Salmon Fishing in Grays Harbor County, Washington

by Dan Harkins
A sight to make most anglers eager to fish.

A sight to make most anglers eager to fish.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Fishing for Pacific salmon in Washington State and elsewhere requires knowledge of their chosen spawning locations. In Grays Harbor County, Washington, several rivers and tributaries provide natural habitat for wild and reservoir-bred salmon. Keep your eye on local fishing reports to stay one step ahead of the salmon, and do your legal part to keep abreast of the law.

Get Licensed First

Fishing for salmon, steelhead, halibut, sturgeon, trout or Dungeness crab requires a fishing license from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This applies to fishing in public or private bodies of water. The license can be purchased online (see Resources). An annual freshwater license for resident anglers 16 and over cost $24 in 2011. A combination freshwater/saltwater permit costs $48.

Catch Record Cards

Washington requires anglers to keep catch record cards, which help the management of natural resources in the state. Regardless of whether you catch a chinook, coho, pink, sockeye or chum salmon, you'll have to record on your card where and when you caught it, its length and whether it has a telltale clip near its rear dorsal fin, which indicates whether it was farm raised or wild. Your card will have a deadline date for when you must turn it in to the state.


Salmon can only be caught and kept during certain seasons of the year. These dates change almost every year -- sometimes at the last minute -- due to changing conditions and spawning patterns throughout Washington's fisheries and natural breeding grounds. At Joe Creek, one of dozens of tributaries in Grays Harbor County, salmon in 2011 could be caught and brought home from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Other species, however, can be fished from early summer to late winter. Check the state's annual fishing brochure in the Resources section for river-by-river information about salmon-specific seasons and catch limits.

Grays Harbor County Waters

Grays Harbor County is in the coastal region of Washington, where several rivers and tributaries feed into the Pacific. Salmon can be found in many of these waters, from the Chehalis and Quinalt rivers and their tributaries on out to salt water of the Pacific, where young salmon spend time in the spring before heading upriver to spawn. Some rivers and lakes in Washington are on tribal reservations, which may require a guide to be present during any fishing excursions. Other places where salmon are caught in Grays Harbor County: the Satsop, Wishkay and Wynoochee rivers, from which several other creeks or tributaries sprout and play host to salmon.

About the Author

Dan Harkins has been a full-time journalist since 1997. Prior to working in the alternative press, he served as a staff writer and editor for daily publications such as the "St. Petersburg Times" and "Elyria Chronicle-Telegram." Harkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

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