The month of May is so jam packed with fishing options in Washington State it’s tough to not go overboard with a report, but I did it anyways. Every corner of the state is boiling with fishing opportunity. Well enough of an intro, I want to give a huge thanks for all the guides, charter captains and pros that put in the effort to share their reports and knowledge and help drive the excitement to fish in Washington State. It’s going to be a helluva month out on the water!
Lingcod Fishing in Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, Sekiu and Port Angeles
For many of us in the Puget Sound area, the May 1 Lingcod opener is the first major fishing season of the year. The opener was a big success for many, with good reports from the Seattle area, Admiralty Inlet, San Juan Islands and as far west as Sekiu. I spoke with Justin Wong of Cut Plug Charters and his boats are planning daily trips around Marine Areas 9 and 10, and if this season is anything like last year’s it should be a very productive season for everyone.
Matt Messing of Messin Around Fishing Charters dropped some knowledge on one of his keys to success, flounder has been my go-to live bait of choice, but he suggests considering having a Sabiki rig ready to grab some marina Shiner Perch or Herring if you see a bait ball, a change in bait can be a game-changer. I’m taking Sabiki’s with me on the next trip!
Our opening day adventure out of Seattle was awesome. We had calm weather and although there was an extreme tide swing, we were able a couple shorts and one really nice keeper! Full report here.
For all of Puget Sound (Hood Canal still closed), Central/East Strait and San Juan Islands, the season is May 1 to June 15, daily limit 1 between 26″ to 36″. Jigging soft plastics like twin-tails and swimbaits on a lead jig-head is a key technique, as is fishing live-bait. A great rundown of the fishery here: Puget Sound Lingcod Fishing
Expect the action to continue through mid-June. While I do have my favorite spots, I plan on exploring new areas to find that hidden Lingcod structure that I know is all around Puget Sound.
Halibut Fishing in Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, Strait
Halibut anglers have been enjoying the fact that they got an April opening day, and it’s been pretty good! Admiralty Inlet and the Islands offer up a more protected area to target Halibut and fishing on the drift or on anchor has been fairly productive. These areas don’t produce the numbers as our coastal fisheries, but the shorter drive and lack of open ocean swells make this fishery a crowd favorite. Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca has a dozen banks that are more exposed to weather conditions, but harbor a great shot at a trophy Halibut. That being said, many days the Straits are like glass and a super comfortable experience with good fishing. Open three days a week through May 21, Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays, Memorial Day weekend days and more days in June, until quota is met. WDFW Puget Sound/Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut Page
Halibut Fishing in Sekiu
I had not fished in Sekiu prior to 2020, but in the last few years I haven’t been able to stay away. I love the small community vibe, they have great lodging and facilities, and everything is within walking distance to the docks. Sekiu’s Marine Area 5 offers a great Halibut fishing opportunity, and although you have to educate yourself to current and tide conditions, it is usually much fairer weather than the ocean. Run from the harbor out to the entrance of the Strait near Neah Bay (Marine Area 4 rules), west towards the mouth of the Sekiu River or east to Pillar Point. Halibut is open May 5 to 21 – Thursday and Saturday only, Friday through Sunday for Memorial Day Weekend, and more days in June, all depending on quota. WDFW Puget Sound/Strait of Juan de Fuca Halibut Page
Neah Bay and La Push Halibut and Lingcod
Neah Bay and La Push are on the extreme outer reaches of the Olympic Peninsula, and the waters accessible from these ports offers some of the best Halibut and Lingcod areas in Washington. Both these ports are on tribal lands, and after two years of pandemic related closures, 2022 marks the return to these communities welcoming back visitors. John Thiel of Alpha Angler Charters had shifted operations to Westport during the pandemic, and when I spoke to him about this season, he was thrilled to get back to his home port at La Push. Eight planned Halibut days in Marine Areas 3 and 4 will give people plenty of time to plan a trip.
Marine Area 3 and 4 Halibut openers are planned for Thursdays and Saturdays – from May 5 to 21, Friday May 27, Sunday May 29, Thursdays and Saturdays – from June 2 to 25, and Thursday June 30. Quota will determine if we get all those days so follow along at WDFW North Coast Halibut Page.
