puyallup river fishing

Puyallup River Fishing Report: Tips and Tricks for Anglers

The Scenic Puyallup River

The Scenic Puyallup River

The Puyallup River is a scenic river located in the Pierce County of Washington State, USA. It stretches 45 miles into the Puget Sound, making it a popular destination for anglers all year round. From steelhead to salmon, the Puyallup River is home to a wide variety of fish species. Its beautiful crystal-clear waters are also home to fun-loving local wildlife that all ages can appreciate.

Fishing on the Puyallup River offers some of the best fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Depending on the season, experienced and beginner anglers alike can catch a wide variety of fish. Some of the popular targets include coho, chinook, chum, and pink salmon, sea-run cutthroat trout, and winter steelhead. No wonder the Puyallup River is a top angling destination in Washington for salmon and steelhead fishing.

One of the best things about fishing on the Puyallup River is that you can also enjoy the stunning surroundings while fishing. Depending on where you choose to fish, you can enjoy the beautiful and diverse nature of Mount Rainier, Pierce County an hour away from Seattle. Its crystal-clear waters and scenic trails create a wilderness-loving ambiance that provides a tranquil and peaceful fishing experience.

Are you ready to experience the ultimate fishing adventure on the Puyallup River? Here’s what you need to know before you set foot on the river banks.

The Best Time to Fish the Puyallup River

Fishing on the Puyallup River

The Puyallup River provides some of the best fishing opportunities in the State of Washington. If you are an angler and want to catch salmon or steelhead, then you must know the best time to fish there. The Puyallup River has both summer and winter runs, so depending on the time of year, you should plan accordingly.

Summer Run

The Puyallup River has a summer run of chinook and coho salmon from June to September. The best time to fish for summer chinook is from late June to early July. The fish are usually in the lower river but during high water, they move up to the mid-lower stretch. Coho usually show up from August to September.

July is the prime month for catching salmon on the Puyallup River. Chinook usually runs 20-25 pounds, while coho typically runs 10-15 pounds. During the summer-run, the Puyallup River is filled with fishing enthusiasts, so it can be crowded. But if you can find a good spot, you are sure to catch a lot of fish as they are usually aggressive and bite easily.

Winter Run

The Puyallup River has a winter run of steelhead from December to March. The peak season for steelhead is between February and March. Winter steelhead, known for their fighting ability, usually runs 8-12 pounds. The best time to fish for steelhead on the Puyallup is when the water is low and clear. Once the water starts to rise, the fish become harder to catch as they move upriver to spawn.

The winter-run attracts a lot of anglers, but it is less crowded than the summer-run. Winter-run steelhead is known for their aggressiveness when it comes to taking bait, so you can expect a lot of action on the Puyallup River.

Ideal Conditions for Fishing

When it comes to fishing the Puyallup River, the ideal condition is low, clear water. When the water level is low, the fish are concentrated in the deeper pools and are easy to target. Clear water allows you to see the fish and makes it easier to target them.

Another factor that affects fishing is the weather. Sunny days are usually not good for fishing as the fish usually seek shelter in deeper waters. Overcast days are ideal for fishing as the fish are more active and tend to move towards the surface.

To get the most out of your fishing experience on the Puyallup River, it is important to know the prime time for fishing and the ideal conditions. Keep in mind that it is always important to follow the rules and regulations set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Happy fishing!

What to Bring When Fishing the Puyallup River

fishing gear and essentials

Whether you are a seasoned angler or a first-timer, packing the right fishing gear and essentials will help you make the most of your time on the Puyallup River. Here are some items to consider including in your fishing kit:

The Right Fishing Rod and Reel

fishing rod and reel

The first and most crucial item in your fishing equipment is a good-quality fishing rod. Choose a rod that is suitable for the kind of fish species you are targeting, and one that can handle the strength and speed of the Puyallup River currents. Fairly lightweight 6 to 7-foot rods, combined with reels that have smooth drag systems are ideal for most fishing conditions.

Fishing Line and Tackle

fishing tackle

The second most important item to pack in your fishing kit is fishing line. Select a strong and durable line of appropriate strength and thickness that can withstand the weight and strength of the fish species that you expect to catch. Tackle is also an essential item that simplifies the process of catching fish. Pack hooks of various sizes, sinkers, bobbers, swivels, and artificial lures that are effective in attracting your targeted fish species. Don’t forget to carry extra tackle in your fishing bag in case of any loss or damage.

