UPDATED: June 6, 2022
It still feels like March out there but it is June here in the greater Seattle and northwest Washington area. We're going to have lots of runoff this year but most rivers just opened to fishing, even if many of them are too high. It is good to have them on the radar again. Here is a fishing report and some ideas on where to get out with the fly rods this month.
Steelhead & Salmon
It has been a tough couple years for steelhead anglers but the summer steelheading on the Skykomish is off to a pretty decent start this year. Some of our regular customers are picking up some fish and that's not too bad for fly guys in early June on the Sky. Gear anglers are hitting decent numbers at Reiter, meaning hatchery fish are making their way up the system already.
Most years, there are a few fish in the Sky on the opener in late May. The number of fish usually builds throughout the month of June. Currently, the river is flowing at 12,000 cfs. (see real-time river levels here) which is a very high but usually still fishable in terms of water color since it is snow/ice runoff versus rain water. If the weather warms up, keep an eye on the river levels however, as they can really bump up and dirty the river quickly, especially since we have quite a bit of snowpack this year on the westside.
Walk-in access on the Skykomish is available but consider floating the river to increase your chances of finding fish. Come by the shop or give us a call if you need a shuttle service and we’ll point you in the right direction. Fly recommendations include The Llama in Black/Blue or Black/Purple, Silvey’s Silveynator in Black/Orange, the Hoh Bo Spey in Black/Blue, and the Foxee Dog in Black/Blue.
Another good river to consider would be the Bogachiel River in the Forks, WA area. The Bogy can be a good river to look for summer fish in June/July and is pretty easy to walk or float.
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 and for damselfly dry flies imitating the adult damsels. Use the full-sinking line for fishing leeches, damsel nymphs, and dragon nymphs.
Rivers – June brings the opening of many river opportunities in western Washington. With quite a bit of snow still in the mountains this year, many of our rivers will probably run pretty high most of this month. The fish are still around but are harder to locate and hook. Local rivers to consider for a quick trout fix are the Cedar River, the South Fork Skykomish, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie. 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 Yakima River is currently running just over 8900 cfs at the moment and that's a lot. It will probably stay high throughout much of June with the amount of snow pack in the mountains. Once the river begins to drop to a more reasonable level, floating the Yakima is a great way to fish the river in the summer months. 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 and favorite streamers along.
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 haven't had many reports lately, however. 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 prepare head up the rivers. To partake in the action, use baitfish patterns fished on an intermediate sinking line with a 5- to 6-weight rod will have you in the game. The RIO Coastal Quickshooter fly line was developed for this fishery at the request of PFF’s Ben Zander and is the line to get for Puget Sound beaches. Try Manchester State Park, Olalla, or Penrose Point State Park for good cutthroat water.
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, big, big. 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