Fishing in and around Seattle, Washington
In this article, we are going to talk about fishing in and around the City of Seattle. And believe me, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to this subject. We have phenomenal fishing opportunities within the city limits. As well as a countless fishing spots within a short drive of Seattle. My goal is to give you a view of our fishing scene and encourage you to get out find your very own local Seattle fishing Shangri-La! It can take a lifetime to sample all the great fisheries we have available to us, but this article will at least give you an introduction to our fishing landscape.
Seattle’s Fishing Calendar
In Seattle, there is something to catch, somewhere, every day of the year. For a beginner or visitor, the trick is to figure out where you can fish, what you can catch, and what rules you need to follow. I have detailed out a lot of this in the paragraphs that follow. Each fish species has a specific season and unique regulations.
Spring Fishing Season in Seattle
Spring’s warm days and fishing opportunities get most of us back on the water for the first time of the year. We have a spring Lingcod season, Halibut season, and Spot Shrimp season. Many of our lakes are planted with Rainbow Trout and open to fishing. Lake waters warm just enough to get warmwater species like Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Panfish active and easier to catch.
Summer Fishing Season in Seattle
Summer is our time to shine! The number of fishing options grows, and we spread out to our favorite local haunts. Puget Sound opens for Salmon fishing and we get our first chance to soak crab pots for Dungeness Crab. Seattle area rivers are relieved of the high and cold flows brought on by spring snowmelt and become fishable (they usually open in early June). Deep snows have melted away in the Cascade Mountains, clearing the way for hikers looking to explore our alpine lakes.
Fall Fishing Season in Seattle
Cool weather and the rainy season eventually puts an end to our summer paradise. But, we look toward new fishing opportunities during the fall. One of Puget Sound’s most prominent salmon fishery, Coho Salmon, is our last chance for saltwater salmon, and fishing is usually good until autumn rainstorms fill our rivers to the brim and coerce the salmon to return to spawn. River fishing popularity peaks in the fall as salmon migrate out of Puget Sound, headed home to the rivers of their birth.
Winter Fishing Season in Seattle
Most folks put the boat and gear away for the winter. However, for those willing to brave our chilly months, fishing can be quite good in area rivers for Winter Steelhead. I keep my boat ready for action year-round, as I really enjoy heading out once again for Dungeness during the winter crab season. Some lakes remain open all year and offer good winter trout fishing. Also, citybound anglers spend their evenings on public piers jigging up squid with great success.
Saltwater Fishing in Seattle
Our city on Puget Sound ties its identity to its maritime history, and even to this day our marine areas give Seattle a world-class status as a fishing destination. Salmon fishing creates plenty of excitement around here. However, many other opportunities abound. A springtime Lingcod fishing season kicks off our angling year. Cruise an hour or two north for a shot at catching a large Halibut, usually in May. Springtime Shrimpers and Summer Crabbers haul in delicious bounties from their pots. Even in the middle of our dreary winters, late into the evening hours, hundreds of anglers line up on our city’s piers and catch squid. We are a year-round fishing city.
Exploring Puget Sound Fishing Spots by Boat
From ocean-worthy fishing boats to kayaks, Puget Sound is enjoyed by fishing vessels large and small. Puget Sound still is small boat friendly on good weather days. Many catch salmon a very short distance from the ramps.
Downtown Seattle is located on the shores of Elliott Bay, and West Seattle’s Don Armeni Boat Ramp is a jumping off point for salmon fishing in the bay and beyond. Elliott Bay itself usually has a very brief salmon fishing window during the summer. However it can be a great place to fish when it is open!
The most popular boat launch in Seattle is in Ballard, at Shilshole Bay’s Eddie Vine Boat Ramp. There is great salmon fishing a short boat ride away. Shilshole Bay is closed to salmon fishing most of the summer to protect salmon heading into Lake Washington via the Ballard Locks. However, good salmon fishing abounds just outside the boundary at West Point, Meadow Point. Shishole Bay reopens for salmon fishing in September and can be amazing!
A little way further are Seattle’s most well-known salmon fishing spots, Jeff Head and Kingston. Possession Bar, Point No Point and Edmonds round out the top five salmon boat fishing spots near Seattle. Chinook, Coho and Pink Salmon are primary targets in all of these areas.
