San Juan Islands - Marine Area 7

Area 7 consists of marine waters south of the Canadian border containing the San Juan Islands and Bellingham Bay area. This area provides some very scenic fishing opportunities during the summer on bottomfish and returning Chinook, sockeye, and pink salmon to Puget Sound and the Fraser River. When the weather cooperates during the winter, some excellent blackmouth fishing occurs. During odd years, an additional two pink salmon can be kept which will make the trip much more worthwhile for kids and other new anglers to bring home a few fish for the grill; however during 2017 there will be no bonus limit due to the lower forecast but you can keep pink salmon as part of your daily limit. Consider trying to catch a few tasty sockeye during the summer that are returning to the Fraser River by fishing early in the morning and slow with small pink hootchies or spoons.  Winter resident salmon fishing is a unique opportunity to catch salmon in the 'off-season' and typically runs from January through April.  For those who don't have a big boat to make the run into the islands, consider fishing the more protected waters within Bellingham Bay during the Chinook, coho and perhaps pink run starting mid-August through the end of September. 

Map of no-go zone to protect orcas

Anglers who plan to fish for salmon in Canadian marine waters and return in their boats with their catch to Washington are required to notify WDFW before leaving state waters.

State and wildlife managers ask anglers and boaters to avoid an area along the west side of San Juan Island, where killer whales frequently forage and socialize. This action is needed to provide the whales with a quiet area to feed. Boaters are also required to stay a minimum of 300 yards away from orcas at all times, and 400 yards away when in front of or directly behind orcas. To learn more, visit our killer whale conservation and management page.

Legal description

Major fishing areas

Eagle Point/Salmon Bank

Located at Pile Point and Eagle Point for summer Chinook and blackmouth fishing along the edges of the points. Coho and pink salmon can be caught along the Eagle Point and Eagle Cove fishing parallel to the shore. Troll Salmon Bank during outgoing tides for salmon as well. If weather is an issue, consider fishing inside East Sound on Orcas Island for Chinook returning to Glenwood Springs during the summer. Don't be surprised if you encounter lots of pink salmon during odd years. Consider trying to fish for sockeye with similar gear (small pink hootchies) and methods (very slow) as pink salmon; you will need to use your fish finder to get your gear down to the fish.

Accessible by Boat

Species: Chinook salmon, Pink salmon, Sockeye salmon

Hein/Middle Bank

Provides excellent halibut opportunities on the south and middle edge of Middle Bank and interior of Hein Bank. Lingcod and other bottomfish can be caught in the northeast corner of Middle Bank. Summer Chinook and blackmouth are typically caught on the north side of Middle Bank and north, west, and south edges of Hein Bank. Consider trying to fish for sockeye with similar gear (small pink hootchies) and methods (very slow) as pink salmon; you will need to use your fish finder to get your gear down to the fish.

Accessible by Boat

Species: Cabezon, Chinook salmon, Greenling, Lingcod, Pacific Halibut, Pink salmon, Sockeye salmon

Lawerence Point

Excellent summer Chinook, coho, and pink fishing spot just off and inside the south side of the point. Good opportunities to pick up lingcod off the surrounding rock piles and reefs.

Accessible by Boat

Species: Chinook salmon, Lingcod, Pink salmon

Pink Salmon Fishing

During odd years, pink salmon returning must first pass through most of Puget Sound, making them accessible to small boat and shore anglers that uses only basic fishing gear and techniques. Pink salmon are not the strongest swimmers, so they often hug the shorelines and stay out of big rip tides. Best catch rates often occur in the mornings and evenings. The color pink is most commonly used for all lures and flies by anglers. Pink salmon are often mistaken for small wild chinook or even wild coho so be sure you know to properly identify it.

Boat Fishing
There are two main methods of fishing for pink salmon from a boat, trolling and casting.

  • Trolling uses a downrigger to get your tackle to the depth you want to fish. Most pink salmon are caught in depths of 20-60 feet. The key to trolling is using a small flasher of any color, which is an attractor for the pink salmon to swim along and hopefully strike at your lure. The most common lure is a pink mini squid (hootchie), followed by a pink spoon. Feel free to scent up your lure, however bait is not needed. Tie the lure 16-24 inches behind the flasher (18-25 lb. monofilament) and deploy your gear 10-30 feet behind the boat. The boat speed moving through the water should be 2 to 4 mph.
  • Casting at pink salmon from a boat uses the methods and gear described in shoreline fishing.

Shoreline Fishing
There are two main methods used for shore fishing pink salmon, casting lures and flyfishing. Anglers using both fishing methods target the same type of water and can have similar success. As pink salmon are more prone to swim close to shore, most public parks and public piers throughout Puget Sound offer good fishing opportunities.

  • Casting Lures - The pink buzz bomb and a pink mini squid (hootchie) jig are most commonly used and are fished the same way by casting out away from shore and attempting to jig it as you reel it in. A medium to medium/heavy rod with 20-30 pound line is all you need to land these fish.
  • Flyfishing - The most common fly used is a pink clouser. A seven to eight weight fly rod and with either floating or a slow sink tip line will provide enough backbone to land the salmon and also create the necessary action on your fly to entice a few strikes.

Accessible by Boat

Accessible by Shoreline
Public access, such as parks and piers

Species: Pink salmon

Point Roberts

During strong runs of Fraser bound sockeye salmon, trolling for sockeye can be best done to the west and south of Point Roberts as fish stack up. Troll slow using a small pink/red hootchie with all most of the tentacles removed. Use your fish finder and adjust the depth to match the location of the large schools of fish. During odd years, pink salmon can stack up in here and are often times easy to catch using pink hootchies when trolling or casting pink hootchie jigs or buzz bombs.

Accessible by Boat

Species: Pink salmon, Sockeye salmon

Rosario Strait

Lingcod can be found on rocky substrate and pinnacles throughout this area by jigging.

Accessible by Boat

Species: Lingcod