How to Catch a Fish at Pike Place Fish Market – Seattle, Washington

Seeing fish being tossed at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle is like going to Times Square in New York City to snap pictures of the hustle and bustle. When you think of Times Square, you think New York. And when you think fish tossing, you think of Seattle and Pike Place Market. On our recent trip to Seattle, I finally had my opportunity to mark off a Bucket List item of mine and stand on the other end of the fish toss and catch a fish at Pike Place Fish Market!

Pike Place

Who Doesn’t Have “Catch a Flying Fish at Pike Place Fish Market” on Their Bucket List?

Is it weird to have “catching a flying fish” on a bucket list? Maybe to some, but to me this iconic Seattle tradition is something that I have always wanted to do. On our most recent visit to Seattle, we stopped by the Pike Place Fish Market quickly to snap some photos and check out the excitement before catching an evening dinner cruise.  Of course, wandering through the Market we found ourselves standing amidst the crowds at the main attraction.  You can hear the yelling and commotion from quite a distance.  The guys working this fish stand seem to be having the best time.  This is really what draws the crowds.


We maneuvered our way through the crowds to see some lucky observers take their chance at being on the end of a fish toss. While the guys behind the counter were working hard to fill orders, there are also a couple of guys out front answering questions and passing out samples. Also, they are calling out the order to those behind the counter and helping to sell the products. Yes, this is a legit fish market, and they are always busy selling their freshest catch!

Tip 1:  Be Friendly & Talkative

As some might know, I have a habit of asking a lot of questions wherever I go.  But this is good because I make friends with everyone I meet. While at the fish market admiring the organized chaos, I struck up a conversation with Jonathan about daily operations at the fish market. Then jokingly I asked him if the staff is required to go through a fish tossing and catching class. He laughed and said, “no you just go back there and catch it.”


Sarcastically I responded, “oh that sounds simple enough.” Then he made my day (and a trip to Seattle) complete by asking me a simple question; “Do you want to try?” I looked at Liz and told her, “It’s going down!”  I passed her my camera and took off. She was a little taken aback and asked what’s going on?” I told her that I was going to catch a fish!  She smiled and scrambled to get in position to film it, then  “Don’t drop it in front of all these people!”

Tip 2:  Just Like Holding a Footlong Sandwich

How to Catch the Fish
My split-second tutorial on how to catch a fish at Pike Place Market in Seattle

So now is my moment that I have always wanted to do. As I was walking back behind the counter I have to say that all the guys working at the Fish Market are just great, and were so cool and welcoming. One of the guys back there gave me a super quick rundown on the best way to catch this thing that would soon be flying at my face.  He said to hold my hands us like I was eating a footling sandwich. OK, got it.

Tip 3:  Don’t Try, Just Catch!

Then he asked if I was ready to catch it. I replied by saying “I will try my best.” He responded jokingly, “No. We don’t try. We Catch.” I quickly realized that I needed to bring my “A Game” to catch this fish. I can’t be the guy who drops the fish.

So I’m ready with hands up pretending to eat the footling sandwich. Then a guy out in the crowd yells “Are you Ready? Fish Flying!!!” and before I can blink, the fish is hurling my way. But I’m proud to say that I did not disappoint the hundreds of people walking by and watching. I caught that fish on the first try and then held it up like a trophy. The crowd cheered, and my Bucket List item was complete.

Catch a Fish at Pike Place Market?  Check!

I have to say that catching a fish at the iconic and historic Fish Market is Seattle was just awesome. An experience that I will never forget. The crew there was awesome, and they even allowed us to leave one of our Geocaching stickers behind the counter. So next time you are visiting Seattle or having a Layover and want to try and catch a fish at the market just simply be nice to the staff, ask but don’t expect that you will automatically be able to go behind the counter to catch a fish. Tips for the awesome staff do help, and a bit of luck works well too.

Seattle is also known for its great food and Pike Place Fish Market is the place to not only catch fish but take home to cook and eat.  Check out Pike Place Market Recipe Cook Book.

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