Fly Fishing Report: April 2023

Fly Fishing Report: April 2023

Frogs croaking, birds chirping, daffodils and salmonberry blooming, fish feeding, chum fry hatching…Spring is finally here and in more than name only. The low snow still clinging to the foothills may tell a different story but there have now been enough days where wearing a T-shirt is up for consideration and the outdoor seating at your favorite drinking establishment isn’t totally out of the question. We always breathe a sigh of relief by this time of year. Business picks up at the shop, fishing is pretty good and the options continue to expand. Getting outside is once again pleasant in and of itself rather than a mere rebellion against the monotony of staring at four walls. Trout fishing from Pass Lake to the Yakima has been pretty steady, we got a surprise steelhead opener on the Skagit and Sauk when we least expected, chum fry are filling Puget Sound and the general lowland lake opener is just a couple short weeks away! There’s not a whole lot to complain about.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the 2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Lincoln Theatre last month. We had a great time and enjoyed the films and North Sound comradery. A number of folks asked about the Trout Unlimited raffle missing from the event. Rest assured we plan to have another TU raffle as part of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival, which will likely happen again at the Lincoln Theatre sometime in the fall. If you simply can’t wait that long, you should definitely join us at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in May for Speyapalooza. The 2023 Speyapalooza will feature some new vendors in addition to the regulars as well as a much improved lunch regime. I know some will certainly miss the expertly grilled hotdogs but maybe we’ll roast a few around a campfire following the event. I’ll bring the peanut butter and sriracha. Please note that the Confluence will be closed all day on Saturday, May 20th for the event.

In addition to Speyapalooza next month, Writers on the Fly is returning to Bellingham on April 20th at Boundary Bay. If you’ve never been to WOTF, it’s a collection of some of the best local writers exploring fly fishing and beyond and always a super fun evening. If you’ve seen it before, you already know you’re not going to want to miss it. If you’ve got kids interested in fly fishing and looking for a summer activity, check out Nooksack Salmon Enhancement’s summer youth fly fishing camp where I’ll be teaching fly casting for a couple of the days.

We hope you’re getting out and shaking off the winter doldrums on the water. The weather’s been mostly cooperative and the fish are also doing their part more often than not. We are very well stocked on flies, leaders, lines, float tubes, rods and anything else you might possibly need to get the job done. Be well our friends and we hope to see you in the shop and on the water.


After a disappointing spring last year with the Pass Lake parking lot closure, folks seem to be making up for lost time. I can’t remember the last time I saw Pass Lake so consistently busy, even during the week. Granted, the fishing has been fantastic and the trout in prime condition. Lone tends to stay a little quieter and the fishing has been really good there as well. Eastside lakes should be warming up after a long cold winter and with the general lowland lake opener on Saturday, April 22nd, people should have a few more choices to be able to spread themselves out. It’s great to see all the interest out there in stillwater fishing and lakes truly represent some of the best fishing our local area has to offer. If nothing else, the lake seasons are typically far more generous and predictable than for our river fisheries.

Right now, chironomids have been the name of the game on most lakes. Like it or not, the guy or gal with the orange foam ball on the leader and regularly bent rod is probably fishing a chironomid pattern right now. If you’re new to fishing chironomids we’re more than happy to share our favorite techniques. We have a pretty impressive selection of chironomid pupa patterns at the shop as these critters are a hugely important food source for trout in lakes, especially this time of year. Look for callibaetis mayflies to begin making an appearance in late April and all through May. The trout will have some new flavors to sample soon, but chironomids will continue to catch fish well into early summer. WDFW has also stocked some year round lakes recently so if you’d like to check out some different scenery take a peek at the stocking report.


We had just about written off the notion that the Skagit and Sauk might have a spring steelhead opener this year and then boom, the email that never came eventually showed up and WDFW announced an opener. The Skagit is open from the Dalles Bridge in Concrete up to the Marblemount Bridge and the Sauk from the mouth to the Darrington Bridge. These sections are open Saturday through Wednesday through the end of April, but as always, check the emergency rules for updates before you go. There have certainly been some steelhead around, though there have been lots of people as well. The water has been pervasively low and clear, notoriously difficult fly fishing conditions but the recent rains and bump in river levels may help. We have a great variety of winter steelhead patterns along with anything else you might need to round out your gear supply. We are completely out of rocks to stand on, however.

If you’d like a little more solitude on the river, the trout fishery below the Memorial Hwy bridge in Mount Vernon down through the Skagit forks is beginning to pick up. Chum fry are migrating downriver and bull trout and hungry cutthroat are ready to ambush them at any opportunity. You’ll definitely want some fry patterns in your box, but some bigger patterns like the Skiddish Smolt, Flash Fry and white Zonkers are also quite effective, especially for the bull trout. Don’t overlook skating patterns on top as well. You’ll want both a sink tip and floating line for this fishery.


After a long winter, beach fishing around North Sound is starting to pick up. Chum Fry patterns, small Clousers and Gurglers are your go to flies for cutthroat this time of year. Around Skagit Bay the Rio’s Just Keep Swimming, Psychedelic Herring, Deceivers and larger Clouser Minnows are worth having for bull trout as well.

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