A First-Timer’s Guide On How To Have The Best Time Fishing In Seattle

Here's a complete guide on how to have the best time salmon and fly fishing in Seattle, Washington, including tips and insights for beginners.

Up until recently, fishing had been one of those things that — in theory — could be fun, but something that always felt too out of my comfort zone. Growing up in San Francisco, I was aware that fishing was all around me, especially whenever we would drive down Highway 1 along the coast. From local fishermen casting off the Embarcadero Pier to nearby towns like Half Moon Bay with countless restaurants offering freshly caught fish on their menus, the San Francisco Bay Area always seemed like the best place to get started fishing.

While I didn’t end up learning the basics at home, I did have that all-encompassing weekend of educational fishing adventures up North in the stunning waters of Seattle, Washington this summer. In efforts to get more people excited about fishing, The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its brand Take Me Fishing, to raise awareness about the worlds of fishing, boating and conservation in America. Their goal is to educate people of all ages on how fun, accessible and rewarding fishing and boating can be no matter who you are.

This is me with a group of female anglers after our first adventure fishing on Puget Sound, Seattle, Washington.

It’s an honor to be a part of this year’s campaign. This specifically focuses on women in the fishing and boating world via an ambassador-led initiative, Women Making Waves. While it’s true that stereotype of an angler is a man, women make a significant imprint on the world of fishing.

Some fast facts:

  • 19.4 million women went fishing last year
  • 2.3 million more female anglers hit the water in 2021 than five years prior
  • Moms are more likely to introduce their children to fishing. 63% of daughters participated in fishing with their mothers, compared to 45% who participated with their fathers.

During my time in Seattle, I got to experience just how grand the Pacific Northwest is through the lens of fishing. Alongside a group of bad-ass female anglers, and with the expertise and knowledge of the team at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, I had the unique chance to experience some of the best salmon and fly-fishing opportunities in the country. Though I’ve traveled to Seattle in the past, experiencing this gorgeous part of the West Coast through this new lens was something unique and unlike anything I’ve done before.

Here's a complete guide on how to have the best time fishing in Seattle, Washington, including tips and insights for beginners.

Salmon Fishing on Puget Sound

Day one of our fishing adventures started extremely early! We left our hotel (highly recommend The Sound Hotel Seattle, more on that below!) at 5:00 am and we were out on the water by 6:30 am for our guided salmon fishing experience with Cut Plug Charter. Though the very early morning began with me putting my waiters on backwards, the moment we set out on the water I knew I was in for a special morning. The water was shockingly glasslike⁠.

This is the start of day one fishing in Seattle, Washington.

I initially woke up dreading what I thought was going to be a freezing ride to our final destination; but once we left the dock, that dread melted away. My assumption that I’d be on a stinky boat freezing my butt off ⁠— miserable ⁠— couldn’t have been further from the case. For about an hour and a half I enjoyed the moody scenery zooming past us as we boated along calming, serene waters.

After getting my first fishing experience under my belt, I realized that what they say is true. Fishing, though not always exciting, is really peaceful. I found the act of throwing my line into the water, letting the line drop, and reeling it back to the surface to be surprisingly relaxing. And of course, it never hurts to be in the middle of the pristine beauty that is Puget Sound. Though I didn’t catch a massive salmon this morning, one of the women in our group did, and WOW. It was so cool to see in her hands this huge salmon that she just fought for!

Here's a complete guide on how to have the best time fishing in Seattle, Washington, including tips and insights for beginners.

I had never seen a female angler catch a fish like that and I couldn’t be more impressed. Others in our group caught flounder too, which was awesome. One actually caught two on one line! And as for myself? I caught a fairly large shark! Though I ended up releasing the shark, the battle to catch it was exhilarating. 

I can safely say that I’ll be chasing that thrill the next time I’m on the water. Seeing a little shark at the end of my line after a few minutes of reeling it in was the greatest feeling! It was rewarding and felt amazing to witness my patience and determination to not give up despite hooking nothing for so long to pay off.

Fly Fishing on Puget Sound

This type of fishing was honestly something I didn’t think I’d ever do! Day two began with an extremely wet start, a rainy stereotypical Seattle morning and the clouds continued to pour the entire trip. That said, with waiters, boots, rainproof coats and all the other layers I had on, it didn’t really matter to me. We began the adventure with Emerald Water Anglers on a field where we learned the proper — and safe — technique to fly fish!

This is my first time fly fishing in Seattle, Washington.

The team was incredibly patient and surprisingly entertaining as they gave us thorough instruction. After I hooked some grass and managed to get some accuracy going with my whipping motion, we headed off the shore for lunch and a literal walk into the water.

Despite it pouring rain, and being a little chilly, the act of wading around in the water was really fun. Being waist-deep in the water calls for a willingness to just do it and go all in. I loved that necessary commitment to the sport, and though I didn’t catch anything, it was a challenging new skill to learn, one that I hope to revisit soon.

First-Timers Takeaways

After a couple days on the water with both supportive female anglers; first timers like myself; and professional guides and fishermen here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. Who you’re with when fishing matters. Being on the water and experiencing nature in such an intimate way brings people together in a manner that few other adventures will.
  2. Immersing yourself in nature is meditative and calms things like anxiety and stress significantly down.
  3. Fishing isn’t always just about what you catch or not, but rather the entire experience, from start to finish. Memories are made throughout the journey, rain or shine.
  4. You can never wear too many layers or bring too many snacks.
  5. Fishing is something that can be done anywhere there’s fishable water and doesn’t require fancy rods or boats.
Here's a complete guide on how to have the best time fishing in Seattle, Washington, including tips and insights for beginners.

Planning a trip to Seattle, Washington? Here are some tips:

Stay:

  • The Sound Hotel Seattle — it’s got a view of the Space Needle and is within walking distance to Pike Place Market.

Play:

  • Book fishing trips with Cut Plug Charter and Emerald Water Anglers.
  • Check out the iconic Space Needle.
  • Eat your way through Pike Place Market.
  • Rent a boat and explore the stunning Lake Washington.
  • Explore Chihuly Garden and Glass.
  • Make a day trip to Mt. Rainier.

Eat:

  • Pike Place Market — Biscuit Bitch, Piroshky Piroshky, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Mee Sum Pastry, Le Pichet, Pike Place Chowder
  • Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
  • RockCreek Spirits & Seafood

Planning a trip to Seattle, Washington? Save these pins below!

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Chelsea is a San Francisco-based journalist whose passion revolves around exploring the world, immersing herself in foreign cultures, and of course, eating and drinking everything delicious.

Her work can be found in TravelPulse, Forbes, INSIDER, SF Gate and more. She covers all things food, drink and travel and is always up for an adventure, whether that means an adrenaline-pumping excursion or trying a new cuisine.

2 Comments

  1. June 20, 2023 / 6:31 am

    That’s definitely one way of making a fishing trip memorable, and it’s by making a grand plan around it. I’m definitely going to think of places to eat near the water for some post fishing trip snacks. Thanks for this wonderful idea!

    • Chelsea Davis
      Author
      June 20, 2023 / 6:44 pm

      So happy you enjoyed this post!

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