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When to fish

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Summer fisheries

Trout:  Hundreds of rivers and streams around the state open to fishing on the first Saturday in June.  Meanwhile, anglers can continue to reel in trout from lakes and ponds, most of which remain open to fishing through October.  However, fishing success tends to drop off in smaller, shallow lakes and ponds during the heat of summer.  Aquatic weeds can also make summer fishing difficult in some lakes.

Bass, walleye and other warmwater fish:  Unlike trout, warmwater fish become more active when the temperature rises, making summer the best time to catch them.  Fishing for these species is generally best in eastern Washington, although anglers do catch their share of bass, walleye and other warmwater fish in westside lakes.  Fishing for warmwater fish—which also include perch, burbot, crappie and sunfish— is open year-round on most rivers and lakes.

Salmon:  The salmon fishing season off the Washington coast generally opens in late June and runs through early fall, drawing tens of thousands of anglers each year.  Commercial charters in coastal communities offer novices an opportunity to participate in this exciting fishery.  By late July, as more salmon move in from the coast, fishing heats up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and the mouth of the Columbia River.  Anglers in the Seattle area can catch salmon close to home in Elliott Bay and—if the sockeye run is large enough—in Lake Washington.  By August, the upper Columbia River is teeming with summer chinook.

Steelhead:  Angling hits its peak in July or August for hatchery-reared steelhead returning to the Snohomish, Stillaguamish and other rivers in the Puget Sound area.   

Crab:  Several areas of Puget Sound open for recreational crab fishing in mid-June, followed by additional openings in July and August.  The Pacific coast, including Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the mouth of the Columbia River, are open for crabbing throughout the year. See the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet for more information.

Clams and oysters:  Many beaches are open to clam and oyster harvesting during summer, but the taste and condition of their meat are not always at their best at this time of year.  Most species spawn in summer, which makes their flesh watery and tasteless.  If you do harvest clams or oysters during the summer months, make sure to keep them on ice or eat them soon after harvest.  Harvest regulations vary from beach to beach—be sure to check the rules before digging.

Squid: Known as calamari in restaurants, squid can be found at Port Angeles’ City Pier and surrounding area from late June to the end of August. See our squid "jigging" website for more information.