Westport Halibut and Lingcod
Captain Nick Clayton with All Rivers & Saltwater Charters and their crew is ramped up and operating out of Westport. For the upcoming Halibut and Deepwater Lingcod trips, they will be targeting their favorite hard bottom areas and ledges from 500′ to 800′ of water. They fish a mix of live flounder, large herring and pipe jigs. Flounder in particular areas are a favorites because both Halibut and Lings love them. Westport Halibut average 20 to 40 pounds, but the larger ones are there and present a chance at a 100 plus pounder! Deepwater Lingcod in the 15 to 25 pound range are common. And aside from high-grade catches, this is also a numbers fishery, so plan on being worn out from reeling in fish on your next trip with them!
Marine Area 2 Halibut openers are planned for Thursdays and Sundays – from May 5 to 22, Thursday May 26 and more potential June dates. This is also a quota based season so follow along at WDFW South Coast Halibut Page.
Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Hood Canal Shrimp Season Opener
This one gets me really excited! When I plan my May fishing trips, I always make sure I block out at least a day to go shrimping. Washington is the only state in the Continental US with a Spot Shrimp fishery that all of us with recreational boats can casually enjoy. We will see the Strait, San Juan Islands, Hood Canal and Puget Sound open on Wednesday May 25. Central Puget Sound areas will get a one day opener (maybe additional if we don’t over do it with catch), and other areas will have additional days. Check out my overview at Puget Sound Spot Shrimp and the WDFW Shrimp Season Page.
Washington Lake Opener – Trout Fishing Report
Many lakes across Washington State opened on April 23rd. Thousands of families got out for opening day fun, and the action will continue to be great for weeks to come! Almost everyone in the state lives a short drive away from the nearest stocked lake, and most have ample bank and small boat access. Take a small craft out and slow-troll spinners or spoons, or enjoy some shore-time and plunk floating Powerbait.
Kokanee Fishing in May
With warmer weather up the Kokanee bite has started to get good! Brianna Bruce of Livin’ Life Adventures is my go-to Kokanee guru. Right now the water temps are fluctuating between 49 and 54 degrees which keep the active fish up near the surface. Flat lined rods run out to 100’ with no weight added are catching fish. As the sun comes up she will start adding 1/2 to 2 oz of lead to get down a bit deeper if that surface bite slows down. There’s no reason to run downriggers right now, but if you’re going to run them, keeping them in the top 20’ of water will produce fish.
As the month goes on and the water warms up more we will start to see a thermocline form around 40’ and find active fish deeper around that point. This will be a great time to pull out your downriggers and target these deeper fish and often times find some bigger ones. Oranges or greens have been the go to colors so far this year, with Kokanee flies working really well along with the regular beaded spinners. A slightly faster troll speed around 1.4mph have triggered more bites recently, but changes in speed and direction is a sure fire way to get more strikes. Tipping your hooks with shoe-peg corn (scented with tuna and/or garlic) will make your offerings even more irresistible. Check out Brianna’s website and learn from the best!
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Fishing
May is a huge transition month for Bass. My buddy Austin Heyer shared that Bass patterns change often as the weather continually shifts from cool and cloudy, to warm and sunny. They begin their focus on finding their beds by the end of the month will be fully in to the post spawn. Best practices for May is to pitch weightless soft plastics like senkos, swimbaits on a small jighead, small bass jigs, and if the weather gets warm on your day out try casting out a popper into super shallow areas near docks or where the lily pads are starting to grow.
Eastern Washington Bass & Walleye
The ice is off and water temperature are climbing in eastern Washington the walleye and bass are getting very active. Guide Austin Moser with Austin’s Northwest Adventures gave me the full skinny on Eastern Washington’s most exciting May fishing options…
Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir Walleye are transitioning from staging to spawn to spawning. The Columbia Basin’s pleasant spring weather is making for exciting fishing. The bite is turning on big time!
Rufus Woods has been planted with 2 pound Triploid Rainbow Trout and fishing is really good right now. If you use bait-less offerings you can catch and release the smaller Rainbows and keep only the heavy ones. Daily limit is 2, and if you use bait here, they count towards your limit whether you keep them or not. Rufus Walleye are staging and getting ready to spawn as well.
