Fly Fishing Report: February 2023

Fly Fishing Report: February 2023

Hard to believe it’s February already, the month with notoriously the least open fishing options, weather that’s often all over the map and the end of another primetime football season. Fortunately, February stands as the shortest month of the year and it’s not even a leap year. I can’t help but think the folks that developed the modern calendar had fly fishers in the Pacific Northwest in mind by shaving a few extra days off an already bleak month. On the other side of February, however is the onset of spring; warming days and some really cool fisheries beginning to take shape. It’s always worthwhile to have something to look forward to in your back pocket and spring trout, a potential, though as yet unannounced catch and release season on the Skagit and Sauk, some beach fishing opportunities and some extra fun shop events are all coming down the pike. In the meantime, tie some flies, get geared up, take solace in the fact that it’s staying light out a little later each day and go fishing when and where you can. It only gets better from here!

It’s been generally pretty slow around the shop between the Nooksack being closed prematurely through most of January, the handful of open lakes still on the cold side and the uncertainty about whether or not we’ll have a season on the Skagit going forward. Things seem to be picking up this week with folks either collecting tying materials, getting gear for the new season or saying, “Screw it!” and departing for more tropical climes to chase unbelievably fast and strong warm water fish ready to smoke your reel and see how deeply you can really bend a 10 weight before it snaps. I’m happy to count myself among the latter in addition to tying plenty of flies and amassing new gear for the season. If you’d like to bid adieu to the cold and rain for a week one of these winters drop us a line. We have a number of destination hosted trips in the works and are always open to new ideas too.

We had a great turnout for our January tying night at the North Fork Barrel House in town. Thanks to all that showed up and shared in the camaraderie over a couple of beers. We’re going to skip the tying night in February due to scheduling constraints, but our North Sound TU chapter has a really fun Iron Fly event happening next week at Goods. Let us know if you’d like to participate as a tier or simply show up and watch the madness. It should be a lot of fun. Mark your calendars for some other exciting events in the coming months. The Confluence will be hosting the 2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour at the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, March 22nd. We should have posters and ticket options here shortly. These are completely different films than the International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Lincoln last November. You haven’t seen these ones yet. Saturday, May 20th will be the 2023 Speyapalooza at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport. We’ll have more information to come on that one next month. Beyond all that, we hope to see you on the water and in the shop soon. Enjoy those magical few days when the thermometer breaks 50 and the sun grins down upon us.


January brought some of the finest bull trout fishing I’ve experienced on the Skagit in over a decade. The bulls seem abundant and healthy after such a strong showing of late returning chum and coho and should continue to thrive with what we expect will be a fairly robust chum fry outmigration this spring. Unfortunately, that’s over for the moment with the Skagit currently closed, but we’re expecting an announcement regarding a spring catch and release steelhead season later this month. You can check the WDFW emergency regulations for the latest info or better yet, subscribe to their alerts so you will get the updates automatically.

The lower Skagit from the Memorial Highway bridge is slated to open March 1st for trout and char. It’s a tough area to fish from the shore but if you’ve got a boat, it’s a fantastic fishery with small streamers and fry imitations. The NF Nooksack reopened last Saturday, just in time to close again on February 15th. The clock is ticking, but there are a few steelhead in the system and whole lot of people. If you’re young, single, really into to steelhead and looking to meet lots of like-minded anglers it’s clearly the place to be over the next week.


Pass and Lone are producing some fish. Our winter lake mantra is bloodworms and leeches, with a smattering of Blobs, Boobies and various attractors thrown into the mix. There’s not a whole lot in the way of hatches taking place in the colder months, but we usually see chironomids beginning to come off by mid-March and the trout seem to get super excited about the sudden change in their meal regime.


We’ve sold several squirrel tails in the last week which we take to mean folks are tying Chum Babies and getting ready to hit the beach. It’s a little early yet for fry to begin emerging up North here, but we do see them in the South Sound and Hood Canal typically by late February. We also begin to see more regular beach action around the North Sound as we slide into March and it only gets better from there, so dust off your stripping baskets and make sure those fly boxes are filled!

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