Up and down Washington’s Pacific Coast on the Olympic and Long Beach Peninsulas, bivalve-hungry crowds dig for meaty, delicately flavored razor clams. Copalis, Long, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, and Kalaloch Beaches (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/beaches) are prime clamming spots, while Nahcotta Tidelands in Ocean Parkfeatures public clam and oyster beds on Willapa Bay for a more relaxed harvest experience. Learn the ropes during April’s Long Beach Razor Clam Festival with free digging lessons and cleaning demos. Keep the shellfish coming in Lilliwaup, where Hama Hama Oyster Saloon serves freshly shucked oysters a stone’s throw from its Hood Canal tide flats, or in Taylor Shellfish Farms’ Samish Bay market, where you can select and shuck oysters, clams, mussels, and geoduck waterside. Celebrate more mollusks at the annual Penn Cove MusselFest on Whidbey Island in March. Two days of festivities revolve around the briny bivalve, from mussel-eating competitions to chowder tastings to farm tours. Seek out the Pacific Northwest’s famous geoduck—a burrowing clam that reaches an average weight of two pounds—at Dosewallips State Park near Brinnon.
Chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon spawn in rivers across the state, making salmon fishing a popular pastime. The fish run through the San Juan Islands in summer and fall, providing excellent fishing without open-ocean swell. Book an outing with Catchmore Charters in Anacortesto reel in your own, or visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm in Olga for a selection of seasonal salmon, Dungeness crab, Pacific oysters, and Manila and littleneck clams.
Crabbing is one of Washington’s most popular recreational fishing activities and Port Susan near Stanwood, is a hot spot for harvesting Dungeness crabs. Use pots, rings, or nets to harvest these crustaceans known for their sweet-tasting meat, which make for a superb beachside meal. For a little guidance, CoHo Charters out of Ilwaco offers crabbing trips every fall, as well as salmon and sturgeon expeditions in summer.
As the state’s only blue ribbon trout stream, the Yakima River draws anglers from around the globe. Along the Upper Yakima, near Ellensburg and Cle Elum, find rainbows and cutthroats anywhere from 10 to 20 inches long. The Lower Yakima near Tri-Citiesoffers smallmouth bass and catfish. Most anglers use drift boats to access the river, and if you’re new to fly fishing, consider hiring a guide from Red’s Fly Shop.
Learn more about fishing seasons, permits, and locations at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing.
Photo by: Jeremy Hansen and Kate R. Hansen