We’ve got a ton to cover for the April report. It’s a great month to be a saltwater fisher, we are seeing our first crack at Halibut for 2022 at the Strait of Juan De Fuca, San Juan Islands and Puget Sound, Rockfish and Lingcod seasons are in full swing along the Washington Coast especially in Westport and Neah Bay, there are still a few places to catch a Blackmouth in Puget Sound, and of course Razor Clamming is still going on at coastal beaches.
It’s also a great month to be a freshwater angler, as hundreds of lakes across Washington will be planted with catchable Rainbow Trout for the general opener, and many others are open right now! Bass fishing will be really getting great as April brings consistently warmer water temperatures and get’s our green-sided friends actively feeding and prepping for the spawn. Select rivers are offering up late-run hatchery winter steelhead mixed with the beginning of what is looking like a great year for Spring Chinook!
Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut Opener
The 2022 halibut season has some great news, with the earliest opening dates in recent memory. Ron Garner, President of Puget Sound Anglers has been working with state fisheries managers to get a return to these early openers inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, and the San Juan Islands. Halibut are migratory by nature, and are typically headed westward to the open ocean by spring. Therefore an April opportunity gives the fleet a much better chance at a successful harvest. Just across the border in British Columbia, seasons are much more liberal. South Vancouver Island lodges and charters showed February through April to be the best Halibut fishing, and for many years their peak season is long past by the time we get to our usual May opener! Great to see a little more opportunity aligned with when the fish will actually be in abundance during their migration.
Check out WDFW Puget Sound Halibut Seasons Page
Puget Sound Salmon Fishing Report
Captain Justin Wong with Cut Plug Charters notes that Seattle’s Marine Area 10 offered up some pretty decent Blackmouth fishing for the month of March. Although it is closed for April, just a little further south in Marine Area 13, a year-round salmon season gives all of us a chance to continue on with our hunt for Winter Blackmouth, albeit a little further from home. Just before MA 10 closed, Justin and the others fishing Kingston and Jeff Head reported that massive schools of large herring moved in! Give us another week of fishing please!
Justin’s guidance is to focus on the areas around Pt Fosdick, Wollochet, Fox Point and Gibson. All around the Gig Harbor to Fox Island communities. He and his partner Captain Kyle have been shifting from MA 10 to MA 13 throughout the winter to capitalize on as many day trips as possible. Most of their catch has been in the 170 to 200 feet of water range, and in case these names aren’t familiar, they run an exclusive mooching charter service which is super fun and engaging.
Fly Fishing for Puget Sound Sea Run Cutthroat Trout
Nobody can find Nick Clayton of South Sound Skiffs. That is because he has been somewhere in South Puget Sound, catching Sea Run Cutthroat Trout on the fly, with nary another boat in sight. The Chum Salmon fry outmigration is in full swing, and the Cutthroat are taking full advantage. Look for active feeding behavior, especially during times of strong tidal current, as this favorite food source can provide some intense cutthroat fishing opportunities in the spring.
Sekiu and Neah Bay Chinook, Lingcod and Rockfish Report
Sekiu has been a busy little hamlet since the March 1 opener for Blackmouth in local Marine Area 5. This has become one of the most consistent winter salmon fishing seasons lately, and I for one am a big fan of reliability when it comes to fishing seasons. Blackmouth action has been pretty much everywhere to the West and East of Clallam Bay. Our last trip was an absolute whopper of a good time, and it was the best Blackmouth fishing I’ve experienced. I do have to say that this is my third Blackmouth trip up there in as many years and it was the first time we actually caught Blackmouth, so I guess the stars aligned! As a really great bonus, Marine Area, both the Ocean and inside the Strait is open for Lingcod and Rockfish, so you can double dip if you make the trip up there. One regulation caveat is that you cannot currently retain Lingcod or Rockfish in MA5, and you cannot currently retain Salmon in MA4, so you will need to fish one area and drop your fish off at the dock before shifting gears.
