Fly Fishing Report: June 2024

Fly Fishing Report: June 2024

With just a few short days until it's officially summer, we've been enjoying the long daylight hours, the recent reappearance of the sun and the fact that there are so many viable opportunities to wet a line, be it 10 minutes from home or on the other side of the mountains.  I really enjoy the diversity we have available to us in our corner of the country.  We can conceivably fish for spring chinook, sockeye, bull trout, native rainbow and cutthroat, a variety of panfish, small and largemouth bass...all within the same week if you're really ambitious.  Better yet, we can make it all happen without even having to pass through more than a county or two if you happen to live in Whatcom or Skagit Counties.

My first love is for native fish, those that have persisted in their home waters since long before most people were around, let alone before we began transplanting them here and there to suit our fancy.  I do however, really enjoy the exotics and oddities in the aquatic world, provided they stick to places where they don't threaten our native fish or in in waters that would be otherwise uninhabitable to a lot of other fish species.  It's kind of fun never knowing what's going to chomp your fly on the next presentation.  Usually I am pretty attune to the possibilities and it's particularly exciting to experience a day of sampling at least one of everything available.  A slam, so to speak.  Every once in a blue moon, I am surprised to stumble upon a fish that's not "supposed" to be there and experience equal parts intrigue and concern. 

Last weekend, while fishing the Cedar River near my hometown of Renton, I hooked a fish that I initially thought was an oddly shaped and abnormally portly whitefish.  Once in the net, I could see my little size 14 Blowtorch nymph was stuck in the lips of an American Shad.  I've targeted these in the Columbia River where this east coast visitor has been firmly entrenched for over a century, but was not expecting to find one in any Puget Sound watershed.  Low and behold, a population of American Shad, presumably originating from the Columbia has established itself in Lake Washington.  Research is ongoing to determine the effects of the growing shad population on the multiple species of endangered salmon that spend some time in the lake as well.  Strange stuff indeed!  



Thanks for all the immediate responses to sign up for our June 19th Spey Night.  The free class is officially full.  Stay tuned for an announcement on July and August dates if you're interested in attending.  Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.  We have plenty to offer for the fishy Father, be it a gift card, a casting class, box of flies or if nothing else, some good old fashioned free fishing advice.

Get out there and enjoy the nice weather and your time on the water.  While you're at it, take some pictures.   We'd love to showcase some of our patrons enjoying the rivers and lakes, the cool fish you catch, the memorable times with friends and family.  If we decide to use a photo of yours, we'll toss some flies or Confluence schwag your way.   The guidelines are simple and ascribe to the Keep Fish Wet principals if your photos feature your catch.

  • Hold fish in or over water - Fish are slippery creatures and can easily be dropped.  When holding a fish, keep it in or slightly above the water - not over boats or land.  That way, if dropped, the fish falls back into the water unharmed.
  • Grip fish carefully - Fish have sensitive internal organs, so hold them gently without squeezing.  Avoid placing your hand over their mouth and gills since this obstructs breathing.
  • Photograph fish wet - Try photographing your fish while it is in the water.  This shows the fish in its element, and ensures that it can breathe.  If you do quickly lift the fish for a photo, keep it as close to the water as possible.  Also, let the photographer call the shots – 1, 2, 3…raise the fish...and get your shot.  Keep air exposure to 10 seconds or less. 

Any photos can be emailed to scott@theconfluenceflyshop.




Between recent heavy rains and some hot weather triggered snowmelt, our local rivers have been up and down.  Check the gauge before you go and should you find yourself fishing higher water, exercise caution in the swift currents.  Fish tend to gravitate towards the edges in high flows so you're often best to position yourself on or near the bank anyway.  There's no benefit to wading out to your armpits and reaching for the far shore.  The Nooksack is closed much of the summer to protect a meager run of Spring Chinook.  The NF is open above the falls however, and offers decent fishing for smaller rainbow trout when the waters recede, as do a number of Nooksack tributaries.  If you're going to fish dry flies, we really like PMX's, Stimulators and small Chubby Chernobyls as they float well and are easy to track in roily water.  For better results, drop a Lightning Bug, Flashback Pheasant Tail or Copper John 1 to 1 1/2 feet below the dry.  

The Skagit is currently open for spring chinook and will open for sockeye salmon on June 16th.  Neither is an easy quarry on the fly but then again, the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.  For chinook, heavy T-14 and  T-17 sink tips and dark Intruders, Squidros and Prom Dresses have been producing a few fish.  For sockeye, Sockeye Killers along with other sparse krill patterns and a modicum of good luck are in order.



Bull trout fishing has been very good since the opener using Sculpzillas, Meat Sweats and Dali Llamas.  The river below the Sauk is running quite high at the moment but the section above the Sauk from Rockport on up is in good shape.  Covering water is in order on the big river to find concentrations of bulls and don't be afraid to work through a run much faster than you might swing for steelhead.  You can swing flies, but stripping them back aggressively works especially well during the summer months.  We're big fans of fishing 4 weight trout speys on the Skagit this time of year lined with a Scientific Anglers integrated Skagit Lite so you can strip flies smoothly without the impediment of a looped connection to a head getting stuck in your guides.



The Methow fished very well around the opener but rose significantly over the weekend.  As the water drops, nymphing BH Stones, Iron Sallies, Duracels, Blowtorches and the KJ Hot Ribbed Hare's Ear is a good plan.  Just like bull trout fishing on the Skagit, large sculpin imitations like the Meat Whistle or Olive Sculpinator work great for big predatory trout that hug the banks awaiting an easy snack of helpless sculpin and other small fish that lose their way at the mercy of swifter currents.   As the water drops, the usual dries are worthy of a swim: Chubby Chernobyls, Frankenhoppers, Elk Hair Caddis and of course, the ubiquitous Purple Haze.



Thanks to the cooler temps over the last few months, trout lakes on both sides of the mountains, along with those in the BC interior are still fishing well overall.  While a variety of chironomids will continue to catch some fish throughout the season, June is a good month to have a solid stock of damsel and dragon nymphs as well as callibaetis mayflies.  Not every lake has them, but for those waters that do, waking a Traveling Sedge caddis in the late evening can be an exhilarating experience.  If you're a night owl like me, the onset of warmer temps ushers in a fine opportunity to fish large black leech patterns and even mouse flies in the dark.  This works particularly well on lakes with brown trout but don't worry, plenty of big rainbows feed at night too.

Bass fishing has really kicked it up a notch since the last newsletter and the bluegill, pumpkinseed and crappie bite is holding steady as well.  We're about at that point where we'll mostly be fishing topwater presentations through the summer.  Bream Poppers for the the panfish in lime, black, white or mini kermit and bigger versions for the largemouth like the Luna, Neon, Tigger and Pearly PoppersRio's Soft Chew is a great crossover fly that seems to entice a little bit of everything on the lake with its multitude of wriggling silicon legs.




There are still some salty bulls around Skagit Bay along with more sea run cutthroat that have made their way back to Puget Sound for the summer.  Stinger Clousers and large Shock and Awes are great prospects for the bull trout while smaller patterns like Mini Ceivers and Foul Free Herring are going to be your best choices for cutthroat.  


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