Appropriate Fishing Clothing

fishing clothing

Clothing is also essential to make your fishing experience comfortable and safe. Wear breathable and lightweight clothing like quick-drying shorts, fishing shirts, and sun hats to avoid the heat and humidity. Always wear a life jacket to ensure your safety while fishing on the river. Also, pack rain gear, gloves, and boots in case of unfriendly weather conditions or slippery spaces near the riverbank.

Extra Fishing Accessories

fishing accessories

Other fishing accessories that can be helpful to carry in your fishing kit include a pair of pliers and scissors to cut the fishing line or lure, a stringer or creel to store and transport your catch, sunscreen and insect repellent, a first-aid kit, and a fishing license to comply with state regulations.

In conclusion, preparing for a fishing trip on the Puyallup River demands careful planning and packing of the right fishing gear and essentials. With the above guide, you can pack the right fishing kit and enjoy a comfortable, successful, and memorable fishing experience on the river.

Puyallup River Headwaters

Puyallup River Headwaters

If you’re looking for a serene and peaceful fishing experience, then the Puyallup River Headwaters is the perfect spot for you. This area is located in the Mount Rainier National Park, and it offers a beautiful, scenic setting that will take your breath away.

Here, you will find crystal clear water that runs through a deep canyon, surrounded by lush forests that provide shade and shelter for fish. This spot is known for its variety of fish, including rainbow trout, bull trout, and cutthroat trout. It’s a prime location for fly fishing, and many anglers come here to test their skills and enjoy the beauty of nature.

If you’re planning to visit Puyallup River Headwaters, keep in mind that it can be a bit of a challenge to get there. The road leading to the area is narrow and winding, but the journey will be worth it once you arrive at this stunning spot.

Stampede Pass

Stampede Pass

Another popular fishing spot on the Puyallup River is Stampede Pass, located near the small town of Greenwater. This area is located in the Wenatchee National Forest and provides anglers with a peaceful and serene experience.

Stampede Pass is known for its abundance of rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and Eastern brook trout. The river is relatively narrow here, making it easier for anglers to cast their lines and catch some fish. You can also enjoy camping in the area, which adds to the overall experience of fishing at Stampede Pass.

Governor Booth Park

Governor Booth Park

If you’re looking for a convenient and accessible fishing spot, then Governor Booth Park is the perfect place for you. This area is located in the city of Puyallup and offers easy access to the river.

You will find a variety of fish at Governor Booth Park, including salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. The park provides ample space for anglers to fish comfortably, and there are also picnic areas and a playground, making it a great spot to bring the whole family.

One of the most exciting things about fishing at Governor Booth Park is that you never know what you might catch. The river is home to a diverse range of fish, and you might just end up catching your next big catch here.

Carbon River

Carbon River

Carbon River is another hidden gem on the Puyallup River that’s worth checking out. This area is located in the Mount Rainier National Park, and it’s a great spot for anglers who are looking for a more secluded and quiet fishing experience.

The river runs through beautiful meadows and forests, and you will find a variety of fish here, including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and bull trout. Fly fishing is a popular activity here, and the park provides ample space for anglers to cast their lines and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

One of the unique things about fishing at Carbon River is that you might encounter some wildlife while you’re fishing. The area is home to many animals, including elk, deer, and black bears, so make sure to keep an eye out while you’re fishing.

In conclusion, the Puyallup River offers a variety of fishing spots that cater to different preferences, from serene fishing spots in the mountains to more accessible and family-friendly locations. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, there’s a fishing spot on the Puyallup River that will suit your needs. So pack your fishing gear and head out to one of these incredible fishing spots on the Puyallup River.

Fishing Regulations and Licenses for the Puyallup River

Fishing Regulations for the Puyallup River

If you’re planning on fishing in the Puyallup River, it’s important to stay up to date on the regulations and licenses required to make sure you’re fishing legally. Below, we’ll discuss some of the rules and regulations that you need to be aware of before you head out on your next fishing trip.

License Requirements

Fishing License

Before you start fishing, you need to have a valid fishing license. This applies to all anglers over the age of 15. You can purchase a license from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife online, by phone, or in-person. Make sure to carry your fishing license with you while you’re on the river.

