The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Washington this Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: September 16, 2022
© iStock.com/SteveOehlenschlager
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Washington is a coastal state renowned for its rainy cities, expanses of forested lands, and volcanoes. The state is a haven for commercial and leisure fishing due to its abundance of rivers, lakes, and accessibility to the Pacific Ocean. Today, we’re going to tell you about 5 of the best fish to catch in Washington this summer. Come learn about some of the different species to catch in Washington’s waters and why they’re better than others.

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Washington?

Deciding the best fish to catch in Washington really comes down to several factors. We want to provide a list of fish that have different traits. Some of these fish are freshwater and others are saltwater.

Some are simple to catch with basic bait, and others require a trip to the ocean to catch with expensive rods and lures. We’ve covered fish for beginning anglers as well as pros looking to catch a big one. With that in mind, let’s start looking at the best available catches!

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1. Steelhead Trout

Closeup of a steelhead trout
The steelhead trout can be silver and grey with dark blue back or pink and orange specks.

©Sean Lema/Shutterstock.com

Steelhead trout are interesting because they can be found in freshwater throughout the state or saltwater along the coasts. They are born in freshwater rivers and streams like other trout. If they stay in those waters, they’re called rainbow trout. If they go to sea, they’re called steelhead trout.

Although they weigh 5-11 pounds on average, they can weigh 40 pounds or more at the high end of their size. They can also weigh upwards of 45 inches in length despite measuring just 2 feet most of the time. These fish are fun to catch because of their size and varied locations.

You can catch them in the Pudget Sound, the lower Columbia River, Deschutes River, Lake Easton, Horseshoe Lake, and others. They are easy to find in the early summer months, but then they tend to move offshore. You’ll enjoy catching these fish for their size, beauty, and the fight they put up!

2. Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch
The yellow perch is not too complicated to catch.

©RLS Photo/Shutterstock.com

Yellow perch is a gorgeous fish. They are very recognizable by their oval bodies, yellowish coloring, and stripes. They are popular because they are not too complicated to catch, and many people also enjoy eating them. Their accessibility to fishers of all experience levels makes them one of the best fish to catch in Washington this summer.

Most of the time, these fish reach a length of less than a foot long, just about 7 inches. Also, they only weigh a pound or two. Yellow perch swim in schools, making it easy to track their movements by sight in clear waters. You simply need to drop the baited hook in the water and see which one fights over it.  

They won’t put up a lot of fight when caught, and they are ready to bite when you drop bait in the water. Yellow perch often eat the bait without getting caught on the hook. Using a basic rod and a small bobber with a hooked worm as bait can be a very easy way to find these fish.

You can catch them from the shore and boats in lakes in many parts of Washington. Look for them in Tee Lake, Palmer Lake, Twin Lakes, Fan Lake, Ohop Lake, and others. They also live in streams, ponds, and some rivers, and they enjoy shallow water throughout the summer.

3. Largemouth Bass

Trophy Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass is caught in lakes throughout Washington.

Largemouth bass are bigger than most sunfish, but they can still be caught with a simple rig. Anglers love these fish. Also, it’s satisfying to hold them by the lip for pictures after you’ve caught them. The average largemouth bass in Washington grows between 12 and 15 inches in length.

Some of the larger ones can measure over 20 inches in the state. The early summer is a great time to catch these fish. For the most part, these fish are caught in lakes throughout Washington, so you won’t have a hard time finding them.

You should try to find these fish in Lake Tapps, Chapman Lake, Silver Lake, Ballinger Lake, and many others throughout the state. You’ll have a huge choice of fishing gear available at bait shops. These fish enjoy all sorts of bait like plastic worms and crankbaits.

Remember that these fish prefer to live near covers like tree stumps, logs, and a variety of aquatic vegetation. So, whether you are fishing from the shore or a boat, be careful with your casts! Otherwise, you’ll lose your bait and hook!

4. Albacore Tuna

Albacore tuna fish, Thunnus alalunga underwater in the cean
Catching albacore tuna requires special expertise and experience.

©lunamarina/Shutterstock.com

Albacore tuna are caught off the coast of Washington throughout the summer and parts of the fall. They can up to 80 pounds and measure over 4 feet in length or more. They are massive fish that require special equipment and knowledge to bring in.

Yet, the difficulty in obtaining these fish is matched by the excitement that one feels reeling them in. This combination makes them some of the best fish to catch in Washington! Nevertheless, these fish are highly regulated, and they have strict obtainment rules. For most people, the best bet is to get a chartered boat that specializes in catching tuna.

That way, you just pay for the trip and step on the boat. The boat operators have the equipment and know-how to get these creatures. You’re just there for the best parts of the experience! Be prepared for a good fight when reeling these in!

5. Black Crappie

Black Crappie
Black crappies can be caught in rivers and lakes in Washington.

©iStock.com/SteveOehlenschlager

The black crappie may not be as exciting to catch as albacore tuna. Nevertheless, they are still fun to catch and eat, if you ask some people. Although they can be caught in rivers, crappies are more partial to lakes. For example, they’re often found in Dry Lake, Columbia Park Lake, Sprague Lake, Chapman Lake, and many others.

They peak in early summer and go into a lull as the hot months wear on. They like cooler waters and vegetation. Crappies are known for going after slow-moving bait, so you don’t have to reel your bait fast. You can usually put wet flies, small spoons, or other bait under a bobber and move the rig slowly to get bites.

We’ve covered a variety of the best fish to catch in Washington this summer. You should have at least one target from this list for its size, widespread nature, or ability to catch. Don’t be afraid to talk to local experts about the best places to fish for certain species. Also, check local laws before fishing to know what you can catch, when you can catch it, and whether you can keep it!

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Black Crappie
© iStock.com/SteveOehlenschlager

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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Sources
  1. NOAA Fisheries, Available here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/steelhead-trout
  2. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Available here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oncorhynchus-mykiss-steelhead
  3. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (1970) wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/perca-flavescens#howto
  4. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (1970) wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/micropterus-salmoides