Fishing friday harbor

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Friday Harbor Marine Preserve

WAC 220-302-100(2): "Those tidelands and bedlands adjacent to San Juan Island within a line beginning on the shore 500 yards west of Point Caution, thence 500 yards offshore, thence south and east following the shoreline to the intersection with a line projected from a University of Washington marker located 100 feet north of the north entrance of the floating breakwater of the Port of Friday Harbor and projected towards Reid Rock Buoy, thence along said line to shore on San Juan Island."

Recreational restrictions and openings

SpeciesStatusComments, notes...
Forage FishLimitedFishing only for herring is allowed.

 Commercial restrictions and openings

SpeciesStatusComments, notes...
Forage FishLimitedFishing only for herring is allowed.

Geographic statistics

Area TypeAcresHectares

San Juan Islands Fishing: What you Need to Know

Fishing in the San Juan Islands is an exciting adventure! There are both saltwater and freshwater fishing opportunities throughout the islands, as well as both boating and shore fishing options. Fishing charters are available, as well as shops that sell fishing gear.

Fishing in the san juans Some of the main saltwater fish species include Salmon, Flounder, Ling cod, and Halibut. During your stay at Tucker House Inn, you can pick up a fishing license at Ace Hardware or King’s Marine in downtown Friday Harbor for your fishing escapades. Here is what you need to know about the best spots to go fishing in the San Juan Islands!

Saltwater Fishing in the San Juan Islands


If you’re looking for some guidance during your saltwater fishing expeditions in the San Juan Islands, consider booking a fishing charter. Most charters specialize in catching Salmon, Ling Cod and Halibut, but can be customizable! Charters are available in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and in Eastsound on Orcas Island. You can choose between deep sea fishing and day cruises to Vancouver and the Canadian Gulf Islands and can even leave from San Juan Island if you desire. You can also add crabbing to your adventure!

Fishing in the san juans
Friday Harbor: San Juan Island Fishing Charter

Eastsound: Outer Island Excursions

Eastsound: North Shore Adventures


Saltwater Species Seasons

May 01- June 15: Ling Cod

Halibut: Limited Season Opening in May

Chinook, Coho, Pink Salmon: Early July to September

Crabbing: Dungeness, Red Rock, Tanner Crabs. Check this online resource for season details.

Freshwater Fishing in the San Juan Islands

Lindsey at Moran State Park fishing

Sportsman’s Lake

Just three-and-a-half miles northwest of Friday Harbor lies Sportsman’s Lake, host to some of the best freshwater fishing in the San Juan Islands. This lake is open to fishing year-round and includes species such as largemouth bass, yellow perch, and pumpkinseed sunfish. The lake and surrounding wildlife habitat sit on two-and-a-half acres of protected land. There is a public fishing ramp that serves as the access point. This lake is also used for the Friday Harbor Sailing Club.

Moran State Park

Some ideal fishing in the San Juan Islands can be found within Moran State Park. This park on Orcas Island features five different freshwater lakes that are all available for fishing. These include Cascade Lake, two Twin Lakes, Mountain Lake, and Summit Lake. Cascade Lake is one of the more popular freshwater fishing locations and is stocked annually by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can either bring a boat or rent a paddleboat or rowboat from the snack bar at Cascade Lake if you want to do your fishing from on top of the water. These lakes in Moran State Park are open to fishing from the fourth Saturday in April to October 31st each year!

San Juan Island Fishing Report & Regulations

fishing in the san juans

When planning to go fishing in the San Juan Islands, be sure to check the fishing report as well as the regulations ahead of time. Here, you can garner some valuable insight about places and times to go and where the fish you are looking for can be found. Information from the knowledgeable fishermen in the area is also invaluable! If you plan on harvesting any shellfish on the San Juan Islands’ shoreline, please check the biotin safety mop found here.

Stay at Tucker House Inn

Friday Harbor’s Tucker House Inn is a great base camp for your fishing expeditions. You can enjoy some delicious seafood, at our dining house, Coho Restaurant. You will also receive comfortable accommodations. Sink down into your heavenly bed at the end of a long excursion fishing in the San Juan Islands. Then, wake up to a hearty breakfast to get your day started off right! For more outdoor activities in the San Juan Islands, download our free vacation guide.

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San Juan Island Fishing

The San Juan Islands are well-known for scenic beauty and whale watching, but talk to any Pacific Northwest angler, and odds are, the San Juans will be top of their list for excellent fishing. With a wide variety of species and both saltwater and freshwater options, the fisherman in your family has a choice of guided fishing trips, fishing boat rentals, kayak fishing, or shore fishing to get to that joyous tug of the line. Before beginning your saltwater adventure, remember to pick up a one-day or full-season fishing license. These are available on San Juan Island upstairs at King’s Marine, above King’s Market in Friday Harbor, at Ace Hardware in Friday Harbor, or online at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will also inform you of current local and state regulations. (Anglers should avoid certain parts of San Juan Island’s west side when killer whales are in residence to allow them space to feed. Boaters are required to stay 300-400 yards away from the orcas).

Saltwater Fishing

When people think of fishing in the northwest, salmon is king. Tricky to catch, they are also beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. There are five Pacific salmon species in the island fishery. The Chinook (King) is the favorite of many fishermen and is the largest Pacific salmon, ranging in size from 10-15 pounds to upwards of 135 pounds. “Blackmouth” are juvenile Chinook salmon that can be found all year in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound.  Peak fishing is from November through January. Coho salmon (Silver) are seen as the most hard-fighting and are called Silvers because they don’t change color as readily when traveling upriver to spawn. Some people consider Sockeye salmon (Red) the best eating (we disagree), and they are also difficult to catch, except in commercial seine nets. The Chum (Dog) contain roe that is prized by Asian cultures who love caviar. Pinks (Humpy) is the most plentiful salmon, easiest to catch, and still tasty, although they can give off an unappealing smell. Trolling with a downrigger is the most common method of reeling in salmon in our waters.

One of the most prized bottom fish, lingcod are strong fighters, aggressive, and make delectable fish and chips. Their body looks like a large snake, while their head and fins resemble a fish, and they can grow to over five feet in length. Hiding in places with hard rocky bottoms like reefs, breakwaters, and ledges allows the lingcod to capture their prey of octopus, shrimp, squid, and fish. The lingcod fishing season in the San Juans is very short, usually occurring between May 1 – June 15 each year, with a size limit of between 26″- 36″.

Greenlings are a smaller cousin to the lingcod, with the Kelp Greenling being the most common in the San Juan archipelago. It is also referred to as a Sea Trout (although not related). They love kelp beds, are easy to catch and provide good eating. Once the lingcod fishing season is over in the San Juan Islands, greenlings are an excellent alternative to pursue.

The largest of the bottom fish, these powerful monsters can reach seven to eight feet in length and are usually found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off San Juan island to the southwest. As you can imagine, large boats and obscenely strong equipment are required to land halibut because of their size, but it is worth every scrumptious bite. To further complicate matters, halibut fishing season in the San Juan Islands is incredibly short and very restrictive.

More Bottomfish
Cabezon sculpin, flounder, and perch are all found plentifully in the San Juans and all make for yummy eating.

Dungeness Crab
Technicallynot a fish, Dungeness crab ranks right up there with salmon for the Pacific Northwest’s favorite seafood. We’ve found the easiest way to catch Dungies (and Red Rock crabs) is with a cage-type trap baited with frozen old chicken or turkey parts. (King’s Market in Friday Harbor carries them inexpensively in the meat department during crab season). Drop the trap at your favorite spot (locals are notoriously tight-lipped about sharing their go-to sites unless plied with alcoholic beverages), return a few hours later, and hopefully, you’ll have dinner. King’s Marine carries handy measuring devices to make sure your crab is large enough to keep, and you’ll also need a crabbing license for the season.

Fresh Water Fishing

There are a surprising number of small lakes scattered throughout San Juan Island, and most of them are stocked with fish.  Rainbow trout and largemouth bass are the two most common varieties of game fish found. We stock our 40 acres of lakes at Lakedale every season, and guests reel in huge beauties every year when fishing in our lakes on San Juan Island. You can buy a Lakedale fishing license at the General Store.  Other lakes on the island to test your skills are Egg Lake and Sportsman’s Lake. Both are located only 10 minutes from Friday Harbor, close to Lakedale.

Where to Go

The quickest and easiest way to get the lay of the land, so to speak, when coming to the islands to fish is to hire a guide or join a chartered fishing trip with one of the skilled companies below. Their experienced captains and guides will make sure your fishing trip is both productive and enjoyable…but then again, when is a day out fishing on the water not?

With special thanks for photos to San Juan Island Fishing Charters and Outer Island Expeditions!

Friday Harbor Salmon Classic

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The San Juan Islands dot the Salish Sea like puzzle pieces, attracting many thousands of visitors to its quaint villages, beautiful sights and many activities from whale watching to beach combing.

One of those favorite things to do on the San Juans is go fishing.

Of course, surrounded by the inland sea a quick swim from the wide open Pacific Ocean but somewhat protected by location, the San Juans are favorite fishing grounds for anglers chasing salmon, halibut, rockfish and many other saltwater species. Crabs, shrimp and other shellfish are common in some areas.

While freshwater might not come to mind on islands surrounded by salty brine, the San Juans are home to quite a small lakes, most of them small, and a fair number have trout, bass and other game fish.

The San Juan Islands together make up San Juan County.

The county’s biggest settlement and only incorporated city is Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, but there are many smaller villages including Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, Eastsound on Orcas Island, and Lopez Village on Lopez Island, among quite a few others.

Four major islands (including the above-mentioned and Shaw Island) are served by the Washington State Ferries system and have the most visitor-related facilities that can include ports and fishing charters.

The islands only have a little more than 15,000 permanent residents but the population swells with tourists, especially during the summer and other vacation periods.

What follows is a look at some of the places to fish in the San Juan Islands.

We’d also like to suggest that you read the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” feature down below. It will point you to tons of great fishing spots just a ferry ride and short drive away.

Cascade Lake

At about 175 acres, this is perhaps the most familiar and definitely best-stocked lake on the San Juan Islands.

Cascade Lake is near the main entrance to Moran State Park, a popular visitors destination on Orcas Island, so many thousands of people drive by its shores on a regular basis.

The state stocks Cascade Lake like you’d suspect for a place with this level of tourist traffic, sometimes planting well over a 100,000 rainbow trout here.

A majority of the fish coming by truck are youngsters that have a shot at growing into larger fish, but several thousand catchables may also be planted.

There also are resident cutthroat trout, kokanee and (due to a fairly recent illegal introduction) some largemouth bass.

Unlike other lakes on the island, Cascade Lake is seasonal, opening to fishing on the fourth Saturday in April and closing at the end of October.

More:Cascade Lake Fishing

Egg Lake 

This little lily pad-lined lake in the of San Juan Island interior is stocked with several hundred rainbow trout (sometimes closer to 1,000) each spring.

Trout fishing will be best in the weeks and maybe few months after the planting (likely in March) and slow way down for summer.

But summer is when you’re more likely to get some strikes from the 7-acre lake’s resident population of largemouth bass.

The lake is open all year but wintertime fishing is likely to be slow.

The lake is located along Egg Lake Road just west of the larger Sportsman’s Lake on the north-central part of the island.

Bank access includes a small fishing pier that will help you cast once the lily pads are in their summer glory.

Hummel Lake

This is the best fishing lake, at least for stocked trout, on Lopez Island.

The roughly 35-acre Hummel Lake is stocked with about 1,000 catchable rainbow trout early in the season (around March), and once it is planted trout fishing will be best in the coming weeks.

While many of those trout will be caught out by the heat of summer, it’s still worth a visit if you’re on Lopez because the lake has a year-round resident population of largemouth bass and bluegill.

The warmwater fish should bite well through summer and into early fall, although a small boat will help you get beyond shallow-water aquatic plant growth during the warm season.

WDFW has an access point where you can launch a small watercraft located on the northwest corner of the roundish lake, basically at the intersection of a major island route, Center Road, and Hummel Lake Road.

The lake is four miles south of the island’s ferry terminal and only about a mile or so inland (east) from Lopez Village, the island’s main commercial area.

Mountain Lake

This pretty lake is actually a little bigger than Cascade Lake in Moran State Park (Orcas Island), but it is located off the main road and tends to be a little quieter, although it’s quite popular for camping and paddling.

Mountain Lake, at just under 200 acres, is a little higher in elevation with cold, clear water and good access for bank and small boat fishing.

At last check, WDFW has primarily been stocking this water with a good number of young cutthroat trout, which go into the lake in winter and grow to catchable size for anglers who tend to work the lake more in the spring, early summer and fall.

The lake also is home to Eastern brook trout and rainbows have been stocked here some years. WDFW also has reported kokanee in this lake.

Anglers can only keep one fish over 18 inches as part of a trout limit.


Salmon are often king around here.

And kings, as in both resident blackmouth Chinook that feed in the inland waters and also seasonal runs of Chinook, coho and other types of salmon that pass through on their way to spawning rivers and hatcheries in the region.

Salmon anglers, often with rods bent low by down-riggers, will work the deep waters just off the islands to try to intercept passing salmon.

Summertime is typically good for Chinook fishing, and in odd years a pink run might show up strong enough to fish, likely in August.

Blackmouth fishing is typically best in winter and early spring.

Halibut, rockfish and other species also are found in the Salish Sea, but make sure you familiarize yourself with seasons and other rules before fishing on your own. Local charter operators have it all down, of course.

Pile and other perch species will be found in bays and around docks, including in Friday Harbor. Surf smelt and flounder are other species that might be in reach for shorebound anglers.

Crabbers can do well for Dungeness in several bays on major islands, while shrimpers work plunging depths not far offshore. There are several clamming beaches on San Juan Island and elsewhere.

Sportsmans Lake

This 66-acre lake on San Juan Island is primarily a warmwater fishery, with largemouth bass, yellow perch and pumpkinseed sunfish to catch.

Fishing will begin to pick up in the spring and should stay pretty good all summer and into at least the early part of fall.

WDFW has a small public access including a basic boat launch right on Roche Harbor Road, a major thoroughfare on San Juan Island.

The lake is only about a 10 minute drive from either Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor.

Fishing in Neighboring Counties

Whatcom County: To the northeast, from saltwater salmon and shellfish to big and small lakes full of trout, bass and landlocked salmon near Bellingham.

Skagit County: To the east, the Skagit River and streams, lakes and saltwater with salmon, trout, shellfish and plenty more to catch.

Island County: To the southeast, Whidbey Island in particular has a wealth of saltwater fishing options in addition to some very nice trout lakes.

Clallam and Jefferson Counties: To the south, the Olympic Peninsula offers some of the state’s best steelhead and salmon fishing in rivers and saltwater, and mountain lakes have trout and more.

Washington Resources

WDFW Fishing and Stocking Reports
WDFW Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service forecasts


Harbor fishing friday


San Juan Island Lingcod Fishing


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