May is a BIG month for us Washington anglers. Although we are only a few days into the month, Lingcod fishing has already started strong, lake fishing has started to bust out of its shell, and we have some popular fisheries all around the state that are going to premier this month. This is a heavy fishing report, but read all the way through and get the scoop on what is going on in the Seattle area and the rest of Washington State.
Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut
Halibut fishing opened up earlier than usual in our inland marine waters. April 22 was the opening day, and we will see a few more weeks for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday openers. I went out to Mutiny Bay on the first Saturday and we didn’t find one (hey, you can’t be a hero every day!), but a number of folks fishing the Eastern Straits and Admiralty Inlet found some really high-grade halibut. Check out WDFW Puget Sound Halibut Seasons.
Puget Sound Lingcod Fishing Report
Well, we didn’t have much of a Winter Blackmouth fishing season in Puget Sound, so I had a lot of pent up fishing anxiety and it was great to get out on May 1 when the Lingcod season opened. I hopped on my buddy Ross’s new boat for the inaugural trip and he did a great job as captain! We didn’t see a whole lot of nets flying at Possession Bar, but ended up catching once nice keeper, first fish in the new boat!
Captain Matt Messing of Messin’ Around Charters had a great few days of the beginning of the season and found some Lingcod in Marine Area 10. I’ve always looked up to Matt and his skills of finding Lingcod success in the Sound.
Captain Justin Wong of Cut Plug Charters focused his efforts in both Marine Areas 9 and 10 and found consistent action for Lingcod. Live bait was the ticket, along with a solid understanding of location and tides.
Check out: Puget Sound Lingcod Fishing
San Juan Islands Lingcod Fishing Report
May 1 marks the opening day for Lingcod fishing in the San Juan Islands. The marine waters around the islands have some of Washington’s best underwater structure for Lingcod.
The report from San Juan Island Fishing Charters out of Friday Harbor was also very encouraging! By utilizing top-notch marine electronics, they are keying in on dense schools of bait and feeding Lingcod on the screen, targeting those areas and finding their clients some really quality fish to take home. Some of the areas they are fishing are as shallow as 20′ and as deep as the 120′ maximum depth limit for bottom fish. If you find your way onto San Juan Island, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend your day than on a charter with these guys!
Chase Gunnell made a weekend trip up there for the opener and found steady action on live sand dabs, mooching large herring, and Lancer Jigs during the prime tide windows throughout the opening weekend. Chase and his crew found a number of larger Lingcod that were over the 36″ maximum size. Carefully releasing the largest Lingcod is crucial, as these are the most successful breeders that help perpetuate the population.
One of the benefits of fishing the San Juan Islands is that it offers so much great structure and habitat for these fish, and although it can be tempting to burn fuel and run all over the islands, taking the time to learn a few spots that are nearby to your launch point will pay big dividends. During Chase’s trip on opening weekend, the currents were strong, and they found some great fishing by focusing on a few key areas and learning how to set up the drift and target Lings throughout the day as the currents and conditions changed.
Westport Fishing Report
Westport is Washington’s most accessible ocean fishing port, and both charter and recreational boats are enjoying some great ocean conditions and phenomenal Lingcod and Rockfish fishing.
Captain Nick Clayton of All Rivers & Saltwater Charters reports that, aside from a few outlier days where the fish were a little funky, bottom-fishing has been excellent! Some of the close-to-port spots have proven a little challenging, but the run 10-20 miles out has definitely been worth the extra time and fuel. Both live flounder and frozen herring have been very productive. Nick has even had a few clients that have brought their fly rods and found phenomenal action!
Captain Mitch Coleman of Angler’s Edge Sportfishing has been out finding some amazing Lingcod and Rockfish fishing as well. It’s a big ocean out there, but great charters have the spots where Lingcod and Rockfish collect in big concentrations. Almost every day is offering up limits!
Captain Allan Palmerson of CCO Sportfishing reports that bottom fishing has been strong this spring in Westport. Live bait fishing with flounder has been their go-to tactic and the bite has been great! Although, they are using lead flutter jigs for Rockfish and have been pleasantly surprised on how many incidental Lingcod have been taking those as well! Black Rockfish have been a little finicky day-to-day but they have been heading north of Westport and finding good numbers of eager biters.
Westport Halibut Season opens on May 6th. Check out WDFW South Coast Halibut Seasons.
Neah Bay and Sekiu Fishing Report
Neah Bay – Marine Area 4: As of this posting, the Makah Reservation and Neah Bay’s Boat Launch, Marina and Services are still closed due to Covid concerns, but you can access Marine Area 4 from the nearest port of Sekiu. Lingcod and Rockfish fishing has been amazing, and should continue. Halibut fishing opens in Marine Area 4 on May 6th. Check out WDFW North Coast Halibut Seasons.
Sekiu – Marine Area 5: Blackmouth fishing season lasted through the month of April and ended strong. Sekiu’s Marine Area 5 is open for Lingcod and Rockfish as of May 1. Lingcod limit 1, 26″ to 36″. You can keep 3 Black, Blue/Deacon Rockfish West of Slip Point, but East of Slip Point you can keep the first one you catch per person. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 5 opens on May 6th. Check out WDFW Puget Sound/Straits Halibut Seasons.
