Fly Fishing Report: May 2024

Fly Fishing Report: May 2024

While the prospect of a likely hot, dry summer looms on the horizon, last week's heavy dose of vitamin D was certainly met with open arms.  Getting a recent rare glimpse of the spectacular light show from the Aurora Borealis was just the icing on the cake.  With the warm weather, spring fishing has really taken off, from the interior trout lakes of BC and the eastern Washington high desert to our local bass and panfish lakes that are starting to pick up considerably since last month.  There's pretty much some form or another of fly fishing adventure available for everyone to enjoy this time of year and once streams reopen at the end of the month, the menu of options will expand considerably.  With long hours of daylight, it's now very feasible to get out for a few after work when the prospects of a multi-day road trip aren't looking as favorable.



Thanks to all who came out for our annual Speyapalooza event this year.  We had a fantastic showing, decent weather, a very wadable Skagit and some awesome new products to check out.  The Echo Trout Speys, Sage R8 Speys, OPST Pure Skagit Rods and the new Bridge Torrent and Wintertide spey lines we now carry all seemed to be a big hit.  Next year's Speyapalooza is already in the early planning phases and promises to be another epic time.  If you missed it and would like an opportunity to check out some gear or get a hand or two in spey casting instruction, we will have some free spey nights on the Nooksack beginning in June that you can sign up for.

Looking ahead, we expect good local trout fishing on our recently stocked lakes through at least mid-June and for warmwater fishing to continue improving from here on out.  While many of our mountain streams don't typically fish well until July, this year's light snow pack may find them fishing better earlier rather than later.  We may also have the ability to access high lakes a little sooner than average.  I guess it's about time to shelve our wool gloves and beanies until next fall, though June will sometimes deliver some interesting weather.  In the meantime enjoy the sunshine, the promise of Spring and make the most of your time on the water!




We are undoubtedly in the heart of stillwater season and with most rivers and streams in western Washington closed until the end of the month, lakes are where at it's at for the moment.  Trout fishing around town is decent right now, with any number of planted lakes like Padden and Toad producing small but numerous rainbow trout.  These fish generally aren't super picky and can be pretty fun on a 2 or 3 wt. rod.  Small Woolly Buggers, Doc Spratleys, Hot Bead Buggers and the like tend to do the trick.  It pays to have several color options as often one color seems to outproduce others.  Black, olive, red or white patterns have been working well with a good degree of flash incorporated into the fly.

If the stocked lakes are not your cup of tea, Pass Lake has still been producing fish locally.  I've had success on larger black Ice Cream Cones in #10 and #12, UT Blue Duns with a black rib, and UT Olive Red Butts of late.  There have also been some callibaetis mayflies popping up around the shoreline reeds.  Pass can be notoriously fickle and on the days conventional chironomid and leech patterns fail to produce, oftentimes a Blob or Boobie fly will find some success.  On the eastside, popular lakes like Blue, Chopaka and Big Twin have been fishing well on chironomids, mini leeches and we're beginning to see some callibaetis mayflies hatching.  As the weather warms and we approach June, damsel nymph and adult imitations will become more important.  The story is similar up in the BC interior lakes in terms of fly patterns.



Bass and panfish fishing has kicked off for another season and last weekend's heat wave seemed to really help.  We're not finding a lot of fish on topwater just yet but are doing well on Balanced Leeches under indicators and Slight Leeches slowly retrieved around the lily pads for a mix of warmwater species.  If targeting big pre-spawn largemouth, it's hard to beat the Bass Turd and Bass Master slowly crawled along the bottom.  Lake Whatcom and Samish smallmouth fishing has been off to a slower start on the fly but should improve in the coming weeks as the water warms up.  Fish Zonkers in yellow or white, Jawbreakers, chartreuse Clousers and yellow Beldar Buggers for these amazingly strong and aggressive predators.




While there aren't many open local options for rivers,  the lower Skagit below the Memorial Hwy Bridge in Mount Vernon continues to fish for bull trout and cutthroat provided the river remains on the low side.  Concentrate around shallow woody areas fishing the Eyed Fry, Little McFry, Chumpy Fry or BH Rolled Muddlers.  The bulls in particular will favor larger meatier offerings like CH Double Bunnies, White Zonkers, Sir Sticks A Lot and Dali Llamas.  The Skagit spring chinook fishery up to Gilligan Creek temporarily closed on May 15th.  You can check the WDFW emergency regulations for updates on that fishery.  The general stream opener is the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month.  Given the state of our snowpack in Western Washington this year, it's likely that several of our mountain streams feeding the Nooksack and Skagit will be in decent shape for the opener.  While the water may still be a hair cold for consistent dry fly fishing, tight lining or indicator nymphing BH Hare's Ears, BH Prince Nymphs and Copper Johns is a good early strategy.  You can also fish a dry/dropper set up using a buoyant pattern like a #10 Stimulator, PMX or smaller Chubby Chernobyl.  While you'll likely catch a lot more fish subsurface on the nymphs, you may experience the thrill of getting a few fish on top to kick off the season.



Bull trout fishing around the east Whidbey and Camano beaches has been decent casting larger patterns like the Flash Drive and Psychedelic Herring and we're seeing a few more cutthroat showing up as well.  The cutthroat respond well to various salmon fry patterns like Chumbody's Baby, Eyed Fry and smaller Clouser Minnows.  If you own a boat and a 10 weight, now is your chance to pursue lingcod on a fly in Puget Sound through June 15th.  I like fishing 30' of T-17 or T-20 looped to a strong running line and sending 10-12" Clouser type patterns tied with Farrar Flash Blend and Extra Large Lead Eyes into the depths.  It never ceases to amaze me how hard even a sub-legal sized lingcod can pull on a 10 weight!


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