Best Places To Fish For Chinook Salmon In Puget Sound
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, after all 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 my favorites…
North Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Fishing Spots Mapped
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 edge 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. Mid Channel Bank is in Marine Area 9. Click here for more info on Mid Channel Bank Chinook Salmon fishing.
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. Point No Point is in Marine Area 9. Click here for more info on Point No Point Chinook Salmon fishing.
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. Pilot Point is in Marine Area 9.
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. Possession Bar is in Marine Area 9.
Central Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Fishing Spots Mapped
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. Apple Cove Point is the boundary of Marine Area 9 to the north and Marine Area 10 to the south. Most of the outer bar and the bowl are in Marine Area 10.
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. Jeff Head is in Marine Area 10.
Point Wells and the Oil Docks near Edmonds
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. The Oil Docks and Richmond Beach are in Marine Area 10.
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. Meadow Point is in Marine Area 10.
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 lower Chinook returns in the nearby Green River. Stay posted because it can open occasionally for a long weekend and hopefully more each season! Countless Seattle salmon anglers are in mourning for this great fishery. We all hope to someday return to an extended summer fishing season in Elliott Bay! Elliott Bay is in Marine Area 10 but has its own special seasons.
South Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Fishing Spots Mapped
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. Dolphin Point is in Marine Area 11, just barely so be aware of the boundary in case Area 11 is open but Area 10 is closed.
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. Three Tree Point is in Marine Area 11.
Redondo is well known to most South Puget Sound fishermen, but usually only draws a local crowd. Some years (like 2017), Chinook and Coho Salmon will concentrate in the Redondo area and offer excellent fishing. Redondo is in Marine Area 11.
Gig Harbor area is a great place to fish for Chinook Salmon on an incoming tide. The stretch right in front of the harbor entrance and to the north offers a nice gravelly bottom and many moochers, jiggers and trollers focus on this area in the summer. Gig Harbor is in Marine Area 11.
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. Point Defiance is in Marine Area 11.
Hidden Gems Are All Around Puget Sound
There are, of course, many other areas in Puget Sound that offer great salmon fishing. This post was designed to get you up to speed with the areas that offer consistent Chinook Salmon fishing (and catching). However, I encourage you to get out and explore anywhere that looks good on your chart. There is nothing better than catching a big Puget Sound Chinook in an area that you thought had potential, and passed up one of the more popular spots. Best of luck!
Each Marine Area has its own unique quota and fishing season. Please check the current fishing regulations before you head out fishing!