Snohomish River Offers Great Salmon Fishing!
Just beyond the rolling suburban hills of Seattle lies the Snohomish River, which hosts some of the best salmon fishing anywhere in Washington State. Snohomish River salmon fishing is a passtime that anyone in the Everett and Seattle areas to get into fishing in their backyard. The Snohomish River sees returns of Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon and Chinook Salmon as well as Summer Steelhead and Winter Steelhead. During the fall salmon fishing season, the river becomes a gathering place for local fishermen. Guides with large jet boats buzz up and down the river, small prop boats troll in the lower river, and public river access points draw in the bank bound. It can be a busy place, but it is a big river with plenty of places to catch salmon.
When the river levels are low, salmon will slow down their migration and concentrate in the Snohomish River, once heavy fall rains lift the water level they will migrate quickly into the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers. It is always a good idea to consult the USGS Snohomish River Gauge before you head out fishing. As always, check out the current Snohomish River Fishing Regulations before you plan a trip!
Snohomish River Coho Salmon Fishing
The Snohomish River Coho Salmon flood into the river in September and October. Most of them are on their way to the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Rivers, which are the Snohomish River’s main tributaries. They will push up into the lower river with the tide and linger in the Snohomish until our heavy fall rains lift the river levels and give them an open path to the spawning grounds. If the rains don’t show until mid to late October, the Snohomish will become plugged with Coho and we might see a banner fishing season.
Some years are exceptional and the fish are easy to catch, other years they get that famous Snohomish lock-jaw. But over the years, we have found techniques that work well even with the most unwilling of biters. Fishing with cured salmon egg clusters under a bobber is my go to method, but drift fishing with Dick Nite Spoons is the Snohomish River staple. Plenty of Coho are caught with Brad’s Wigglers, Wiggle Wart and Mag Lip plugs; you can cast and retrieve or troll.
Snohomish River Humpy Salmon Fishing
The Snohomish River Pink Salmon return is one of the largest on the West Coast. Oddly enough, they only return en masse to the Snohomish River on odd numbered years (2019, 2021, 2023). Their numbers are impressive, in recent years about a million Pinks return to the Snohomish River system. With a little knowhow on run-timing , good locations, and the right tackle; limits can come easily even to the novice salmon fisherman. Pinks enter the lower Snohomish in early August, and remain in the river in large numbers through mid-September.
Snohomish River Chum Salmon Fishing
Chum Salmon return to the Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie. Fishing can be quite good in the Snohomish and Skykomish Rivers. Chum migrate up the Snohomish River in October and November. Plunking with a Spin Glo and Prawn/Sand Shrimp can be deadly effective. Anglers also catch plenty of Chum float fishing with Chum Jigs and Prawns, backtrolling sardine wrapped K14 Kwikfish, and drift fishing Dick Nite Spoons. Chum Salmon have recently been off limits to retention, which means that you technically shouldn’t target them, but they are still incidentally caught when fishing for Coho.
Snohomish River Salmon Fishing Map
Best Bank Fishing Spots on the Snohomish River
The shore access on the Snohomish River is as good as it gets. Regardless of whether you want to fish in the lowest stretches of the river near Everett, or around the town of Snohomish and higher, there are plenty of public access points. Lower river spots can be muddy and mucky at low tide, but an incoming tide will push up the freshest salmon and they can be eager biters at times. Upper in the river around Thomas Eddy, Short School Road and Bob Hierman Park you will find bank spots that are easy to fish. Many folks will head to their favorite spot and post up for the morning.
Legion Park is accessed from Marine View Drive and is located in north Everett. This spot is an anglers first chance to catch salmon headed up the Snohomish River. Cast small metal jigs (Buzz Bombs, Pline Lazer Minnows) for Pinks and Coho. Twitching hoochie jigs for Pinks also works well in the lower Snohomish.
Lowell-Snohomish River Road
Lowell-Snohomish River Road is located on the south bank between Everett and Snohomish. The road parallels the lower Snohomish and offers many pullouts for fishing spots. The river is tidal and slow moving in the lower stretches downstream from Snohomish. Cast small metal jigs (Buzz Bombs, Pline Lazer Minnows) for Pinks and Coho. Twitching hoochie jigs for Pinks also works well in the lower Snohomish. Cast and retrieve Dick Nite Spoons, or fish these productive spoons under a float. Humpy Specials can work extremely well for Pinks here.
Downtown Snohomish offers great fishing access from the riverfront trail. This is an easy place for people in town to get into a little Snohomish River salmon fishing. This paved trail parallels 1st Street in downtown, and is popular with fishermen during the Pink and Coho salmon season. Deep water in front of the trail allows easy fishing and short casts. Casting metal jigs (Buzz Bombs, Pline Lazer Minnows), Humpy Special Spoons, and drifting Dick Nite Spoons are popular techniques.
