When I stand on the shores of Puget Sound, I feel like a lucky man to live in a place so filled with natural beauty and great fishing. Salmon flood into Puget Sound throughout our summer months. Before I bought my boat, I spent many a day shorebound. Casting towards that dream of landing a fresh Chinook, Coho, Pink or whatever would bite. Some days, I would catch something to take home, but everyday I reeled in a great experience. Even nowadays, we catch salmon from shore with amazing regularity. This guide will help you if you want to catch salmon from the beaches of Puget Sound.
This is a great opportunity for the entire family. One of the best experiences we have in Puget Sound is spending a day on the beach. Why not bring a fishing rod with you?
When To Fish For Salmon On Puget Sound’s Beaches
There is never a bad time of year to spend on the beach. However, Puget Sound’s salmon runs are seasonal, and there are definitely better times than others to hit the beach looking for a salmon catch.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing for Chinook Salmon
Chinook Salmon are the most prized catch in Puget Sound. Both by shore and boat anglers alike. They tend to spend their time in deeper waters away from shore. But during our short summer season, there are a few landed from shore. Point No Point (North Kitsap Peninsula at Hansville) and Point Wilson (Port Townsend at Fort Worden State Park) offer the best chance at landing a Chinook from the beach. We typically have a season during July and August, but the opening and closing dates of the season changes every year.
As of this post, public fishing piers offer year-round season for Chinook. And plenty of Chinook are caught every year in Central Puget Sound’s piers that allow anglers to cast heavier metal jigs into deeper waters. Try out the Edmonds Pier, Seacrest Pier (West Seattle) and Redondo Pier (Federal Way).
From shore or pier, most of Puget Sound’s beach-caught Chinook are taken with a metal jig. See technique below.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing for Pink Salmon
Pink Salmon flood into Puget Sound only on odd-numbered years (2021, 2023, ect). When they do, it’s usually in the millions! They enter the Puget Sound in July and peak runs occur mid-August to early-September. They get caught by the boat fleet out in the shipping lanes with great regularity. However, beach fishing can be really, really good! Every public beach in Puget Sound sees good fishing when they are in.
The best technique to catch Pink Salmon from the beach is with a small metal jig. See metal jig fishing technique below.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing for Coho Salmon
For most Puget Sound beach anglers, Coho Salmon capture the most attention. They travel shallow well within casting range. They are aggressive and are quick to snap at your lure. Oh and by the way, their fillets are quite tasty. They are caught off nearly every public beach in Puget Sound.
Coho start to return in great numbers from their ocean pastures in August and September. But even before the big migration occures, there are ample Coho that are resident and never leave Puget Sound. These resident Coho give us good fishing as soon as the season begins (Usually June or July, depending on the seasonal regulations).
Float fishing with a cut-plug herring under a bobber is a great way to fish. But most anglers fish with a smaller metal jig.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing for Chum Salmon
Chum Salmon tend to elude most shore fishers in Puget Sound. That is until they get very close to their spawning streams deeper into the Sound. South Puget Sound estuaries like Big Beef Creek and Minter Creek (Kitsap County), Kennedy Creek (Mason County), and the Purdy Spit (Near Gig Harbor), as well as numerous beaches on Hood Canal near spawning tributaries are your best bet. They reach their peak Puget Sound migration from late-September to late-October.
Float fishing with an anchovy under a bobber is the most popular way to catch Chum Salmon off of Puget Sound beaches.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing for Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye Salmon are plankton eaters so they could care less about your most perfect beach fishing lure. Give up on em from shore… you have better ways to spend your time than looking for that beach-caught unicorn.
Best Puget Sound Beaches to Catch Salmon
Best Tides For Puget Sound Salmon Fishing From The Beach
Regardless of the time of year, any salmon species you are after, a higher tide is best for beach fishing. If I can perfectly plan my trip around the tides, I’ll fish the four hour window around the high tide. Show up two hours before high tide, and fish two hours afterwards. It seems to help push the fish to within casting distance from the beach.
Puget Sound Beach Fishing Techniques
As salmon return to Puget Sound, they are still actively feeding. Trying to grab as many extra calories they can before they fully transition into spawning mode and head up their natal rivers and streams. They can be quite aggressive and catching can be easy, if you find them in the right mood.
Casting Metal Jigs For Salmon
Metal jigs are the most popular lure for catching salmon from the beach or pier. You will need to gauge the weight based on the water in front of you. Most beaches have a gradual slope, and a 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce metal jig will give you good casting distance, get you down into the zone, and avoid getting so deep they snag on bottom or rake up seaweed.
You want to cast as far as you can. Then let it sink as deep as you dare. Reel in the slack line, then lift your rod with a pop, let it sink and flutter down, lift again, repeat. Salmon can bite on both the drop or the lift so be prepared to set the hook if you feel anything!
Anglers fishing from Puget Sound’s public fishing piers often use heavier jigs. For those guys, a 1 ounce to 2.5 ounce jig is the ticket.
Float Fishing With Herring For Salmon
This technique requires a little more finesse than jigging. Herring can be a fragile bait, and most experienced anglers will brine their baits the night before to give them a little longer lifetime on the end of their line. But this can be an unbelievably effective setup for beach fishing.
You will want to fish with a longer rod, somewhere in the 9’6″ to 11″ length with a softer action. After all, you don’t want to rip the bait off as you try and cast it a country mile towards those salmon!
Rig a big sliding float with the appropriate sinker size to get it out as far as possible. Run a 3′ to 4′ – 25 pound leader to two 3/0 octopus hooks and rig your cut-plug herring. If the current is moving, you can let it sit out there and it will actively spin as it pulls against the current. Chinook and Coho can’t resist a cut-plug herring.
Fly Fishing Puget Sound’s Beaches
Puget Sound has been a fly fishing stronghold for quite some time. Most beaches offer a light enough gradient to give those with a floating line the best presentation. I prefer a floating line with a weighted fly. Use fly patterns that imitate the bait fish that they feed on. Cast far and strip fast. Weighted flies and Puget Sound’s light to moderate winds require a 7 weight to 8 weight to get your presentation out to the strike zone.
What To Bring To The Beach
Aside from the basic fishing tackle, I can think of a few extras that will make your trip even more productive and enjoyable.
- Pliers. Puget Sound is a barbless hook fishery.
- Polarized sunglasses.
- Rod holder. The last thing you want is to set your favorite reel on the sand and get it gunked up and grinding gears. A small piece of PVC plumbing pipe drove into the sand is all you really need to get your rod stored off the sand if you need to take a break.
- Insulated Catch Cooler. It’s pretty cool to beach fish on Puget Sound, but you would be surprised on how warm it can be on the water’s edge. Bring an easy to carry cooler back with ice to preserve your catch.
If you have yet to spend a day on the beaches of Puget Sound fishing for salmon, you need to get on it! The fishing techniques are simple and you can easily be rewarded if you put in a little effort and time. Best of luck out there everyone!