Fly Fishing Report: February 2024

Fly Fishing Report: February 2024

We're getting closer to the finish line of Winter or the starting line of Spring, at least according to the calendar.  However you choose to look at it, we've been experiencing a casual blending of the seasons of late.  One day we smile beneath turquoise skies and the actual feeling of warmth emanating from the sun.  The next, it's a chilling wind out of the north and snow flurries on the way into work.  If nothing else, the weather here will continually keep you on your toes and make life anything but boring.

I was fortunate to recently fast forward to summer for a week in Belize fishing the flats on paddleboards with a fabulous group of people.  In my mind, the only thing better than revisiting a place you hold near and dear is getting to share that experience with new folks that haven't done it yet, reliving the excitement of a first bonefish, permit or occasional tarpon.  It's as though you get to travel back in time to recreate the first time it happened to you.  That overwhelming surge of adrenaline when the fly line and half your backing disappear from your reel in a flash juxtaposed alongside that odd recognition that the fish that's making it all happen is only the size of a slightly above average whitefish.   We try to do a few trips like this every year, so let us know if you're interested in joining us on an adventure.  I do have one open spot left for our Tarpon Cay Lodge trip July 13th-20th, 2024.  While we'll not exactly escape the winter doldrums in the heart of summer, the baby tarpon fishing should be at its best and we're sure to have a blast and catch some fish.  Let us know if you're interested in the spot.




Around these parts, we've got several fishing options worth checking out.  The year-round lakes have been hit and miss with the weather, but water temperatures have been generally ranging from the low to mid-40's.  At this rate we may only be a few short weeks away from some decent chironomid fishing.  Portions of the Skagit and Sauk are open for catch and release steelhead fishing Saturdays-Wednesday (closed Thursdays and Fridays) through April 17th.  Please read the emergency opener carefully as the whole river is not open to fishing, only from the Dalles Bridge to the Cascade River on the Skagit and up to the Darrington Bridge on the Sauk.

The Fly Fishing Film Tour comes to Mount Vernon, Sunday, February 25th.  You can purchase tickets from the F3T or scan the QR code on our shop poster when you're in and get them for a few bucks less.  This collection of short films from around the globe is always a fantastic way to get pumped up and inspired for the fishing season ahead.  We hope to see you there!

The annual North Sound Trout Unlimited and Confluence Fly Shop Speyapalooza is also right around the corner, happening on Saturday, May 4th this year at Howard Miller Steelhead Park on the Skagit.  Whether you're looking to learn how to spey cast, pick up some new skills, or just want to try out the latest in two-handed equipment we'll have it all.  We also have some camping options available for the weekend if you'd like to hang out with us after hours, talk fishing, steelhead conservation or just take advantage of the opportunity to chill.  Also, new this year, we'll have a limited edition Speyapalooza T-Shirt with an awesome design courtesy of our friend Max Parsons.  These are available for pre-order and pick up at the event or at the shop following Speyapalooza if you can't make it on the 4th.  We highly recommend pre-ordering to guarantee that you get one in the size you desire.  Order here, select the size and quantity of shirt you want and enter your info at checkout.

In the meantime, enjoy the last of winter, revel in the blossoming of spring, and make some time to enjoy being out on the water.  We'll see you out there!


The Skagit and Sauk have a spring catch and release steelhead season underway and there have been some fish around in both systems.  You can view the full emergency opener regs for the Skagit and Sauk here.  It's a special opportunity to fish steelhead that we unfortunately don't get to enjoy every year so please be sure to observe the rules so we can continue to fish in the future when the steelhead numbers allow. 

The steelhead game really hasn't changed a whole lot since I first began swinging flies 30 some years ago.  Sure, there's new equipment, better lines and sink tips and some really trick flies available these days, but when all's said and done, it's still in large part about reading and covering water effectively and there's no substitute for just putting in your time and learning the river. 

 Remember that steelhead want to feel safe and to take a path of least resistance on their journey and that as the river conditions change, so will the places you routinely find fish.  When the river is high and off color, you'll often find fish in the soft edges near the shoreline where the water may only be a couple feet deep.  When the river is low and clear with bright sun overhead, you may still find them in this water, but typically only early and late in the day.  For safety, steelhead will orient towards deeper water, choppy surface currents and big structure like wood and boulders when the water is very clear.  Adjust your approach to match the day's conditions and you're bound to find a few more fish throughout the season.  The Vedder in BC and the Olympic Peninsula rivers have also been putting out some fish lately.  We just got a fresh order of Intruders, Prom Dresses and Dirty Hoh's in the shop that are just begging to go for a swim on your favorite steelhead run.  Be sure to pick up a few prior to your next outing.

If steelhead are not your game, look for a warming trend in the weather and target trout on the Yakima River.  Winter streamer fishing on a trout spey can be pretty fantastic before the bugs really start popping off and it's a nice way to find some solitude and a few nice fish.  Meat Sweats and Daniel's UV Polar Jig are some of our favorites.



Our local year round lakes have been hit and miss over the last several weeks with fishing being on the slow side overall.  As water temps warm, we should begin seeing some of the first decent chironomid hatches popping off in early March.  Blobs and bloodworms continue to be effective in catching a few nice rainbows and as the chironomids begin emerging, good early season patterns are ChromiesTW BB UT Olive Green/Black Wire ChironomidsTW UT Blue Dun Black Rib and TW BB ASB Wine Ribbed Chironomids.



While it is still early for the chum and pink fry migrations in North Puget Sound, we typically start finding a few nice fish around the northeastern Whidbey Island beaches around now.  Before the fry show up, larger smelt and herring patterns like Rio's Just Keep Swimming and the Psychedelic Herring or Shock and Awe will garner some attention out there.

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