Mouth of Pilchuck River
The mouth of the Pilchuck River is accessed from Old Snohomish-Monroe Road and is located just upriver from the town of Snohomish. This is a popular place to troll wiggle warts or anchor and fish Dick Nite Spoons for Coho or Pinks, but bank anglers can access the fish in the stretch by hiking down the Pilchuck River and fishing the point.
Doug Bar is a private gravel bar upriver from the town of Snohomish. Buy a key (the equivalent of an annual pass) and you have access to an excellent plunking bar. Plunk small pink Spin Glo’s with sand shrimp for pinks or larger Spin Glo’s with sand shrimp for Chums.
Bob Herman Park (Thomas Eddy)
Bob Herman Park at Thomas Eddy is accessed from Connelly Road and is located just upriver from Douglas Bar, upriver from the town of Snohomish. The small parking lot at this popular wildlife preserve fills up quickly during Pink and Coho salmon season. This is one of the Snohomish River’s most popular bank fishing spots. Trails lace the wildlife preserve and offer great access for shorebound anglers. Drift fishing Dick Nite Spoons, casting metal jigs (Buzz Bombs and Pline Lazer Minnows) or casting spinners are productive techniques for Bob Herman/Thomas Eddy.
Short School Road
Short School Road is accessed from Old Snohomish-Monroe Road and is located upriver from Bob Herman Park. It offers access to the Snohomish River on the bank opposite Bob Herman/Thomas Eddy Park. Anglers catch plenty of Pinks and some Coho here. Drifting Dick Nite Spoons is productive here.
Highway 522 Bridge
522 Bridge is accessed from either Elliott Road on the south bank from Maltby, or Tester Road on the north bank from Monroe. Both the north bank and south bank are productive places to fish for Pinks and Coho. Anglers seem to catch plenty of salmon here while drift fishing corky/yarn or Dick Nite Spoons, also try casting #3 and #4 spinners for Coho.
Boating the Snohomish River
The Lower Snohomish River is slow moving and tidally influenced. It is a great place to take a smaller prop boat and fish for salmon. Be aware that the tide does vary and navigation in the river requires caution. Generally speaking, the tide at the town of Snohomish is two hours past the tide in Puget Sound at Everett. Upriver from Snohomish, the mouth of the Pilchuck is about the uppermost extent where I feel comfortable running a prop boat. The river widens and shallows near Thomas Eddy at Bob Hierman Park and more submerged logs are found, creating a navigation challenge. Above that all the way to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers is heavily used by people fishing from jet boats, but certain areas can be very tricky to navigate when the river levels are low.
Snohomish River salmon fishing is enjoyed off the bank and by boat. The river is navigable by quite a variety of boats, and during the peak of the popular Pink (Humpy) salmon run, it isn’t uncommon to see anything from large Bayliner boats to one man kayaks. The river has several boat launches, and countless spots that have become local fishing favorites over the years. The upper Snohomish is ruled by jet boat fishermen.
High Bridge Boat Launch
High Bridge boat launch is on the lower Snoqualmie River, just upriver from the confluence, is the key launch for anyone fishing the Upper Snohomish, Lower Snoqualmie and Lower Skykomish River. Heavily used by jet boats.
Douglas Bar is a private gravel bar located 3 miles upriver from Snohomish. The landowners sell keys to their gate every season. “Doug Bar” is a popular place to launch boats and fish from the bank. Drift fishing Dick Nite Spoons is a productive method to catch Coho, and plunkers catch everything from Chum to Pinks to early Winter Steelhead. While this is a pay-to-play launch. Used primarily by jet boats. Also a drift boat takeout.
Snohomish Boat Launch
The new Snohomish River Boat Launch opened in 2016 and was much needed replacement for the older Maple Street boat ramp in Snohomish’s downtown Cady Park (which is now only open to launching car-topper kayaks and canoes). It is located east of downtown Snohomish on Lincoln Ave near Stocker Fields. Used by jet boats and prop boats, the Snohomish upriver from here is primarily used by jet boats.
Rotary Park Boat Launch
Lowell Launch is located in the southeast Everett neighborhood of Lowell at Rotary Park. It offers decent parking, but the launch itself can be tricky at low tide. I’ve seen trucks stuck in the tidal muck beyond the concrete ramp many times. It is a decent launch for small cartoppers and drift boats at any tide level, but owners of larger boats should plan their launching around the tides.
Langus Park Boat Launch
Langus Park Boat Launch is located in Everett on Smith Island near Dagmar’s. It is a nice launch with docks and ample parking. This is a perfect place to launch if you want to catch Pink Salmon and Coho Salmon in the Lower Snohomish.
Everett Boat Ramp
10th Street Launch is maintained by the Port of Everett and is the largest launching facility in Puget Sound. It has 13 lanes and a huge parking area. Most fishermen that launch here fish the Puget Sound, but trolling in the lower Snohomish with wiggle wart plugs can also be a productive way of catching Coho.