Fishing Seasons and Catch Limits

Fishing Seasons

It is important to know the fishing seasons and catch limits of the Puyallup River. In general, steelhead fishing is only open from September to April, while salmon fishing is only allowed during specific seasons and with specific gear. The catch limit for adult salmon and steelhead changes depending on the season and the location of the fishery. Be sure to check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before heading out to fish for the most current regulations.

Fishing Gear Restrictions

Fishing Gear

There are restrictions on what kinds of fishing gear you can use on the Puyallup River. For example, bait fishing is not allowed in certain areas, and some areas are restricted to fly-fishing only. Additionally, there are specific hook and line requirements for fishing in the river. Make sure you’re aware of the gear restrictions before you start fishing.

Catch Reporting Requirements

Catch Reporting

If you catch a salmon or steelhead, you are required to report your catch. This helps the Department of Fish and Wildlife track the health of the fish populations in the river. You can report your catch online, by phone, or in-person at a WDFW office. Failure to report your catch can result in penalties.

Respect the River and Its Inhabitants

Respect The River

Finally, it’s important to respect the river and its inhabitants. This means not littering, being mindful of your impact on the riverbanks, and releasing any fish that are not legal to keep. It’s also important to be respectful of other anglers, give them space, and avoid crowding around popular fishing spots.

By staying informed about the rules and regulations for fishing on the Puyallup River, you can ensure you’re fishing legally and responsibly. So grab your gear, get your license, and head out for a day on the river!

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon in Puyallup River

The sockeye salmon is one of the most sought-after fish species in the Puyallup River. It is famous for its rich and flavorful meat, which makes it a favorite among foodies and anglers alike. Sockeye salmon are known for their bright red flesh and sturdy body that swim up the river from the Pacific Ocean to lay their eggs in freshwater. Their migration usually occurs between late June and early August.

Fishing for sockeye salmon can be challenging, but it is definitely worth the effort. They are known to put up a good fight and require careful handling to prevent injury and ensure their survival. The best time to fish for sockeye salmon is in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun isn’t too bright, and they tend to move closer to the surface. You can catch sockeye salmon using a variety of techniques, including fly fishing, spin fishing, and baitcasting.


Steelhead in Puyallup River

The steelhead is another popular fish species that can be found in the Puyallup River. Steelhead are anadromous, which means they spend part of their lives in saltwater and part in freshwater. They are also well-known for their acrobatic jumps when hooked, putting up an impressive fight for their size.

The migration of steelhead in the Puyallup River usually occurs between December and April, making it an excellent fish to catch in the winter months. You can use a variety of fishing techniques to catch steelhead such as using bait, lures and fly fishing. Steelhead fishing is considered one of the most challenging types of fishing in Puyallup River, but the rewards are exceptional. Steelhead meat is rich and flavorful, making it a popular meal for many fish enthusiasts.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout in Puyallup River

The cutthroat trout is a type of freshwater trout that lives in the Puyallup River. It is easily distinguished by its red slash mark under the jawline, which gives it its name. Cutthroat trout can be caught in the Puyallup River year-round, but the peak season runs from March to June.

The average size of cutthroat trout is between 8 and 16 inches, making them ideal for both fly fishing and spin fishing. They prefer clear, cold water and can be found in the deeper areas of the river. Using dry flies, nymphs, or streamers can be effective in catching cutthroat trout.

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon in Puyallup River

The Chinook salmon, also known as the king salmon, is the largest species of salmon found in the Puyallup River. They can grow up to 50 pounds and are known for their delicious meat and the challenge they pose to anglers. Chinook salmon are usually caught in the late summer months, making them an excellent target for those who want to end their fishing season on a high note.

Fishing for Chinook salmon requires some patience and preparation, but it’s worth it when they are finally caught. They can be caught using a variety of techniques, including trolling, mooching, or casting. Chinook salmon prefer deeper pools, so it’s essential to have a good understanding of the currents and the structure of the river to increase your chances of success.

Pink Salmon

Pink Salmon in Puyallup River

The pink salmon, also known as the humpback salmon, is one of the most abundant species of salmon found in the Puyallup River. They are considered a small fish species, only growing to about 6 pounds on average. Pink salmon can be easily identified by the large hump on their back, which appears during the spawning season.

Pink salmon typically migrate during odd-numbered years, making 2021 a migration year. They are usually caught using standard fishing equipment used for other salmon species, and they favor fast-moving water. Fishing for pink salmon is an excellent opportunity for families or beginners to try their hand at salmon fishing in the Puyallup River.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout in Puyallup River

The Rainbow trout is a species of freshwater trout that inhabit the Puyallup River System and other water bodies in the state of Washington. They are known for their stunning colors and acrobatic movements when caught, making them a popular fish species among anglers. Rainbow trout can be caught in the Puyallup River year-round and are usually found in the slower pools and riffles.

