Hood Canal

Escape the City – To Hood Canal

Escape to Hood Canal

6 Reasons to Escape The City – To Hood Canal

If you need a break from the rat race this summer, escape to the quiet, and wild, west side of Hood Canal. Only 2 hours from Seattle and 3 hours from Portland, but a world apart from the hubbub. Here in Brinnon we are 45 minutes from the nearest traffic signal! Besides pure relaxation, vacationers come here in the summer for the crab, shellfish, hiking, kayaking, boating and wildlife. We have 8 vacation rental homes on the water for the perfect beach vacation experience. The peak season is here, so check our availability calendar and book directly with us to avoid the booking fees charged by the big online travel sites.

Here are the top 6 Things to Do at Hood Canal this Summer

1. Go Crabbing

Crab Hood CanalCrab season is June 30 – Sept 3rd in 2018. If you’d like to try crabbing yourself, here are the rules and instructions. And some other handy links depending on your needs:
Local boat launches
McKays in Brinnon for crab gear
Kayak Brinnon for kayak crabbing

2. Go Shellfishing

Hood Canal is known for its oysters and clams. Are there low tides during your stay? Gathering clams and oysters is only practical on most beaches during the daytime on tides lower than 2 feet, although minus tides are better. If you’d like to try shellfishing, bring old tennis shoes, rubber boots, or aqua socks to wear on the beach. Our beaches are full of oysters, the shells are razor sharp and can easily cut, so be careful. Bring a bucket and a rake to get clams. On most beaches you can just rake down to the clams since they are close to the surface. Be sure to fill in your holes. Bring an oyster shucking knife and a pair of gloves. Oysters shells are very sharp so you will want to wear gloves when you open them with a knife. An oyster knife is much different than a regular knife so if you love to eat oysters be sure to bring one along. Bring beach towels or old towels. The towels in the houses are for bathing and not the beach. Don’t forget your shellfish license. You can buy them at the Brinnon store. You can buy an annual license or a 1-3 day license. Everyone has to have one even if you are on private property.
List of Beaches
Rules and Limits
Clam and Oyster season at Public Beaches
Daytime low tides
About our local oysters and clams

If you’d rather just buy some shellfish, you can get them at Taylor Shellfish in Shelton or Hama Hama in Lilliwaup. They often have oysters and clams in Quilcene at Twana Roadhouse or Quilcene Village store. The vacation home kitchens are stocked with cookware and utensils for preparing your meals. Some kitchens will have seasonings, but you should bring your favorites with you. Prepare your dinner then sit outside with your bounty and a beverage and take in the waterfront view, seals, eagles, and the changing tide.

Mt Walker View

3.Go Hiking

Experience Forest fresh air, vista views from the olympic mountain trails overlooking Hood Canal. Its a hikers paradise with easy to difficult trails to explore for all ages. Bring your camera and check out these local classic waterfall hikes: Rocky Brook Falls, Falls View, and Murhut Falls or check out the Hood Canal Hiking guide from Washington Trails Association.

4. Go Kayaking

Popular launch sites include Pt Whitney, Pleasant Harbor, Seal Rock Campground, Yelviks Boat ramp, Dosewallips State Park, and Triton Cove. Kayak Brinnon provides kayak rentals and tours from Yelviks beach in Brinnon and will deliver kayaks to locations between Quilcene and Potlatch. There is plenty of sealife to view. And, often our local elk herd are present near Dosewallips State Park.

5. Go Boating

Here are some tips and local boating facilities to check out. If you are bringing your own boat and staying at a vacation rental, be sure to ask us where you can park your boat. Some homes may have room, but not all of them. Here is a link to the boat launches. If you don’t have a boat, Narwhal Boats has boats to rent and can outfit you with crab gear!

6. View Wildlife

There are plenty of birds that frequent the tidelands around Hood Canal and along the way on your hikes in Olympic National Forest. Stop off at one of the visitor centers in Quilcene, Brinnon, or Hoodsport to pick up a bird guide. They are an excellent stop for hiking maps and area information. Deer are numerous and Elk can be seen around the Dosewallips State Park. Wildlife information from the Department of Fish and Wildlife can be found Here.


