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When & Where to Fish for Salmon

Fishing Reports, Current and Historical

Fisherman holding up caught salmonFiguring out when and where to fish for salmon is one of the most asked questions for beginning salmon anglers. For many years, WDFW has provided weekly summaries of our dockside sampling for all marine areas and some rivers on the internet. Current year summaries are great for determining if you need to run out and fish right now. But even these reports are a few days to a week old. Remember, its better to make the reports rather than chasing them. Historical summaries are better for future planning. You can look at 2 or 3 years worth of summaries and determine when is the best general time to fish an area. You can then plan your trips around those traditional peak times. Although you might look at when the most fish are caught to determine peak times, remember that more fish are going to be caught when more anglers are out fishing. So you might also calculate the catch per angler (divide the number of fish caught by the number of anglers or trips) to see if there are good times to fish before or after the crowds arrive.

Fishing reports are broken into broad geographic regions.

  • Ocean (Marine Areas 1 – 4)
  • Coastal (Marine Areas 2-1, 2-2, and Chehalis Rivers)
  • Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5 –13)
  • Buoy 10, Columbia River and Southwest Washington Rivers

For Marine Areas 1 - 4, including Illwaco, Westport, LaPush and Neah Bay, actual catch estimates are provided. Buoy 10 reports are not included here. See the current and historical Ocean Salmon Reports at: Ocean Sport Salmon Reports. Unfortunately, the historical reports are listed by “statistical weeks” rather than calendar dates. For reference, statistical weeks can generally be categorized as: statistical weeks 19-22 are May, statistical weeks 23-26 are June, statistical weeks 27-31 are July, statistical weeks 32-35 are August, and statistical weeks 36-39 are September.

Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor
For Marine Areas 2-1 (Willapa Bay), 2-2 (Grays Harbor) and the Chehalis River see the Coastal Fishing Reports at: Coastal Fishing Reports.

Puget Sound (Sekiu to the San Juan Islands and down to Olympia)
Puget Sound fishing reports are broken into 4 sub-regions: South (S), Central (C), North (N), and Peninsula (P). South (S) includes areas like Olympia and Tacoma, Central (C) includes areas like Seattle, and Everett, North (N) includes areas like Whidbey Island, Mount Vernon, Bellingham, and the San Juan Islands, and Peninsula (P) includes Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and Sekiu. Puget Sound salmon fishing reports can be found at: Puget Sound Fishing Reports.

Buoy 10, Columbia River and Southwest Washington Rivers
Buoy 10 salmon fishing reports are provided during August and September, when the fishery is open. Salmon fishing reports for southwest Washington Rivers, such as the Columbia, Grays, Elochoman, Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Washougal, Wind, and Klickitat rivers, and Drano Lake can also be found at: Southwest Washington Fishing Reports.