Fly Fishing Report: November 2023

Fly Fishing Report: November 2023

We can't believe another year is winding down and how quickly the fall season has whisked on by. It seems like just yesterday the riverbanks were lined with an endless streak of eagerly spawning pink salmon and now suddenly, there's nary a weathered carcass to be found. Blink and you just might miss the action. 

Despite the shop traffic slowing down a bit over the past month, we've managed to keep really busy. If you haven't visited us in sometime, we've already moved a number of things around. We just put up a new rod rack, added a clothing rack, filled another gondola with items for winter warmth and are really rounding out the new space (while still being diligent about maintaining a comfortable amount of room to walk, move about and breathe). Behind the scenes, we're working on building out our online store and hoping to have that ready by the end of the year. And of course, we're still carving out time to fish and enjoy all that this often overlooked season has to offer.

I had to pleasure of returning to Christmas Island at the end of October for a long anticipated reunion with the atoll's big bonefish and perhaps even a trevally or two. We had a fantastic group of anglers, relatively stable weather and some pretty good fishing. After being closed for nearly 3 years to outside travel during Covid, it was wonderful to get back and reacquaint ourselves with life on the island, its beauty and incredible people. We had most of the same guides we got to know on the last trip and were taken aback by their stories of life during the pandemic and the hardships they endured. Christmas Island is about as remote as one can get and is not an easy place to get anything, even in the best of times. We noticed a few more buildings up, some improvements at the Sunset Horizon where we stayed and found fishing that was in most ways similar to our last visit. Although we all maintained that the bonefish seemed to have gotten a little bigger on average. The GT fishing was about as we remembered...difficult but with enough shots and opportunities to keep it interesting. We ended up with several decent GT's for the week within our group. The triggerfish remained as coy and hyper-sensitive as they tend to be and didn't lapse into a more gullible state despite a long break from angling pressure. In any event, we're already looking forward to the next Christmas Island adventure down the road. Let us know if you'd like to join us!

On the home front, fishing has remained pretty good when the conditions are right. We've had high water, low water and some prolonged stable periods in between when the coho, chum and bull trout fishing has been really productive. Most of our effort has been on the Skagit and Nooksack Rivers, which both seem to have solid numbers of fish. We'll get more into that in our River Report below. If you're not fishing or just looking for a fun Thursday activity, be sure to check out the North Sound Trout Unlimited 2nd Annual Iron Fly event on November 30th.

In the meantime, we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving and get to enjoy the time with friends and family. We'll be closed on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 23rd but otherwise open our regular business hours from there on out. Come check out all the new stuff we're adding to the shop.


We seem to be getting another pretty good chum run this year and are finding them spread throughout the NF Nooksack and along the Skagit. Purple and fuchsia, hot pink, orange and white flies have been our most effective patterns with black and chartreuse or straight up chartreuse working at times too. Presentation seems to make more of a difference than anything. Chum respond well to a dead drift with a slight twitch thrown in. You can certainly achieve this with a sink tip, but we find fishing a floating line and hanging the fly under a strike indicator with a fairly short leader (5-6') to be the easiest way to actually catch and not accidentally foul hook chum. There is nothing worse than a chum in the bum, both from the fish's perspective and yours. Coho are still present in good numbers too, though not like at the end of October. You'll have to search a little more but we're finding them in the Skagit from Birdsview all the way up to Marblemount and often still very bright. The Stilly finally opened back up on November 16th. There's no salmon fishery on the Stillaguamish but it's always a good bet for sea run cutthroat if you're looking for a change of pace.

Bull trout fishing is really building momentum as well and we're seeing some incredibly robust char that seem to have been capitalizing on all the loose eggs and salmon flesh in the river. This time of year we subscribe heavily to the "anything with an egg on it" approach to bull trout, whether you're nymphing a single Glo Bug or swinging an Egg Sucking Leech. Often where you find one there will be several and they tend to concentrate below key salmon spawning areas. Please take care to avoid the spawning salmon while you're out fishing. It's still early for winter steelhead around these parts, but be on the lookout. We tend to get a few fish showing up in the coming weeks.


Not a whole heck of a lot to report here. Pass Lake is still closed due to toxic algae (grumble, grumble) and we haven't heard much from Lone. Beyond that, you have a handful of local year round lakes like Grandy and Squalicum to choose from but it's kind of cold to be bobbing around in a float tube lately.  We usually wait till the river slows way down or is out of shape before braving the winter lake fishing. If you go, small leech patterns, bloodworms and Blobs are some of our winter staples.


Not much happening locally in the North Sound. Hood Canal and South Sound are steadily producing nice cutthroat this time of year.


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