Shrimp Hood Canal

Shrimp in Shrimp Pot Hood Canal

Shrimp Hood Canal

If you want to experience the best tasting shrimp of the Pacific Northwest, the spot shrimp from Hood Canal, you have two options. You can be adventurous and catch it yourself, or you can buy it.

Where to Buy Hood Canal Shrimp

Normally the best place to get Hood Canal Shrimp is at the Brinnon Shrimpfest on Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, the Shrimpfest was called off this year due to lack of volunteers. Luckily YOU CAN BUY SPOT SHRIMP ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND – 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Brinnon Community Center located at 306144 Highway 101 in Brinnon, WA.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to try shrimping yourself, here are some tips:

How to Catch Hood Canal Shrimp

Basically you need a boat, shrimp pots (see special pot requirements), weighted line and buoys, shellfish license, bait (usually fish flavored cat food), warm clothes, a sense of adventure and a bit of gold rush mentality. There are only four days of shrimping: May 5, 9, 12 and 23rd, 4 hours each day. See all the rules at the Washington Fish and Wildlife website here.

You can’t put your pots in the water until 9 am and must have them out by 1 pm. People usually do two “pulls”. This prevents getting totally skunked if your first location is bad. It takes some skill to drop your pots and pull them. Why? With only a few hours of shrimp season, there are literally a hundred boats all crowded around the prime shrimping spots. Add windy weather, and tide movement and you have mayhem, tangled line, capsizes, lost pots and stinky boats with plenty of shrimp guts all around.
The brave will do it. The adventurers. For the rest of us, thank goodness for the sale of shrimp.

To get an idea of why shrimping is not for the faint of heart, we took a recent poll of the shrimping experts from Hood Canal who revealed their sage advice. And admittedly, things they had learned from experience…


Don’t show up at the boat launch at 8:30 am on shrimp day and expect to get out on the water before 9. There will be people lined up at “zero dark thirty” to get their boat in the water and it will be backed up to Canada. All of the greats spots will be taken and you will then be a jerk trying to drop your line next to theirs especially if its windy or a fast moving tide. Then, expect a repeat shortly after 1 pm as the flotilla returns to the boat launch. Many of them having consumed their own personal “anti-freeze” making backing up a trailer a real spectacle.

Location Location Location

The shrimp like to hang out near the bottom – usually 200 to 300 feet deep! That is a lot of line to pull up. Either have a “pot puller” or Arnold Schwarzeneger in your boat to make it happen. If you have a gas powered pot puller, don’t forget to put gas in it. Its best to invest in a depth-finder so that you don’t exceed the length of your line. See Pot Problems below.

Clothing and Hygiene

You will get wet and stinky. Even if it is not foggy or misty, there will likely be some current and wind and some splashing as you drop and pick up pots. So its nice to wear extra waterproof layers to keep dry and warm. Also there is the “head popping blow back.” Shrimp guts sometimes squirt all over as you extract their heads. Some clothing never gets the smell out. So don’t wear your good stuff. A thermos of nice hot coffee to keep you warm you say? Just remember, if you don’t have a bathroom on board your boat, you might want to curtail your coffee intake or make it dependent on the amount of time you can make it back to the harbor and the bathroom.

Too many Skippers, Not enough Deck Hands

Usually pick the person that knows how to drive a boat in wind and current. This can change several times during the morning due to wind, currents, waves, boats and pots. And remember that Arnold is busy.

You get my drift? and other pot problems

You put your name and address on your buoy and made sure it is a yellow buoy (as required), but you can’t find your pot. Many attach unique markers to their buoys like helium balloons, styrofoam objects, skull and crossbones, shiny streamers, underwear and other creative ideas. Oh, and don’t forget to attach the buoy to your pot as you expertly fling the pot into the water. If you remembered to bring a depth-finder you could have set a GPS waypoint to where you dropped your pot. If you still can’t find your pot by 1 pm, you’ll have to wait until the next low tide AND you have to call Fish and Wildlife and report a lost pot. This may help if they find it first, or if they find someone else who found it first. See WDFW rules “Do not attempt to salvage lost gear without getting a permit” website link. Pots have been recovered with a grappling hook. And no, you can’t keep the shrimp that’s still in there.

