Where to Fish in Washington State

With everything from salmon and rockfish swimming off the coast and around the San Juan Islands to trout angling past fly fishers in eastern rivers, Washington has a fish—and a fishing hole—for everyone. Here are just a few.

Salmon and Rockfish in the San Juan Islands

Salmon runs course through the San Juans in the summer and fall, providing excellent fishing with minimal open-ocean swell, chop and potential seasickness. Jim Aggergaard of Catchmore Charters in Anacortes knows all the ins and outs of the islands—where king, silvers and pinks dominate the action while halibut, lingcod and rockfish round out the fishery. Most anglers troll for salmon with flashers and herring.

Yakima River Fly-Fishing

Fly fishers make regular pilgrimages to the Yakima River, a 75-mile stretch of which is designated as Washington’s only official Blue Ribbon trout stream. The year-round catch-and-release fishery serves as a great introduction to the sport. Wild rainbow and cutthroat trout average 10 to 16 inches and run up to 18 to 20 inches. Most anglers use drift boats to access the river, covering 5 to 20 miles in a day. If you’re new to fly-fishing, consider hiring a guide from Red’s Fly Shop.

Coastal Rivers Steelhead

Pound for pound, steelhead fight harder than just about any other species of fish. Winter or summer, the Hoh, Bogachiel and Cowlitz rivers along the state’s coast offer the best chance of landing one of these ocean-bright beauties. Drift fishing in a boat and casting from the bank are popular options.

—Nick O’Connell