A Beginner’s Guide To Puyallup River Fishing: Tips and Tricks

Puyallup River is a great place for beginners to learn and enjoy fishing. With its diverse ecosystem and abundance of fish species, it offers endless opportunities to catch some of the most sought-after fish in Washington. In this guide, we’ll go over some essential tips and tricks to help you get started with Puyallup River fishing.

Understanding The Puyallup River

The Puyallup River is located in Pierce County, Washington, and runs approximately 45 miles from Mount Rainier to Commencement Bay. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including chinook, coho, pink, and chum salmon, as well as steelhead and rainbow trout.

These fish species make the river a popular destination for anglers looking for a challenging and rewarding fishing experience. Before you start fishing, it’s important to understand the river’s ecosystem and the behavior of the fish you’re targeting.

Understanding the Puyallup River
Find your catch of the day at the top fishing destinations along Puyallup River.

Gear and Equipment

To get started with Puyallup River fishing, you’ll need some essential gear and equipment, such as a fishing rod and reel, fishing line, hooks, bait, and waders. Here are some tips to help you choose the right gear:

  • Fishing rod and reel: To fish successfully in the Puyallup River, you’ll need a fishing rod and reel that are suitable for the species you’re targeting and the techniques you’re using. A medium-heavy to heavy action spinning rod or baitcasting rod paired with a crankbait reel is a good choice for most types of river fishing.
  • Fishing line: Use a monofilament or fluorocarbon line with a weight of 8-10 pounds, depending on the size of the fish and the fishing conditions.
  • Hooks: Use hooks that are appropriate for the size of the fish you’re targeting. For example, use a size 2-4 hook for salmon and steelhead.
  • Bait: Use natural baits such as worms, eggs, or shrimp, or artificial lures such as jigs or spinners. Use baits that are common in the river and preferred by the fish you’re targeting.
  • Waders: Use waterproof waders that are comfortable and fit well to protect you from the cold water and debris in the river.

Techniques and Tips

Here are some beginner-friendly techniques and tips to help you catch fish in the Puyallup River:

  • Casting: Practice your casting technique by keeping your wrist straight and using your whole arm to cast the line. Aim for the water near rocks, logs, and other structures where fish are likely to hide.
  • Reading the water: Look for areas where the water is deeper, slower-moving, or has cover, as these are often the best spots for fish to congregate. Look for ripples, eddies, and seams that indicates where different currents meet, which can create a natural feeding ground for fish.
  • Detecting bites: Keep your line taut and pay attention to any movement or twitching in the line. If you feel a tug or a sudden drop in tension, it may be a fish biting.
  • Setting the hook: When you feel a fish bite, give a quick tug to set the hook in its mouth. Be careful not to pull too hard, as this can break the line or pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth.

Read also: how to use a slip bobber

Best Times To Fish

To increase your chances of catching fish, it’s important to know the best times and places to fish in the Puyallup River. Here are some tips:

The Puyallup River offers good fishing opportunities throughout the year, but certain times of the year are better than others. The fall season is particularly popular for fishing, as it is the time when the Chinook and coho salmon run up the river to spawn.

The best time of day for fishing in the Puyallup River is generally early morning or late afternoon, when the water is cooler and fish are more active. However, fishing can also be productive during midday if the weather is overcast or if there is a hatch of aquatic insects.

Factors such as weather, water levels, and fishing pressure can also impact fishing success. For example, heavy rain can make the water muddy and difficult to fish, while low water levels can make fish more skittish. Fishing pressure can also spook fish and make them less likely to bite. It’s important to pay attention to these factors and adjust your fishing techniques accordingly.

Best Places To Fish:

The Puyallup River has several specific areas that are popular with anglers, including the City of Puyallup Riverwalk Trail, Orting City Park, and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ fishing access site. These areas have good access to the river and are known to hold good numbers of fish.

Best Places To Fish
Experience the thrill of the catch at these top Puyallup River fishing hotspots.

  • City of Puyallup Riverwalk Trail – This is a popular fishing spot that is located along the Puyallup River in the heart of the City of Puyallup. The Riverwalk Trail offers a paved walking path that runs along the river and provides good access to the water for fishing. This area is known for its deep pools and undercut banks, which are popular spots for salmon and steelhead. Anglers can also find good fishing in the riffles and runs, where the water is moving over rocks and creating oxygen-rich water for fish.
  • Orting City Park – This park is located in the town of Orting, which is about 10 miles east of Puyallup. The park sits along the Puyallup River and offers good access to the water for fishing. The river in this area has several deep pools and runs, which are popular spots for salmon, steelhead, and trout. The park also has picnic areas and restrooms, making it a good spot for families to spend the day.
  • Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ fishing access site – This fishing spot is located on the Puyallup Indian Reservation, which is about 10 miles east of Puyallup. The reservation is home to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, who have fishing rights along the river. The fishing access site offers good access to the river and is known for its good fishing for salmon, steelhead, and trout. The site also has picnic areas and restrooms, making it a good spot for families to spend the day. Anglers should be aware that fishing regulations on the reservation may differ from state regulations and should check the local regulations before fishing.

Regulations and Permits Of Puyallup River Fishing

Before you start fishing in the Puyallup River, make sure you have the necessary permits and are familiar with the regulations set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. These regulations may include restrictions on the type of gear you can use, the number of fish you can catch and keep, and the size of the fish. Make sure to read and understand these regulations to avoid any penalties or fines.


Fishing in the Puyallup River can be a fun and rewarding experience for beginners, but it requires some knowledge and preparation. By following these tips and techniques, you can increase your chances of catching fish and have a safe and enjoyable time on the river. Remember to respect the river and its wildlife, and always follow the regulations and guidelines set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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