Don’t get out of line

Don’t miss out on most of the shrimp because your line wasn’t properly stored from last time you went shrimping. Untangling line in full sight of all the other shrimpers is a shattering shameful experience and will cost you precious time. Or your line gets caught in someones boat propeller because you did not use weighted line. This also costs the other person precious time and you don’t want to go there.

Yay Shrimp!

You pull your pot and have a million shrimp! Make sure to bring a separate bucket for each person with a license. Put a maximum of 80 per bucket. Also bring an extra bucket for popping their heads (the shrimp). Its ok to pop heads before you get back to the harbor. Most do and then dump the heads on their way back. Just make sure its NOT THE TAILS YOU ARE DUMPING OUT (looks of horror).

As Forest Gump’s friend Bubba says, there are hundreds of ways to eat shrimp. Here are some links to the best recipes.

Fishing reports

May 5th reports say most people got their limits, but there were more people shrimping than ever before. May 9th was very stormy and much less people went out in the 12+ mph wind. Many of those that did go out gave up due to problems pulling pots and tangles due to weather. May 12th was great weather and lots of shrimp. May 23rd the weather is looking good. Stay tuned for more information.

Happy Holidays from Hood Canal

Happy Holidays Hood CanalHappy Holidays from Hood Canal. During the holiday season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our success possible. We are thankful to be living and working in the Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula. It is truly heaven on earth. And we appreciate that we have been able to help so many visitors enjoy their own slice of heaven at our beautiful vacation rental homes that we are fortunate to manage.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Windermere Hood Canal. Wishing you all the joys of the season and happiness throughout the coming year.

Fall Colors Hood Canal

Fall colors Hood Canal Dosewallips RiverHere on the west side of Hood Canal, we greet fall as a time to relax and welcome the cool wet weather which makes for stunning fall colors, mountain trails with less people, more mushrooms, nighttime shell fishing and migrating wildlife.


Fall may be the best time to hike Hood Canal before the snow hits the summits  Autumn color makes for nice photography, not to mention the eastern views from the Olympic mountain vistas toward the Puget Sound waterways. The crowds are gone. To choose your Hood Canal hike, Wta.org has the most comprehensive database of hikes in Washington state. Choose the Olympic Peninsula Region and the Sub region Hood Canal. The website gives you a Hike Finder, Hiking Guides and Trip Reports. Be sure to check NOAA weather and snow levels before you go.


Fall mushrooming has begun! In the Olympic National Forest, no permit is required for incidental gathering of mushrooms for
personal use.  For a single species, the daily limit for personal use is one (1) gallon. For multiple species, the daily limit is three (3) species, (1) gallon
each. Harvested chanterelle mushrooms must have a cap diameter of one inch or greater. Here is a link to #PNW Mushroom experts, the Puget Sound Mycological Society. A great resource for Harvesting rules, Recipes and more!


While looking for mushrooms, watch for wildlife. Its the time of the season for Salmon, Migrating birds and Roosevelt Elk. For viewing and safety tips we recommend the Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Region 6  website.


It is the end of day time low tides until next spring. But if you are determined, you can try your hand at night time shellfishing.  You’ll need a headlamp and flashlights. Here is a link to Hood Canal Public Shellfish Beaches   Don’t forget your shellfish license.  You will also need a Discover pass if using a State Park Access. Check for low tides; at least 1 foot or below, but minus tides are best.

Sunrise on Hood Canal
Sunrise on Hood Canal

Or, just get your shellfish fix at our local restaurants that have Shellfish on the menu:
Olympic Timberhouse in Quilcene
101 Brewery in Quilcene
The Geoduck in Brinnon
Hama Hama Oysters in Lilliwaup