January Salmon Fishing Options
New Years Day offers us the beginning of a favorite local fishery for Puget Sound Blackmouth Salmon. Fishing for these resident Chinook Salmon is a bright spot for saltwater anglers around the Seattle area. Throughout Puget Sound, Blackmouth can be kept if they are at least 22″ and hatchery-clipped.
This year’s seasons are somewhat limited, but we can still get out fishing in Seattle’s Marine Area 10 and South Sound’s Marine Area 13 this month. For Seattle, the Jeff Head, Kingston, Richmond Beach and Shilshole Bay areas offer up the best promise. However, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little exploring around some of the area’s lesser known salmon fishing haunts.
Marine Area 10 opens January 1 and will close to fishing once we reach our impact limits. So if the weather is nice and more people get out fishing, the season will be short. However, with the current forecast looking a little rough, we will all need to pick and choose our days. When the season does close, it will most likely be short notice, so always check the Emergency Regulations for rule changes on this fishery before you head out.
Downrigger trolling is the classic technique for Puget Sound Blackmouth. I’d focus on working near the bottom in 80′-150′ of water around the productive areas mentioned above. Most of my Blackmouth fishing success has come from working within 10′ of the bottom.
My Favorite Blackmouth Trolling Rigs
- 11″ Flasher with a Kingfisher Spoon (2″ to 3.5″) or a Coho Killer Spoon rigged on a 36″ to 42″, 25 pound leader.
- Tomic Plug, no flasher. I prefer the 4″ Classic or Tubby.
- Cut Plug Herring, no flasher. I prefer to cut my baits the evening before fishing and brine them so they last longer on the troll.
In all honesty, I’ll probably spend as much or more time mooching. I love the feel of the take and the minimalistic nature of the set-up. Even a smaller keeper Blackmouth will give you a thrilling fight on a light tackle mooching rod.
Puget Sound Squidding
This is my first winter season targeting Puget Sound Squid from a boat, and so far it has been a good one! Both the boat and pier anglers have had really good success. This is mostly and after dark fishery, but we have had two really good daytime trips as well.
Boat squidding has been good in Seattle’s Elliott Bay and in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. If you are going to fish from a pier, check out Les Davis Pier in Tacoma, Seacrest Pier in West Seattle, Waterfront Piers in Downtown Seattle, and Edmonds Pier. There are a number of other great squidding piers throughout Puget Sound, and a full list of locations here: WDFW Public Fishing Piers.
Winter Trout Fishing
In November, selected lakes across Washington State were planted with Rainbow Trout. Some of my Seattle area favorites are Blackman’s Lake in Snohomish, Beaver Lake in Sammamish, Kitsap Lake, Ballinger Lake in Mountlake Terrace, Silver Lake in Everett, among others. Check out WDFW Catchable Trout Plants to search for a lake near you.
Close to Seattle, Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish are robust Cutthroat Trout fisheries, and January is a prime month to get out and explore! Fishing has been exceptional. Trolling in the upper 30′ mid-lake has been productive. Try a double hook Wedding Ring with a nightcrawler, behind a dodger or lake troll.
Winter Steelhead Fishing
January is a great time to target Steelhead. Seattle area rivers like the Snoqualmie and Skykomish have returning Hatchery Steelhead that usually peak in December and January. Coastal Rivers like the Bogachiel, Queets, Humptulips, Wynoochee, Satsop and others have hatchery returns as well. Wild Steelhead just barely start to enter the river systems of Washington State in January, and there are a few really nice ones being caught.
Most Olympic Peninsula Rivers have new fishing restrictions this winter season, and it is important to check them out before planning a trip. We have some new gear restrictions, new seasons, and many of our favorites now have a new “No Fishing From a Floating Device” restriction. Check out Conservation Rules Implemented on Coastal Tributaries for the overview. So, this year we will all need to change up our strategy. While these new changes will limit us in many ways, there are a few bright spots. I think that there will be a substantially reduced number of people that head to the coast, which means that those of us that do make the trip will experience uncrowded rivers and a renewed love for some of the techniques that we used to cherish, like swinging spoons, drift fishing and plunking. In the past several seasons, we have really changed our ways and spent more time hopping out of the drift boat anyways.
On the rule changes: The rule changes were a very last minute surprise to the entire fishing community, and although it shouldn’t keep us able bodied anglers from getting out to our favorite Steelhead rivers, the guiding community has been rocked by this one. I want to send out a call to action to anyone with the means… Olympic Peninsula fishing guides could really use your business, and if you have the desire to fish this winter, call your favorite guide and book a trip. If you want a recommendation, send me a message from the Contact Page.
Washington Coast Razor Clamming
Razor Clam abundance has been record-breaking this year on Washington’s Pacific Beaches. Unfortunately, many of our earlier winter digs were cancelled due to unusually high Marine Toxin Levels. As of this writing, Domoic Acid levels are still high and I don’t see any January digs scheduled, but check the WDFW Razor Clam Seasons Page for possible changes.
I hope everyone had a great New Year’s, and are as excited about the prospect of fishing in 2021 as I am! Good luck out there!