UPDATED: June 5, 2023
June is off to a super sunny start and there is plent of great fly fishing action to be had this month. Here is a fishing report and some ideas on where to get out with the fly rods in the month of June for those of us locate in NW Washington and the greater Seattle area.
Rivers – Rivers that would normally be running too high in June are actually looking pretty good since a lot of runoff happened during our very warm month of May.
Local rivers to consider for a quick trout fix are the Cedar River, the South Fork Skykomish, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, and the Sultan River. Break out the small rods for most of this fishing, but consider also taking a 6wt and a sink-tip line to chuck a few big streamers in the deeper pools of the Cedar and SF Sky. There are some monsters in there. The Sultan also has a good number of Bull Trout that can be a fun surprise and are streamer eaters for sure.
The Yakima River is currently running just over 1900 cfs at the moment and that is a very good fishing level for this time of year. Rafts, pontoon boats, or drift boats are all appropriate for floating the Yak. Boats can be rented or hire a guide from our friends at the Worley Bugger fly shop in Ellensburg for a great day on the water. Golden Stones, Pale Morning Dun mayflies, possibly Salmonflies will still be around, and various caddis are at the top of the menu for June. Top dry flies to have on hand are the Chubby Chernobyl – Gold, Henry’s Fork Stone – Gold, Morrish May Day – PMD, Film Critic – PMD, X-Caddis – Olive. Top nymphs would include Pat’s Rubber Legs – Golden, Tungstone – Golden, Psycho Prince – Dirty Pink, Yeager’s Crack Back PMD, and Graphic Caddis – Olive. Also, don’t forget to take a few Gummy Worms if we get a hard rain and streamers can be good all year long.
Lakes – In June, the fantastic lake fishing continues on most popular lakes. My recommendations from May are the same going into June with a little more emphasis on damselfly nymphs, plus damselfly dry flies and adding some dragonfly nymphs. Fishing chironomid pupa and leeches are still a big part of the game as well.
Lakes with Selective Gear regulations are the most popular with fly anglers because there is usually less fishing pressure, there are usually higher populations of trout, and there are usually larger trout.
The following list of Selective Gear lakes are all popular bets in June:
- Lone Lake (south end of Whidbey Island)
- Dry Falls Lake (north of Ephrata, WA)
- Lenice and Nunnally Lakes (near Beverly, WA)
- Chopaka Lake (near Loomis, WA)
- Pass Lake (near Deception Pass, WA)
Washington also has tons of lakes that are not regulated as Selective Gear lakes. Many of these lakes opened at the end of April and are great for anglers who wish to keep some trout. These lakes are typically planted for fish prior to the opener and the good fishing usually lasts throughout June. For a list of trout stocking reports in local lakes, click here.
All of these lakes are best fished from a float tube, pontoon boat, or some other kind of small boat. Shore access is limited or non-existent on most of these lakes. Lenice and Nunnally require a walk to get into them so be prepared for that. Also, internal combustion motors are not allowed on most of the Selective Gear lakes and catch and release is either required or recommended. Check the regulations before you go if you are not familiar with them.
Techniques for June should be used with a floating line and a full-sinking line with a sink rate of type 3 to type 5. Use the floating line for fishing chironomid pupa, balanced leeches and for damselfly dry flies imitating the adult damsels. Use the full-sinking line for fishing leeches, damsel nymphs, and dragon nymphs.
Steelhead & Salmon
Steelhead -- It has been a tough couple years for steelhead anglers but there have been some bright spots. This winter, rivers on the Olympic Peninsula and the Skagit seemed to have pretty good runs of fish and anglers were hooking them. It's hard to say what this summer will bring but our closest river, the Skykomish, hasn't had much to offer for summer steelhead and is likely going to be closed for the summer to protect Chinook salmon. The good news on the Sky is that is should be open this fall for pink salmon and coho salmon, both of which have had good returns in recent years.
A good river to consider for steelhead in June would be the Bogacheil near Forks. The Bogy can be a good river to look for summer fish in June/July and is pretty easy to walk or float.
Salmon -- June is a month when Chinook are returning to the rivers and it is too early for other salmon species to be in the rivers. Once we hit July, there will be some opportunities to look for Chinook on our nearby rivers. Later this summer and fall, there will be lots of salmon opportunties for pinks, coho, and (hopefully) also chums again. Keep some space open on the calendar for Sept - Nov.
Puget Sound Saltwater
The central and northern portions of Puget Sound begin fishing pretty good for sea-run cutthroat right about now on most years. We've had a few decent reports from the local area lately. The cutthroat action usually fishes well throughout the summer and fall. Late summer and fall also bring more likelihood of encountering larger, migratory coho salmon as they enter the Sound and this year (odd numbered years) we will have a load of pink salmon showing up off of PS beaches starting around late July.
For cutthroat, use baitfish patterns fished on an intermediate sinking line with a 5- to 6-weight rod. Our new favorite line for Puget Sound beaches is the SA SONAR Titan Full Intermediate line. Try Manchester State Park, Meadowdale Beach, Olalla, or Penrose Point State Park for good cutthroat water. Next month, we'll talk about some good beaches for pinks as those fish get closer to showing up.
Another saltwater option is on the unique side of things for a fly angler but a lot of fun. Lingcod season is open thru June 15th and these fish take flies quite well. Anglers will need a heavy rod, preferably in the 10-weight to 12-weight range, but an 8-weight will get you out there. Fishing the fastest sinking lines on the market is important because you will need to fish 20- to 40-feet deep and close to the bottom. Flies don't seem to matter too much but they should be big. Like, as big as you can cast. Also, some kind of boat, kayak, or even a paddle board will be necessary to get into the action.
Bass & Panfish
June is another great month fly fly fishing for bass in Washington and may be one of the best months for fishing topwater poppers. Just about all small lakes and ponds have bass and panfish in them. Grab your float tube, pontoon boat, or other boat and hit the water this month. Most of the smaller lakes and ponds have mostly largemouth and panfish. Many of the larger lakes have smallmouth as well as largemouth and panfish. Eastern Washington abounds with these opportunities. Western Washington has gobs as well but Western Washington lakes may not have as dense of populations. Either way, take a 6- to 8-weight rod for bass and a 3- or 4-weight for panfish. As a general rule, cover lots of water and look for wood structure, docks or matted weeds in shallow water for largemouth and rocky structure in deeper water for smallmouth. This time of year, smallmouth will often be found on the deeper portion of docks as well.
Give us a call if we can help with further advice or equipment, flies, etc. Hope you get out and take advantage of Washington's year-round fly fishing season!
Pacific Fly Fishers