Fishing in Seattle Guide: Salmon Fishing Tips
Fishing in Seattle is a pastime enjoyed by countless anglers, and salmon fishing Washington’s waters is known worldwide for the excitement, dramatic scenery, and of course the awesome dinners following a successful day on the water.
While salmon fishing in Seattle clearly gets the limelight, there are also several other very productive and enjoyable fisheries to partake in.
Where to Fish: Best Seattle Fishing Spots
Without any question, Puget Sound is the go-to area most anglers leaving port from Seattle will fish in. It’s great when fish are biting there since the city sits right on the sound and long runs aren’t necessary. At certain times, however, other area bays and waterways can be even better.
- Possession Sound, particularly where it meets with Puget Sound at Possession Bar, attracts fish especially in early summer as ripping currents concentrate baitfish.
- Some other popular salmon hotspots include President Point, Point No Point, and Double Bluff.
What do all these hotspots share in common? Ripping currents and abrupt changes in bottom contours. The fast-moving, colliding bodies of water force baitfish together and makes for easy hunting for the salmon.
What to Fish for in Seattle: Top Species List
As we mentioned earlier, salmon get most of the glory in these waters. The different salmon species caught in the area include:
- Blackmouth (juvenile kings)
- Chinook (adult kings)
Still, there are other species to pursue when salmon are either out of season or tough to come by. Depending on the time of year, anglers fishing in Seattle may also try catching:
When is the best time to go fishing in Seattle?
The timing of your fishing trips in Seattle will determine just which species are available.
As a general rule of thumb, fishing for the salmon species is best during the warmer months of the year but strict regulations—which change from year to year—mean that even if a species of salmon is present, you may not be allowed to target it.
- The one exception to the warmer-is-better rule is blackmouth, or juvenile king (chinook) salmon, which can be caught during the winter months.
- Setting them aside, sockeye salmon usually arrive in June, with king salmon arriving next, and both species can be caught through the end of summer.
- A bit later in July, coho salmon become more common. They usually stick around a bit longer, too, and can be caught as late into the fall as October.
- Pinks show up in July as well, but only every other year. Because they have a two-year life cycle between returning to their home waters to spawn, there are no one-year-old or three-year-old pink salmon to establish a run. So, they only appear during odd-numbered years.
- Chum salmon become a target later in the season, initially showing up as early as the summer months but increasing in numbers until late fall and biting through December.
The bottom fishing in Seattle doesn’t depend nearly as much on seasonal runs, but it is quite limited in duration due to regulations.
- Lingcod, for example, are only open from May through mid-June (and the regulations can change from season to season).
- Halibut season is regulated by quota, can be even shorter, and has area restrictions that can be confusing. As a result, many anglers who want to target halibut opt to take out a Seattle fishing charter.
Ready to go Salmon fishing in Seattle, Washington?
No Seattle fishing guide would be complete without a rundown on the most popular fishing methods, but in this case, it’s pretty easy to sum things up:
- Most anglers catch salmon by either trolling with dodgers, spoons, and plastic squid, or by mooching.
- Mooching is very similar to trolling, but instead of leaving the boat in gear at all times, the captain will shift into and out of gear so the baits rise and fall through the water column.
- We should also note that trolling often requires specialized gear like downriggers, to get your offerings down deep where the fish are.
Fishing in Seattle, Washington can be very exciting, but beyond that, it’s also a one-of-a-kind experience to get out on Puget Sound. Often after they return home, anglers realize that the highlight of the day wasn’t necessarily catching fish so much as seeing the raw nature — orcas, whales, seals, sea lions, and bald eagles are just a few of the creatures you may spot out on the water. And once you cook up those fresh wild salmon fillets, it’s a safe bet you’ll want to come back for more.
With over three decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to dozens of boating and fishing publications and websites ranging from BoatU.S. Magazine to BDOutdoors.com. Rudow is currently the Angler in Chief at Rudow’s FishTalk, he is a past president of Boating Writers International (BWI), a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.