Fishing in Washington
The Pacific Northwest is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground! Combining everything from a scenic coastline, volcanic arcs, mountains, gorgeous rivers and streams, and a nice temperate climate, there’s tons to experience. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Washington is one of the best states in America for fishing. There is an abundance of species, and the combination of the ocean, lakes, and mountain rivers/streams allows for all types of anglers to cast a line wherever they please.
In this article, we would like to highlight our picks for the best places to go fishing in Washington. We will try to include various forms of fishing and environments so that any angler may be able to walk away with some new ideas. Please see below for descriptions of our favorite spots to cast a line!
If you live in or around Seattle, then Lake Washington is one of the more convenient options available for fishing. The lake is open to fishing year-round and there are lots of different species you can fish for. The most commonly fished species include trout (cutthroat and rainbow), smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, crappie, bream, and catfish.
While you can fish Lake Washington year-round, like any other body of water, sometimes of the year are definitely better than others for certain species. For example, the bass fishing in Lake Washington is great during the late Spring and Summer, whereas you might have more success fishing for the coastal cutthroat trout in the Spring and Fall.You can also fish for sockeye salmon, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon, but this isn’t a very reliable spot for that and varies from season to season.
The lake itself is big, and there are lots of areas to cast from shore, including lots of piers that you will find in many different locations. This can be an ideal method when fishing for bass, but if you’re fishing during the Summer, you will have a hard time catching trout from the shore. It’s certainly possible, but boat fishing is definitely recommended during the summer if you’re after trout.
You can find updated information about advisories, conditions, and fishing reports by clicking here.
The Chehalish River is similar to the Skagit in that it’s particularly well-known for salmon fishing. Common species here include Chinook, Coho, winter and summer steelhead, chum, sturgeon, and largemouth bass. The most popular seasons are probably the Spring for Chinook salmon and the Fall for Coho salmon. If the area experiences moderate rain over a long period of time in the Fall, the fishing will be extra good, especially when those Coho start to run later in the Fall.
One of the reasons the Chehalish River is a fun spot is the dynamic nature of the water flow and salmon runs. The water depth can vary quite a bit with rainfall or lack thereof, and the spots the salmon run may differ from day to day. You will benefit from choosing your casting locations wisely, looking for areas that may be easier for the salmon to swim upstream.
Depending on the day, you may see lots of different types of anglers on the water and banks. As long as you don’t drastically disturb anyone, observing the location and habits of other anglers may provide some indication as to where you may have more success casting.
In terms of access, the Chehalish River is a little more out of the way, but not too far removed from civilization. If you plan on finding an isolated location that you need to hike to, it’s highly recommended that you bring a friend in case you slip and fall. Otherwise, there are two popular boat ramps where you can launch, or even just chat with some other anglers before you head to your bank location. For directions to the two main boat ramps, please click here.
The Skagit River is easily one of the best fishing spots in Washington, as well as in the country, especially if you’re planning on fly fishing for steelhead. It’s known for year-round fishing where you can have a good chance of catching some steelhead in the winter months, albeit in way less comfortable conditions. While it’s often spoken about as a good place to go fishing in the winter, which is the case for hatchery steelhead, wild steelhead begin to appear at the end of Winter and early Spring, with Chinook following in the Summer and Coho in the Fall.
If you’re not too keen on putting on waders and getting in the water, there are numerous bank locations you can cast from, as well as multiple boat launches. There are bathrooms in many locations, but if you want a true Skagit experience, we suggest getting a little dirty and heading towards a more isolated location away from any crowds (just make sure to bring proper safety equipment).
The Skagit River is very dynamic in that seasons vary by fish species, different portions of the river will have different conditions, and like any other area in the Pacific Northwest, the weather is certainly an X-Factor (this can really make the Winter steelhead fishing hit or miss). Fortunately, the Skagit River is so popular among anglers that you can always find updated fishing reports. Furthermore, there are lots of recommended setups you can check out, and if you’re totally unfamiliar with fishing the Skagit River and want some guidance for your first go, there are plenty of fishing trips you can sign up for. Regardless, we would consider the Skagit River to be a bucket-list item for any angler, especially if you enjoy fishing steelhead.