If you’ve ever enjoyed the savory taste of salmon, fresh off of the grill, frying pan or oven, then you know exactly why your mouth is watering.
Salmon is one of the Pacific Northwest’s prized food offering from nature, and thousands of anglers from all over the world fish for them here.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s web site is really a fantastic resource for those of you looking to gain more knowledge, either as a newbie Salmon fisher, or an experienced one.
From their web site: “Salmon fishing in Washington is fantastic. No other place in the world offers the diversity of angling experiences that Washington does, whether its chasing big chinook on the open ocean from a charter boat or fishing for sockeye salmon on Lake Washington from a float tube, you can find a fishery that satisfies your desires. This webpage is dedicated to all the salmon anglers that want to fish in Washington. It’s one-stop shopping for all your salmon fishing needs.
This (web) page is intended to:
1) be a resource that recreational salmon anglers can use to learn how and where to fish for salmon,
2) provide access to resources that can be used to become a better angler and to increase your success, and
3) provide information on how the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sets recreational seasons and the constraints that limit salmon fishing opportunity.”
The web site is a plethora of information on how-to get started on catching a salmon, whether you are fishing in the ocean, in a boat, or on a river. (Maybe even Lake Washington sockeye!)
Then, taking that basic knowledge you just gained to an experienced angler will jump start your salmon fishing trek.
First things first. You need a license if you’re older than 15. If you are going to be fishing for salmon, then you need to obtain a license from the state. You can purchase them at most Hunting and Sporting goods stores, and also now online at the Fish and Wildlife website. There is an online portal where you can purchase and keep track of your fishing and hunting licenses, as well as post activity and catches.
Figuring out when and where to fish for salmon is at the top of everybody’s mind. Of course, there is no magic answer. But there is historical information available to provide a synopsis of what you may expect.
The State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) has put together a series of charts showing the best times to fish each area of the state. They also have provided weekly summaries of dockside sampling for all marine areas and some rivers. If you fish in areas with hatchery production, you may want to look at the Hatchery Escapement Reports, which are also found at the website. WDFW also estimates recreational salmon catches monthly for all rivers and marine areas each year. Find the report online at their web site, and maybe discover a river you had never considered fishing before.
Rules are plentiful when fishing for salmon, and every good angler is aware of current state laws and regulations. There is a pamphlet available at the website for download.
There is also an easier way to get information, by calling:
WDFW Fishing Hotline:
Press 2 for recreational rules
Extension 1: Marine Areas 1-4, Washington coastal rivers and tributaries, lakes, razor clam openings.
Extension 2: Marine Area 1, Columbia and Snake rivers, Eastern Washington rivers, tributaries, lakes.
Extension 3: Marine Areas 5-13, Puget Sound, & Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Extension 4: Puget Sound rivers, tributaries and lakes.
If you’re a complete novice at fishing, spend some time learning at the WDFW’s website. There are pages dedicated to fishing methods, knots, fishing equipment, bait and tackle, and also cleaning and prep of a variety of species. After all, you’re going to want to eat that beautiful salmon you just caught, right? Check out the tips and techniques for cleaning and preparing Salmon and Steelhead.
Perhaps you have no interest in actually fishing for salmon, but have access to fresh fish from other anglers in your network of family and friends? The website also details cooking and provides some recipes. Whether you decide to bake, grill, broil, fry, poach or steam your fish, it’s going to be good.