For many, a trip to Seattle might be all about drinking strong coffee, viewing Mount Rainier, taking in myriad museums, and bopping around all those funky islands offshore. If you love to fish, though, you have another world to explore. It’s different every season, especially once you add together Puget Sound, thousands of lakes and loads of rivers. Schedule your visit by time of year to find your dream catches – often with the Olympic or Cascade mountains as scenic backdrop.
For salmon alone, you might score sockeye, Coho, pink, chinook or chum. Those salmon don’t swim alone, of course. Catches as diverse as flounder, green sturgeon, perch, rockfish, halibut and even lingcod also beckon anglers to the Pacific Northwest.
Be sure to seek out a qualified fishing guide before you leave shore. While the waters off Seattle are gifted with an abundance of wonderful fish, they are tricky waters to navigate fishing-wise, in part because of regulations that keep the waters stocked, in part because of natural progressions over the course of a year. Winter and summer, trolling and bottom fishing, the diversity of baits best used in each situation … Fishing near Seattle is a joy and a mystery, so spend your time wisely by going with someone who knows what’s where and how best to catch fish in each locale.
Here are some of the top Seattle-area fishing spots for anglers.
In mid-summer, Lake Washington is the place to find your sockeye salmon, but click here to confirm. The waters are rich any time of year, though, since rainbow and coastal cutthroat trout swim freely. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are up for grabs in Lake Washington, along with black crappie and yellow perch. Check the fishing prospects calendar to time your visit.
These areas are gifts for anglers. Head to North Puget Sound locales such as Mats Mats Bay for winter blackmouth, Possession Point for pink salmon, and Double Bluff for both. Chinook are ripe in Useless Bay. At Jeff Head, you’ll find chinook pretty much anytime, and king salmon has a regular presence. Some professional fishing guides will combine salmon fishing and crabbing in one outing. On the rare occasion when salmon are off limits in North Puget Sound, gear up to get your fill of lingcod; don’t worry, your professional fishing guide will know the tricks to catch this odd-looking Pacific greenling. (The flesh is delicious once you get past the flesh’s teal-ish color before it’s cooked.)
Head south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and you’ll be privy to the region’s only year-round salmon fishing. What’s more, in South Puget Sound you can use two poles. Coastal cutthroat trout run here too.
If you time it right, Elliott Bay is a prime spot to catch summer chinook, although it’s so popular that it occasionally closes because too many anglers catch too many fish. Coho are here too, along with winter blackmouth salmon. “Mooching” was born in Elliott Bay, and the technique is best tried with a professional guide. While effective, mooching involves a single action reel, herring and a banana sinker.
Mature king chinook salmon make Tulalip Bay their stomping ground, and there’s a hatchery that runs, which explains why anglers make this area a priority in early spring.
Chinook sure like this spot near Salty’s Restaurant. Ask your professional fishing guide to take you between Dumas Bay and Saltwater State Park. The water is up to 100 feet deep, yet you’re likely to catch chinook in the 40- to 60-foot range.
If you need to plan ahead, take a look at Where to Fish for Salmon, by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. It will help you buy your planet ticket for the time of year that meets your fishing needs.
Seattle has plenty more to do, from urban pleasures to rural ones, so visit the Visit Seattle website to learn more. But first, lock in your fishing excursions with the right professional guide for you. FishAnywhere.com features a growing number of charters in the Puget Sound and its nearby rivers, streams, lakes and saltwater spots. They’ll know where the fish run, what regulations to mind, which bait to use, and, once you’re done, how to clean, cut and package fish for you to take home.
Take a look around and reserve your spot. What an experience you’ll have out on the water.
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Rona Gindin is a multimedia writer, editor and television personality covering a broad range of subjects for national and local media outlets. Working from an Orlando base, she’s Central Florida’s go-to source for information on the destination’s restaurants and attractions.
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