Update April 9th: Marine Area 5 Salmon Fishing Closes Early
Westport Lingcod and Rockfish Report
Early season is a great time to get to Westport. The charter fleet and serious ocean anglers have alreayd had two weeks under their belt since the season started, and fishing has been as good as ever. Marine weather and ocean conditions are always a bit of a wild card in early Spring, but when great weather coincides with your planned trip, incredible fishing happens. Ian Winder with All Rivers & Saltwater Charters was telling me the other day that with how good the fishing is right now, those April days where the ocean lays down flat is going to be a tough experience to beat. Lingcod and Rockfish are being caught anywhere from 10 to 20 miles from the Westport Boat Basin right now.
Washington Coastal Razor Clam Report
Washington’s Pacific Beaches continue to provide ample digging days for Razor Clams. Keep an eye on WDFW Razor Clam Seasons for the most updated info. And although we have had one helluva generous season with a ton of openers, easy limits are still common this late in the season.
Yakima River Trout Fishing Report
Canon Racanelli runs fly fishing trips with his company RAX Guide Service: The Yakima river has been fishing great recently until the recent river rise. Skwalas are just on the tail end in the lower canyon with march browns starting to appear more. Below the surface, stoneflies and san juan worms have been working well as well as pheasant tails. Dry fly fishing has been better after noon with lots of bites coming after 2 o’clock. The Yakima above Ellensburg has been a little slower overall, but has been intermittently productive. Cle Elum to Ellensburg with start fishing better in coming weeks as water temperature increase with our warmer spring days. We typically start to see river flows drop this time of year and fishing should be getting even better!
Washington Trout Season Opener is April 30th
Neils Humphreys of River Dog Outfitters was jacked for warm spring weather, longer days and Trout season! In every corner of the state, WDFW has a long-standing history of making sure that everyone lives within close proximity to a stocked trout lake. Although there are many lakes that are open year-round, and some Eastern Washington lakes open March 1, the vast majority of them open up every year on the 4th Saturday of April.
Standard power bait rigs or cast and retrieving small spinners is a sure bet. Neils runs lake trips in the spring and totally gets how easy it is to get a new angler hooked on fishing with a day during trout season.
Kokanee Fishing Highlights for April
Brianna Bruce with Livin Life Adventures is always my go-to for a Kokanee fishign report. She knows that as we pull out of those consistently chilly days of winter, lowland lake water temperatures gradually rise and as that happens, Kokanee fishing gets better and better as Spring progresses. Fishing is still a little slow, but there’s fish around for those who want to grind it out. It should be in full swing by mid-to late April. Flat lining Dick Nite Dodgers and beaded spinners tipped with Shoe-peg corn 60-100’ behind the boat has produced the best for her during this early season period. Once the water temp gets in the mid 50’s the deeper fish will start getting active and lead or downriggers will start coming into play more. Keep moving and covering water until you find the schools, as they can be in completely different areas of the lake from one day to the next, don’t get stuck in one place early in the season like this.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Fishing in April
Doug Saint-Denis is a full time fishing guide & charter operator, fishing for Salmon, Steelhead, bottom fish and more through 365 Charters. He also offers guided bass fishing trips in western Washington, he gave me a great rundown on upcoming bass fishing opportunities. While many areas of the country are experiencing post spawn bass fishing, here in Washington State, we are just getting ready to start pre-spawn bass fishing.
Pre-spawn bass fishing is an absolute blast! Smallmouth bass are feeding aggressively, preparing for the spawn.
So as the water heats up, these bass will start moving up near the areas they will create their bed. That said, I like to fish the outskirts of these areas I know will have beds in the month of May and even June.
I like to use search baits to look for these bass. Jerk baits are a great tool for this. I like using suspending jerk baits, with an erratic action. Swim baits with a ½ ounce under spin work well too. If I am finding fish, I will switch to a slower presentation with a 3.5” tube or a bearded grub, rigged Texas style.
In regards to color, match the bait the bass are feeding on. Our lakes are loaded with crawfish, so crawfish patterns are good. Trout and perch patterns are proven as well. If you are fishing a body of water that has kokanee, kokanee colors should be in your arsenal. “Go to” colors will be green pumpkin with black flake, watermelon red with black flake are always a staple.
