April 2019 Fly Fishing Report & Forecast
The great weather we've had in March has a lot of Washington fly fishing enthusiasts champing at the bit to crank up their fly fishing trips in April. Here in the NW Washington and Seattle area, such great weather is a treat this time of year so put away the lawn mower and hit the water because this April has a ton of great fly fishing options for all kinds of species of fish.
I have to mention steelhead first because it is so exciting having the Skagit and Sauk open this spring. The water levels were very low (and clear) there for a while but the levels are up a bit recently, providing better fishing. We've heard some pretty interesting reports and will be on the river over the next few days so lets hope the good fishing continues.
The Skagit/Sauk season is catch-and-release only and is scheduled to last through April. If you haven't fished these rivers before, the Sauk is an easier river to walk and wade. It also probably provides a better shot at a big fish over 15lbs. It can be a bit tougher to get a hookup, however, as compared to the Skagit. The Skagit's walk-in water is tougher to find but there are some nice walk-in spots. Floating both rivers is certainly an option but the Sauk can get pretty skinny for a drift boat if it is running low. We're not aware of anyone doing shuttles, unfortunately. If you know someone who is, please let us know.
Normally, the Olympic Peninsula would be teaming with anglers right now but the water levels over there are incredibly low. As of the writing of this report (4/2), the Hoh is at 727 cfs and would normally be at around 2000. If some rain shows up, get ready for what will probably be the best fishing of the spring... but plenty of other anglers will be watching too so you will have some company.
The Hoh, Bogacheil, Queets, and Sol Duc get most of the attention from fly anglers. All of these rivers offer walk-in spots but the Queets is probably the toughest to walk into. Floating all of these rivers is an option but watch out for certain spots on the Sol Duc. Shuttle services are pretty easy to find over there.
If you need equipment, lessons, guiding, or tips on any of these steelhead locations, stop into the shop at any time and we've got you covered.
April is the time you've been waiting for if you enjoy some solid trout fly fishing on lakes. A number of lakes were still frozen during some of March but we should be in full swing on just about any of the popular lakes in April. Most of these popular fly fishing lakes are open all year long or opened on March 1st so lakes like Lenice, Nunnally, Dry Falls, Dusty, Pass Lake, Lone Lake, and many others should be on your radar for April. The bulk of the other great fly fishing lakes open on the 4th Saturday in April (4/27/19). Many lakes are stocked this time of year and offer good opportunities to keep some fish for the dinner table as well. Check out this list of trout plant reports for some ideas on where to go in your area.
Conditions for fishing chironomids will be in prime shape when water temperatures reach the 50-degree mark. After our warm March, many lakes are probably already there, at least on the west side of Washington. Rig up a 4wt or 5wt with a floating line, use a RIO Indicator Leader, add an appropriate amount of 5X fluorocarbon tippet, peg on a Quick Release Chironomid Indicator, and tie your chironomid fly on. Set your indicator so that the fly suspends 2-3 feet off of the bottom. Change flies until you hit the one the fish want. Keep an eye out for hatching naturals to choose the size of your fly.
The other important technique for fishing trout lakes is using a full-sinking fly line. Generally, a type 3 or type 4 sink rate is a good all-purpose sink rate for your line. A 5wt or 6wt rod is best for sinking line fishing. Add a 6-foot fluorocarbon 3X leader and add your fly. Leech patterns are a good bet and olive, black, white or brown will usually have you in the action. The trick to success with sinking lines is to keep the fly close to the bottom throughout the retrieve as long as possible. Whether you are casting or trolling, try to keep the fly fishing close to the bottom, especially on bright, sunny days. If you aren't pulling weeds back every once in a while, you aren't deep enough.
The Yakima River is running quite high right now but will hopefully offer some good fishing in April. With cooler weather predicted, if flows mellow out, the fishing should be on. Skwalas, BWO's and March Brown mayflies should all be on the docket. If you head to the Yak while the flows are still up, Skwala stonefly nymphs, streamers, and a sneaky worm pattern would be good bets.
Good old, reliable Rocky Ford doesn't care about water levels too much. This spring creek just keeps on fishing. Streamers in white or black are often a great choice. If those are working for you, nymphing small scuds and tiny mayfly nymphs will usually get you into fish. Callibaetis and BWO hatches are also possible, as are damsels if it is a really warm month. At Rocky Ford, the use of weight on your leader is illegal so fish a second dropper fly with a small tungsten bead to get your flies down. The Ford is typically great in April. Remember that no wading is allowed on Rocky Ford and it is a good place to take along a landing net.
Sea-Run Cutthroat - Saltwater
Sea-run cutthroat trout fly fishing in Puget Sound can be good all year long. The southern portion of the Sound is a better bet this time of year but the central and northern portions of the Sound will still produce both sea-runs and resident coho. In April, consider keeping an eye out in shallow water near creek mouths for fish looking for a meal of exiting chum salmon smolt. These little smolt are more like salmon fry because chum fry typically migrate directly to marine areas soon after hatching. The usual techniques and baitfish patterns should have you in the game but maybe put a bit of emphasis on smaller patterns like the Chum Body's Baby for April.
Fishing an intermediate sinking line with a 5- to 6-weight rod will have you setup. 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. Put a 3X 6-foot Fluorocarbon leader on your line, add a fly, and you're fishing. Look for beaches with oyster beds, cobblestone, or eel grass bottoms and cover water to locate the fish.
Resident silver salmon are also often caught while fly fishing from the beach for sea-run cutts. For both fish, remember to pinch your barbs down to aid in releasing the fish unharmed.
It's getting to be that time of year already! Many west side lakes are already fishing fairly well for both smallmouth and largemouth. The warmer days of April will probably be the best days to be out there and finding fish will be the number one goal of the day. On the larger lakes like Sammamish, Whatcom, Goodwin, and Washington, look for smallmouth and largemouth around docks and isolated structure in the warmer areas of the lake... like shallow bays, canals, and flats. Smaller lakes will warm much faster and often only have largemouth. On these smaller lakes, look for shallow spawning areas that are close to deeper water and don't be afraid to fish super shallow. Weedless flies may be necessary to get your fly into the junk without constantly hanging up.
Have floating lines, medium sinking lines, and super-fast sinking lines ready to go. A fly like the Miller Time would be great on a floating line while fishing shallow for largemouth. The Jawbreaker is a good bet for deeper water in either Orange or Olive. Fish fast to try and locate fish and keep an open mind as to the depth where they may be located. Fish depths from 30-feet deep to 2-feet deep depending on what the fish are doing that day.
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 and remember to check back for the May report.
Pacific Fly Fishers