Fishing is a huge part of my life and in Washington there is year round fishing. Some times the rivers can get blown out when we have had too much rain but when they fall back into shape, it can be “lights out”. When I lived in California, I used to fish for salmon along the coast and did fairly well. My first year of living and fishing in Washington was a huge bust – not a single fish. I figured that the techniques I used in California would apply here but they did not seem to work. Over the last 20 years I have enjoyed learning to fish Washington successfully.
I fish for Salmon and Steelhead with a fly rod and with conventional fishing gear. Fly fishing is more rewarding but I grab a spinning or plugging rod when I want to increase the chances of putting meat on the table.
It took years to learn where to fish our different rivers and what time of year to fish them and where the best spots were. Today the learning curve is quite a bit shorter with the internet. Fishermen can get pretty upset when someone starts posting information about where they fish; I have seen guys on some fishing forums get pretty snarky when someone posts a picture of a gorgeous Steelhead along with the location and time of year. That being said, this section is not going to share specific details, but offer more of an overview of what is available. I am happy to take clients fishing and share some of the better fishing opportunities but I will not post them on my website.
Winter Steelhead fishing starts as early as November (I usually start thinking about these fish around thanksgiving) and continues on thru March and then the Summer Steelhead start showing up.
Spring Chinook (Springers) are the prized fish in Washington, similar to the Copper River Salmon from Alaska. They usually show up around April but one of my buddies caught one in February. That fishery is pretty strong thru June and from that point on there is some type of salmon fishing going on somewhere thru the end of the year.
We have Chinook (Kings), Coho (Silvers), Chum (Dogs), Pink (Humpies, every other year). The Kings show up first, followed by the Silvers and Humpies, and then then Chums finish out the season.
I fish in the Ocean out of Westport and Ilwaco, in Puget Sound around Gig Harbor, Hood Canal, and lots of rivers. I will list the rivers I am most familiar with starting with the closest to Gig Harbor and moving outward. The longest drive could be about 3 hours but most are 1-2 hours away.
Puyallup River | Green River | Carbon River | Skokomish River | Skookumchuck River | Cowlitz River | Toutle River | Satsop River | Wynoochie River | Chehalis River | Columbia River | Kalama River | Lewis River | Humptulips | The Hoh | The Queets | The Salmon | The Bogachiel | The Solduc.
These rivers can be fished from the bank, from a drift boat, and from a jet sled. Depending on the river and time of year determines whether I will be fishing from one of my boats or on foot.
A great resource to get started and learn where and when to fish the river in washington is Washington River Maps & Fishing Guide by Frank Amato Publications.