Like other outdoor pursuits, fishing opportunities vary by season.
Not only does weather affect anglers’ comfort, it also makes a difference in how—or whether—the fish are biting. For example, while some Washington lakes are open for fishing year-round, most anglers agree that the best lake trout fishing is in spring and early fall.
Certain fish, such as salmon and steelhead, migrate in “runs” at specific times of the year as they return to their birth streams to spawn and complete their life cycle. And the life cycle of some shellfish species, such as Dungeness crab, also determine fishing opportunity.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sets fishing seasons that reflect these natural fluctuations, and, importantly, protect species from overfishing. In some areas, fishing is restricted or closed completely at certain times of the year to avoid harvesting weak, wild fish populations.
Washington fishing seasons and regulations are published each year in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet. It’s important to check fishing regulations, including rule changes, in planning your fishing outing. Information about shellfish regulations also is available on the WDFW website.
Current fishing opportunities also are highlighted in Weekender, WDFW's twice-monthly roundup of fishing, hunting and watching activities across the state.
Here’s a season-by-season overview of fishing opportunities: