22 Jun 2021
It’s a classic photo that you’ll find proudly displayed on a mantle, in a study, or on a bedside table. A family with smiles stretched ear to ear, sunkissed cheeks, and a fish caught just minutes before.
There’s a good chance that there’s a photo of you as a lil’ angler in your parent’s house that brings back memories every time you glance at it. Head out for a day of fishing and come back with your very own catch, a tale of adventure, and a photograph that you’ll cherish for life.
One of the Most Successful Fishing Destinations
It is no secret that Washington has its fair share of water. From the Puget Sound to the glacial fed rivers of the Cascades and the seemingly endless lakes dotted across the state, there’s no shortage of fishing spots. However, once you come to the Washington Coast, your options open up to the expansive Pacific Ocean where you can fish for halibut, tuna, and rockfish and even go crabbing.
You’ll also find secluded rivers and streams overflowing with salmon and lakes stocked year round. If shellfish suits your fancy, you can dig for clams on the beach or visit an oyster shack and enjoy as many fresh shucked oysters as you can eat. With all the possibilities, it’s no wonder that Grays Harbor is one of the most successful fishing places in the entire state.
We went on a guided fishing trip with Mike Shank from Washington State Fishing Guides to get the lowdown on local trout fishing. A bit over 10 years ago, Mike came to the coast on a fishing trip and had one of the best fishing days of his life.
“I’ve been fishing my whole life and during my best fishing season in Idaho, I retained 17 fish. On my first float down the Humptulips River I caught 17 fish in one afternoon,” said Mike.
It didn’t take long for Mike and his wife to pack up and move out to the coast. Today, he resides in a home on the Humptulips, the very same river he floated on his first trip out.
Four Seasons of Fishing
On the coast, you can drop a line every day of the year and spring is a popular time for trout fishing. There are lakes that stock trout year round, but if you want a hefty haul, you’ll want to visit after the lowland lakes open for the season.
Summer is open season for pretty much any catch that you can think of with all of the local fishing options on the Washington Coast. With warm and sunny days, hearty catches, there's nowhere better than on a lake.
Fall is prime for salmon fishing on the rivers. You’ll find coho, kokanee, chinook, and even king salmon in the rivers. “The largest catch I’ve ever had was a 42-pounder king salmon out of the Humptulips River a couple years back.”
In the winter, razor clamming is the largest attraction, pulling many to the beaches to dig for clams. For those who love a peaceful morning fishing with nothing but the birds as your companions, winter is the season to visit. Winter steelhead runs and trout-stocked lakes are more than enough to keep you busy.
Lakes, Lakes, and More Lakes
From urban manmade lakes with easy access to reservoirs isolated by mountains and miles of trees, and everything in between, you can find that perfect fishing hole.
Woven in between the neighborhoods of Ocean Shores, Duck Lake is a local favorite. With 197 acres to fish from and seemingly endless canals to explore, you could fish this lake every day of the year and find something new each time.
“I had a guy fish with me one time who has been fishing all over the country,” recalled Mike, “He spent a lot of time and money fishing rivers throughout Oregon looking for a steelhead salmon but kept coming back empty handed. We dropped a line over by the docks and out comes this crazy huge steelhead.”
Tucked away, deep in the woods, Failor Lake is an unforgettable experience. Failor is Seabrook Concierge, Jeff Wilson’s favorite place to fish with his son. The 60-acre lake is stocked frequently with rainbow and steelhead trout. You can cast a line from the shoreline, but the best fishing is in the heart of the lake.
Situated in the Olympic National Forest, Wynoochee Lake is surrounded by old growth forests, gushing waterfalls, and miles of hiking trails. It also just so happens to be an excellent place to drop a line. Fish here tend to be elusive, but are larger than other lakes making for a rewarding catch.
Jeff Wilson spends most of his free time with a line in the water.
“I usually alternate between Duck Lake and Failor Lake depending on when they are stocked,” said Jeff.
Take a Guided Trip with NW Anglers
Each river, lake, stream, and pond is a little different and the nature of the wild Washington Coast changes the nature of these bodies of water constantly. Bountiful fishing holes disappear and pop up in new areas as rivers change course and temperatures change in the lakes. If you want a successful fishing day, book a trip with Washington State Fishing Guides that is run by Scott and Karen Crawford.
Their friendly and knowledgeable guides offer trips spanning the Kalama and Cowlitz Rivers of Southern Washington to the Queets and Hoh Rivers of the northern Olympic Peninsula, but are based out of Grays Harbor.
Seabrook’s Concierge booked us a trip to both Duck Lake (30 minutes from Seabrook) and Failor Lake (45 minutes from Seabrook). As we boated around Duck Lake, Mike laughed and talked with the fishermen on the docks.
“You definitely see the same groups out here," said Mike. "We talk about the day’s catch, what’s working and what isn’t. Trout fishing is just for fun so nobody minds sharing their secrets.”
It was this laid-back inclusive community that introduced Mike to Seabrook’s Concierge, Jeff Wilson.
“I first met Mike on the river. That day, the fish just didn’t seem to be biting,” Jeff recalls, "Mike asked if he could cast five lines and see if he could catch anything. Of course, he pulled out fish after fish. I got to talking to him and he gave me some of his home cured bait to use. After he left I gave it a try and sure enough I caught my first fish of the day. I’ve been fishing with him ever since.”
On the lake, Mike pointed out different variations on the electronic fish finder and explained what they meant. We could see a thermocline in the lake, which meant water at the bottom of the lake is cooler than the top. Mike talked us through how to change out the weights and bait to accommodate for the fluctuations.
“When I first came to the coast, I worked at the fish hatchery. It gave me the inside scoop on all the best fishing holes around,” noted Mike.
Enjoy Your Catch in Your Seabrook Home
Taking a guided trip takes the hassle out of fishing. No poles, bait, or insider knowledge needed. The guides can even gut, scale, and clean for you so all you have to do is bring your catch home to enjoy.
All of Seabrook Vacation Rental’s homes come with their own fully equipped kitchen that makes cooking just as comfortable as your home. Mike’s favorite way to prepare his daily catch is grilled in a skillet with a little butter and garlic and a side of asparagus. The flavor of the fish comes out in each bite. You can also grill it on the BBQ or bake it in the oven.
Make fishing a part of your Seabrook tradition. Set out for a day of adventure and come home with a catch worth bragging about. You can bring your own gear and fish from one of the coast’s bountiful lakes or let Seabrook’s Concierge book you a guided tour with Washington State Fishing Guides. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the day.