silver salmon

Finding Silver Salmon

As Requested… Where to Find Silver Salmon!

By Jai colvin

Last week we did an article on finding pinks for those interested in ferreting them out, and one of our readers silver salmonasked about silver salmon.  So we did the research, and here you go…

Silver salmon, or coho salmon, is a popular catch in Washington State.  Locals call them “silvers” because of their appearance.  During their ocean phase, coho salmon have silver sides and dark-blue backs – hence the name.  Mature adults have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs.  They average 28 inches and reach 7 to 11 pounds, which makes them fun to catch.  There have been some coho that have come in at approximately 36 pounds, so even bigger ones are out there waiting to be caught.

There are a number of places to hook a coho in Washington State, but these are the ones the local experts shared with us. We’re going to showcase the lakes and inland waters but at the tail-end of this article you’ll find a list of marine areas where the silver salmon can be caught as well. It’s important to note that this article only includes the lower lakes…watch for an upcoming separate piece on the high lakes.

Benton County

Lake Wallula

Lake Wallula has two forks. The first stretches from McNary Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River, and the second upstream to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River.  There are numerous well maintained boat launch facilities in the Columbia River from McNary Dam upstream to Richland.  Above Richland there are primitive launch sites located at Ringold, Parking Lot 7 and on Highway SR-240.

Clark County

Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake was a part of the Lewis River until it was cut off from the river in 1940 during the construction of HWY 99.  The lake is managed as a catchable trout and warm water species lake.  This lake is located in the city of Woodland.  A city park provides ample fishable shoreline plus a public boat launch.

Lake Merwin

Lake Merwin was formed after the completion of Merwin Dam, in 1931 by the Inland Power and Light Company.  This North Fork Lewis River impoundment located near the town of Ariel, on the south side of Highway SR-503, is shared by Clark and Cowlitz counties.  There is very limited shore access.

Vancouver Lake

Vancouver Lake is a shallow water body that is popular for warm water fishing.  The lake is affected by the tide and can fluctuate as much as two feet.  The lake is located on the northwest side of Vancouver.  It is a backwater area of the Columbia River.

Cowlitz County

Silver Lake

Silver Lake is an excellent fishery for silver salmon.  The WDFW boat access has a single lane concrete ramp and a small dock, and can be hard to find if signage is missed on SR-504.

Douglas County

Lake Entiat

Located upstream of Rocky Reach Dam to Wells Dam, this Columbia River reservoir contains a variety of fish species, but is noted for silvers.  Seasons are based on the abundance of silver salmon runs.

Lake Pateros

Located upstream of Wells Dam, this twenty mile long reservoir contains a variety of fish species, but it’s noted especially for silver salmon.  Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleye are also available.

Grays Harbor County

Quigg Lake

Quigg Lake is located at Friends Landing near Montesano and opens for fishing from June 1 through April 15 with special size restrictions.  The silver salmon are an easy catch here so this is a great place to take the family.

King County

Lake Sammamish

Wild coastal cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch are the main attractions, but the silver salmon are abundant as well on Lake Sammamish.  Public access is through Lake Sammamish State Park.  The state park surrounds the lake’s south shore and offers a wide range of amenities, including multi-lane boat launching.  There are no fishing piers, but angling is possible year-round from the shoreline or tie-up floats at the park.

Lake Washington

Open to fishing year-round, locals say this large lake between Seattle and Bellevue offers some rather large coho.  Principle access ramps are at Kenmore, Magnuson Park at Sand Point, Gene Coulon Park in Renton, and Rainier Beach Park in Rainier Beach.  Bank access is abundant.  Numerous fishing piers dot the perimeter of the lake.

Kitsap County

Wildcat Lake

Wildcat Lake is a very popular Opening Day lake and provides excellent fishing for silver salmon.  It is moderately developed with good boat access.  This is a popular place so be mindful that it can get crowded.

Kittitas County

Hanson – Lower Pond and Upper Pond

These two small ponds near the town of Cle Elum is excellent for local Coho fishing. The levy separating them from the Yakima River has been breached, thus creating off-channel rearing habitat for silver salmon, steelhead, and wild resident trout.

Klickitat County

Lake Umatilla

Lake Umatilla stretches from John Day Dam to McNary Dam.  It offers good fishing for Coho.  There are boat launch facilities in Washington on Lake Umatilla.

Lewis County

Carlisle Lake

Carlisle Lake, historically known as Onalaska Mill Pond, was originally a log pond for the wood mill.  The lake is located on the northwest edge of Onalaska.  The fishing season runs from the last Saturday in April through the end of February.   Landlocked salmon rules are in effect, in case excess hatchery fish become available. Public access is available, and small boats can be launched, but internal combustion engines are not allowed.

Lake Scanewa

Scanewa Lake is a 610-acre impoundment located about 10 miles southwest of Randle.  Turn on Savio Road west of Randle, turn south onto Kiona Road for 1.9 miles, then turn west onto Falls Road for 3.6 miles to a turnoff for the day use area. The silver salmon here are rumored to be really big.

Mayfield Lake

This reservoir was formed by the construction of Mayfield Dam. The Silvers are a lot of fun here.  The lake is located about 3 miles west of Mossyrock, and has a year-round open season.  The big attraction is tiger musky fishing but the coho are good as well.  Boating access is available at a Lewis County park just off of Highway US-12, at Ike Kinswa State Park.  There is fair shore fishing access at the state park and at the Mossyrock Trout Hatchery.

Riffle Lake

Riffe Lake, also known as Mossyrock Lake, and for a while as Davisson Lake, is a reservoir formed by Mossyrock Dam.  It is a popular water for coho fishing.  The lake stretches more than 13 miles along US-12 east of Mossyrock and has a year-round open fishing season.  Riffe provides good fishing for landlocked Coho and Chinook salmon.  Mossyrock Park, near the west end on the south side of the dam, has camping facilities that can be reserved.

Mason County

Twin Lake – Big

Twin Lake is one of several small lakes located on the Tahuya Peninsula.  It is remote and mostly surrounded by forest but provides some good landlocked coho fishing.

Skagit County

Big Lake

Five miles southeast of Mount Vernon, along the west side of Highway SR-9 is Big Lake, a local favorite for silvers.  Open to fishing year-round, this primarily warm water lake is dominated by largemouth bass, yellow perch, and pumpkinseed sunfish, but also offers modest numbers of coho.

Skamania County

Swift Reservoir

Swift Reservoir is located twenty-eight miles northeast of Woodland, on the south side of Forest Road 90.  This is a great place to hit for catchable-size rainbow trout, but the coho are running here too.  Locals have reported catching some very good sized ones.

Marine Areas

We have profiled the marine areas over the past few weeks here and here, so we won’t reinvent the wheel, but this is a list of the marine areas where the silver salmon run.


Westport-Ocean Shores

Willapa Bay

Grays Harbor


Neah Bay

Sekiu and Pillar Point

East Juan de Fuca Strait

San Juan Islands

Deception Pass

Port Susan

Admiralty Inlet


Tacoma-Vashon Island

Hood Canal

South Puget Sound

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2 thoughts on “Finding Silver Salmon”

    1. Jim,
      You will notice that this article is much longer than we usually publish. The rivers system will be coming next week, in a follow up article. Thanks for the comment,

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