fish on in westport!
By Andrew Moravec | Photos & Video courtesy of Experience Westport
The Pacific Northwest is a land of beautiful scenery, adventure, and for those of us that enjoy spending time on the water, the best place to plan a fishing experience that will last in our memories for a long time. Just a couple of hours southwest of the Seattle metropolitan area, Westport, Washington showcases the best of the Pacific Northwest. This small harbor town, located on the edge of the Pacific Coast, offers great recreation, lodging, dining and fishing options for everyone that wants to sample the best of our region. Westport is the place where a phenomenal fishing experience collides with locally sourced seafood. Whether your goals for a great getaway include strolling the beach or jetty with a fishing rod, grabbing an ice cream with your family while your crab rings soak in the harbor, or travel here for an offshore fishing charter, Westport is a place where anyone can craft a great experience.
Here is our quick guide to enjoying your time at Washington State’s most popular fishing destination.
Seasons and Fishing Charters in Westport
Westport is the port of choice for both Washingtonians and visitors that want to experience a great offshore fishing trip. Depending on the time of year, the charter fleet reaches out far and wide in the Pacific Ocean to target many species.
Charters meet their guests at the dock at the Westport Marina early each morning, glide across the Grays Harbor Bar, and set their course to the fishing grounds. Your charter trip will be catered to the best fishing opportunity at that time in the season, it may be Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod and Rockfish or Albacore Tuna. Based on the time of year, you won’t be booking a “fishing trip”, you will be booking a specifically focused “Salmon Trip”, “Halibut Trip”, Albacore Tuna Trip”, “Lingcod and Rockfish Trip”. The Westport charter fleet offers unique trips for each species! Each outfit in the Westport charter fleet has a seasoned captain and crew with year’s of experience and provide a great trip for their guests. Check out Hooked on Westport for details on specialty fishing trips.
Salmon: Westport is hailed as the “Salmon Capital of the World” and for good reason. The rich and cold waters off Westport, Washington congregate great schools of Chinook and Coho Salmon throughout the summer. Some charters focus on trolling with downriggers or divers. Other charters will set up their guests with a rod with a simple sinker and cut-plug herring and mooch, a technique that allows each guest to work their gear and hook salmon with rod in hand. Both are extremely effective and a lot of fun. Salmon over 30 pounds are caught every year out of Westport, and the time on the water is a big thrill, even for lifelong anglers!
Lingcod and Rockfish: From early spring to late fall, Westport charters head out of the harbor for Lingcod and Rockfish, that provides some of the highest quality white-fish fillets that you can get your hands on. Lingcod are best described as The Sea Dragon, with a large head and full of teeth, and provide an amazing battle at the end of the line, as well as some of the best tasting fillets available. Rockfish are a schooling fish that are known for their appetite for biting lures and great table-fare if you enjoy seared white-fish or fish tacos. It is fast fishing most days, (often reaching your limits by noon) and your catch will fill the freezer. Many seasoned anglers drive hours for these "bottomfish" to get in on the the amazing fishing and good haul of quality fillets for the grill.
Albacore Tuna: It may seem odd to hear the words “Tuna” and “Pacific Northwest” in the same sentence, but Westport has become the Pacific Coast’s headquarters for Albacore Tuna. To such great extent that many of the Westport charter fleet solely focus on Albacore throughout July, August, September and October. Trolling with lures at a fast speed, finding a biter, and then having everyone on board convert to live Anchovies with rod-in-hand, this is the most exciting fishing experience in the Northwest! Some charter boats will plan an overnight trip to maximize fishing time, while others will depart the harbor early in the morning for an afternoon return and cater to those that want to get all the thrill of tuna fishing into a day trip.
Albacore Tuna are sought after because of the epic battle they give you on the end of the line, but also for their amazing flavor at the table. With the high yields that you can score from a day on a Westport charter, you can plan on enjoying this Northwest delicacy in a variety of ways. Home canning is popular, and many of Westport’s seafood markets will make the process hassle-free with their fish processing services. Fresh Albacore loins make for tasty sashimi enjoyed at home, and lightly pan-seared Westport Albacore, served with a mix of soy sauce and wasabi is a big hit.
Halibut: Spring and early summer provides many days for Halibut fishing in Westport. Halibut are a trophy catch throughout the Pacific Coast. No need to travel to Alaska for a monster catch, Westport has some of the highest success rates for Halibut anglers! Halibut from 20 pounds to 60 pounds are common in the waters off Westport and are wildly considered the best tasting size. Book your trip well in advance, as it is no secret that those barn-door Halibut are out there and waiting for you to take one home. Westport Halibut are highly sought after, and you can create some of the most memorable sea-to-table dishes! Seared in a cast iron skillet, breaded and fried, or grilled, even a 20 pound Halibut yields plenty of fillets for you to sample them all.
Crabbing: A drive around Westport showcases the abundance of crab with the high stacks of pots around town, crab boats in the harbor, and tasty Dungeness Crab available at the local fish markets. Charters often offer a combination fishing and crabbing trip, especially in the low season. Shore-bound visitors can get in on some great crabbing action inside the Westport Boat Basin. The fisherman’s boardwalk allows great access to cast a crab ring or snare to the entrance of the harbor, and the low dock approach inside the harbor has space for plenty of guests to enjoy easy crabbing opportunity.
Westport Charter Association Fishing Derby: Anglers that fish on one of the many charter boats have the opportunity to add a little extra thrill to their fishing day by entering the derby. Daily cash prizes are given for biggest Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod and Albacore Tuna. Not only are daily prizes awarded, but a big cash prize is headed your way if you land the largest of the season.
2021 Westport Boat Basin Fishing Derby: Salmon fishing inside the Westport Boat Basin is a great option and the annual fishing derby can add to the excitement. No derby ticket is required, just weigh your fish in at the Seafood Connection on Float 8 to enter,
Discover More in Westport
If your family is planning a weekend getaway to the coast, but you don’t think a charter boat trip is in the cards, here are some great local favorites to explore. From Washington's tallest lighthouse to a waterfront State Park, Westport has plenty to keep you busy. Beach-comb at Half Moon Bay or cast a line into the surf to snare a Surf Perch for your evening meal!
Westport Jetty Trek: Westhaven State Park offers parking, hiking trails, bathroom facilities and access to the Westport Jetty. For the able bodied, the Westport Jetty reaches out one mile into the Pacific, and offers a great shot at catching Lingcod, Greenling, Rockfish, Sea Perch and Dungeness Crab. Jetty fishing conditions can be pleasant or a little sporty, so this is a great opportunity for the more able-bodied anglers that plan their trip only during days with a mild weather forecast.
Westport Boat Basin: Westport is a harbor town, and if you manage to make your way out here, there is no doubt you will end up at the Westport Marina aka Westport's Boat Basin. Floats near the entrance and the high-dock on the outside of the basin are great to try your luck at crabbing. Bring your own crab ring or rent one from a charter office on Dock Street.
Andrew Moravec is passionate about fishing in Washington, offering guidance, advice, fishing reports, how-to tutorials, and detailed reviews of Washington’s best fishing areas. To see more from Andrew check out: www.riptidefish.com