Washington Lake Trout Fishing
Thousands of folks eagerly waited for the last Saturday in April, because this is the day that many of our favorite Washington lakes opened up for fishing. Although the weather on the opening weekend was a little chilly and rainy, many got out and had great fishing on lakes across the state. Fishing was amazing for stocked Rainbow Trout on lakes all across the Puget Sound area and lakes further out.
Lake fishing in the spring is a great experience for everyone, and if you are new to fishing in Washington it is a great way to break into the sport! The majority fish from shore at public access points, but a small non-motorized boat like a skiff, kayak, canoe or float tube allows you to get away from the crowd and really enjoy your local lake.
Shore-bound anglers will find the best success by fishing Powerbait on the bottom with a leader and a small sliding sinker. If you have a small boat, you can find some great action by slow trolling a 4/0 dodger with a wedding ring, a Roostertail Spinner, or an Acme Kastmaster in 1/8 oz. If you are interested in fly fishing, a floating line with a Wooly Bugger, Zug Bug, Carey Special or other small nymph can be a great way to find success quickly! Fishing on local lakes should remain good through at least June.
Washington Lake Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Fishing
We had a great teaser in April of warm spring weather, and it definitely helped kick start warm water fisheries across the state.
Eastern Washington: Austin Moser of Austin’s Northwest Adventures has been fishing daily and has already seen some great fishing. Eastern Washington Walleye fishing is really starting to get good. Moses Lake, Banks Lake and O’Sullivan Reservoir are putting out some nice Walleye. The fishing is improving daily as the water temps climb and all warm water species start to come out of the spawn. It’s game time for these toothy and tasty critters. Bass and Crappie fishing as been a great opportunity and should continue to be an easy catch for the next month!
Eastern Washington: I got another great report from Fishing Guide Bonner Daniels of Bonner’s Fish-On Adventures. He has been smashing pre-spawn Largemouth Bass on Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake. The Smallmouth Bass have moved up into the shallows and all of them are spawning, or about to. Soft plastics on a jig or weightless have been the big ticket. Walleye fishing has been good on Potholes and Moses Lake, and Bonner’s guests are finding plenty of them within the keeper-sized slot limit. Big Walleye females have been a little more elusive. For Walleye, Bonner has found the best success fishing with worm harnesses, but he has been finding some solid action on plugs as well!
Western Washington: My longtime friends Cami and Glen Bayer of Tacoma shared some recent successes and they are very happy to see that bass fishing in Western Washington has started with a bang. Water temperatures are rising in Western Washington, and with that comes active Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass that bite! Watch for them to move into the shallows, where you can pitch and flip your favorite jig and trailer combination. Focus on areas with downed timber, under docks, and the edges of growing weed lines.
Spring Chinook Fishing in the Columbia River and Tributaries
I got a report from my buddy Josiah Darr of J Darr Guided Fishing based in Portland. He and his crew has found a few Spring Chinook in Multnomah Channel but they have been working hard for them. Fishing in the Willamette River has been also somewhat spotty but definitely worth the effort. One of the brightest spots in the Columbia River Springer game has been Drano Lake, which has been absolutely great during the days that it is open for fishing. If you are headed down to the Portland area, Josiah is the guy you want to get in touch with for a fishing trip.
Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season Opens May 19
Puget Sound, Hood Canal, San Juan Islands and Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca open for Spot Shrimp on May 19th. Expect a brief one or maybe two day season close to Tacoma, Seattle and Everett. Hood Canal should see a few weekends, and even more days in the Islands and Straits. Check out the following posts:
Puget Sound, Hood Canal, San Juan Islands, Straits Spot Shrimp Seasons 2021
Preparing for the 2021 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season
Puget Sound Spot Shrimp – Ultimate Guide
How to Catch Spot Shrimp
Skykomish River Opens June 1 for Summer Chinook and Steelhead
Fishing Guide Todd Daniels with Tall Tails Guide Service is ready for the upcoming Skykomish River opener. The popular Skykomish River opener is fast approaching and he’s been busy preparing all the gear and bait so that his crew is ready for some great action! This year’s preseason forecast is close to 10,000 Chinook, so get ready! Our snowpack levels are looking really good, and the river is already seeing high flows, which means that the river should have an early push of fish before the opener. High river flows in the early part of the season mean that these hard-fighting Chinook and Steelhead will be holding in the soft edges of the main river currents.
Look for inside seams and don’t be afraid to cast your offering right at the shoreline. What does Todd like to fish on the Skykomish? “Eggs, Eggs, and more Eggs.”
Try either a bobber and salmon eggs or drift fish with them. Don’t give up as these fish are on the move. Just because they may not be in your spot right now, they will come. The Skykomish River is open for Chinook from Mouth of the Wallace River to mouth of Skykomish River from Memorial Day weekend through July 31st and there should be quality fish in there from Day One! See you in the water.