By Margo Greenman
Surrounded by water, forests and mountains, there are lots of wild places across the Pacific Northwest where you can forage for your own food. Among the many ways to hunt and gather, fishing is an especially popular activity around the South Puget Sound. From the expansive, salty waters of the Puget Sound, to freshwater lakes and rivers, the region is brimming with opportunities for catching wild salmon, trout and other popular types of fish native to our region. Whether you baitcast or fly fish, do it for sport or sustenance, the local options for fishing are many.
Avid fly fisherman Steve Saville is a member of and secretary for local fishing club Puget Sound Fly Fishers. Saville says whether you’re an expert fisher or are putting your waders on for the first time, there are fishing opportunities for fishermen/women of all skill levels right here in our own backyard.
“With nearly 2,700 miles of shoreline and hundreds of small lakes and streams, the Puget Sound region in general is abundant with opportunities for the beginning fly fisher who is licensed to fish in local waters,” says Saville. With so many options, a beginner might not be sure where to start. Saville says a few popular, local places for saltwater fishing include Dash Point State Park, Titlow Beach, Penrose State Park and Browns Point Lighthouse Park. Or, you can cross the Narrows Bridge and check out what’s in the water at Narrows Park, Kopachuck State Park and the Purdy Sand Spit, just to name a few.
If you’d rather fish for freshwater fish, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stocks local lakes and ponds full of trout, bass, perch and other popular types of fish for both seasonal and year-round fishing. Saville suggests Steel Lake, Lake Kapowsin, and Ohop Lake, but you can also find a full list of fishable lakes around Pierce County on WDFW’s website here. River fishing is also popular throughout the region and Saville says if you don’t mind a bit of travel, Kalama, Snoqualmie and Lewis Rivers are a few of his favorites.
With so many great places to fish locally, you want to make the most of your experience. Saville says the best way to do this is by being prepared. If you’re just starting out, there are a few things you can do before you hit the water that will make your first handful of times out fishing more successful. Saville suggests:
Take a casting lesson. “The worst thing you can do is go out and try to cast for the first time yourself,” says Saville. Saville recommends taking a class from a longtime fisher, or swinging by Titlow Beach for Puget Sound Fly Fishers’ Monday night casting lesson. The lessons are free and open to the public. Find out when the next scheduled Monday night casting lesson is by visiting Puget Sound Fly Fishers’ group page here.
- Buy the best equipment within your budget. Saville says there’s nothing worse than going out and paying $50 for a rod and having it break your first time out. Fishing equipment can be expensive, but Saville says to look at it as an investment. And, be sure to try out your equipment before you buy it.
- If you have questions, get them answered before you go out. Saville says there are a few local fishing shops staffed by knowledgeable, experienced fishermen/women who can answer any questions you may have. Puget Sound Fly Company and Gig Harbor Fly Shop are two shops Saville recommends.
- Read a few books on casting and fishing. Saville says there are lots of great resources out there. Three books he recommends are “Fly-Fishing Inshore Saltwater for Pacific Salmon” by Richard K. Stoll, “How to Fish for Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout” by Les Johnson, and “The Estuary Fly Fisher” by Steve Raymond.
- Join a club. Saville says fishing can be daunting without the help of others, so find a group of people that are passionate about the sport. Puget Sound Fly Fishers is one of the major clubs in the area, but Saville says there are lots of smaller groups that are active as well.
Saville says Coho salmon season is just beginning and will last through October, with Chum coming in late October and lasting through November. With several months of peak salmon fishing just beginning, now is a great time to gear up for the season. If you’d like to learn more about fishing opportunities in the area, visit WDFW’s website here, or stop by the next Puget Sound Fly Fishers meeting. Puget Sound Fly Fishers meet the 2nd Thursday of each at month at 7 p.m. at Tower Lanes in Tacoma.
All photos courtesy of Steve Saville.