Lake Roosevelt is putting out great Kokanee and Rainbow Trout fishing. Reservoir levels is still relatively low, but they will start to let Lake Roosevelt fill to capacity soon.
Banks Lake has been putting out some good numbers of walleye and the bass fishing has been pretty good for some as well.
So lots of opportunities on Washington’s Eastside to get out and get on some fish!! Austin still has a few dates open on Moses lake for Walleye/Smallmouth Bass combo trips as well as some over-sized Sturgeon on the Columbia River, give him a call!
Washington Coast Razor Clam Openers
WFDW opened up more digging dates in early May, with an increased limit of 20 clams per person. My brother went out recently and had some amazing clamming! With the great abundance, we will hopefully see a few more days later in the month announced. Keep updated by checking out WDFW Razor Clam Seasons.
Washington River Steelhead and Chinook Opportunities
River fishing for Salmon and Steelhead in Washington State is heating back up! Steelhead, Spring Chinook and Summer Chinook fisheries across Western Washington really start to get moving again on a select number of rivers before the general June openers.
Cowlitz River: Late-winter Hatchery Steelhead are in the river and anglers have been seeing good success out of jet boats and from the bank around the Blue Creek hatchery. Spring Chinook are also a viable catch here and are headed further upriver to Barrier Dam, and are targeted throughout the river system.
Kalama River: Anglers that have made the trek to SW Washington’s Kalama this spring have already experienced good fishing for Hatchery Spring Chinook, Late-winter Wild Steelhead, and any day now some Early Hatchery Steelhead should start pushing upriver.
Skykomish River: Opens Saturday May 28 for Hatchery Summer Chinook and Steelhead. This is one of the most exciting fisheries for me, with a shot at fresh Chinook and acrobatic Summer-runs. We have a very healthy snowpack in the Cascades, and we will most certainly see high river flows for the opener, which means that these fish won’t hesitate moving into the river, and hold in the soft edges wherever they can.
Sol Duc River: The best spring river fishery on the Olympic Peninsula. Opens May 1 for Hatchery Chinook. The Sol Duc offers rafters and drift boaters miles of great fishable water, and there are plenty of great bank spots for those willing to explore.
Coming Soon in June!
Ilwaco Ocean Salmon Fishing: Opens June 25 for 7 days a week. WDFW Coastal Salmon Seasons 2022
Neah Bay and La Push Salmon Fishing: Opens June 18 for 7 days a week. WDFW Coastal Salmon Seasons 2022
Puget Sound – Seattle and Tacoma Salmon Fishing: Tacoma/Vashon Island’s Marine Area 11 will open for Hatchery Chinook on June 1. Seattle/Bremerton’s Marine Area 10 will open June 16 for Resident Coho. WDFW Puget Sound Salmon Seasons 2022
Western Washington Rivers – Salmon and Steelhead Seasons: Most of our traditional Western and Washington Steelhead river fisheries will open the first Saturday in June.
Online Store News
We’ve been busy shipping out plenty of Halibut, Lingcod and Rockfish gear lately, for everyone getting out there. Lot’s of product on the way in preparation for an epic summer salmon season as well! Supply chain issues have still been impacting fishing gear, and we planned way ahead, but it doesn’t hurt to do an inventory of your tackle and get your orders in early!
- Saltwater Soft Plastics: Pitbull Tackle has some killer Swimbait and Killer Jig options for all you Lingcod and Rockfish fishers.
- Pro-troll Flashers: We have been waiting eagerly for our 2022 shipment and it finally arrived! Traditional 11″ flashers with new UV Moon Jelly colors and their unique lighted flashers are live on the shop.
- Metal Jigs: We just got in a big shipment of Fisherman’s Gold Flutter Jigs. They are quickly becoming a staple metal jig for Lingcod and Rockfish
- Downrigger Accessories: Riptidefish now offers a selection of Scotty Downrigger gear. Release clips, cable/braid, terminal rigging gear and rod holders!
- Trout and Kokanee Fishing: We are just now building a selection of trout gear. Some of our favorite spoons, spinners, dodgers and baits!