Frigid winter weather isn’t going to keep us off the water here in Washington State! For those of us that are eager to get out, we have some great Salmon, Steelhead and Trout fisheries, coastal Razor Clams to dig, and Puget Sound squid to catch. All the fisheries mentioned are bright spots so far, and hopefully will be encouragement for you to get out!
Puget Sound Winter Blackmouth Fishing
Marine Area 10 around Seattle is by far the best option for anyone looking to get out on the salt. The Winter Blackmouth Chinook fishery is our first opportunity of the new year to bring in a fresh salmon. The January 1 opener looked a little dicey, weather-wise, but the morning was doable and those that went out found a few really nice keeper Blackmouth.
Downrigger trolling is the method of choice for many, and Blackmouth tend to prefer foraging near the bottom of some of the more prolific banks we have in Central Sound. Jeff Head and Kingston are most popular. But don’t overlook some of the other great fishing areas, such as Richmond Beach, Boeing Creek, Shilshole Bay and Elliott Bay. Typically, trolling with an 11″ flasher with a Silver Horde Kingfisher Spoon, or Trolling Squid or Ace-Hi Fly with tandem 4/0 hooks on 36″to 40″, 40 pound leader is a great option. Tomic Plugs in the 4″ Classic or 4″ Tubby fished without a flasher is another great choice.
Mooching with a sinker and cut-plug herring is also a proven producer, and put a few fish in the box on the opener for some of the dedicated moochers. Working the entire water column is the name of the game, and a Chinook that finds your bait when it is dropped to the bottom may not bite until it follows the bait up 50′, but let your offering linger once it taps bottom for a moment, giving it a better chance at finding a feeder Blackmouth.
The Marine Area 10 season is open Saturdays through Mondays only, and is based on a quota. We should be able to fish at least through January, hopefully longer, but it is always a good idea to check WDFW emergency rules before heading out to the boat ramp. Minimum size is 22″, marked fish only. WDFW Marine Area 10 Winter Season News Release.
1/14/21 Update: WDFW announced a surprise closure for MA10 to allow for increased opportunity later in the winter season. WDFW News Release
Puget Sound Squidding
Winter is primetime for squidding in Puget Sound. Boaters are focused on the areas near the Seattle Waterfront in Elliott Bay. The areas at the entrance to the Duwamish River East Waterway north along the downtown piers to Bell Street are most productive. For those not in the city, Gig Harbor and Tacoma’s Commencement Bay from 80′ shoreward to the waterfront piers is worth checking out. Leverage your sonar to find schools of squid, and during the day they might not be super close to the docks.
For those that don’t want to get the boat out, Downtown Seattle Piers, Edmonds Pier, Les Davis (Tacoma) and Redondo (Federal Way) piers are the place to be. Piers seem to be best at night, as Squid are drawn in to waterfront lights.
Tie a couple squid jigs inline, if you have multiple sizes make sure to place the heaviest as the bottom jig. I rig mine about a foot apart. When you get into a nice school of biters, hauling in a couple at a time is helpful at filling your limit!
Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish Trout Fishing
Our big local lakes are lightly fished, but an amazing option if you want an easy day on the lake and some of the largest trout in our region. We went out to Lake Sammamish on New Year’s day and had it practically to ourselves! We found trout to be within the top 20′ of the water column, mid-lake. Troll a Wedding Ring with a double hook and a half-nightcrawler worm, a 2″ spoon, Rapala jointed crankbait, or Brad’s Kokanee Cut-Plug. Lake Washington has also been producing, and although I focus on the south end of the lake near the Cedar River mouth to South Mercer Island, anglers out of the north end near Kirkland also catch some really chunky Cutthroat Trout.
Winter Steelhead Fishing
Steelhead anglers have been on an emotional roller coaster lately. Fishing on Washington’s famed Olympic Peninsula has come with uncertainty, as certain rivers are seeing low returns, and other river runs are abundant enough to allow for fishing, some from boats, some bank only. For those of you interested in making the voyage to the coast, I hope you appreciate the fact that I won’t be going into detail on where… as with limited rivers open, I will let you do a little homework and decide where to fish, but there are fish being caught where open!
Puget Sound Winter Steelhead has been on a downhill slide for a while now, and many folks have hung up their waders for good. However, this year threw everyone off, and some of our Puget Sound rivers have seen the biggest hatchery Winter Steelhead returns in over a decade. Snoqualmie River’s Tokul Creek Hatchery has already had a ton of steelhead back, and fishing has been very good and very consistent for those fishing at Fall City, Plum’s Landing, Big Eddy, and in Tokul Creek itself. Skykomish River has been another solid producer, with bank anglers at Reiter and Wallace finding plenty of Steelhead.
Washington Coast Razor Clamming
We were asked to take a “break” from clamming on the coast, for Pandemic concerns to the small Washington Coast communities during the 2020/2021 season. This winter our season came roaring back with a record number of opening days in Winter 2021 and an increased Razor Clam limit to 20. On January 1, limits were brought back to our usual 15 clam limit, but we still have been gifted with tons of openers! Although the diggers came in droves during the openers near the end of 2021, Razor Clam populations are still super healthy and have been yielding easy limits. Check out upcoming clamming opportunities here: WDFW Razor Clam Seasons and Beaches.
Happy New Year’s Everyone! I hope to see you out on the water, and as always, thank you so much for reading my fishing report!