Best Shore Fishing in Washington

Serene green shoreline in washington.
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Washington State offers a rich tapestry of shore fishing opportunities that cater to anglers of all experience levels. From the serene lowland lakes to the rugged coastal beaches, your next great catch could be just a cast away. Whether you are seeking the quiet solitude of an alpine lake or the stimulating challenge of surfperch fishing along the Pacific coasts, Washington’s diverse environments ensure a memorable experience. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains numerous water access areas, ensuring you can find a spot that suits your fishing preferences. With ADA accessible parking and fishing piers, these areas are designed to be inclusive, giving everyone a chance to participate. Springtime is often heralded as a peak season, especially for trout fishing, yet the patient angler can find success throughout the year as some lakes house holdover trout that can be caught into the fall.

Puget Sound

When fishing the Puget Sound from shore, your opportunities to catch salmon are numerous. Notable for its accessibility and convenience, Edmonds Pier, Seacrest Pier in West Seattle, and Redondo Pier in Federal Way are prime spots. You have a chance at all five species of Pacific salmon, each with its seasonal availability. For optimal results, use a spoons when targeting Chinook salmon from these piers. Pink Salmon, however, are a special treat, entering the Sound on odd-numbered years, making 2025 your next opportunity.

Lake Washington

When searching for shore fishing experiences in Washington, you should consider Lake Washington. This large freshwater lake nestled between Seattle and Bellevue offers diverse year-round fishing opportunities. You can target Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and Black Crappie. Notably, the lake once set the state record for Black Crappie with a 4.5-pound catch.

Here’s what you need to know about fishing from the shore:

Banks Lake

Banks Lake offers you a varied fishing experience with species such as Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, and Lake Whitefish. As a 27-mile-long reservoir, it provides around 91 miles of accessible shoreline, mainly on its eastern side, which is ideal for shore anglers. For a successful catch, cast your line along rock edges, where techniques like jigging are quite effective. Due to its size and popularity among anglers, Banks Lake has facilities to enhance your fishing experience. While fishing conditions may fluctuate with water levels during irrigation seasons, your chances of landing a good catch remain high, especially during early mornings and late evenings when fish are most active.

Columbia River

When you’re seeking premier shore fishing in Washington, the Columbia River should be at the top of your list. Notable for its diverse fishery, you can target salmon, especially during late summer when they return to spawn. Around the mouth of the river, known as Buoy 10, is where many anglers find success. The river, which is well-distributed with access points, affords you plentiful opportunities for steelhead, Chinook, and sockeye salmon, particularly upstream of Rocky Reach Dam to Wells Dam.

Best Times to Fish:

  • Salmon: Late summer during the spawning run
  • Steelhead and Chinook: Varies, check local regulations

Access Points:

  • Buoy 10 for salmon
  • Upstream of Rocky Reach Dam for steelhead and Chinook

Lake Chelan

When you visit Lake Chelan, you’re at one of Washington’s premier shore fishing destinations. This extensive lake boasts clear waters and depths reaching up to 1,486 feet, providing a prime habitat for kokanee and lake trout. Shoreline access is good, with numerous public docks and boat launches available for your use.

Fish species thriving in Lake Chelan include:

  • Kokanee Salmon: Best in spring and early summer
  • Lake Trout (Mackinaw): Year-round, with peak in late fall
  • Cutthroat Trout: Optimal in cooler, shallower waters near vegetation

Tip: For kokanee, try fishing the northern reaches where cooler shallows draw them close to docks. And be aware, the Washington Department of Health issues fish consumption advisories—always check current recommendations before planning your trip.

Moses Lake

Moses Lake is a prime destination for shore fishing in Washington, providing you with ample opportunities to catch walleye, bass, and other species. The lake’s accessible shoreline means you can fish conveniently from various points, with the N. Stratford Road Bridge being particularly noteworthy for walleye. Smallmouth bass are also abundant, and specimens can reach impressive sizes, sometimes exceeding 5 pounds.

When planning your trip, pay attention to the optimal fishing spots around the lake. Walleye tend to be more active and abundant during specific times of the year, so timing your visits can increase your chances for a successful outing. Utilize the lake’s fishing prospects to target areas known for high fish populations.

Rattlesnake Lake

Located just south of North Bend, Rattlesnake Lake is a favorite for those seeking good shoreline access for fishing. The lake is spring-fed by the Cedar River and offers a small gravel boat ramp, ample parking, and restroom facilities. When fishing here, you are likely to encounter rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Fish Species:

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout

The best times for fishing are typically during spring and fall, and while you’re enjoying the serene environment, rest assured that despite the name, there are no rattlesnakes in the vicinity of Rattlesnake Lake.

Potholes Reservoir

At Potholes Reservoir, you’re presented with diverse shore fishing experiences. The reservoir, lying about seven miles south of Moses Lake, Washington, is a prime location for catching popular warmwater fish. Seek the shoreline and cast your line for Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, and Largemouth Bass, which are the stars of Potholes. The varying underwater terrain, where fish often hold just below ledges and drop-offs, provides an ideal habitat for these species.

When targeting Walleye, focus on areas with aquatic structures, such as weed lines in 15 to 20 feet of water, particularly effective during spring. For Bass, your approach should adapt to their active periods, considering bait like poppers and streamers. Not to be overlooked, panfish including crappie and perch offer additional opportunities, especially for family outings. Your endeavor at Potholes Reservoir, open year-round, is supported by accessible fish cleaning stations for your convenience.

Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish, located in Western Washington, is a prime location for shore fishing, particularly known for its smallmouth and largemouth bass populations. You can enjoy fishing year-round, with Idylwood Park being a notable spot for anglers. The lake also contains Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Yellow Perch, and Pumpkinseed, diversifying your fishing experience.

When planning your visit, remember that while Lake Sammamish State Park offers extensive amenities and public access, two-pole fishing is not permitted. There are no fishing piers, but you can fish from the shoreline or tie-up floats. Keep in mind, the best time for fishing smallmouth bass is during the cooler months, although they are available throughout the year.

Ocean Shores

Located in Grays Harbor County on the Point Brown peninsula, Ocean Shores offers a variety of shore fishing opportunities. As you venture to this small town with a population under ten thousand, you’ll find a few prime spots worth casting your line. Marine Area 2 is a notable choice, accessible from the Port of Westport and occasionally from Ocean Shores. It’s recommended to launch early on weekends when the weather is favorable as boat launch queues can be long.

While fishing, be mindful of the Grays Harbor Bar, known for its hazards—especially during ebb tides and high swells. For jetty fishing enthusiasts, North Jetty provides chances to catch species like lingcod and cabezon. Local tackle shops and online resources can offer further advice on effective gear and techniques to ensure a gratifying fishing experience.

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