Ahhh…2020, the year we never thought would end, is nearing its final stretch. As much as we’re all fairly fed up with pandemics, politics and the multitude of disruptions to our normal daily flow, it hasn’t been all bad. As a relative creature of habit, I’ve appreciated being forced to change up my normal fishing plans and seek out creative alternatives to what I’d typically be doing. I’ve fished a lot of lakes I’ve never fished or at least fished so long ago that I’d all but forgotten them. I’ve gotten to know some of my home waters with an intimacy that’s otherwise interrupted by trips to other states and countries in search of epic fishing. I’ve had a lot of down time to fill fly boxes, tie and try new patterns and organize fishing gear to a level where, when that last minute invitation arrives to fish someplace cool or unexpected, the “I can’t find any of my shit” excuse no longer carries any weight. Ultimately, as the state of things improves, I see myself enjoying the things I enjoy just a little bit more. If you fish, you are inherently an optimist. Without optimism, your time on the water is pretty darn empty.
Though the glory days of spring, summer and even fall are fading in the rear view mirror, our fishing has been surprisingly decent of late, from a handful of open lakes, to the Nooksack and Skagit, which are beginning to shape up a little more consistently thanks to all that billowy cold white stuff in the mountains. We’re still finding both chum and coho salmon, more and more bull trout, whitefish in the rivers and a variety of trout in our open lakes. It’s a bit chilly out there but the fish don’t mind too badly if you don’t. Take advantage of the shining sun, escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays and spend a little time on the water. It’ll do you right.
Things are still hopping around the shop. With the latest Covid restrictions we’re limiting traffic to a couple people at a time and it’s working very smoothly. Masks are still required and we’ve got plenty of sanitizer for your sanitizing pleasure. We are very well-stocked on most things for the holidays and always happy to see you walk through the door. The MFC fish-themed face masks we brought in just prior to Thanksgiving went almost immediately, but we have another sizeable shipment of some cool designs coming in a few days. These make great stocking stuffers. We will be open our regular hours throughout the holidays, with the exception of being closed Christmas Day, December 25th and New Year’s Day, January 1st. Be safe, be well and tight lines to all. We look forward to seeing you soon at the Confluence.
We’ve had a mixed bag of species showing up in our local rivers lately. The Skagit is still producing nice coho and the bull trout fishing is improving. The Nooksack has been pretty decent for chum this year with a handful of coho still around and the bull trout and whitefish right on their heels. We’ve even heard tell tale of a couple of early winter steelhead caught here and there, so it’s getting to be that time of year. Here’s the low down on a species by species basis.
We’ll typically run into to coho, mostly on the Skagit through the end of the year. We’re well past the peak of the run, so covering a lot of water to find fish is imperative. Look for slow slough-like sections of water where fish can stage until they’re ready to spawn. If I had to fish one fly for everything this time of year, a purple or black Egg Sucking Leech is pretty tough to beat. If you look closely at our newsletter pictures, I’ve been fishing more or less the same fly for several weeks and it appeals to a variety of species. Since we have lots of flies to choose from, the Pixies Revenge, Showgirl, Popsicle and Candy Cane Alaskabous are good too. Smaller Comets also come into play as the water gets lower and clearer.
For chum, many of the same flies mentioned above are working well, with purple/pink hued flies being top dog (pun intended). For chum we fish a floating line and drop the fly 2-4′ below a 1″ Airlock indicator which is dead drifted just like you’re nymphing for trout. It works like a charm. We probably have another week or so of decent chum fishing on the Nooksack before it becomes zombie land.
For bull trout, white streamers, Dali Llamas and egg patterns are the way to go. We like fishing trout beads below an indicator behind the salmon redds (not on or over them) as char will hang out below them out of harm’s way to pick up any loose eggs that don’t get buried in the spawning process. Whitefish dig the egg patterns this time of year too and you will catch them fishing the same way. We’ve actually dedicated some time to euro nymphing for whitefish on the Nooksack and Skagit with Slush Egg patterns and it’s pretty fun and effective when you just want to catch a bunch of fish and not deal with the salmon crowds. We now carry the Slush Jelly material to tie these flies at the shop too and they’re about as easy as it gets.
Despite the change of season, we’ve continued to enjoy pretty good stillwater fishing over the last few weeks. The Pass Lake minnow afternoon frenzy is still happening with Muddlers and Zoo Cougars working well. Be aware that the parking lot is closed currently due to a sink hole, so access is tough until that gets resolved. You’re definitely not getting a pram or a drift boat in there right now. Lone Lake is fishing well with small leeches, Boobies and bloodworm patterns. Squalicum has been fishing decent in the afternoons with small midge patterns like the CDC Midge Emerger and mini Leech patterns. Cranberry Lake in Island County also recently received a sizeable plant of rainbow trout from the Kendall Creek Hatchery. Olive, brown, black or white Woolly Buggers fished on a full sink line have been productive. You can check the WDFW stocking report for more info on winter plants.