Washington is a premier fishing state that garners a multi-billion dollar industry from its wildlife. Inland waters are teaming with bass, walleye, salmon, trout, and muskellunge. Meanwhile, the western shore of the state has some of the nation’s best saltwater fishing!
Much of the west coast’s best salmon fishing takes place in this state. Washington has many salmon fisheries to raise stock, and there is an array of species including Atlantic, chinook, coho, pink, sockeye, and chum (or dog salmon). The Columbia River is a fantastic sockeye and chinook habitat. For some larger sockeye salmon try Lake Wenatchee or Brewster Pool. For a true mountain experience with wild salmon and trout try Icicle Creek, known as The Icicle by locals, for feisty chinook and coho salmon, and rainbow trout.
Trout also hold a fine place in Washington, and the state fish is the steelhead. These trout have summer and winter seasons, with especially active runs. The Columbia River is not only great for salmon, but excellent for steelhead. Don’t forget to try its tributary, the Cowlitz River, which has wild fish and two hatcheries along the river.
The more common rainbow, brown, brook, and lake trout are all found within Washington state. A particularly noteworthy species is the cutthroat trout. This trout can be found within a few miles of shore or on rivers connecting to the oceans. Puget Sound is a legendary fishing location in Washington, and a viable cutthroat trout ground. Other lesser seen trout species within Washington are the bull, dolly varden, golden, easter brook trout, tiger (brown and eastern hybrid), and the cutbow salmon (a hybrid of rainbow and cutthroat trout). Try the Skagit River for exceptional fishing for both trout and salmon.
Washington has a diverse fish population, and it takes no exception to the catfish. This state features an excellent opportunity for catching the more common species along with white, black, and yellow bullheads. Other noteworthy species to reel in are varies of bass, the walleye, carp, cod, black crappie, sturgeon, and along Washington’s coast the squid!
Coastal fishing is indeed a treat with Washington’s vast coastline, multitudinous bays, and many islands. One can find many types of rockfish, cod, sculpins, salmon, and surfperch. off the coast. Stay around Seattle for some primer tuna and halibut fishing. Baker Bay offers the same with good sturgeon fishing. For fine salmon and halibut Neah Bay is a safe bet. West Port is a multi state record breaking location, for records in; striped marlin, blue and yellowtail rockfish, sablefish, and yellowtail jack.
Many particularly colorful fish await in the water – like the chimaera and striped marlin. You can even pit yourself against a sixgill or spiny dogfish shark if you feel up to more adventurous fishing. Another benefit of fishing Washington’s coast is not the fish, but the chance to see a bald eagle, gray whale, and orca whale!
Rules vary according not only to season and location, but local fish populations. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife makes adjustments according to present fishing populations and so forth. Luckily the most up to date information is always available on their website as a sport fishing regulation pamphlet, or through their fishing hotline; 1-360-902-2500.
To purchase any recreational fishing license you will need to give your social security number and register for a Wild ID. Freshwater and saltwater fishing require different licenses, with each having the option for one, two, and three day, along with yearly. Some locations or types of fish (ex: Salmon and steelhead) require additional endorsements to your fishing license. Buy a license today for an amazing fishing experience!
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.