By Paul Lewis

Congratulations! You’ve had the opportunity to expand your fishing horizons and fish different areas of the northwest! You have your rods, the car is packed, tackle box securely placed in the passenger seat (seatbelt on!), and you are on your way. Everything is set, but wait… where do you go? Finding new fishing spots can be a challenging task. Luckily, there are ways to find that new spot in short order online, cutting down the time spent searching and maximizing the time spent on the water. Many of us use mapping services to track areas, but this article will focus on the power of using government sites to find that next spot!

Like many of you, fishing is my passion. When I am not working in the fishing industry, however, my job travels me around the nation and the Northwest, which always leaves me looking for fishing spots. In my experience, there are a few different ways to follow through with this research, but a great way to start is by looking at the regulations in the state you’ll be fishing.

Reading the general rules section gives a great idea of what is in the area to catch. Taking Idaho for example, the state is broken down into regions, all with slightly different regulations. If I’m taking a trip to the Idaho Panhandle, a look at the general rules lets me know there are lots of trout species, burbot, bass, salmon, and others to chase in the area. From here, the adventure begins. One fishery I always enjoy is trout, so knowing there are

trout in the area, the next stop to visit is the state published trout stocking website. Every state in the Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana) has a database of stocked fisheries, a fantastic tool for finding a new spot. In addition to helping find a spot, these databases can be broken down by county, time of stock, and in many cases, how many fish were planted and even the species. Take for example the Montana trout stocking website. Montana stocks multiple species of warmwater and coldwater fish. Their website allows a search to be broken down by species, county, specific water body, time of stock, heck, even size of the fish planted! If I know I am headed to a specific area of Montana, I can jump on this website and check my county for fishing opportunities with ease. Suddenly, I am on the water during a work break or a day off from an out-of-state conference.

Another reason to use government websites is to find new fishing spots on water bodies anglers are already familiar with. This is especially useful on rivers. The northwest, as we all know, is salmon country. At many times of the year, the rivers are full of fish waiting to be caught, but many bank spots will be shared shoulder to shoulder with a whole assortment of other anglers. Combat fishing is one way to go, but in some cases, secluded areas of public land can be found! Washington and Oregon have intricate details on the rivers, which are often broken down into sections in the regulations. In these regulations, we can see spots where the river is open in certain areas that coincide with things such as hiking trails, parks, and state forest lands. One great practice is to find your preferred river on a map, zero in on the section you’re looking to fish, and search around for trailheads, public land access, or public forest roads that can be walked down to the bank. Many states and counties also publish maps of hiking trails, many of which are along rivers and can be walked down! Combine this with a little work putting the boots on the ground, and you’ll be able to find yourself a secluded stretch of open bank.

We all know the web is a powerful place, and government websites are a fantastic tool to find fishing information and new places to wet a line. From checking out their newsletters to using posted regs and stocking info, state websites prove very helpful in finding success on the water. Whether you are at work and looking to wet a line on lunch break, or you are hoping to access public waters which many don’t know about, check out the state fishing websites to point you in the right direction! Remember to always have a valid license, check emergency rules, and stay safe on the water!