As we begin to feel a welcome tinge of fall in the air, there is a lot of exciting news to report from both on the water and in the shop. If you haven’t visited us in a while, we’ve moved the shop to a larger space in the Harbor Mall, just a few doors down from our old spot. It’s funny how you sometimes don’t realize how bad something is until you finally get to step away from it for a while. The old shop was pretty cramped and poorly lit with severely limited storage. We certainly made it work for a lot of years but have been looking to move for quite some time.
We are so excited to now have room to grow, room to maneuver and room to organize in the new space. It’s bright and airy in space #17, very visible from Coho Way and this new location should serve us well for the next chapter of the Confluence. Thanks to everyone who has come by to shop, wished us well and congratulated us on the our new digs. Thanks especially for the cool and thoughtful shop-warming gifts. We’ve gotten everything from brisket straight off the BBQ to a 30 pack of Old Style smuggled out of the Midwest. You all are the best! Thanks last but not least to the handful of friends that helped with the move itself and getting everything up and functional in a short span of time. We are very happy to be where we are!
On the fishing front, Puget Sound has had a pretty amazing run of pink salmon thus far. On the heels of terrible fall flooding in 2021, we weren’t quite sure what to expect with the pink return. Rivers are absolutely chock full of pinks right now from the Skagit to the Nisqually. There are still the odd pinks out in the salt, but it’s mostly a river show now and they seem to be absolutely everywhere. If you’ve been thinking about making the leap from trout to salmon pinks, or humpies as we often call them are a great gateway fish to help with the transition. They are small enough to handle on a 6 weight rod as well as numerous and generally willing biters. Pinks offer a perfect opportunity to practice techniques and tactics that are effective on several species of salmon and still be able to achieve some quick success. We have another order of pink flies arriving early this week so we should have plenty of humpy flies to get you through the end of September.
The challenge with such a large return of pink salmon is that when you do reach the point where you’d like to target a different species, be it bull trout, sea run cutthroat or newly arriving coho salmon, it can be nearly impossible to find them through all the humpies getting in the way. It’s well known that pinks like small pink flies, but they’ll readily eat olive sculpins, Cutthroat Spiders, Rolled Muddlers and any variety of offerings when you’re trying to pursue other species. Expect the pinks to thin out a bit as we move into October and allow us to fish more effectively for everything else sharing the river.
Mountain creeks are still fishing well, though water levels remain low. The Methow is a great bet in September too and the longer, cooler nights have helped bring water temperatures down to comfortable levels. Fall is a bountiful time to be on the water just about anywhere and there’s no time like the present. Stop by our new space and we’ll help you get geared up for your next adventure! With the changing of seasons come some new products and farewells to old ones. Be sure to check out our clearance corner to take advantage of great deals on closeout equipment.
Rivers are flowing pink at the moment, literally plugged with humpies from their tidal reaches on up to well beyond anywhere you’d want to fish for them. Locally the best fishing has been on the Skagit. The Nooksack pink return was not forecast to be great this year, there’s not an open fishery on them and the Skagit fishing has been markedly better. Coho are beginning to show up in decent numbers as well and should continue to build as the pinks diminish in October. For pinks, small lightly weighted flies in various shades of pink are hard to beat. The Pink Fink, Cohort, Hot Shot Comet and Pink/White Reverse Marabou have all been really effective. Don’t be afraid to toss chartreuse or white patterns as well if you’ve got fish in front of you and aren’t getting many hook ups.
We’ve heard time and time again about those days where the fish were everywhere but you couldn’t buy a strike. It’s really important to try to find water where the salmon will hang out and rest for a moment. Rapidly moving salmon of any species are not the greatest biters. If you can find spots above or below faster water or below a shallow riffle, eddies or even sloughs off the main channel, these are places where pinks and coho can take refuge from the current and they will generally be much more cooperative in these spots. Even within the same run, there will be portions of those runs where salmon prove more or less willing to take a fly. You have to move around to find those spots. Believe me, when you find them you’ll know. Pinks also respond better to a stripped fly over one presented on a dead swing. Strip the fly with a pronounced pause to allow the fly to drop in the water column and you’ll find a lot more success. It’s often that any number of patterns will catch fish but if you don’t have the presentation locked in, your fly won’t get a whole lot of attention.
Sea run cutthroat and coho are around in both the Skagit and Stilly as well, though can be harder to find among the pinks. Rolled Muddlers in natural, olive and chartreuse along with other smaller flashy flies with a minnow profile work well. Find the slow, froggy water with lots of woody debris and you’re in the zone. If the river visibility is only a few feet, oftentimes these places can be fairly shallow and still hold plenty of fish.
Fall is a great time to find fantastic trout fishing on the Methow and Yakima. The Methow closes at the end of September. You’ll want lots of October Caddis patterns, some Purple Haze, Crane Flies and a smattering of BWO’s in your box. With the big bugs out and about and water temps in a good range, it’s not uncommon to find a lot of trout looking up this time of year. Closer to home, most Cascades creeks are still open through the end of October and though very low, will still be fishing well. Get up above anadromous barriers where the salmon can’t go and you’ll find eager trout feeding heavily to try and pack on a few extra ounces before winter sets in and slows their growth to a crawl.
Lakes are cooling down this time of year and offering another opportunity to chase trout before it gets too cold out. Likewise, September and early October provide a final chance to escape to the alpine country before the snow starts to fall. Productive autumn flies are leeches in various colors, minnow patterns, water boatmen, scuds on east side and BC interior lakes and chironomids. Chironomids will typically be smaller in size this time of year than what was hatching in the spring, so fill your box accordingly. Please note that a handful of western Washington lakes are currently closed to all recreational use due to the presence of toxic algae. You can check the algae levels on the Washington Department of Ecology site for the latest updates.
August provided absolutely insane fishing for pink salmon along the western and north eastern beaches of Whidbey Island. While there are still scattered schools of pinks coming through here and there, the majority of fish have made their way to the rivers. The good news is that big, bright ocean coho have been showing up in numbers along the beach over the last couple of weeks and should continue through September. The Area 9 beaches on the west side of Whidbey remain open through September 30th. Fly selection is pretty simple for this fishery. We like chartreuse and white or pink and white Stinger Clousers. I had the good fortune to fish coho down that way last week and while chartreuse ruled all morning, the fish had a noticeable preference for pink in the afternoon.
In the North Sound, a lot of sea run cutthroat are entering the rivers, but elsewhere in the Sound, cutthroat fishing remains really good. If you’d like to try your hand at fishing dry flies on saltwater for cutthroat, now’s the time over on Hood Canal. Smaller Chubbies and termite patterns skated, popped and twitched work well to imitate these winged rust-colored critters as they get blown into the saltchuck.