With a couple of days to explore around Seattle, you can experience the breadth of some of the best fishing the Pacific Coast has to offer. From Salmon in the mighty Puget Sound to Steelhead Trout in mountain rivers and streams, the Pacific Northwest has diverse fishing opportunities. There are an endless number of fishing spots to explore around Seattle and nearby islands, so we’re here to help you find your very own Seattle fishing Shangri-La.
Sure, you can visit Pike Place or other markets to buy the catch of the day, but it won’t compare to reeling one in on your own.
The identity of Seattle is tied to its long and deep maritime history. Its waters continue to build on this legacy today, attracting anglers from all over the world. Salmon fishing in the Puget Sound has thrilled and amazed anglers and onlookers for decades. However, if Salmon fishing is not your bag, there are a boatload of other saltwater opportunities. Ever caught yourself a Lingcod in spring? Or how about trying your hand at catching a large Halibut after cruising an hour or two north? Saltwater fishing in Seattle has it all.Browse Seattle fishing charters
As the Ice Age came to a close, the massive ice sheet that once covered Seattle melted away. This carved out the breathtaking landscape we see today. Alongside the Puget Sound, it left behind hundreds of lakes and waterways across the region. In fact, every neighborhood in and around Seattle is usually within walking distance of a lake. Many of the lakes are well stocked with Rainbow Trout and almost all are filled with Bass, Perch, and Panfish to hook. Plentiful fishing options abound!Browse Seattle fishing charters
If you are 15 and older, you must have a fishing license. You can purchase a fishing license online at the Department of Fish and Wildlife website or at any recreational license dealer. Meanwhile, special permits and stamps are required for several species, such as Steelhead and Halibut. Licensing fees differ for residents and non-residents. However, they start from $10. Please note there are a number of exemptions for residents aged over 65 who have been honorably discharged from the army, those with disabilities, and non-resident disabled veterans.Browse Seattle fishing charters
Seattle fishing spots … where to start? Check out the list below.
Most newcomers to Seattle head directly to Puget Sound, often heading out from Shilshole Bay or Edmonds to the north. Hugged by the stunning Olympic Mountains, these protected waters offer pristine sailing opportunities and an endless supply of fish. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Indeed, many of the most productive spots are a stone’s throw from the marina, typically no more than 10 miles out. For families and first-timers, the bottom of the sound is ideal. Flounder are abundant here and it is not uncommon for anglers to reel in 50 per hour.View fishing boats
Conveniently reachable and packed full of fish, Elliott Bay is one of the best fishing spots in Seattle. Framed by Alki Point to the South, it is a perfect place for veterans and budding anglers alike. If you wish to get your bearings before heading out into the Pacific, then Elliott Bay is ideal as it is right along the city’s waterfront. And for those wishing to stay firmly on dry land, Pier 86 is a dream come true, with its 400-foot-long fishing pier. In Elliott Bay, there are plenty of opportunities to hook Skate, Salmon, Perch, Sablefish and a variety of Flatfish and Rockfish species.View fishing boats
Lake Washington is one of two immensely popular lakes in Seattle (the second being the smaller Lake Union which is situated between Lake Washington and the Puget Sound). It sits directly east of downtown Seattle, stretching 22 miles from tip to toe. Magnuson Park, Matthews Beach Park, Madison Park, Madrona Park, Lake Washington T Dock, Seward Park and Rainier Beach are common lakeside access points. Though, many other small pockets give shore anglers a place to cast. For boaters, ramps at Magnuson Park and Rainier Beach are excellent launch points from which you can explore the entire lake for fish, particularly yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and cutthroat trout.View fishing boats
Here are three recommendations for preparing for a fishing trip out of Seattle.
Seattle has a myriad of charters – for all kinds of needs. Larger charters can hold up to 12 passengers. However, the typical capacity is 6 guests due to U.S. Coast Guard licensing and safety limits. When the fishing is good, the value of the fish you bring home may be more than what you pay for a charter!
