Marine area 7 includes Bellingham bay, Samish bay, Padilla bay and the majority of the San Juan islands. Fishing regulations vary between different parts of Marine area 7, so it is advised that you carry a current wdfw regulations book which includes a map and regulations for each area. There are some closures to protect certain species of fish as well as different opening dates for various areas.
For the most part, Salmon fishing starts in July and runs through the end of October. There is a winter Blackmouth, or resident Chinook salmon, fishery that runs from December through the end of April. Popular methods for fishing for salmon in the saltwater include trolling, mooching, and jigging. Each method has its advantages and is suited best for different situations.
Bottomfish including Lincod and Halibut opens in the spring. Lingcod and Halibut seasons are relatively short, vary year to year, and generally only run from May 1 – June 15th. There is a slot limit in effect for Lingcod so all fish below 26” and above 36” must be released. Lingcod and Halibut are best caught by jigging off the bottom with lures or bait, but can also be caught by trolling and often are caught incidentally while trolling for salmon. Lead jigs with plastic tails or trailers, Pt. Wilson Darts, Buzz Bombs, and other jigs all work well. Also, bait such as herring can be fished near the bottom for Lingcod and Halibut.
Rockfish are now closed to fishing so there is a strict no catch policy regarding all species of rockfish. There are a multitude of other types of bottomfish that can be caught including, cabezon, greenling, and more. All rockfish including the Yelloweye and Canary are protected and must be released so please check the special rules for each area you are fishing. There is a 20 fathom depth restriction when bottom fishing which limits the depth that you can fish at when targeting bottomfish except for Halibut. This rule applies to Lingcod but not to Halibut or Salmon fishing.
Crabbing and prawning are also popular in the San Juan islands. There is a summer and winter crab catch season available in Marine area 7. Crab bait varies from fish heads and chicken parts to bagged herring. Pretty much anything that has a strong smell and will hold up under water for an extended period of time will work to catch crab. Make sure to mark your float with your personal information, and be sure to plan for tidal variations in how much rope you have attached to your pot. You don’t want to put your pot out in 90 feet of water if you only have 100 feet of rope because if the tide comes up your float could go under water. Also, something to keep in mind is using decomposable strings to tie the door shut on your crab pot. That way if your pot does become derelict, the strings holding the door shut will rot away and any crabs left in the pot will be able to escape. Every year derelict pots continue to kill and waste hundreds of crab. If you get the crab catch record card on your license, be sure to return the summer and winter card to the WDFW or face a $10 fine on next year’s license. It’s easy to do online.
Disclaimer: The information presented on this page and the subsequent lakes and rivers pages of Fishwhatcom.com is intended as informational only and is not guaranteed in any way. The information is deemed accurate, but not guaranteed. Anyone choosing to use the following information is urged to read the rules and regulations laid forth by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before fishing to avoid a potential ticket. Fishwhatcom.com works to keep the information presented up to date and accurate, however fishing rules and regulations are subject to change at any time so Fishwhatcom.com does not guarantee the information in any way.