Fly Fishing Report: March 2024

Fly Fishing Report: March 2024

When I was in the second grade I spent the preponderance of my recesses belly to the grass, carefully combing through the clover patches looking for the elusive four leafer.  I found them here and there and often I picked them and pressed them between the pages of a book to preserve them for any luck they might offer down the road.  In the later days of my four leaf clover hunting I usually just left them where they grew, hidden amongst the masses of their three-leafed brethren simply content that I had found another one.  About 4 years later I discovered fly fishing and set out on a similar meandering path that I continue along today. 

Thinking back to those days of combing the clover patches of Benson Hill Elementary I realize that so often in life the process eclipses the goal itself.  This time of year, my goal is to be knee deep in a river swinging flies for steelhead, and I suppose if I'm being totally honest, to catch one or two before the season draws to a close.  As in other years when we're fortunate enough to have that opportunity to pursue wild steelhead in our backyard, it's been a rewarding journey.  There's little over a month before the Skagit and Sauk close on April 17th.  By the time that happens, we'll be on the cusp of other pursuits and quests to motivate us through the year and hopefully firmly entrenched in Spring as well. 

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the Fly Fishing Film Tour at the end of February at the Lincoln Theatre.  We had over 200 folks in attendance and the everyone seemed to enjoy the films for the most part.  We also raised a bunch of money for North Sound Trout Unlimited in the raffle following the films.  Your generosity is much appreciated.  Make sure you mark Saturday, May 4th on your calendars for this year's Speyapalooza.  These events get bigger and better each year and we're excited to be welcoming some new vendors like Bridge Spey Lines and Orvis into the mix  along with Sage, OPST, Redington, Rio, Scientific Anglers, Aqua Flies, Echo and Winston.  We'll have free spey instruction available throughout the day and an opportunity to demo all the new two-handers out there.  Make sure you sign up for a class if you're interested in some instruction.  You can use the same website to reserve a campsite if you want to make a weekend of it.

We're fully in the throes of another tumultuous Northwest late winter/early spring crazy weather cycle.  One minute it's snowing and sleeting with trees battered by gale force winds and the next, blue skies and a lovely warmth emanating from the sun.  This weekend's forecast suggests highs in the 60's around Bellingham which should help get things cracking.  Lakes are waking up, pink and chum fry are just beginning to emerge from the gravel to liven up our beach and lower Skagit fisheries and it's high time to be out on the water.  

Thanks for keeping us nice and busy at the Confluence.  We had our busiest February in eleven years between traffic in the shop and our new online store.  Now that we're done with our annual shop inventory, we hope to keep up the momentum.  We're adding a bunch of new fly patterns this year and continue to bring in new products seasonally for your enjoyment.  Check out all our the new stuff from Aqua Flies if you're still dreaming up that irresistible steelhead fly at the tying bench.  As always, we place product orders very regularly from most vendors so if there's something you want and don't see it on the store, drop us a line and we'll get it for you if we can.



Enjoy the last of winter, the first of spring and most of all, while it's great to create goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them, don't forget to enjoy the process while you're it.  That remains my favorite part.  Also, don't forget that the license year starts over April 1st.  We don't sell them in the shop but you can pick up a new one across the street at LFS after you drop by the Confluence.  See you on the water!



Portions of the Skagit and Sauk remain open Saturday through Wednesday through April 17th for catch and release winter steelhead.  You can view the full emergency regulations on the WDFW website.  So far the season has been decent with fish around here and there.  Fish well, cover water and there are some nice steelhead to be found.  While there's no magic bullet in for steelhead flies, we've added some pretty attractive confidence flies to the bins this season like Stu's Intruders, Jerry's Intruders, Dirty Hoh's, Fish Tacos, and Prom Dresses all tied with the sticky sharp Aqua Talon Swing Hooks as trailers.  Match your flies to the water conditions but don't be afraid to experiment and swing something different.  We don't traditionally think of brown as a steelhead color but when they get sick of seeing pink or orange or black and blue,  something drab just might trigger the reaction you're after.

The lower Skagit from the Memorial Highway Bridge in Mount Vernon downstream including both forks opened on March 1st for trout and char.  While we're not seeing a ton of out-migrating salmon fry yet, expect fry numbers to build as the weather warms.  Chumbody's Baby, Eyed Fry, Skiddish Smolt, Precious Metal and Dali Lllamas are some of your better patterns to fish in the lower river spring season.



After a cold, generally slow winter season, lakes are slowly warming to the point where we should see regular chironomid hatches kicking into gear and both Pass and Lone should fish a little more consistently.  Some of our favorite early season chironomids are the Chromie, Black Rib Green, ASB and Wine and Black Red Butts.  Generally stick to the smaller sizes like #16's and even #18's in the early season and bugs will get bigger as the Spring unfolds.  Don't forget to have some smaller leeches on hand like Hale Bopps and Simi Seal Leeches for those periods in between hatches.  For all you stillwater fly tiers, we're pleased to announce we added Arizona Simi Seal dubbing to the shop this year, so some of those coveted blends like the black and blue for tying Bruised Balance Leeches are up for grabs. 

The general lake opener this year is Saturday, April 27th.  Between now and then, look for state trout plants in a handful of year round lakes in Whatcom and Skagit counties.  Fazon and Terrell both received some larger rainbow plants recently. 



We're starting to see a few more sea run bull trout marauding smelt and herring off the east side of Whidbey and expect to find more chum and pink fry amassing off the beaches up north near the end of next month.  If you're out looking for cutthroat, please be aware that a lot of fish are either up in the creeks and tributaries spawning this time of year or are just finishing up.  Should you encounter skinny, post spawn cutthroat on the beach, release them quickly and gently.  These fish need a chance to feed and recover from the rigors of making the next generation.

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