Many Pacific Northwest residents are excited to wet a line this year for salmon in Puget Sound. The return of Chinook Salmon to the Sound draws the greatest excitement, afterall they are the King of all Salmon. The chance at a hefty Chinook leads many to head out on our local waters all summer long. The Puget Sound has several extremely productive areas that have been putting Kings into fish boxes for generations; here are a few of our favorites…
Mid Channel Bank near Port Townsend
Mid Channel Bank is located a few miles south of Port Townsend and is truly the center of Chinook Salmon fishing in Admiralty Inlet. As Summer Chinook migrate south through Admiralty, they push onto Mid Channel and follow the outer ledge of it southeastward deeper into the Sound. Trolling with downriggers along the 100’ to 120’ contour line on the outside of the bank is very productive.
Point No Point near Hansville
Point No Point is the northeastern most point on the Kitsap Peninsula. PNP juts out into the Sound and creates enormous tide rips. Traditionally, a large boathouse on the point provided anglers a short row out to the salmon holding near the rips. Mooching had been the method of choice since settlers first entered the area. Drift mooching with herring is still a popular pastime here, and the moochers can be found on the lee side of the point during any tide. Trolling the outside of the rips can be very productive as well.
Pilot Point south of Hansville
Pilot Point is located south of Point No Point and is often lumped together with the notorious PNP. While it is geographically not as pronounced as PNP, it does offer enough of a feature to create a break in the current during a tide change. Troll northward towards PNP during an outgoing tide and southward from PNP to Pilot Point during an incoming tide.
Possession Bar south of Whidbey Island
Possession Bar is an expansive underwater shelf that features some of the Puget Sound’s best salmon fishing areas. The Bar actually offers many specific areas to target salmon. West Possession Bar near Scatchet Head abuts the heavy currents of Admiralty Inlet; it is also the most heavily impacted from weather entering the Sound from Admiralty.
The West Bar is best fished on an outgoing tide; heavy currents from an incoming pushes so much water up onto the shelf that trolling gear is difficult to fish and is easily tangled. I like to run my trolling gear close to the bottom and follow a contour line. On a prime outgoing tide set a northward trolling path along the western edge of the Bar.
East Possession Bar near Possession Point is best fished on an incoming tide. Bait gets swept off the top of Possession and the salmon will congregate near the shelf of the East Bar to feed.
Tin Shed is located halfway between the West Bar and East Bar. This horseshoe shaped shelf can be easily fished through either an incoming or outgoing tide. Tin Shed often holds plenty of bait which means that there is usually a fair number of salmon hanging around the area.
Appletree Cove Point near Kingston
Appletree Cove Point is an area just north of Jeff Head near Kingston. This is one of the traditional mooching areas in Central Puget Sound. Chinook find plenty of Herring and Candlefish in the area to feed on, so mooching is naturally productive here.
Jeff Head south of Kingston
Jeff Head is a large underwater bank that reaches out from eastern Kitsap Peninsula into the Sound. Trolling along the outer edge of Jeff Head can be extremely productive for Chinook; anglers also troll and drift mooch across the top of the bank. On an incoming tide troll along the southern shelf; on an incoming tide troll along the eastern and northern end of the shelf. This is an expansive area and one of the more popular salmon fishing areas in Puget Sound.
The Oil Docks at Point Wells offer a great area to intercept Puget Sound Summer Chinook. This fishing area is very close to Edmonds Marina and Shilshole Marina in Ballard. Focus on the area from the Oil Docks southward to The Trees at Richmond Beach. This area isn’t a traditional hotspot like Possession or Point Defiance but many fish are taken here throughout the Summer Chinook Season.
Meadow Point, West Point, Shilshole Bay
Meadow Point, West Point and Shilshole Bay are considered Ballard’s backyard. Seattle area salmon fishermen spend plenty of time fishing the early morning bites and those classic sunset tide changes. West Point is the most pronounced which creates huge tidal rips during a running tide. Fish the outside of the tide rip and troll around the point during a tide change. Meadow Point offers lighter rips and easier trolling, but the moochers seem to congregate around West Point. Chinook will mill around Shilshole Bay en route to Lake Washington via the Ballard Locks. Be aware of closures in the Bay during summer months.
Elliott Bay has been one of the most iconic salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. Downtown Seattle skyscrapers rise up from the eastern shoreline. This urban fishery usually peaks in July and August but in recent years fishing for Chinook has been closed due to conflicts between the Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Muckleshoot Tribe. Countless Seattle salmon anglers are in mourning for this great fishery. We all hope to someday return to the waters of our city with the chance to catch a salmon in the shadow of the Space Needle.
Dolphin Point and Point Beales east of Vashon Island
Both Dolphin Point and Point Beales are popular salmon fishing areas in the northern reaches of Marine Area 11. This area opens earlier than the rest of Puget Sound for Chinook Salmon fishing and produces both Resident Chinook and Mature Chinook. Both are pronounced points and create a tide rip that forces bait to condense, so Chinook will congregate near these points. During a tide change anglers will fish anywhere. On an incoming tide start trolling southeastward towards the points, change course to southwestwards after clearing the point. I make a wide turn to clear the tide rip and troll along the outside of it. On an outgoing tide reverse your direction.
Three Tree Point near Burien
This area is often overlooked by Seattle and Tacoma salmon fishermen, but is a spot that South Sound Chinook slow down and hold. Troll around the point on the outside of any tide rip.
Point Defiance is one of the most well known salmon fishing areas in the Northwest. Tacoma’s waterfront was once lined with boathouses and fishermen had easy access to this area. Point Defiance is the front door to the Tacoma Narrows; the area is a chokepoint for salmon. Mooching with Herring is the traditional method to catch Summer Chinook but trolling is the current method of choice for many who ply these waters.
Fishing at the Clay Banks just east of Point Defiance can be very good. Trolling with the tide in this area with Flashers & Hoochies or Flashers & Spoons are effective setups. Troll with the tide. An outgoing tide usually produces the best bite but fishing can remain consistent through both incoming and outgoing tides.