Rainbow trout often favor fly fishing, but can also be caught using other techniques such as spin fishing and baitcasting. They are generally easy to catch and can provide a fun experience for both experienced and novice anglers. The average size of rainbow trout caught in the Puyallup River is between 8 and 16 inches, with some reaching up to 20 inches.

In conclusion, the Puyallup River offers a diverse range of fish species, providing ample opportunities for anglers of any skill level. From salmon to trout, each species offers unique challenges and rewards that are sure to make any fishing trip a success. Whether you’re looking for an exciting salmon fishing trip or a peaceful day of trout fishing, the Puyallup River has it all. So pack your fishing gear and head over to the Puyallup River to experience some of the best fishing Washington State has to offer!

Understanding the Puyallup River

Understanding the Puyallup River

If you want to be successful at fishing in the Puyallup River, it’s important to understand the river system and its inhabitants. The Puyallup River is a major river in Pierce County, Washington. It flows from the glaciers of Mount Rainer and empties into Commencement Bay. The river is approximately 45 miles long and is home to multiple species of fish, including Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Trout, and Cutthroat Trout. Before setting out on your fishing trip, familiarize yourself with the specific fish species you’re looking to catch and the best areas of the river to find them.

When fishing in the Puyallup River, you will encounter different types of water. Pools, runs, riffles, and pocket water are the most common examples. Pools are deep areas of water where fish gather to rest and feed. Runs are shallow areas of the river where the current is relatively fast. Riffles are shallow, rocky areas where the water flows quickly over the rocks, and Pocket water is the small spots of water that are created in the river’s uneven flow. Be aware of these areas and how they can affect your fishing experience.

Finally, understand the fishing regulations in the area and make sure to obtain the necessary licenses before fishing. Regulations vary depending on the species of fish, and you don’t want to get caught fishing illegally.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Choosing the Right Equipment

Choosing the right equipment is essential for successful fishing on the Puyallup River. You will need a fishing rod, reel, line, bait, and fishing hooks. Make sure your fishing rod and reel are sturdy and can handle the weight of the fish you’re trying to catch. Steelhead Trout and Chinook Salmon are larger species and require a heavier rod and reel. Coho Salmon and Cutthroat Trout are smaller species and require a lighter rod and reel.

When it comes to fishing line, consider the water clarity and the behavior of the fish you’re trying to catch. A clear fishing line is best for less clear water because it’s less visible to the fish. A line with higher visibility is better for fishing in clear water because it’s easier to see. The right bait and fishing hooks can also make a significant difference. Fish eggs are the most common food source for many fish species in the river, making them a great bait choice. When it comes to hooks, choose the size that matches the fish species you’re targeting.

Timing is Key

Timing is Key

Timing is essential in Puyallup River Fishing. The best time of year to fish the Puyallup is between September and November for Coho Salmon and October to December for Chinook Salmon. For Steelhead Trout, the best time to fish is between December and March. Cutthroat Trout can be fished throughout the year and are usually caught in the upper reaches of the river.

Furthermore, the time of day you go fishing can also make a significant difference. Early mornings and late afternoons are prime times for fishing, as these are the times when fish are typically feeding. Avoid fishing during the midday sun when the water is warmer and the fish are less active.

Patience and Persistence

Patience and Persistence

Fishing on the Puyallup River requires patience and persistence. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not catching anything right away. Fish can be picky and may take time to find and bite the bait. Change your bait and fishing hooks if you’re not having any luck or try a different area of the river. Using lures and spinners are other techniques that may attract fish and get them biting.

Be mindful of how you handle the fish once you’ve caught it. Always try to keep the fish in the water while removing the hook and hold them gently. If you plan on releasing the fish back into the river, handle it with care and release it as quickly as possible.

Weather and Water Conditions

Weather and Water Conditions

The weather and water conditions on the Puyallup River can affect the fishing experience. Scouting the weather conditions before leaving is important. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. A rainy day can be the best day for fishing as fish tend to be more active during and after a rainstorm. On the other hand, if the water levels on the river are low, fish will be less active and harder to catch.

