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Discover Tacoma’s Best-Kept Secrets for Salmon Fishing Like a Pro


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Salmon Fishing in Marine Area 11: Updates and Regulations

Salmon fishing in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) is open daily through June 30, with a daily limit increase to two hatchery Chinook starting June 21. This extension was allowed due to slower catch rates.

The minimum size limit for Chinook is 22 inches, and anglers must release chum and wild Chinook. Monitoring data suggests that the fishery has only reached 30% of its hatchery Chinook quota, indicating ample opportunity for fishing.

Top Fishing Spots in South Puget Sound

Browns Point: Located at the northern boundary of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, Browns Point is a prime spot for Chinook and Silver salmon. The best fishing is during August, with deep drop-offs in front of Browns Point being particularly productive. Use Silver Horde glow white 5” rattle plugs, flashers, and squid combinations for fall kings.

Point Defiance: The Clay Banks at Point Defiance are a well-known hotspot, especially on the outgoing tide. The giant back eddy formed around the point traps baitfish and attracts salmon. Set your drift off Owen Beach and work your gear off the bottom.


Tacoma Narrows: Point Evans, just north of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, is excellent for Chinook salmon. Strong currents push baitfish into the area; the best fishing is one hour before to an hour after tide changes. Use fresh cut-plug herring for mooching or Point Wilson Darts for jigging.

Bank Fishing for Salmon in Tacoma

Bank fishing is a great alternative if you don't have a boat. Popular spots include Les Davis Dock, Point Defiance Boat House, and Tacoma Narrows Park. Most anglers use buzz bombs or herring as bait. Tacoma Narrows Park is particularly good for Silvers and the occasional King from late August through September.

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Shore Fishing Techniques

Metal Jigs: Casting metal jigs like the P-Line Laser Minnow or Buzz Bomb is effective. Cast as far as you can, let it sink, then reel in and lift your rod with a pop to attract salmon.

Float Fishing with Herring: Use a sliding float with a cut-plug herring. Cast out and let the current spin the herring, which is irresistible to Chinook and Coho.

Fly Fishing: Use a floating line with a weighted fly, like a Clouser Minnow, and strip fast. This technique works well on beaches with a gentle gradient.

Regulations and Compliance

  • Daily Limit: Two hatchery Chinook per day.
  • Minimum Size: Chinook must be at least 22 inches.
  • Release: All chum and wild Chinook must be released.
  • Boat Regulations: In Marine Areas 5-13, it is illegal to bring salmon aboard if it is unlawful to retain them.

Best Times and Tides

Higher tides are best for beach fishing, particularly the four-hour window around high tide. To increase your chances, show up two hours before and fish two hours after high tide.

Essential Gear

  • Pliers: For handling barbless hooks.
  • Polarized Sunglasses: To reduce glare and see fish better.
  • Rod Holder: To keep your reel off the sand.
  • Insulated Catch Cooler: To keep your catch fresh.
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Essential Gear for Salmon Fishing in Tacoma

When gearing up for a day of chasing salmon in Tacoma, you must pack the right tackle to ensure a thrilling experience. Your go-to setup should include a stout fishing rod and a reel with plenty of backbone to handle the powerful runs of Chinook and Coho.

Load up on metal jigs like the P-Line Laser Minnow and the trusty Buzz Bomb, which are proven fish slayers in these waters. For those who enjoy float fishing, there's nothing like the irresistible spin of a well-brined cut-plug herring to draw in the big ones.

Don't forget your polarized sunglasses to cut through the glare and spot those silver flashes beneath the surface. A rod holder is a lifesaver, keeping your gear out of the sand while you regroup.

Pliers are essential for quick hook removals, especially with barbless hooks that keep things legal and humane. And, of course, an insulated catch cooler is a must to keep your prize catches fresh and ready for the grill. With this arsenal, you're set to dominate the waters and reel in some serious fish.

Seasonal Tips for Successful Salmon Fishing

Timing your trips with the seasonal runs is key to landing the big ones in Tacoma. In the summer, the waters come alive with the epic returns of Chinook and Coho. Hit up hotspots like Point Defiance and Browns Point where these brutes lurk. Troll deep with heavy gear and be ready for a battle – these salmon are known for their explosive strikes and relentless fights.

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As the leaves turn and fall settles in, switch your focus to the mighty Chum salmon. South Puget Sound estuaries like Big Beef Creek and Minter Creek are prime locations, teeming with action as these fish make their spawning run. Float fishing with an anchovy under a bobber becomes the game plan.

Seeing a bobber vanishing under the surface and the subsequent tug on your line will have your heart racing. Adapt to the seasons, know your spots, and you'll be hauling in trophy salmon all year.

Tacoma, WA, offers a wealth of opportunities for salmon fishing, whether from a boat, the shore, or a public pier. By following the regulations and using the right techniques, you can enjoy a successful and enjoyable fishing experience. Happy fishing!

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