Fly Fishing Report: March 2023

Fly Fishing Report: March 2023

According to the calendar we’re just a few short weeks away from the official start of spring, though it doesn’t appear winter is quite prepared to relinquish its icy grip on the Northwest just yet. I was lucky enough to spend last week in a remote part of Mexico on the Caribbean side, alternating days between plentiful bonefish and permit on the flats and exploring some inner lagoons in the jungle for tarpon and snook. The wind blew something fierce and had the permit and most other species unsure about whether or not they wanted to eat a fly but the bonefishing was pretty unreal with vast endless schools of willing bones eager to pin a fly to the light sandy bottom and subsequently show you a bunch of your backing. I got back from Mexico and low and behold, it snowed like crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I relish the good fortune to get out of the cold for a week here and there to go fish for amazing species in warm climates but when the weather doubles down upon arriving home it’s like a punch in the face. As I’m sure many can relate to, it’s even harder when have few open fisheries to enjoy here in the North Sound this time of year.

Fortunately, March 1st signals some significant openers both here and east of the mountains, so the fishing outlook only begins to look up from this point forward. Several eastside lakes open in March and as the days eventually grow longer and warmer, trout will eagerly shake off their winter slumber and begin feeding with wild abandon. The lower Skagit from the Memorial Hwy Bridge in Mount Vernon down to the mouth opens for cutthroat and bull trout and though it hasn’t happened yet, the potential for a spring C&R steelhead season on the Skagit and Sauk still looms on the horizon.

We had a great turnout for the Iron Fly at Goods with North Sound Trout Unlimited last month. Everyone seemed to have a stellar time and we were super impressed with the level of creativity circulating in our fly tying community. Folks wholeheartedly embraced the challenge of tying flies with dryer lint, Christmas lights, purple nitrile gloves and the furry orange feet from a stuffed duck toy among many other bizarre tying materials.

There are several upcoming fishing related events to look forward to as well. First and foremost the 2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, March 22nd. We’re excited to welcome the tour back to the North Sound once again. There will not be a North Sound Trout Unlimited raffle at this one so you’ll just have to be content to settle in with one of the greatest fly fishing communities in the Northwest and watch some awesome films that highlight fly fishing destinations around the globe. We have a poster for the F3T up at the shop. If you’d like to save a few bucks on tickets stop by, pick up a few essentials and scan the QR code on the poster to access a discounted ticket link. We don’t have physical tickets for sale this year, it’s all being done online. You can also pick up tickets from the F3T online or at the Lincoln Theatre box office. We’re confident it’ll be a great time as usual!

Mark your calendars for May 20th at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport for North Sound Trout Unlimited’s 2023 Speyapalooza. This is a great event to try out new two handed equipment and improve your spey casting skills. There will be a fundraising raffle for NSTU where you can win some cool merchandise as well. We’ll have additional information coming in the April Newsletter.

If it’s miserable out and you’re housebound or just not ready to leave the comforts of a crackling fire and that tumbler of smoky bourbon, A Steelhead Story: The Legacy of Bill McMillan was just released by the Washington Council of Trout Unlimited for public consumption last week. If you missed the premiere at K2 in January or would like to watch the film again or share it, you can find it for free here. Speaking of steelhead, I had the pleasure of joining Paul Watts on his Spey Rod Adventures podcast on Super Bowl Sunday to talk about everything from tips for swinging steelhead flies to spawner surveys on the Skagit. Give it a listen or watch the podcast on YouTube if you’re so inclined.

Here’s to warming days, reopening fisheries, happy fish and good times on the water. Hope to see you soon!


There’s a certain time of year when the ordering of our fishing reports flip flops from lakes to rivers and back again. That time is now. There’s honestly not a ton to report on either but with the majority of rivers closed around these parts, we just don’t have a whole heck of a lot to share. Folks are catching trout at both Pass and Lone, and typically Squalicum warms up enough sometime in March to begin cranking out a few more fish as well. There are numerous other lakes like Grandy, Fazon and Cranberry that are open year round too and most will continue to improve as the weather warms. On the east side, March sees Lenice and Nunnally opening, Dry Falls and a host of others. Check your weather reports and make sure your waters are ice free before heading across the passes. Some of our west side year round lakes get early trout plants to boost the fishing as well. You can review the WDFW trout plants page for up to date information.

As for flies, we expect to see chironomids beginning to hatch this month as the water temps approach the mid 40’s. Leeches, dragonfly nymphs, bloodworms and attractor patterns like Blobs and Boobies should be in your boxes as well for early spring lake fishing.


Rumor has it we should hear within the next week or two about a Skagit season. I know we said that last month, but when was the last time you saw paperwork processed quickly by the federal government? Our annual income tax submission deadline is fairly concrete but otherwise, timelines operate pretty loosely. We’ll just continue to keep our fingers crossed for now.

The lower Skagit from the Memorial Hwy Bridge in Mount Vernon down to the mouth just opened for trout. This fishery really takes off once we begin seeing salmon fry migrating downriver. As cold as it has been, the fry emergence is likely to be somewhat delayed, but that’s an option to keep your eyes on. Get your chum fry and larger minnow imitations ready. With the large chum return last fall on the Skagit and other area rivers, we’re expecting a pretty good fry outmigration this spring and the cutthroat and bull trout ought to be in hog heaven.

Beyond this local option, most Olympic Peninsula streams are open through March, but check the list of restrictions before heading out. The BC license year resets on April 1st, so if you don’t already have your license up there that’s something to consider for the coming season. The Vedder river typically fishes well for steelhead through April and even into May when the river below the Vedder Crossing goes to fly fishing only regulations.


Not much in the way of cutthroat off the North Sound beaches until later in the spring but there’ve been a few bull trout around Skagit Bay. The beach fishing should improve into April and May as more chum fry begin to show up in the salt.

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