If booking a charter, your captain will have exactly what’s needed for the fish you want to target. Going on your own? You can get more information from local bait and tackle shops, or look for other help online.
When booking a fishing charter, remember to come prepared with cash since gratuity is expected for most captains and / or their first mates helping on the trip.
The waters around Seattle boast some of the most colorful, and excitingly bizarre, marine life out there. Check out the main suspects below.
There are several types of Salmon in Seattle, but the king of them all is the Chinook. They feed in Puget Sound all year, and locals usually go on the hunt during Summer and early Fall.
Sometimes referred to as Flatfish or Sand Dabs (when on the smaller side), Flounder are an angler’s favorite in Seattle. The best fishing is available when the water is warmer between May and October.
This species is a fly fisher’s delight in the Pacific Northwest, one of the best places in the world to catch them. They can be caught year-round and are typically found in depths of water between 6 inches to 12 ft.
There are all kinds of types of fishing in Seattle – some you probably haven’t even heard of. Here are the main ones.
Seattle and Salmon go together like cheese and crackers. Think you can catch all five species here? You’ll have to check off Chinook (aka King), Coho (aka Silver), Chum (aka Dog), Sockeye (aka Red), and Pink (aka Humpback). Trolling for Salmon is most commonly performed while out on the Pacific. Salmon can be fussy little creatures, so choose your bait wisely. Herring or lures like plastic Squid are their faves. Another common technique for getting yourself on a tasty Salmon is mooching. This involves drifting the boat while attentively holding the rod in your hands to feel the bite.
Fly fishing in Seattle is fantastic. If you fancy catching yourself some Salmon, Sea-Run Coastal Cutthroat Trout, or Steelhead Trout, you’re hard-pressed to find many better places to fish. The Skagit, Skykomish, and Wenatchee River (plus many, many more) provide some visually stunning and very peaceful venues to cast off from in addition to the Puget Sound. Fly fishing in Seattle is a year-round endeavor, yet it changes dramatically from season to season. Try using a 5-6 wt rod with dry fly or nymphing techniques to catch yourself a Rainbow Trout or Cutthroat. For spey anglers, a 6-8 wt two-handed spey rod is ideal for Steelhead.
Lingcod are one of the other most popular fish species to target in Seattle, particularly around Puget Sound. You can spot a Lingcod by its long body and gigantic head full of inverted teeth. Lingcod can be caught with a variety of lures and baits. The best technique is to use a controlled drift style on your boat, while sending your bait or lures down to the bottom where the lingcod lurk. These beasts are ambush predators, so they will dig into a well-presented bait or lure that comes in their path. However, be patient before reel up too quickly as it is best to let lingcod hook themselves over the span of say, 30 seconds to a minute.
Although numerous species are present in and around Seattle year-round, anglers have to pay attention to season regulations. The season for Salmon, especially the Chinook, typically closes for a few months in late spring and early summer to help preserve their stocks. While there is no closed season for Flounder and Carp, summer and early fall are generally the best times of year to get on the bite.
Fish for juvenile King Salmon (known as Blackmouths).
Juvenile King Salmon (Blackmouth) is often at its best this type of year.
Juvenile King Salmon start to taper off. Catch plenty of flounder.
A mix of Blackmouth and early Chinook salmon. Try for trout, bass, or perch in freshwater.
Lingcod season starts – but it is a short one. Get out in May or June for lingcod. Also one of the best times of year for flounder.
Fish the tail end of lingcod season. King Salmon, Silver Salmon, and Sockeye Salmon are also in town, but keep an eye on the state's season regulations by fishing zone.
Pink Salmon at their best. Though, pink salmon runs only occur on odd-numbered calendar years. If it's an even-numbered year, target King Salmon.
Great time for King Salmon, the most popular fish species in Seattle.
Go for Silver (Coho) Salmon.
Target Silver Salmon and Chum Salmon.
Salmon season is in full swing. Keep going for Silver Salmon and Chum Salmon.
Catch Chum Salmon flounder before the end of the year.