Score from the shore! Fish saltwater state parks this fall

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Dig that dark! Minus tides occur during the wee hours in fall. So grab a headlamp and catch some clams by moonlight! Photo by LDELD

Sept. 20, 2018

You don’t need a boat for a spectacular fall fishing trip!

State parks with saltwater shorelines offer the perfect place to cast your line, fill your bucket and stock your freezer with a great catch.

Many saltwater fish and shellfish species will hit their peak in the next two months, say Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife experts. Armed with simple, hand-held gear, enthusiasm and, of course, a little luck, you can bring home much more than just a tall tale.The Basics.

To fish, you need a license. Get yours or find a dealer near you on the WDFW website. Keep limits — of your catch and your own stamina — in mind whenever you are out near the water. Accidents can happen fast, even on the shore. And you certainly don’t want to be accused of poaching!

Gear is a matter of choice, but the WDFW website also has handy videos and tips for best fishing practices. Last, but definitely not least, when going shellfishing, ALWAYS check the scheduled digs and the Department of Health’s Shellfish Safety Information to make sure it’s safe to harvest.

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You'll be happy as a clam when you catch your limit at a Washington coast state park! Photo by Lana_AKA_BADGRL

Shellfish

Low tides are during the dark hours in fall. So get a headlamp and go clamming, suggests Camille Speck, Puget Sound Intertidal Bivalve Manager with WDFW.

In summer, Speck teaches Digging for Dinner, a popular course on hunting — and cooking — shellfish. But even though summer has passed, you’ll have ample opportunities for digging October through December.

Large, meaty razor clams are a popular draw, and easy to get by hand with a clam gun or just a narrow shovel. But it’s just as fun — and easier — to dig for steamer clams, Speck suggests.

“If you can rake at a beach, you can find clams,” Speck says.

Armed with a shellfishing license, a little know-how and a bucket, you can bring in bounty before breakfast!

Some state parks with super shellfishing include:

surf perch

Looking for a seafood lover's two for one? Save the cast offs from your clam dig and then cast off for some surf perch, like these lucky anglers at Twin Harbors State Park. Photo is a screen shot from a video by RiverWarrior360

Surf perch

If you visit any of the Pacific Coast Region state parks on an early morning clam dig, stick around until the morning light. While you’re at it, bring saltwater tackle and save those clam necks as bait, says Larry Phillips, WDFW’s Region 6 director.  

Surf perch are a much under-fished species in Washington. But they are bountiful year-round and fairly easy to catch from the shore — even without waders.

To catch surf perch you need a fishing license and … surf! Some perch-packed parks on the coast include:

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Get your gear and head for the pier! The fishing pier at Joemma Beach State park is a good place to try your luck at catching a coho this season. Photo by Gene Bisbee.

Salmon

It’s that time again! Come October, salmon will be more abundant in Puget Sound waters. While some species are catch and release — or just plain hard to catch — coho, aka "silver salmon" — swim close enough to be within reach of your rod, says Mark Baltzell, WDFW’s Puget Sound Salmon Fishery Manager.

“Coho are way easier to get off the shore,” Baltzell says.

A bait or even a spin caster will work fine if you are not adept at fly fishing, Baltzell adds. Plus there are no size limits on coho fished within the Puget Sound!

Salmon savvy state park shores include:

Learn More

Have it handy! feature_fish_washington_app
Download the latest Washington Sport Fishing Rules booklet here!

Yep, there’s an app for that…
Get WDFW’s free FishWA app for your phone!

Can you dig it?
Check out the upcoming low tide clam digs starting next month!

Want to learn more about razor clamming?
Check out our blog

The power of fishing in your palm! Download the WDFW 's FishWA app today.