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When to fish

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Winter fisheries

Trout:  Many lakes close for trout fishing Oct. 31, but some remain open throughout the year, providing good fishing for anglers willing to brave colder weather.  In eastern Washington, several "winter only" lakes are open from December through March for ice fishing.

Salmon:  Opportunities to catch salmon are limited during the winter months.  The best bet is to fish in Puget Sound nearshore areas for blackmouth salmon.  Anglers can also fish for chum salmon in the Nisqually River in December and January.

Bass, walleye and other warmwater fish:  Although fishing for warmwater fish is open year-round on most rivers and lakes, these heat-loving fish can be more difficult to catch during winter months.

Steelhead:  Hatchery-reared fish return to rivers in the Puget Sound area and on the Olympic Peninsula throughout the winter months.  

Crab: The Puget Sound crab fishery may continues in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca, southern Puget Sound and other areas of the Sound where the catch quota has not been filled.  The Pacific coast, including Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay and the mouth of the Columbia River, remain open for crabbing throughout the year.

Clams/oysters:  Razor-clam digs continue through the winter, drawing tens of thousands of diggers to ocean beaches.  Days open to digging are announced in advance on the WDFW website and on the department’s fishing hotline (1-866-880-5431).  Winter is a good time to harvest other type of clams—and oysters—on saltwater beaches, because their quality improves as the weather gets cooler.  Harvest regulations vary from beach to beach.

Squid:  Good fishing for squid, also known as calamari, is available throughout  southern Puget Sound from November through January. See our squid "jigging" website for more information.