Recreational Salmon Fishing
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When & Where to Fish for Salmon

Best Places to Fish by Area

Click on the charts for each area to see the best months to fish specific rivers or marine areas.

Coastal Rivers [PDF]
Coastal rivers offer a much different salmon fishing experience than most other rivers. These rivers tend to have far fewer anglers and tend to be less developed, resulting in a more remote, wilderness type of experience, although large crowds can still be found near the hatcheries. Fishing can be terrific, especially in the Quilayute River system, Hoh River, Humptulips River, Chehalis River, Willapa River, and Naselle River.
Best Places to Fish by Area - Coastal Rivers (North to South)
   
Columbia River and Tributaries [PDF]
Year in and year out, more salmon are caught in the Columbia River and its tributaries than any other region in the state. Spring chinook start showing in March and run through May. When open, summer chinook are available in June, July and August. Fall chinook and coho start showing up at Buoy 10 in mid-August, when the state’s most popular salmon fishery busts loose. Coho can be caught clear through December in some streams. As with other areas of the state, salmon regulations on the Columbia system change year to year, or even weekly if in-season updates indicate a particular run is weaker or stronger than anticipated. So be sure to check the regulations and make sure the area you want to fish is open.
Best Places to Fish by Area - Columbia River and Tributaries
   
Marine Areas [PDF]
Salmon caught in Illwaco, Westport, LaPush, and Neah Bay (Marine Areas 1 - 4) are mostly Columbia River stocks. Chinook are the primary salmon caught early, with coho coming on strong in August and September, although coho can be abundant at Illwaco early. Willapa Bay (Area 2-1) and Grays Harbor (Area 2-2) provide opportunity on mostly local stocks. Be sure to check the regulations before heading out. In inner Puget Sound marine areas, local stocks of chinook, coho, pink (odd numbered years) and chum provide most of the opportunity. Chinook generally return in July and August, coho in September and October, pink in August and September, and chum in November and December.
Best Places to Fish by Area - Marine Areas
   
Puget Sound Rivers [PDF]
Salmon fisheries in Puget Sound rivers are limited by the amount of allowable mortality on Endangered Species Act listed chinook salmon. Chinook salmon opportunities are limited to those rivers with heavy hatchery production. There are no directed fisheries on wild stocks of chinook salmon. Nonetheless, many Puget Sound rivers provide excellent opportunities for coho, chum, and in odd-numbered years, pink salmon. Rivers like the Skagit, Snohomish, and Puyallup, kick out thousands of salmon each year in the heart of metropolitan Washington. When the population is healthy enough to allow a fishery, the Lake Washington sockeye fishery is probably the most popular urban salmon fishery in the world.
Best Places to Fish by Area - Puget Sound Rivers
   
Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal Rivers [PDF]
Salmon fisheries in Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal rivers are limited by the amount of allowable mortality on Endangered Species Act listed chinook salmon and summer chum. Chinook salmon opportunities are limited to those areas with heavy hatchery production, namely the Skokomish River and Hoodsport Hatchery Zone. There are no directed fisheries on wild stocks of chinook salmon. Nonetheless, many rivers provide excellent opportunities for coho and chum salmon. Rivers like the Dungeness, Quilcene, and Skokomish kick out thousands of salmon each year. Look for less crowded opportunities on the smaller rivers like the Dewatto River or the Tahuya River.
Best Places to Fish by Area - Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal rivers
   
Lower and Middle Yakima River Water Access Sites [PDF]
WDFW is offering a Spring chinook fishery on the lower and middle Yakima River and at Ringold on the Lower Columbia beginning May 1. Not all water access site shown here are open during the Spring Chinook season, check the Fishing Regulations Pamphlet for more information.

In some years, spring Chinook fishing is open on the lower and middle Yakima River and at Ringold on the Lower Columbia. The spring Chinook season may not be open adjacent to all water access sites shown here. Please check the Sport Fishing Regulation Pamphlet and the Emergency Rules to determine if the river is currently open for spring Chinook fishing and which areas are open.

Best Places to Fish by Area - Lower and Middle Yakima River Water Access Sites