Everything has dropped in nicely over the last week thanks to a plummeting mercury and welcome break in the rain. In the midst of our seasonal doom and gloom, these little sun flurries really perk things up. On the extreme end, the fishing can get more difficult when the bottom falls out from beneath our rivers and the lack of rain slows the upstream progression of migratory fish. It sure is pleasant to be out there though, feeling a tinge of warmth in the otherwise frightful cold.
There are some late chum and coho hanging around out there, whitefish beginning to pool up and bull trout foraging their way through the rest of fall. We are getting a smattering of hatchery steelhead moving into our rivers and have even heard the odd report of an early wild fish here and there. Cutthroat fishing in the Sound has been pretty steady to the south and over in Hood Canal.
There are certainly enough excuses to be on the water, but if you’d rather not brave the elements and pluck the morning ice out of your guides, December is a fine time to get some flies tied too. Our monthly tying nights have gotten pretty popular this year and it’s always fun to see the staggering variety of what gets put together each session, everything from Woolly Buggers to Mantis Shrimp patterns destined for the tropics. We have another one coming up at Kulshan Brewing on James St. December 18th so we hope to see you there. Some folks tie, some folks watch, some folks just come for the beer and endless fishing banter. It seems to be a pretty good time for all.
Thanks to everyone who showed up for Speyapalooza II at Howard Miller Steelhead Park last Saturday. We had an awesome turnout, a shining sun, clear water and reasonable flows which gave us a welcome opportunity to stand in the Skagit and wave some big two handed sticks around. Thanks to North Sound TU for getting this now regular annual event going, to the 4th Corner Fly Fishers for putting on a great lunch and to Sage, Redington, Rio, OPST, Rajeff Sports, Dryft, Dogfish Boats, The FlyFish Journal, Wild Steelheaders United and the Coastal Cutthroat Coalition for helping to make the event a huge success. We are already looking forward to next year.
For the remainder of the holiday season we will maintain our normal business hours, being closed only Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone and thanks for your continued support over the years.
We continue to have a mixed bag of river fisheries around the North Sound. As of now, the Nooksack, Skagit and Sauk are in fishable shape with some late chum, coho, bull trout and a few early winter steelhead around. Please take note that the Nooksack is currently closed to chum salmon retention per the WDFW. Fuchsia/purple and chartreuse are producing both chum and coho, the few steelhead we’ve gotten reports of have been caught on purple or pink. Think Egg Sucking Leeches, Hoh Bo Speys and brightly colored egg patterns this time of year as they seem to appeal to just about everything. The bull trout will take any variety of flies, but anything with an egg head seems to have added appeal with the salmon spawning activity going on right now.
For bulls, look for areas around spawning salmon and focus on the slower inside seams of the river. The colder it gets, the more these fish really favor the slow soft water. As the water continues to drop, size down your flies. The OPST Commando Heads were really popular this year at Speyapalooza. If you want to get into spey casting but don’t own a spey or switch rod, these are the ticket for transforming your single hander into an entirely different tool and gaining a whole new level of efficiency in your winter streamer fishing game.
As the weather cools, so does the tempo of our lake fishing. Those willing to deal with the chill and take to the water are still finding a few nice fish at Pass. Maybe with the cold weather, the pervasive algae bloom will also clear up. Minnow imitating streamers like Mini Zonkers, White Woolly Buggers and Zoo Cougars are working well late in the afternoon as are bloodworm patterns fished on a floating line and indicator near the bottom.
Cutthroat fishing is decent in the South Sound and Hood Canal with some really nice sized fish around. Olive Woolly Buggers, Sea Run Buggers and small shrimp and euphasid patterns are working well. It’s pretty quiet around the North Sound off the beaches.