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Welcome to 2022 everyone! Thanks again for a strong finish to 2021 and we look forward to seeing more of you this year. We’d like to assume the flooding, snow and ice crusted roads and general winter weather misery will abate at some point and the process of getting out and about will get a bit easier as the weeks wear on. We hope at least. The start of a new year seems like a fine time to reflect some on the last one and make plans to move forward. Celebrate the successes, both learn from and exonerate the failures and begin penciling out a road map to guide you through life and the next fishing season.

I was fortunate to get to fish a lot in 2021. Tons of memorable local trips and some great adventures in Wyoming, Colorado, Alaska and Belize with lifelong friends and a few new ones too. Big brown trout, bedazzled native cutthroat, amped up mega bright coho and turbo charged bonefish flash a smile across my face as do the many laughs, stories and all out SNAFU’s shared amongst good buddies along the way. I hope 2022 promises a similar storyline as new plans and memories begin to take shape. A fall Idaho trip, an ever shifting return Christmas Island trip, perhaps another Belize escapade. Countless warm summer nights popping bugs for big bass, trout chowing zealously in clear freestone streams, big bulls crushing bait off the beach and fall rivers teaming with chrome silvers (and perhaps a little less rain than this past season) make up the faint etchings of my plans for the year. Of course, the pandemic and other life challenges continue to throw their share of curveballs for many of us. Nonetheless, fishing begins and ends with dreams and in these crazy times continues to represent one of the few semblances of normalcy for a lot of people. May that continue down the road.

Winter fly fishing is plain tough in a lot of ways. The weather has been about as unforgiving over the last month as one could possibly design. High water, frozen water, treacherous road conditions…you name it. You’re going to have to really want it to go fishing this time of year. On the bright side, those rare days when the sun shines, the frost melts and the wind lays down, you really appreciate the opportunity to fish, regardless of how many fish you do or don’t catch. I’d like to think we’re through the thick of it. As we finish out January and slide into the shortest month of the year, the promise of March and good trout fishing beckons just around the corner. In the meantime, we’re in the best moments to get ready. Get that rod fixed that you broke last summer, patch your waders, replace that cracked fly line that doesn’t float anymore, tie some flies, tie some more flies and just flat figure out where everything is. Get excited. If you need a hand getting excited the Fly Fishing Film Tour is coming to the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon on January 29th and we have tickets available!

Be safe and healthy and we look forward to seeing you in the shop and on the water soon!

Rivers
The Skagit and Sauk remain open through the end of January. With steelhead abundance being low throughout the coast, the Skagit is no exception and we are not expected to have a spring catch and release opener this year. The entire Nooksack system continues to remain closed to fishing due to abyssmal hatchery steelhead returns. It seems like we’ve been here before with poor hatchery escapement and since little has changed with the management status quo we’re likely doomed to be here again.

The bull trout fishing has at least been pretty good this year on the Skagit and Sauk when the rivers are in fishable shape and there’ve been a few early wild steelhead showing up. as well. Once these rivers close, the coastal rivers of the Olympic Peninsula will become the only game in town. Though not exactly in town for most of us and not expecting stellar returns either, the OP is a magical place worthy of a mid winter. visit. As the weather mellows out and things begin to warm up, March can bring some great trout fishing on the Yakima. Ultimately river options are otherwise pretty slim around these parts until late Spring.

Lakes
36 degrees is what the fish finder read on Whidbey’s Lone Lake this past Sunday. The launch at Pass was still a giant raft of rotting ice when we drove by. As things warm up, fishing should improve in these year round lakes. Cold water winter fishing can be on the slow side but nonetheless, we caught some nice big rainbows in Lone this weekend and I still cling firmly to my long held belief that going fishing is always better than not going fishing. There aren’t a lot of bugs hatching in the lakes this time of year, so year round staples like leeches and bloodworms (chironomid larvae) tend to be most productive. Attractor patterns are also critical to have in your box this time of year, and old standbys like slow stripping a white Bunny Leech or hanging a Blob fly under an indicator have produced fish when little else was working. Pick a decent weather day and give it a shot. Especially since you don’t have to watch the Seahawks play on Sunday anymore this season.

Beaches
Skagit Bay has a few sea run bulls hanging around and the winter cutthroat fishing in Hood Canal and South Sound is always worth a trip. The Sound has the advantage of being relatively temperature stable this time of year, so the sudden cold snaps don’t shut down the fishing quite to the extent they can on stillwaters.

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