Seattle’s Best Puget Sound Fishing Beaches
Seattle’s western edge is flanked by Puget Sound and many public beaches give anglers access to great shore casting for Salmon, Sea-run Cutthroat Trout and Flounder. In North Seattle, Carkeek Park and Golden Gardens Park roll out the welcome mat. For a short hike and a little more solitude, visit Discovery Park and hike down the bluff to the beach at West Point. West Seattle has ample shoreline access, and although Alki Beach is an option, it is often crowded with beachgoers. But a few miles to the south, Lincoln Park at Coleman Point is a great place to cast to Coho and Pink Salmon that migrate close to shore. Puget Sound has many more salmon fishing beaches outside the city.
Seattle Area’s Public Fishing Piers
Seattle Parks and the Port of Seattle maintain a few public fishing piers. Seacrest Pier in West Seattle on Elliott Bay is very popular with summertime salmon anglers. It is great for squidding on summer and winter evenings.
In Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Shilshole Marina’s A Dock offers a great place to fish for flounder and squid. It is also popular with crabbers, and there is another pier at the Shilshole Bay Eddie Vine Boat Ramp on the northern end of the marina.
The downtown Seattle waterfront is lined with numerous piers, and brings in a large crowd after dusk. The city lights cause squid to congregate there, at times in great numbers.
East Spokane Street is a low-lying bridge over the lower Duwamish Waterway and fishermen greet returning Pink and Coho Salmon during the late summer.
Lake Fishing in and around Seattle
As the ice age ended, the massive ice sheet that once covered the Seattle area receded to the north, carving out the landscape that we are familiar with today. It left behind the Puget Sound and hundreds of lakes in the region. Every neighborhood in the Seattle area is a couple minutes from a fishing lake, so the options are plentiful! Many local lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout in the spring, and almost all of them offer Bass, Perch and Panfish as well. We even have several lakes that have a year-round fishing season.
Fishing in Seattle’s Urban Lakes
Seattle has several lakes within its city limits that offer great places to fish. We have awesome fishing in every corner of the Evergreen State, but good lake fishing can be found close to home.
Most notable is Lake Washington, which at 22 miles long makes up the eastern boundary of the city of Seattle. Magnuson Park, Matthews Beach Park, Madison Park, Madrona Park, Lake Washington T Dock, Seward Park and Rainier Beach are the most prominent lakeside access points, but many other small neighborhood pocket parks give shore anglers a place to cast, also giving kayak and canoe anglers a place to launch. Boat Ramps at Magnuson Park and Rainier Beach give boaters an in-city launch point to explore the entire lake. The lake has a year-round Cutthroat Trout fishery and abundant Perch, Panfish, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass fishing. We also usually get a fall fishery on the north side of Lake Washington for Coho Salmon!
North Seattle’s Green Lake is the most beloved Trout lake in the city. This 255-acre urban lake is fully encompassed by a Green Lake Park, with a 2.8-mile path that circles the shoreline. Plenty of spots along the trail offer your own secluded fishing spot. Several docks on the Southwest side of the lake give fishermen great access.
Lake Union is as urban as a lake can get, offering some of the best views of the city and some unique fishing opportunities. Aside from South Lake Union Park and Gasworks Park, the entire lakeshore is developed with private docks, commercial buildings and houseboats. Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Crappie are the primary catch. The Lake Washington Ship Canal connects Lake Union with Lake Washington to the east and Puget Sound to the west, walking paths along the canal offer several miles of shoreline to explore.
Bitter Lake and Haller Lake are the city’s lesser known fishing lakes. Nevertheless, they are worth exploring if you want to stay in-city but prefer a quieter setting than Green Lake or Lake Washington’s busier summertime crowds. Rainbow Trout are stocked in both lakes each spring. Largemouth Bass and Panfish are also on the menu.
Lake Fishing Day Trips outside Seattle
I could write for hours about all the great fishing lakes within a couple hours of Seattle. But I’ll keep it brief and share a few of my favorites.
