Unlock the Secrets: Washington Fishing Season Start Dates Revealed!

When does fishing season start in Washington?

Fishing is a beloved pastime for many outdoor enthusiasts in Washington. With its abundance of rivers, lakes, and coastline, the state offers plenty of opportunities to cast a line and reel in some prized catches. If you’re planning a fishing trip to Washington or just curious about when the fishing season begins, read on!

Understanding Fishing Seasons

In Washington, fishing seasons are set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to ensure sustainable fish populations and preserve the natural ecosystem. These regulations help maintain healthy fish populations while giving anglers ample time to enjoy their favorite sport.

The General Fishing Season

The general fishing season refers to the period during which most species can be targeted by anglers. In Washington, this typically runs from mid-April through October. However, specific dates can vary depending on location and target species.

Rivers and Lakes

If you’re planning a freshwater fishing trip in Washington’s rivers or lakes, it’s important to know when specific species are available for catch-and-release or harvest.


  • Coho Salmon: The recreational salmon angling season usually opens around late June or early July until September or October.
  • Chinook Salmon: Depending on the river system, Chinook salmon runs begin as early as April but peak from May to August.


  • Rainbow Trout: These popular game fish can often be caught year-round; however, spring (April-June) is an excellent time due to increased feeding activity after winter.
  • Lake Trout: Lake trout fishing is generally best from late spring through early fall when they are more active near the surface.

Bass and Panfish:

  • Smallmouth Bass: The smallmouth bass season typically starts in late April or early May and lasts until October, depending on the waterbody.
  • Panfish (Bluegill, Crappie): These species can be targeted year-round but are particularly active during warmer months, usually from April to September.

Saltwater Fishing

If you prefer saltwater angling, Washington’s coastline offers fantastic opportunities. Saltwater fishing seasons can vary based on specific regions and species. Here are some popular catches and their respective seasons:

Dungeness Crab:

The Dungeness crab season generally runs from December through late summer or early fall. However, specific dates may change annually depending on population levels determined by DFW.


The recreational halibut fishery typically opens for a few predetermined days per week between May and June before reopening intermittently throughout July. Regulations regarding size limits and bag limits apply!

Coho Salmon:

In marine areas of Washington state, Coho salmon fishing usually begins in mid-summer (July) with peak activity occurring in August or September. Consult local regulations for details about specific areas.

The Importance of Checking Regulations

Before embarking on your fishing adventure in Washington state, it’s crucial to check the official regulations provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. These guidelines provide up-to-date information regarding open seasons, bag limits, and any special restrictions or closures that may be in effect to protect the fish populations.

By adhering to these regulations and practicing responsible angling techniques, you contribute to the sustainability of Washington’s fisheries while ensuring a fun-filled fishing experience for years to come!


The fishing season in Washington offers exciting opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. With diverse species available year-round and specific seasons set for various targets, there’s always something waiting on the end of your line. Remember to stay informed about local regulations before heading out on your next fishing adventure. So grab your gear, select a date range based on target species, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in Washington’s beautiful waters!