Washington’s fishing scene is as diverse as its geography. The state boasts more than 8,000 lakes and over 7,000 miles of coastal shoreline, offering a wide range of fishing experiences. Whether you’re a fly-fishing aficionado, a saltwater angler, or a fan of freshwater fishing, Washington has something to offer.
One of the most appealing aspects of fishing in Washington is the variety of environments available to anglers. From the powerful currents of the Columbia River to the tranquil waters of alpine lakes, there’s something for every angler’s preference.
The state’s extensive coastline provides ample saltwater fishing opportunities. Whether you’re casting from rocky shores, fishing piers, or embarking on deep-sea charters, you’ll encounter an array of species including salmon, halibut, lingcod, and Dungeness crab. The iconic Puget Sound offers a unique blend of marine life and urban accessibility.
Washington’s rivers and streams are home to an impressive array of fish species. The Columbia River, renowned for its salmon and steelhead runs, is a focal point for many anglers. Additionally, the Skagit River hosts the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the continental U.S., creating a stunning backdrop for fishing adventures.
If you’re seeking tranquility and breathtaking views, Washington’s mountain lakes are your ticket. The North Cascades National Park and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boast crystal-clear lakes teeming with trout, offering a true escape into the heart of nature.
One might not immediately associate fishing with a modern metropolis like Seattle, but the city’s geographical layout makes it an ideal destination for urban anglers. The Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Duwamish River are just a few of the prominent fishing spots that dot the city. These water bodies, framed by stunning views of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, create a seamless blend of nature and urban life.
Seattle’s waters are teeming with diverse fish species, providing anglers with a variety of fishing experiences. Salmon, trout, bass, and even sturgeon are among the catchable species that populate the city’s waterways. Each season offers its own fishing charm, from the exhilarating salmon runs in the fall to the tranquil days spent catching trout in the spring.
Best fishing spots in Washington
Puget Sound: Stretching over 100 miles, Puget Sound is a true angler’s paradise. This complex system of interconnected waterways is home to a variety of fish species, including salmon, halibut, lingcod, and crab. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or casting off from one of the many piers, Puget Sound offers a diverse range of fishing experiences. During the salmon runs, particularly in the fall, the sound becomes a bustling arena for anglers seeking the thrill of reeling in these prized fish.
Columbia River: The Columbia River, one of the largest rivers in North America, provides an exceptional fishing environment. This iconic river hosts seasonal salmon and steelhead runs that draw anglers from all corners of the country. The stunning scenery surrounding the river enhances the overall fishing experience, making it a must-visit destination for any angler.
Lake Chelan: Nestled amid the Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is not only a breathtakingly beautiful destination but also a prime fishing spot. This deep, clear lake is home to various trout species, including rainbow, cutthroat, and lake trout. Fishing from the shoreline, a boat, or even ice fishing during the colder months offers an array of options for anglers to enjoy.
Olympic Peninsula Rivers: The Olympic Peninsula is a pristine wilderness featuring numerous rivers that provide outstanding fishing opportunities. The Hoh, Sol Duc, and Bogachiel rivers are renowned for their steelhead and salmon runs. These rivers wind through lush forests, creating an enchanting backdrop as you pursue your fishing adventure.
Lake Washington: Close to Seattle, Lake Washington offers urban anglers a convenient and rewarding fishing experience. This large freshwater lake boasts healthy populations of bass, trout, and perch. The combination of accessible fishing locations and the chance to catch a variety of species makes Lake Washington a popular spot for anglers of all skill levels.
San Juan Islands: For those seeking a more serene fishing escapade, the San Juan Islands provide an idyllic setting. The islands’ calm waters and rocky shorelines are ideal for kayak fishing or embarking on a small boat adventure. Lingcod, rockfish, and salmon are some of the prized catches awaiting patient anglers in this tranquil haven.
Spokane River: Running through the city of Spokane, the Spokane River offers a unique fishing experience that combines urban convenience with natural beauty. The river is home to various trout species, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Fishing along the riverbanks or wading in its waters allows you to connect with nature without venturing far from the city.
Lake Roosevelt: Formed by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, Lake Roosevelt stretches for over 150 miles, offering a vast expanse of fishing possibilities. This lake is known for its robust populations of walleye, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon. Anglers can explore its many bays, coves, and deep waters while relishing the stunning landscapes that surround them.
Washington Coast: The rugged and wild Washington coastline is a haven for saltwater anglers. From the rocky shores of Cape Flattery to the expansive beaches of Long Beach, this coastline provides opportunities to catch species like surfperch, rockfish, and salmon. Surf fishing and casting from jetties are popular techniques that allow anglers to immerse themselves in the power of the Pacific Ocean.
Yakima River: Flowing through central Washington, the Yakima River is famous for its trout fishing. This freestone river offers excellent fly-fishing opportunities, with rainbow and cutthroat trout being the primary targets. The picturesque scenery and diverse water conditions make the Yakima River a year-round destination for anglers seeking tranquility and quality fishing experiences.
Local permits, rules and regulations
Before embarking on a fishing expedition in Washington, it’s imperative to be aware of the state’s licensing requirements. Anglers aged 15 and older must obtain a valid fishing license, available through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). These licenses are categorized based on residency, duration, and fishing type, such as freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of both. Visit the WDFW’s official website for up-to-date information