Seasons come and seasons go. It’s a bittersweet goodbye to our much anticipated spring steelhead catch and release fishery on the Skagit and Sauk. Catching was hit and miss, picking up a little more through April as the month wound down. Whatever the day’s success rate, it was ever so nice to have some local water to swing flies and cast a spey rod. I even enjoyed fishing in a T-shirt on my last outing which is the epitomy of Spring steelheading. The experience wasn’t quite as I remember it pre-2009, but there were enough elements of what I love about it to draw me into the rhythm of swinging a beckoning boulder field or enticing seam with some regularity the last few weeks. The river even gave up a hot fish or two on a few occasions, however begrudgingly.
On the flip side, a bunch of lakes have opened, ice is coming off in the BC interior, waters are warming, bugs are hatching and we begin the next chapter in the great variety pack that is fly fishing in the North Sound. May finds us searching for everything from leaping rainbows to county pond bluegill, to attempting to pry giant lingcod out of the depths with ridiculous foot long flies.
It’s game time and there’s a lot to enjoy out there in the way of fishing. Thanks to everyone for a massive turnout at the Fly Fishing Film Tour in April. It was incredible to see so many people stoked and enjoying all the different film shorts in this year’s event. Thanks to all the ladies who came out for our Simms Women’s Night last month with Heather Hodson. We hope to do it again in the future. Don’t forget about our anniversary BBQ coming up on May 11th as well as our annual Spey Wednesday kick off later this month. Lots of fun stuff on the horizon!
Stillwater season is well underway! With the lowland lake opener this past weekend, BC interior lakes icing off and the North Cascades Highway plowed and connecting the dots to the eastside, the fly fishing options abound. Trout, bass and panfish are active and available in a variety of waters. Apparently, even the elusive goldfish bite is on according to a friend. I can’t say I’ve crossed that one off the species list yet but it sounds intriguing.
On our side of the hills, Cain, Silver, Toad and Padden and all the usual culprits are fishing pretty well as of last Saturday. All received plants and are stuffed with pretty eager fish. Squalicum hasn’t been planted for this year yet, but has holdovers and lots of willing cutthroat. Pass has been characteristically on and off, though mostly on in the past few weeks and Vogler just got stocked as well. The options are many.
For the put and take opening day lakes, attractors like red or green Carey Specials, Woolly Buggers, Little Fort Leeches, Olive Willies and Doc Spratleys work pretty well as the trout slowly get acclimated to eating real bugs in their new homes. Fish the upper water column as these planted rainbows tend to swarm the surface where they’re used to getting fed. For dry fly fishing, a Tom Thumb stripped across the surface does a pretty good job imitating the color and commotion of a full on pellet hatch and makes for a fun way to fish. Chironomids are hatching daily on most lakes and make for one of the more productive ways to fish Pass, Squalicum and the BC interior lakes right now. We have a large selection of chironomids at the Confluence so stop by to load up before your next outing and if you’re new to the chironomid game, get a primer on how to fish them.
Fazon, Wiser and Terrell are producing some nice pre spawn largemouth bass and as the water warms, the bluegill and panfish action should continue to build. The lake temps on Whatcom have smallmouth moving into shallower water and should begin bedding up over the next few weeks. For bass, Zonkers, Gully Worms, Bass Turds, Jawbreakers and Crayfish Patterns are working subsurface, with Luna Poppers, Firetiger Poppers, Whitlock Deer Hair Bugs and Rabbit Divers getting a few fish on the surface in shallow water. Our favorite panfish bugs are Bream Poppers, Mini Gurglers, Marabou Damsels, Slight Leeches and Pheasant Tail Nymphs.
While the Skagit system closed for steelhead on April 30th, we still have a few moving water options around this month until the general stream opener in June. The Skagit from the Memorial Highway Bridge in Mount Vernon into the forks to the mouth is open for cutthroat and will continue to fish well until the water comes up. There is still a ton of chum fry in the system so chum fry patterns are a no brainer fished around the woody debris. For the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Skagit is opening for spring chinook from the Memorial Highway Bridge in Mount Vernon to Gilligan Creek from May 1st – May 31st, which could be worth an exploratory trip or two.
To the north, the Vedder remains open below the Vedder Crossing Bridge in Chilliwack and will continue to see some fresh steelhead migrating into the system in May if you’re not quite ready to put the spey rod away for the season. This portion of the river is fly fishing only this time of year and much less pressured than is the norm on the Vedder. The Squamish and Harrison are also fishing decent for bull trout and cutthroat as the chum fry work their way downstream.
Cutthroat and bull trout fishing off the beaches around Camano and Whidbey Islands has been decent. Clouser Minnows, Chum Baby’s and Chumbody’s Baby’s have been the operative flies. If you have a boat, a 10 weight, some T-20 and an inclination to explore the shallower reefs around the islands, lingcod opens May 1st. It’s a short season ending June 15th but this fish are pretty incredible on the fly. We can’t wait to get out again this season. If you need a 10 weight we can sell you one. You might even want to join us on one of our 2020 Christmas Island adventures and put it to good use!