Salmon fishing in Washington is fantastic. No other place in the world offers the diversity of angling
experiences available in Washington, whether chasing feisty coho on the open ocean from a charter boat,
large summer Chinook in the Columbia River near Brewster from your private boat, or sockeye salmon on
Lake Washington from a float tube, you can find a salmon fishery that satisfies your desires.
WDFW has created a one-stop shopping webpage for all your salmon fishing
The page is intended as a resource for citizens interested in recreational salmon fishing to >>
- learn how and where to fish for salmon,
- learn how to improve angling success, and
- learn how the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sets recreational seasons and the
conservation issues that limit salmon fishing opportunity.
Washington State authorizes a number of different commercial salmon fisheries using a variety
of gear types including Purse Seine, Reef Net, Gill Net, and Beach Seines.
As part of the Co-management process, state and tribal fish managers agree on spawning goals and limits
to the total allowable harvest for each species and stock of salmon. These goals are captured in management
plans developed for each region of the state. Each year, some stocks of fish are forecast to return at a
level that requires additional protection in fisheries. Under those circumstances, the Co-managers design
fisheries that have a minimum effect on stocks needing more protection but provide the most opportunity
possible to fish for other healthy stocks. Understanding that healthy and weak stocks migrate within the
same waters and at the same time, some catch of the less abundant fish needing protection is unavoidable.
Providing adequate conservation of weak stocks will necessitate foregoing some harvest of stronger stocks.
The Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan is an example of the success of the Co-management process.
Fish management plans have been completed for the following areas:
How Salmon Seasons are set
Why can't I fish for salmon whenever I want to?
Washington salmon fishing regulations are some of the most complex fishing regulations in the world,
reflecting the great diversity in fish and fisheries. The Department of Fish and Wildlife does its best
to keep regulations as simple as possible while providing the most salmon fishing opportunity possible,
but our conservation priority necessitates closures in many areas, often for long periods of time. It
goes without saying that most anglers would like to have more fishing opportunities and increased catch
limits. Without the complex system of regulations, many of the great opportunities for fishing we have
today would be lost. Both conservation and legal obligations limit fishing opportunity in Washington:
- Meeting legal requirements of federal treaties with Indian tribes including sharing harvest
with tribal fishers,
- protecting weak stocks, including fish listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act,
- meeting other legal obligations such as those defined by the Pacific Salmon Treaty between
the United States and Canada,
- providing opportunity for all segments of our fishing community, representing the diversity of
commercial and recreational fisheries from ocean to freshwater, and
- ensuring orderly fisheries by regulating to reduce crowding and conflict between fishers, or
regulating to prevent situations that may foster fishing practices that are inconsistent with
For additional information on how salmon seasons are set >>