North Puget Sound: With fishing for steelhead and other game fish closing on several rivers in the region, anglers are shifting their attention to the marine areas where blackmouth salmon fisheries are under way.
Areas of northern Puget Sound open for blackmouth fishing include marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet). All these areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but anglers must release wild chinook salmon.
"Most blackmouth anglers have success fishing very near the bottom during tidal changes and by trolling with gear that imitates candlefish or other baitfish," said Ryan Lothrop, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Marine area 7 (San Juan Islands) is only open to salmon fishing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as noted in a recent news release. The daily catch limit is one salmon daily, and anglers are required to release wild chinook
Salmon fishing in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) is closed in February.
Anglers support the blackmouth winter chinook fishery through their license purchase, a portion of which goes to the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Fund. The fund currently supports a variety of recreational fishing opportunities through the release of more than one million yearling and almost nine million sub-yearling chinook each year.
Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound. Recreational fishery samplers with WDFW collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound.
Winter is also prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Des Moines Pier, Redondo Pier, Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier. More information is available on the department's squid fishing webpage. Information on fishing piers is available here.
Fishing for steelhead and other game fish is closed in many regional river systems. However, some waters near WDFW fish hatcheries will remain open through Feb. 15 to provide anglers an opportunity to catch and keep hatchery steelhead. Those waters include portions of the Skagit, North Fork Stillaguamish, Wallace, and Snoqualmie rivers.
Anglers planning fishing vacations in North Puget Sound and throughout the state can also look at Great Washington Getaways, a feature on the department's website that showcases some of the state's best family travel and fishing opportunities. Anglers using the web feature should also consult WDFW's sportfishing regulations for details on fishing seasons and limits.