Salmon fishing around Tacoma and Vashon Island is back starting June 1, 2023 and anglers all over the South Puget Sound area are ready to get back out on the water. Marine Area 11 includes some of the Puget Sound’s most classic salmon fishing areas, like Point Defiance, Gig Harbor, Dalco, Point Robinson, Dolphin Point, Three Tree Point, Redondo and many other hidden gems.
The excitement kicks off June 1 with a Chinook opener, daily limit 2 total salmon, one can be a 22″ Hatchery Chinook. You are most likely to encounter Chinook and Resident Coho early on, but as the summer progresses we will see a flood of Pink Salmon (around 4 million are expected to return to Puget Sound in 2023) and then a return of Ocean-range Coho. The area will only be open Thursdays to Sundays to keep the season open for Chinook as long as possible.
Chinook Salmon Quotas and the Marine Area 11 Season
Each marine area in Washington State has a season quota on Chinook Salmon, and once that is caught up, the season may (will) close early. Marine Area 11 has a separate Chinook quota for June and July, so that we don’t gobble up all the quota early on and get some opportunity to salmon fish during the heat of the summer season. You can follow the quota encounters here: WDFW Puget Sound Chinook Quota Guidelines.
Stay updated on the season before you head out:
Marine Area 11 Chinook Salmon Fishing
Marine Area 11 anglers focus on Chinook Salmon whenever that season is open. There is a good mix of smaller Resident Chinook (Blackmouth) and Ocean-returning Chinook.
Every spot marked on the map below is a known place to catch Chinook, and areas like Point Defiance, the Slag Pile, Clay Banks and the Yact Club in Tacoma offer good salmon fishing just a short jaunt away from the Point Defiance Launch and the Boathouse. But all the Points of Vashon Island’s South and East sides produce as well, plus Three Tree Point in Burien, in front of Redondo, Dash and Browns Points off Federal Way, and in front of Gig Harbor.
Rigging Setups for Marine Area 11 Salmon Fishing
The most popular salmon fishing methods for Marine Area 11 are trolling with downriggers or vertical drift jigging. Take your pick, they are both very effective down here.
Jigging is a popular technique in Marine Area 11. For boaters that do not have or want to troll with downriggers, you can drift with the currents and send a metal jig like a Puget Pounder to the bottom and pop it. Many of the Chinook encountered during the summer are found near the gravel bottom where alot of the baitfish forage is found. The area is chocked full of Dogfish during the summer, so jigging with an artificial lure beats out mooching here. The diagram above shows the preferred rigging, remove the stock hooks, slightly bend the front and back eyelet to one side of the jig, and thread a double-hook Gamakatsu Octopus 4/0 leader (25 pound to 30 pound fluorocarbon).
Flashers and spoons are one of the most universal salmon trolling rig for Puget Sound. Catch Chinook, Coho and Pink Salmon with an 11″ Pro-Troll Flasher and a 3″ to 4″ Spoon, either Silver Horde or McOmie’s. 30″ to 42″ leader with 25 pound to 40 pound Fluorocarbon material.
If you are looking to ditch the flasher and troll with a more simple setup, the Tomic Plug is a great option. It is a proven Chinook getter. I like to rig mine with a 36″ to 48″ Fluorocarbon leader to a Sampo Ball Bearing Swivel. These pretty much only catch Chinook.