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When to fish

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Fall fisheries

Trout:  As temperatures begin to drop, trout fishing picks up in lakes.  Many lakes close for trout fishing Oct. 31, but others remain open throughout the year, providing good fishing for anglers willing to brave colder weather.

Bass, walleye and other warmwater fish:  Although fishing for warmwater fish is open year-round on most rivers and lakes, angling success declines once fall temperatures start to drop.

Salmon:  September is prime time for salmon fishing from the Pacific coast to rivers on both sides of the Cascade Mountains.  Coho can be found in saltwater areas, while chinook salmon push into rivers throughout the Puget Sound area and the Columbia River Basin.  Fishing for chinook salmon tapers off in October, but coho fishing is still good in the Skagit, Skokomish and other Puget Sound rivers.  By November, the main catch in Puget Sound is blackmouth salmon, which remain in nearshore waters throughout the year.

Steelhead:  Good steelhead fishing is available on the upper Columbia and Snake rivers starting in October.

Crab:  In most areas of Puget Sound, the summer crab fishery ends in September, when fishery managers calculate the catch since the start of the season.  If the catch falls short of the allowable harvest in a specific area, the crab fishery in that area may reopen in October.  Exceptions include portions of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and southernmost Puget Sound, where the crab fishery continues without interruption until early January.  The Pacific coast, including Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the mouth of the Columbia River, are also open for crabbing throughout the year.  See the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet for more information.

Clams/oysters:  The first razor-clam digs of the season are held in October, drawing tens of thousands of diggers to ocean beaches.  Days open to digging are announced month-by-month on the WDFW website and on the department’s fishing hotline (1-866-880-5431).  Fall is also a good time to harvest other types of clams—and oysters—on saltwater beaches.  Harvest regulations vary from beach to beach.

Squid:  Known as calamari in restaurants, squid are available for Puget Sound fishers. Squid move into Puget Sound in November and December, appearing near the Edmonds waterfront in September and in Seattle’s Elliot Bay and surrounding shoreline in October, and in Des Moines and Tacoma in late November and December. See our squid "jigging" website for more information.