Summer salmon fisheries are ramping up right now with more options on the near horizon Leave a reply

Jun 13, 2024 by Mark Yuasa
This hatchery king was caught off the Clay Banks in Tacoma off Point Defiance Park on the June 5 season opener for Marine Area 11.

Contributed by Mark Yuasa, WDFW

Summer is less than a week away – June 20 to be exact – and the 2024-2025 salmon fishing season is already off to a good start in several marine areas.

A couple of pro tips include being willing to move from place to place to catch because leaving your boat in one location means you’re missing out on a boatload of other salmon fisheries across the state.

Another reminder is some salmon fisheries are driven by catch quotas or guidelines, so many will go when a fishing season opens rather than wait to later on when a fishery could shutdown prematurely.

I’ll provide a rundown on the places you can go to right now or in the coming weeks with plenty of options to catch a Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon.

Central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) is open daily for coho through Oct. 15 and the success rate was somewhat on the slow side when it first opened in early June and word of late was the action is picking up.

Most of these fish are resident coho averaging 2 to 4 pounds. While the best places are usually in the deep-water shipping lanes off Jefferson Head anglers were finding better action in the tidal rip currents off the Edmonds oil docks to Richmond Beach.

Christine WIlmsen holds a catch of resident coho salmon.

If catching a summer king is high on your list then give southcentral Puget Sound (Marine Area 11) a try where the hatchery Chinook fishery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays through June 30 but could close sooner if one of the three criteria are achieved including a catch quota of 1,423, a total unmarked encounter of 910, and a total sublegal encounter of 2,608. As of June 10, fishing was spotty in Marine Area 11 than in previous years, and the catch quota is at 16 percent and the total unmarked encounter is at 8 percent. The Marine Area 11 Chinook fishery is managed under two separate summer quotas and a second window of opportunity will occur later in July.

In Tacoma-area most anglers will jig or troll with downriggers or “meat liners” using plugs, spoons or a plastic hoochie squid. You can use a whole or cut-plug herring although dogfish feed heavily on baitfish schools and can be a nuisance.

Try for Chinook off Tacoma at the Clay Banks at Point Defiance Park or from Owen Beach to the Slag Pile off the Tacoma Yacht Club; the “Flats” outside of Gig Harbor; outside of Quartermaster Harbor; and Point Dalco on the south side of Vashon Island.

The northern section of Marine Area 11 is another wise choice at places like Dolphin Point and the Fauntleroy Ferry area near the northeast side of Vashon Island; south of the Southworth Ferry Landing; Colvos Passage; Apple Tree Cove to Redondo Beach; and Point Robinson.

If Marine Area 11 closes prior to June 30 many anglers will also shift south of the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge in southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) at places like Gibson Point, Hale Pass and Point Fosdick for summer hatchery kings.

Many have been finding a fair number of Chinook at the Tulalip Bubble Fishery (Marine Area 8-2) which is open through Sept. 2 (fishing allowed 12:01 a.m. Fridays to 11:59 a.m. on Mondays only, and open Sept. 7-22 (fishing allowed on Saturdays and Sundays).

The coastal ports of Neah Bay (Marine Area 4), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) open for Chinook and hatchery coho fishing on June 22, followed by Westport-Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) opening June 30-July 11 on Sundays through Thursdays, and then open daily beginning July 14. Marine Areas 4, 3, and 2 are scheduled to stay open until Sept. 15, and Marine Area 1 closes on Sept. 30. All ports could close sooner if catch quotas are met.

Coast-wide catch quotas are 41,000 Chinook (up from 39,000 in 2023) and 79,800 hatchery coho (down from 159,600 in 2023). Despite a drop in the coho quota, anglers should find decent numbers and a season lasting most of the summer.

Many anglers are excitedly waiting for the July timeframe when sockeye come into play in the Skagit River and Baker Lake.

The Baker River sockeye forecast is 56,750 up from a forecast of 31,296 and an in-season estimate of 65,000 in 2023. The 2024 Baker forecast is up 57 percent over the recent 10-year average and allows a harvest split on sockeye for Baker Lake and the Skagit River at 75 percent and 25 percent respectively.

The Skagit River from Mount Vernon Memorial Highway Bridge to the Dalles Bridge at Concrete is open for sockeye June 16-July 15. Success in the river fishery can be dictated by water flow and glacial runoff, and hot weather could lead to swift, high water and murky conditions.

Baker Lake opens July 6 – regardless of number of sockeye present in the lake – until Aug. 31. Watch the trap counts to decide when to go fishing on the WDFW website at

Be sure to make plans to head to the Upper Columbia River at Rocky Reach Dam to Chelan Falls and as high up as Brewster. The season from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam is open July 1-Aug. 31, and from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam from July 1-Oct. 15. The area from Wells Dam to Brewster Bridge is open July 16-Sept. 30, and from Brewster Bridge to Highway 17 Bridge is open July 1-Oct. 15.

In 2024, the Columbia sockeye forecast is 401,700, which is strong and up 16 percent over the recent 10-year average. The Okanogan River sockeye forecast is 288,700 and well above 187,400 and an actual return of 179,655 in 2023.

Many sockeye chasers will head to the Brewster Pool, a popular deep-water salmon fishing location on Upper Columbia.

Anglers can also target summer Chinook on Upper Columbia from Priest Rapids Dam to Chelan Falls and as high up as Brewster. The 2024 summer Chinook forecast is 53,000 down from 85,400 in 2023 and an actual return of 54,722.

Look for hatchery Chinook below Beebe Bridge in the Chelan Falls area, which is a shallow water fishery with the bottom being 25 to 50 feet. The two boat launches are at Chelan County’s Beebe Bridge Park boat ramp or across the river at Chelan Falls Park. This is an early morning fishery, out before daybreak and the salmon action often turns off by 9 a.m. or when the sun rises above the nearby hillsides. Watch dam fish counts to know when to go.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca at Sekiu/Pillar Point (Marine Area 5) opens July 1-Aug. 15 for hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho. The Chinook fishery could close sooner if the 6,539 legal size encounter guideline is achieved (3,906 in 2023, 3,890 in 2022 and 4,077 in 2021). In 2023, the estimated legal-size Chinook encounter was 7,516 (7,254 was total legal-size encounter) with a full Chinook season from July 1-Aug. 15.

The eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles (Marine Area 6) – west of a true north/south line through the #2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook – opens July 1-Aug. 15 for hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho. The Chinook fishery could close sooner if the 11,173 legal size encounter guideline is achieved (5,258 in 2023, 6,050 in 2022 and 4,769 in 2021). In 2023, the estimated legal-size Chinook encounter was 9,909 (11,516 was total legal-size encounter) with a full Chinook season from July 1-Aug. 15. The area east of the boundary is open July 1-Sept. 26 for hatchery coho only.

(Mark Yuasa is a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Communications Manager. He also has contributed numerous blogs to the KIRO/ESPN The Outdoor Line and was the outdoor reporter at The Seattle Times for 28 years.)

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