May is one of my all time favorite months to fish around Seattle and Washington State! All the options seem to all hit at once. We have Halibut openers across the state in the Pacific Ocean, Strait and Sound. Lingcod season opens in Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Our rivers fill with snowmelt and welcome back Spring Chinook and the first few Summer Steelhead. Lakes finally warm up and put up some amazing Trout and Bass fishing. Spot Shrimping closes the month out with some of the best seafood harvests of the year. I’m sure there’s more but I’m outta breath. Good luck everyone!
Halibut Fishing Report
We are just getting started with Halibut season here in Washington. With multiple openers along the Waishngton Coast in Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Ilwaco, the Halibut are coming back to the docks in good numbers! The ocean fisheries have been decent overall, I spoke with Captain Cary Hofmann of CNH Guide Service who offers a Westport Halibut & Lingcod trip, and he saw limits on their first outing. They are fishing on the edge of the Grays Canyon with the rest of the fleet in 600′-800′ and finding some pretty amazing action.
Further nearshore, anglers in Sekiu, the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet are seeing some okay fishing, creel reports are a little light but the dream of catching a monster Halibut close to home makes it worth a trip.
Check out: A Simple Guide to Washington’s 2023 Halibut Seasons
Lingcod Fishing in Puget Sound & San Juan Islands
Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands opened for Lingcod on May 1, with great fanfare on opening day and some pretty good action everywhere. We went out and fished in Marine Area 10 and found a couple nice keeper Lingcod as well as some undersized. Most of the artificial reefs in Central Puget Sound, our big Lingcod spot Possession Bar, and the countless spots in the San Juan Islands should fish well into June. We have been fishing a mix of live flounder rigs as well as soft plastics like Pitbull Tackle Swimbaits and P-Line Twin Tail Squid and finding good luck on both.
I’ve been focused on becoming a better Lingcod fisherman here in the Sound, and working on understanding how to best fish at all stages of the tide. Our big spring tide changes make things challenging at times. Some days those short windows around the tide change offer the only opportunity of the day. At other times, we find areas where we expect to be swept off the spot in a ripping tide, and find that the drifts are manageable. Every day I learn something new, which keeps it fun.
More on Lingcod fishing here: My All Time Favorite Lingcod Lures, Lingcod Fishing in Puget Sound and Puget Sound Lingcod Fishing
Shrimping in Puget Sound, Hood Canal, San Juan Islands & Strait
Best to get your pots, lines and other gear out and deploy-ready. Washington’s Spot Shrimp season officially opens on Thursday May 25th this year and we all know that it comes and goes quick! Some areas close to Seattle will be open for a brief one-day-four-hour opener, other areas have a more liberal season. Check out the full season details and some other good Shrimping info here: A Simple Guide to Washington’s 2023 Shrimping Season
Puget Sound is really quiet on the Salmon fishing front for most of May, but there are a few bright spots. South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) continues to produces a few nice Chinook for those that have put in the time. Areas of Point Gibson off Fox Island, Point Fosdick and up to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge happen to be the best places to fish.
I am hopeful, and expecting to see another traditional opener happen at the end of the month. Tulalip Bubble near Everett typically opens at the end of May to welcome back the incoming Tulalip Bay and Skykomish River Summer Chinook. We should see an emergency regulation announcement for this terminal fishery soon. Check Marine Area 8-2 Emergency Regulations.
Spring Chinook fishing in Washington’s rivers is going to peak here this month with many options all across the state. Sol Duc River in Forks just opened and a handfull of Spring Chinook were harvested in the first couple days. Kalama River in Southwest Washington has started to see a push of Springers and anglers are catching a few remaining Wild Steelhead mixed in as well. Willapa River near South Bend has a special opener for Spring Chinook, as there was a supplemental stocking there in 2019 in support of Southern Resident Killer Whales, pretty unique and uncharted opportunity! Lower Yakima River near Prosser is opening for Spring Chinook as well. Sections of the lower Skagit River also opened to fishing this month, which is a great option to catch Spring Chinook in North Puget Sound. I expect we will see other last-minute openers in other Washington State rivers as well once we see stronger Columbia River dam counts.
Bass Fishing in Western Washington
While I do enjoy a little bass fishing from time to time, I’m about as far from being a bass fishing expert as one can be. When I want the true rundown, I call Doug St Denis, who is one of the best bass fishing guides in Western Washington. Doug gave me the full story which was so in-depth, I had to break it out into a separate post here. He shared that our odd cold weather pattern that we have experienced this spring has made for an interesting early season, however the fishing has been exceptional. The next month should be even better, as we return to warm temps and the majority of bass move into their more typical spawning patterns.
Seattle Area Trout Fishing Report
Washington’s lowland lake opener was April 22nd, and fishing started with a bang. Last year over 16 million trout and kokanee were planted in Washington’s lakes, and this year saw about the same. Hundreds of thousands of folks headed to their local lakes on opening day to participate in the state’s largest annual fishing opener. Many lakes in the Seattle area saw and continue to see great fishing for Rainbow Trout, such as Wilderness Lake (Maple Valley), Green Lake (Seattle), Pine Lake (Sammamish), Angle Lake (SeaTac), Flowing Lake (Monroe), Goodwin (Marysville), Boren (Newcastle) and countless others. Fishing usually remains good for the entire month of May and even beyond. With our colder-than-normal Spring, our planted trout will enjoy some cold lake water for some time, and should respond well to the traditional Power Bait fishing rig, casting a spinner like a Roostertail, trolling a spoon like a Needlefish, or fly fishing.
Kokanee Fishing Report
Kokanee fishing in Western Washington usually begins to get good in April, but with super cold water temperatures, the first good fishing reports are just starting to trickle in. Lake Stevens fishing regulars and guides saw their first consistent limits in late April/early May, and as our warm weather becomes more consistent, so should this fishery. Trolling with a dodger and wedding ring, tipped with a kernel of cured corn is one of the go-to tactics. Lake Stevens and Lake Washington are the primary Kokanee fishing lakes in Western Washington, but there are some great producers further south (Merwin, Yale) and further east (Chelan, Roosevelt).
Seattle Fishing Co & Riptidefish Shop: What’s Hot List
- Salmon Fishing Gear: We just got our first shipment of McOmie’s Custom Glow Spoons and do they look good! UV & Glow front finish in some killer colors for Puget Sound and further out. Check em out!
- Halibut, Lingcod & Rockfish Gear: Bora Jigs in 4oz, 6oz, 8oz, 12oz & 16oz are a compact glow jig with a hoochie skirt and tandem assist hooks, perfect for fishing the reef or deep dropping. Available in Glow Orange, Glow Brown, Glow White, and 6x Glow. A fresh shipment of Pitbull Tackle Swimbaits and Swim Heads just landed… and are slaying Lings across the state!
- Lingcod fishing just opened in Puget Sound and the shop has a wide selection of Gamakatsu Barbless & Circle Hook, as well as Sabiki rigs for catching your own live bait.