by Jai Colvin for Anglers Club Magazine, February 03, 2017
Washington State offers it all in the way of fishing, and it truly doesn’t matter if you prefer lakes, rivers, or the coast. While Washington lakes and rivers are often the most celebrated fishing venues, the marine waters of Washington offers an exciting brand of fishing that people from all over the world travel to partake in. Recently we were asked where the best spots to go for spectacular Washington marine fishing. Upon doing some research the list is long, so we decided to split our suggestions into two articles in order to address all of the marine areas along the coast.
This a fine place to begin your coastal fishing trip. The WDFW has decided to call this “Marine Area 1,” and it includes the area from the Columbia River north to Leadbetter Point at the north end of Long Beach. This offering is famous for its incredible salmon fishing during the summer. According to the experts, over half the salmon caught in the ocean fisheries are caught in Marine Area 1. For anyone wanting to fish these waters, Ilwaco is home base. Anglers also love this area because they can fish other waters south of the Columbia River to Cape Falcon in Oregon with their Washington license.
Westport – Ocean Shores
Moving up the coast, Marine Fishing Area 2 runs from Leadbetter Point, at the north end of Long Beach, north to the Queets River. Westport is the coast’s Chinook fishery, with over half the total Chinook pulled in here. Marine Area 2 is easy to get to, with most fishermen heading to the Port of Westport. There are two spots in Area 2 that deserve to be talked about separately–Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
Who doesn’t love a good pirate story? Willapa Bay is full of them, just ask any local who has a line in the water. Marine Fishing Area 2-1 includes Willapa Bay east from Cape Shoalwater to Leadbetter Point. This is a popular small boat fishery, especially for large Chinook salmon. The access points include Tokeland, which also offers some great shore crabbing, and South Bend.
Robert Gray couldn’t have known how popular his namesake harbor would be with the coastal fishermen. Marine Fishing Area 2-2 includes Grays Harbor east from the tip of the north jetty to the south jetty.
Anglers pull out large Chinook and coho salmon here. The way to access Grays Harbor include the 28th Street Ramp, Westport, Ocean Shores, and Johns River.
Moving north, Marine Fishing Area 3 includes the Pacific Ocean from the Queets River north to Capa Alava, and anglers are never disappointed here. Marine Area 3 offers exceptional beauty and amazing salmon fishing during the summer. LaPush is the only access point for Area 3 because the coastline here is rugged. The submerged and exposed rocks and pillars also offer up lingcod and rockfish.
The northern tip of Washington State is popular. Marine Fishing Area 4 includes the Pacific Ocean from Capa Alava north to Cape Flattery, and east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Sekiu River. Marine Area 4 is the premier small boat fishery and renowned for its singular beauty and salmon fishing. Neah Bay is the primary access point, but anglers also launch at Snow Creek or travel from Sekiu. Along with the salmon anglers will also find lingcod and rockfish.
Sekiu and Piller Point
Rounding out our first survey of marine fishing areas is Sekiu and Piller Points, which make up Marine Fishing Area 5. Located between the mouth of the Sekiu River east, to Low Point and south of the U.S./Canada border within the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Olympic Peninsula, this area provides some of the best fishing opportunities for salmon and bottomfish in the state. The majority of the salmon runs will pass through this area first during the summer before entering Puget Sound, drawing anglers form everywhere.
East Juan de Fuca Strait
We continue with Marine Area 6, which is located east from Low Point to Partridge Point and Point Wilson, primarily within the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It also includes the west side of Whidbey Island. This area is a great place to hook salmon. Bottom fishing for halibut and lingcod are also popular here.
San Juan Islands
One of Washington’s most beautiful fishing marine areas. Marine Area 7 includes the marine waters south of the Canadian border to where the San Juan Islands sit, as well as the Bellingham Bay. Bottom fish are abundant here and the returning Chinook, sockeye, and pink salmon are excellent. Sockeye that are returning to the Fraser River are a hit with anglers from all over.
Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay
Marine Area 8 is divided into 8-1 and 8-2. First 8-1 includes Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay. This area is protected by Whidbey Island so there is a diversity of fishing opportunities. Coastal cutthroat trout, bottom fish, and salmon all call Marine Area 8-1 their home, and people from all over the world come to fish the Skagit River for Chinook, pink, coho and sockeye salmon.
Port Susan and Port Gardner
The locals refer to Marine Area 8-2 as “the ports”. This area is located within Port Susan and Port Gamble north of a line from Possession Point to Shipwreck. There’s good fishing here for small boats and shoreline anglers, who can expect to catch bottom fish and salmon.
Marine Area 9 is located south of Partridge Point to Point Wilson, south and west of a line from Possession Point to shipwreck, north of Hood Canal Bridge and north of Apple Cove Point to Edwards Point Line. Local anglers will tell you that it easily accessed by small boats and offers up an abundance of salmon and bottom fish from the Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap Peninsula, Whidbey Island and the east side of Puget Sound.
Want to do some city fishing? We have a marine area for that too. Marine Area 10 is located between Apple Cove Point and Edwards Point north of Vashon Island. Bottom fish and salmon fishing is the name of the game, be it by shore and boat. Visit the city and do a little fishing…what more can you ask for?
Seattle not your kind of city? We offer up Marine Area 11, the Tacoma-Vashon Island area. This area covers south from the north tip of Vashon Island to the most Northern Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Shoreline and pier access is popular here and there is ample opportunity for salmon and bottom fish.
What would Washington fishing be without the famous Hood Canal? Marine Area 12 encompasses all the waters south of the Hood Canal Bridge. Salmon, bottom fish and forage fish are ripe for the catching here and with a backdrop of the scenic views of the Olympic Mountains.
South Puget Sound
Last but not least is Marine Area 13. This area covers all waters south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and offers great small boat access for fishing. Locals also tout the shore and various pier fishing as well. This is the only body of water in the state where you can fish for salmon year-round.
So there you have it…all our marine areas. Many local anglers argue that the farther north you go the better the fishing is, however our state’s southerners tout the fishing in their areas as well. My advice? Hit em all and judge for yourself!