Snoqualmie Valley is an hour east of Seattle and has a dozen great rural and suburban lakes with public access and good fishing. (Snoqualmie Valley’s Best Fishing Lakes). Close to the Snoqualmie Valley, near Issaquah is Pine Lake and Beaver Lake, both great trout lakes that are stocked annually with Rainbow Trout and offer great public access. Lake Sammamish also offers great Smallmouth Bass and Cutthroat Trout fishing.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Pacific Crest Trail offer access to countless Cascade Mountain lakes. Whether you are willing to hike a mile or more than ten miles, there are plenty of options. (Fishing Washington’s High-Country Trout).
Angle Lake in SeaTac is 20 minutes south of the city. It has bank and boat access to stocked Rainbow Trout, Kokanee and Largemouth Bass.
River Fishing near Seattle
If you are interested in casting a line in a river, Seattle offers plenty of great options within an hour’s drive. Plus, one of the Puget Sound’s major rivers that runs right through the city! Seattle area rivers offer seasonal Chinook, Coho, Pink and Chum salmon fishing as well as Steelhead and Trout fishing. Each of these awesome returns of fish has their own seasonal window and certain areas of each river are opened at specific times to offer good fishing once enough fish have returned.
Fishing on Seattle’s Urban River – Duwamish-Green River
The Duwamish River meanders slowly through the southern edge of the city. It is an industrial river. But pockets of public bank access offer a chance to catch Chinook, Coho, Chum and Pink Salmon as they migrate through the lower Duwamish on their way to the Green River. Technically, it is one river with a name change just outside the city limits. Upriver from the Seattle boundary, the Green River moves through the Kent Valley. And its upper reaches near Auburn offer a natural setting where you can catch Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead, and Salmon as well.
Nearby River Fishing outside Seattle City Limits
If you study a map of the Puget Sound area, you will notice dozens of rivers and streams within a couple hours of Seattle. But you do not need to drive far outside the city to find solitude and good river fishing. The Skykomish River is an hour to the northeast. It is a local favorite for Salmon and Steelhead anglers during summer, fall and early winter. (Best Fishing Spots on the Skykomish River).
The Snoqualmie River is 30 minutes to the east. Its North, Middle and South Forks upriver from towering Snoqualmie Falls is a fly fishing paradise for wild trout during summer and fall. (Guide to Snoqualmie River Trout Fishing).
The Cedar River is 45 minutes to the southeast near Renton. It is a beautiful little river that gives trout fishers a fun place to fish in the summer. There are plenty of other options if you are looking for an adventure!
Seattle Fishing Spots Mapped
What Do I Need To Go Fishing in Seattle?
With so many great fishing options in Seattle, it may seem daunting to figure out what fishing equipment is needed for each special spot. I would suggest a trip to Seattle’s favorite tackle shop, Outdoor Emporium. You can meet with their staff and they can assist you in selecting the perfect rod setup and tackle. Unlike fishing in many cities around the country, we do not have anywhere that rents equipment so you will need to purchase your rod, reel, tackle, and other equipment.
Seattle Fishing Charters will give you a great fishing experience
Seattle has many qualified fishing charters and guides that offer trips on Puget Sound, local rivers and lakes. Many Seattle fishing charters can issue you a daily fishing license on the boat.
You will need a license for any fishing excursion in Seattle
Regardless of whether you are looking for a do it yourself trip or plan on booking a charter, you will need a fishing license. WDFW’s Website is a great place to start and you can purchase one online. Although, purchasing a license from a physical license dealer will get you a license and all necessary tags in hand immediately. Some species require a Catch Record Card, including Salmon, Steelhead, Halibut, Dungeness Crab. If you purchase a license online, you will need to wait about two weeks for WDFW to mail you your card. Plan ahead or purchase at a local license dealer.
Understanding fishing regulations for Seattle
Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Fishing Regulations Page is a great place to start. It will give you an understanding on how fisheries are managed, fishing seasons for Seattle fishing areas, daily limits, gear restrictions, and more. Fishing regulations are published every year and are valid July 1 to June 30 the following year. Emergency Rules often update the published fishing regulations to account for in-season management changes. The WDFW website will explain all of this.
Welcome to Fishing in Seattle!
Your journey into fishing in Seattle has just begun! You will find plenty of good information on the Riptidefish blog and through the search option located in the website navigation bar. Hope to see you out on the water!