The Olympic Peninsula of Washington state is known for rain, rocky Pacific shorelines, mountains and green conifers. The region is ripe with water, salt and fresh, and with the water come opportunities for fishing. Anglers have chances to tie a fly and go into the streams and brooks for trout, dolly varden and steelhead. Salmon and halibut anglers head into the icy cold waters of Puget Sound, in the shadows of Rainier and the Cascades, trying for silvers, kings and the deep dwelling halibut.
Fly fishing on the peninsula is found along the many rivers of the coast and mountains, such as the Sol Duc River, Hoh River, Bogachiel River, Calawah River and Quileute River. When fly fishing this area, you are under the rules applying to the Western Area Rivers of the Washington Freshwater Fishing rules, found in the free Washington state fishing rules and regulations pamphlet. If fly fishing for steelhead in this region, practice catch and release with the species, as only 1,000 to 2,000 of the fish run each river individually each year, according to reports at Washington Fly Fishing Reports. If your fly or hook goes through the steelhead's eye, or is swallowed, you may keep the fish if legal to do so, as releasing will not be viable for the survival of the fish.
The icy cold waters of Puget Sound receive runs of king, silver and sockeye salmon each year, making saltwater salmon fishing a popular pastime in the shadows of the Olympic mountains. Use heavy duty saltwater spinning reels with a minimum 20 lb. test for line. Salmon bait should include minnows, cut squid and frozen shad. Look for king runs in early May into June, silvers between late May and July and a late season king run between mid July and August according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Halibut are found in the deep waters around the sound. If you have no boat to get to the prime halibut fishing grounds, there are several charter options throughout the coastal region, in towns such as Bellingham, Anacortes and Seattle. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife assigns three different regions to the Puget Sound Halibut fishing areas, with openings for the fish in Marine Area 5 between May 28 through June 19; Marine Areas 6-10 open between May 1 through May 30. Check the website or pamphlet for additional openings or closures.
Bait and Lure River Fishing
Beyond fly fishing, the rivers throughout the northwest coastal area of Washington State are prime for cut-throat trout, rainbow trout and steelhead. Steelhead should be released after catching to help preserve the species and health of the fisheries. When using bait, it is against the law to chum or use artificial means to bring fish to you, according to the Rules and Regulations pamphlet. Rivers, streams and beaver ponds that do not drain into Puget Sound are open for game-fish the first Saturday in June through October.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.