Austin Heyer is one of my local bass fishing mentors. Although the weather is a little chilly, he said that Largemouth in our suburban Seattle area lakes will take the opportunity to move into the shallows looking for the perfect place to bed down for the spawn. For smallmouth you will want to target areas directly outside spawning areas in the 10-20’ range with techniques such as jerkbaits, drop shots, football head jigs among a few of the top producers. Largemouth will be pushing into the shallows to warm themselves up, make sure to target shallow cover in the 1-10’ range such as wood, rock, docks and emerging pad fields. Some of the best techniques to catch largemouth in the spring are senkos, spinnerbaits, jigs and Chatterbaits. Both smallmouth and largemouth will continue to push towards spawning areas in anticipation of the continued warmth! Typically both species will start their yearly spawn toward the end of this month and go thru June depending on the lake and some other factors. This is by far one of the best times though to catch the bass of a lifetime!
Columbia River Spring Chinook
Spring Chinook fishing in the Lower Columbia is at its peak right now! Boaters from Cathlamet, Longview, Clatskanie, and Vancouver/Portland have seen the catching really pick up lately. River water temperatures are still extremely cool, and either anchor fishing with a plug, or trolling with a triangle flasher and cut plug herring are putting more fish to the net than anything else. Cold water makes Columbia River Spring Chinook slow way down and travel right on the bottom. Make sure your gear, trolling or anchored, is within a foot of the river bottom. These fish are notorious for travelling in very shallow water right next to the shoreline, hence why bank plunkers have as good as a chance of catching one as a boater. The lower river is expected to close April 6th, and once Washington and Oregon assess catch rates and Bonneville Dam counts, we may see additional days.
Washington Steelhead and Spring Chinook Report
Todd Daniels of Tall Tails Guide Service has been spending time on the Cowlitz River, the first two weeks in April are typically pretty darn good for steelhead down there and Springers are becoming more and more prevalent. You should expect the entire month of April to be prime time for a Cowlitz River trip. Most of the guys targeting late Winter Steelhead have been focused on the traditional hatchery zone just upriver from Blue Creek, and both the jet sled crowd and bank anglers are finding a number of them.
Coming Soon in May!
Puget Sound and San Juan Islands Lingcod: May 1 marks opening day for Lingcod fishing all marine areas from Sekiu, Port Angeles, San Juan Islands, Admiralty Inlet and all of Puget Sound. This is such an important opener, because it is where many of us get excited enough to get back on the saltwater. Don’t worry, the Lingcod have missed you too and should be stacked up on their favorite reefs, rockpiles and ledges. Check out our article Puget Sound Lingcod
Puget Sound – Tulalip Bay Bubble Chinook Opener
Puget Sound and Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Seasons: Every self respecting boater in Puget Sound is anxiously waiting for the word on when Spot Shrimp will reopen in Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands. Some areas see dozens of days worth of opportunity, others have a day or two, so we will be posting as soon as we know when that opener happens, but it is most likely to happen in May. Check out our article Puget Sound Spot Shrimp
Washington Coastal Halibut Openers
Riptidefish Online Shop News
We’ve been busy outfitting all you great folks with fishing gear! It’s been fun work to order gear, answer all your questions and get it sent to your mailbox. The big focus right now is to make sure we have all the great tackle for our spring fisheries. Here are a few new additions to our online shop.
- Pro-Troll Flashers: These guys have really crushed it with their durable saltwater salmon flashers in all the productive colors. Lighted and standard, and with or without fins to meet the action you want.
- Pitbull Tackle: I’m impressed with their swimbaits, twin tail plastics and their new Killer Jig lures, we just landed a big order to get everyone ready for Halibut, Lingcod and Rockfish.
- Puget Pounder Jigs: These are the go-to metal option for vertical Salmon jigging, Lingcod and Rockfish. I ordered heavy on these, as they flat out catch fish!
- River float fishing gear for Salmon and Steelhead: We just got a re-boot of our best floats, weights and other gear for those that love to see those bobbers drain when targeting late-spring Steelhead and Spring Chinook.