Spring brings fishing opportunities in Washington

Chad Gillespie and his son Spencer with a big catch out of Area 9 at Point No Point. - Photo courtesy of Chad Gillespie
Chad Gillespie and his son Spencer with a big catch out of Area 9 at Point No Point.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Chad Gillespie

Spring time is upon us and the fishing opportunities it brings to the Kitsap angler are plentiful. The opportunistic angler can chase spring Chinook Salmon on the Columbia River to Halibut throughout Puget Sound and everything in between.

Spring Chinook, otherwise known as a springer, on the Columbia River will started trickling into the Big C in February. The first sport caught springer usually hits the internet chat rooms and newspapers like a Seahawks Superbowl win.

Best techniques to catch these silver bullets is trolling green label herring behind a fish flash flasher downriver, and anchor fishing.  Hiring one of the many guides who works the area would be my recommendation if you are a first timer. It will cut the learning curve significantly. The season runs March 1 through April 7 and the prediction is for 308,000 springers to head upriver this year.

The fourth Saturday in April marks the kick-off of the lowland lake fishing season.

Lowland lake fishing is one my families favorite traditions. The trout are generally not too picky, the weather is mild and it is easy for kids to land a fish and bait a hook.

Traditionally, this is the most attended fishery in all of Washington. Locally, Kitsap and Island lakes are open year and offer an opportunity to get out in all seasons and try for a feisty rainbow trout. Both Kitsap and Island lakes have public access areas. Kitsap has a very nice dock to fish off of at Kitsap Lake County Park.

Other stocked lakes include Mission, Panther, Wildcat, Horseshoe, Buck, Koeneman and Wye lakes. Anglers looking to maximize their success can look on the Washington Department of Fish and Game’s website ( and go to the freshwater fishing section. There, you can find up-to-date lake stocking data. It will show you what lakes have been stocked, when they were stocked and with the number of trout put in.

Jefferson County also offers some fine trout destinations. These are great options for those living in the central and north end of the county and include Anderson, Gibbs, Horseshoe, Leland, Ludlow, Sandy Shore, Silent, Tarboo and Teal lakes.

Special regulations requiring single barbless hook and no bait are the norm on Gibbs and Teal lakes for all or part of the year. Fly and spinner anglers plying these waters can experience a tranquil setting. Both lakes are ideal for float tubes or small carry in boats, as there is no boat launch to back a trailer into the water.

Bill Drewry of Peninsula outfitters in Poulsbo is an excellent resource for up to date fishing reports on Jefferson County lakes. Bill can be reached at 360-394-1599 or

Sea-run cutthroat, a wild seagoing trout that live in our waters surrounding the Kitsap Peninsula are an exciting option for the adventurous soul wishing to brave our spring weather.

Hard fighting, aggressive and acrobatic are how I would describe a sea-run cutthroat. There are no hatcheries for sea-runs, they propagate naturally in streams ranging from a trickle to full-size rivers. This is strictly a catch-and-release fishery, so careful attention to releasing them without touching them is preferable.

Sea-runs live along all Kitsap shorelines migrating in and out with the tides and currents. They feed opportunistically and will readily put the smack down on a small sculpin, herring, sand lance or migrating salmon smolt.

Sea-runs travel along beaches and can be found foraging in water as shallow as 6 inches to more than 12 feet deep on average. Anglers casting from beaches can have great success in certain areas.

Cutthroat fishing is unique because it is all catch and release – a regulation put in place in the late '90s to protect this dwindling species. Without sport or commercial harvest they have rebounded.

Spring marks the migration of the chum salmon fry out of the rivers and into the saltwater. Cutthroat feed voraciously on these small defenseless fry that travel in shallow waters along Hood Canal and Puget Sound beaches. A small fly that imitates one of these can be highly effective for the fly angler pursuing sea-runs.

Bill Drewry of Peninsula Outfitters can be called for his expertise. Bill guides saltwater salmon and sea-run cutthroat fly fishing trips out of his boat and has first hand knowledge for these species.

Spring blackmouth fishing is also happening now in different areas. Area 9, which stretches from Appletree Point in Kingston to Port Townsend is currently fishing well.

The Washington Department of Fish and Game recently restricted the fishing down to one legal-sized blackmouth per day, per person. This is a change from two per day, per person.

Point No Point proved its worthiness for us when it opened Jan. 16. Cut plug herring mooched through the outgoing low tide was very effective for the numerous 5-10 pound blackmouth that were inhabiting the area. Area 9 will be open through mid-April, unless WDFW shuts it down early due to exceeding the quota.

Spring steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula are starting to run strong in the rivers now. On the tail end of each heavy rain event, and as the river levels drop steelhead migrate into the Quilllayute River system which includes the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah and Dickey rivers.

These magnificent fish are primarily all native steelhead at this point in the year and compose the last of what were once a numerous fish throughout Western Washington.

An acrobatic steelhead is nothing short of a spectacular battle once hooked – the challenge just lies in hooking them. Steelhead aren’t called the fish of a thousand casts for nothing!

Anglers can expect native steelhead to trickle into the Olympic Peninsula rivers through the closure in mid-April. For updates, fishing techniques and other worthy information check out

The opportunities are endless for anglers looking to experience some new type of fishing on or close to the Kitsap Peninsula. Fishing for one species or another, one should never get bored as there is always fishing to be had close by. Spring is almost here, get out and enjoy our endless fishing options.

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