Water temperature is another important factor to consider. The ideal water temperature for Steelhead Trout is around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Trout prefer colder water (around 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit), while Salmon species prefer warmer water (around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit). Knowing the water temperature is critical and can assist in finding the ideal spot to fish.

Location, Location, Location

Location of the Best Fishing Spots on the Puyallup River

Knowing where to fish on the Puyallup River is essential. The river is divided into two sections, the upper and lower sections. The upper section is more challenging to fish due to the rough terrain, but it’s the best location for catching trout. Steelhead Trout and Cutthroat Trout are the most commonly found species in this area.

The lower section is accessible and easier to fish due to its flat terrain. Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon are the most commonly found species in this section. The most popular fishing spots on the Puyallup River are near the confluences of the river’s tributaries. The mouth of the White River and Carbon River is the most popular location for fishing on the lower section of the river.

Invest in Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are essential for fishing on the Puyallup River. They’re the perfect tool for seeing through the water’s glare to spot fish habitats and track fish movements. Polarized sunglasses also protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

Avoid using regular sunglasses because they won’t protect your eyes from UV rays. It can also be challenging to see fish properly and strain your eyes in the process. A good pair of polarized sunglasses are a smart investment for any angler looking to improve their fishing experience.

In Conclusion

Fishing on the Puyallup River is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Understanding the river system, choosing the right equipment, timing, location, and weather conditions, having patience and persistence, and investing in polarized sunglasses are essential for successful Puyallup River Fishing.

By following these tips and tricks, you’re certain to have an excellent fishing experience on the Puyallup River. Remember to take care of the river, its surroundings, and its inhabitants while enjoying your angling experience to help preserve the Puyallup River’s natural beauty and habitats.


Puyallup River Fishing Conclusion

Overall, Puyallup River is a fantastic destination for fishing enthusiasts, whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to learn new skills. With its abundance of salmon and steelhead, the river promises a thrilling angling experience that is hard to find elsewhere. Here are a few final thoughts and recommendations to wrap up your Puyallup River fishing adventure:

1. Get the Right Gear

Puyallup River Fishing Gear

Make sure that you have the right gear for fishing in Puyallup River. This includes the right kind of rod, reel, line, bait, and lures. If you’re not sure what gear to use, consult local fishing stores or guides to get recommendations based on the fish species you want to catch.

2. Know the Regulations

Puyallup River Fishing Regulations

Before you start fishing, make sure you know the regulations that apply to the Puyallup River. These may vary depending on the area you’re fishing in and the type of fish you’re after. Ignoring the regulations can lead to fines and can also damage the ecosystem.

3. Be Aware of the Seasons

Puyallup River Fishing Seasons

Salmon and steelhead runs in Puyallup River occur during specific seasons throughout the year. Knowing when these runs take place can help you plan your fishing trip accordingly. Some species can only be caught during certain seasons, so make sure you’re aware of the seasonality factor before you head out.

4. Find the Right Spots

Puyallup River Fishing Spots

There are a variety of great fishing spots throughout the Puyallup River watershed. Some popular areas include the upper river, the lower river, and tributaries like Clarks Creek and Carbon River. Research the area beforehand and ask for advice from locals or guides to discover the best spots for your angling goals.

5. Be Prepared for the Weather

Puyallup River Fishing Weather

Puyallup River is located in a region where weather conditions can change quickly. Be prepared for rain, cold temperatures, and strong winds, especially if you’re fishing during fall or winter. Bring appropriate clothing to stay comfortable and dry, and always check the weather forecast before heading out.

6. Respect the Environment

Puyallup River Fishing Environment

Fishing and nature go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to show respect for the environment while you’re enjoying your angling trip. Don’t litter, avoid disturbing wildlife, and follow Leave No Trace principles when camping or hiking in the area. Always leave the river better than you found it, so that future generations can enjoy it as well.

7. Consider a Guided Trip

Puyallup River Fishing Guided Trip

If you’re new to fishing or want to increase your odds of catching fish, consider booking a guided trip on Puyallup River. An experienced angler can show you the best spots, help you with gear and technique, and give you inside tips on fishing in the area.

8. Share Your Experience

Puyallup River Fishing Experience

Finally, don’t forget to share your Puyallup River fishing experience with others. Take pictures, write about your trip, and encourage others to visit this beautiful and productive fishing destination. Positive experiences and awareness can help to preserve the natural beauty and ecosystem of Puyallup River and ensure that it remains a popular fishing spot for years to come.

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