1. The scenery.
Sometimes what you are looking at between bites can be as important as the fishing itself. The northwest offers an amazing variety of scenery from the ocean to the mountains Most people agree nowhere can hold a candle to the coastal areas of northern British Columbia and southeast Alaska—and the trip is half the adventure as you’ll get to remote locations you will never see by car, approaching by floatplane and enjoying these wonderful areas from the air. The "Misty Isles" of Gwaii have been compared for the Galapagos for their unique beauty and natural biodiversity, whilst southeast Alaska—the "inside Passage”—is known for old growth spruce and hemlock, beautiful fjords and glaciers and calm, beautiful waters.
2. The types of fishing.
Bluntly, whatever kind of fishing you want to do, you will find it in the northwest. Depending on the time of year, you can fish for salmon, halibut, ling cod and rockfish in the ocean, travel inland to fly fish for rainbow trout, or spin cast...you name it. The best part is that you can do all of this in one trip. There are lodges that offer both saltwater and freshwater fishing. You can go with a guide if you need help, or without, or do one day of guided fishing and then strike out on your own once you've gained the assistance you need to locate where the fish are biting.
3. The sheer size of the fish.
If you want something to talk about - the one that got away, perhaps - you can find something worth the tale in the northwest. With halibut as big as 400 pounds, monster lake trout and Tyee-class salmon, you won't even need to exaggerate your catch.
4. The variety of species.
At least 37 fish species of fish can be found here, including all 5 species of Pacific salmon and 8 species of trout including steelhead. Some are, of course, limited to catch-and-release, but most places you can easily bring home some halibut, salmon or trout to fill your freezer for dinners over the next year (most lodges will process your fish for you). Our site makes it easy to choose a lodge or location where the fish you want are easily found, and you’ll know there will always be a variety of fish available on the same trip. Whatever fishing challenge you want, you can find it in the northwest. The fish are also plentiful in well-managed lakes and rivers. In some cases, there are hatcheries, allowing for enough fish to go around. Steelhead are plentiful if you go to the right location at the right time of year, as are northern pike and arctic char. Go to the Fraser River for giant White Sturgeon that can reach weights of over 1,000 pounds—even a typical fish will give you a great story to tell for years to come.
5. You can really get away from it all.
If you want to escape civilization and its problems, you can go deep into the wilderness to a fly-in lodge in Alaska, Yukon or the Northwest Territories. For some this might be too lonely, but if you want to forget everything but what is on the end of your line, these isolated wilderness lodges are special. And, of course, you can fish rivers and lakes that are not heavily harvested, and you’ll likely not see a single other person except for the other guests at the fishing lodge.
6. The wildlife.
While working on your casting technique, keep an eye out for everything from bears (including the rare “Kermode” or “Spirit Bear” in northern BC) to bald eagles (watch out, they might be after your catch) to elk and moose. The northwest provides fabulous opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife in their own habitat. While you might have to carefully guard your lunch, there is nothing quite like seeing a bear on the other side of the river, or hearing the slap of a beaver's tail on the water.
7. The weather.
OK, so in some areas it rains a lot, and in others the shoulder seasons can be a bit chilly, but these are conditions easily mitigated by simply dressing properly. Overall, you won’t generally be uncomfortable in most areas. Along the BC and Alaska coast it’s generally “room temperature” most of the year, and in summer, the farther inland you get, the hotter it gets but it’s rarely stifling hot or with the humidity of the east side of Canada and the US.
The forested areas on the Pacific coast is a temperate rainforest, and while this means that a rain jacket is essential, it also means that many days will be, if not rainy, then at least overcast - perfect conditions for fishing (and photography). The high level of precipitation also means that the area has many, many rivers.
8. Salmon runs!
The northwest has a large number of anadromous (ocean-going) fish that return to rivers to spawn. This means that if you check the calendar, you can time your trip to almost guarantee a huge catch of salmon or trout. (Also, check if the river has hatchery production, which can result in almost year-round fishing).
9. You can improve as an angler.
Between broad rivers and the variety of fish available, it's easy to find challenging fishing that will up your game. Professional fishermen often head up to the northwest to test a new kind of fly or lure. As you can also keep changing what kind of fishing you do, you'll develop as a well rounded angler. And, of course, it's the perfect place to step out of your comfort zone and try for a species you have never encountered before, or even learn a completely new style.
10. It's great for families.
Because there is so much guided fishing available, you can take your kids to learn to fish in safety, with proper guidance and the wonderful scenery will help keep them from becoming bored. Many guides are perfectly happy to take out total beginners. On top of that, if you choose the right lodge, there will be plenty of activities for non-anglers—hiking, sightseeing, rafting, wildlife viewing, etc.
11. You can take a trip at any time of year.
Every month has a different fun option. In January and February, you can find steelhead and river trout in BC, Washington and Oregon. Lake Washington cutthroat come out of the depths to go after sockeye fry in March. April brings the spring Chinook (King) salmon, May has bass tournaments, June offers amazing rainbow trout. In July and August go after McKenzie river trout and Coho (silver) salmon. September is when the Puget Sound Pink Salmon run, although only every other year. October sees the Snake River Steelhead and Skykomish River runs in November. You can even take a Christmas trip to catch Crooked River trout, and big desert rainbow trout. Whatever your work or family schedule, there's always a good time to come to the northwest.
12. You can socialize with other anglers.
A major run brings lots of other fishermen for friendly competition and shop talk. Enjoy the company of other people staying at the same lodge or hanging out near the same water. It is always fun to spend time with those who share your enthusiasm.
13. Fishing licenses are reasonably priced.
Most lodges or guides will make sure all of your paperwork is in order with no effort so you can get right to the fishing. Oregon includes combined angling (salmon, sturgeon, steelhead and halibut) in all temporary permits. In general, permits are reasonably priced and easy to obtain. Seniors may or may not pay less. If you have a guide, they will tell you exactly what you need to get.
14. If you don't feel like fishing, there's always something else to do.
Take a short hike from the lodge—those fly-in lodges often have access to awesome backcountry hiking. Or perhaps the lodge you pick offers bear viewing, photography, flight-seeing, rafting, kayaking...the options are endless. Yes, you are there to fish, but having other options is awesome—and allows you to drag along your non-fishing spouse or partner.
15. You can easily combine your fishing trip with a hunting trip.
Columbia blacktail are considered the hardest deer in America to take, especially as they hang out in old growth forest and the mountains. Travel in the winter and time it right and there are large numbers of migratory wildfowl. You can also hunt coyote, elk, quail... the options are not quite as endless as the fishing, but close. It is even possible to hunt black bear in some parts of Canada, with a guide (and strict bag limits). Spend a week at a fishing lodge and then go to a hunting lodge for a change of pace.
So that's fifteen reasons why the Northwest is the best place in the world for your next fishing vacation. Whether you plan on doing nothing but fish, fish, and more fish, or would like to add in some hiking, sightseeing, or hunting, the northwest has many and varied options for a trip you will never forget.