake Fishing Derby – Ilwaco

If you haven’t taken the kids to Ilwaco’s Black Lake fishing derby in April…well, put this one on the calendar, as it’s an absolute HOOT! Lots of people. Lots of beautiful trout, with some fish weighing upwards of five pounds or more. Lots of prizes. Most folks fish from the bank; however, there is a small gravel launch on the east side of the lake that can accommodate car-toppers, kayaks, and canoes. Trolling small Mepps or Roostertail spinners is the way to go; that, or soaking Berkley’s PowerBait just off the bottom. For more information, visit ilwaco-wa.gov

April 27 – Washington’s Lowland Trout opener

Coincidentally, Ilwaco’s Black Lake fishing derby and the much-anticipated annual lowland trout opener both arrive on Saturday, April 27. Many of the lakes that folks fish for trout ‘round these parts – Naselle’s Radar Lakes; Lake Sacajawea in Longview; Kalama’s Kress Lake; Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake; or Klineline Pond along Interstate 5 at Salmon Creek – are open year-round, so it really doesn’t affect us much. Many Eastside trout fishing opportunities, though, are seasonal, so it’s wise check the regs.

May 1 – Northern pikeminnow sport-reward fishery begins

And finally, the moneymaker! This ‘bounty,’ per se, is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and administered by the WDFW. Per the agency – “The 2024 season for the sport-reward fishery will start at select stations on May 1, 2024. The season will end September 30, 2024. For every qualifying Northern Pikeminnow nine inches or longer returned to a registration station, anglers will receive $6-$10. The more fish an angler catches, the more they're worth: the first 25 in one season are worth $6 each; after 25, they're worth $8 each; and after 200, they're worth $10 each. Special tagged Northern Pikeminnow are worth $200 to $500 again this year.” As in years past, the WDFW will set up and staff a check station at the Elochoman Marina. Get paid to fish, People! Get paid to fish!


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