Seattle’s Pike Place Market is famous for its flying fish. Fishmongers through fish, tease tourists and have an all round good time at the heart of Seattle’s public market. However, there is an equally amazing, if less visited fishing center, about twenty minutes away by bus, the Seattle Fisherman’s Terminal on the Lake Washington Ship Channel.
Humans have been fishing in the Puget Sound and along the Alaskan Canadian coast for centuries. However, the arrival of Europeans transformed the fishing trade into an industry. Soon fishermen, ship builders, fish packers, chefs, bankers and more were clamoring for a central space to conduct business with each other. In response, the Port of Seattle established Fisherman’s Terminal in 1913 to serve as the home port of the North Pacific fishing fleet and the center of Seattle’s seafood industry.
Today, the terminal centers on a building complex that houses fishing industry businesses. This ranges from insurance agents to the high-end seafood restaurant Chinooks. The complex also features a public square commemorating sailors lost at sea, docks, piers, dry docks and net sheds. The marina features a range of fishing and recreational vessels. There are small wooden sailing boats for use on the ship channel and lakes up to massive luxury yachts and fishing vessels that sail around the world.
Particularly noteworthy are the large crabbing ships that travel to the Bering Sea for the crabbing season, as documented on Deadliest Catch. The great thing about the Terminal is that it is open to the public. Interpretive signage at the Fisherman’s Memorial provides a brief history of the site and summarizes the activity that takes place at the terminal. You can also walk on the docks and piers as fishermen and boat enthusiasts unload their catches, fix their boats and head out for their next expedition.
If you are looking for a unique Seattle experience, I would suggest Fisherman’s Terminal. While the flying fish at Pike Place Market are famous, the terminal is where the real business of fishing takes place. There is amazing seafood, a great history lesson and an opportunity to see professional fishermen at work. Just be careful as forklifts and bike riding deck hands go speed past.