Where to Go Fly Fishing in Washington in August

August Fly Fishing Report & Forecast

Yep.  It has been hot!  As of the first day of August 2022, at least it is cooler today and looks great for this week.  Cooler temperatures plus all the great August fly fishing places to go... What could be better?  Sounds like a good plan and here is an updated list of excellent places to go fly fishing in Washington over the next month.

Westside Trout Rivers

August is one of the best times to fish our local rivers for resident trout.  Rivers are running low and clear and it is the easiest time of the year to walk and wade your way along the river.  Here are a few rivers to consider on the western side of the mountains: 

Cedar River in Maple Valley -- This is an urban fishery, but the Cedar is a pretty river that is fun to fish.  It offers good access and easy wading.  The river has a good population of smallish rainbow and cutthroat trout and is also known to produce the occasional giant that has most likely wandered upstream from Lake Washington.  Take a 3wt and fish dry flies and nymphs and consider giving Euro nymphing a shot on this stream.  Also, take a larger rod like a 5wt or 6wt and fish any larger pools with a big streamer on a sink-tip.  Most of the big lake fish are taken this way. 

Middle or South Fork of the Snoqualmie – Small stream fishing is a blast on these rivers.  The South Fork is a smaller river with smaller fish that love to eat dry flies in August.  The Middle Fork is a bit larger with more deeper areas.  It offers a few more medium-sized trout and some good places to also fish light nymphing techniques.

South and North Forks of the Skykomish River – Super pretty, fast, clear water is what you’ll find on these rivers.  They are medium-sized rivers with trout of various sizes in them.  Cover lots of water on these rivers and really hunt for the fish.  The fish are there, and there are some big ones.  Dries, nymphs and streamers all have their place here and many of the larger fish come on streamers fished in the larger, deeper pools.  Don't forget to fish under riffles where the trout often hide from the bright August sunshine.

South Fork of the Stillaguamish – Smaller in size than the forks of the Skykomish, the South Fork Stillaguamish is a nice stream for targeting trout this time of year and provides good walk-in access.  Always keep an eye on the fishing regulations with all of these rivers, but the SF Stilly is currently open above the bridge above Granite Falls through November 30, 2022.  It hosts decent numbers of smaller trout and is another great target for small dry flies and light nymphing techniques in August.

Olympic Peninsula Sea-Run Cutthroat – A bit further of a drive for the Seattle/Everett crowd but a fantastic trip, the rivers of the OP like the Sol Duc and Bogacheil can have outstanding fishing for sea-run cutthroat.  Take a “Trout Spey” setup or just a single-hand 4wt and a fly box full of flies and you’re all set.  Low angling pressure, crystal clear rivers, and abundant numbers of these fish in the river is the normal experience.  Look for shady pockets of slower water tight to the bank with adequate depth… and even better if there is some wood or a small creek entering the river.  Cast tight to the shoreline and strip the fly quickly on a floating line and long leader or floating line and intermediate-sinking PolyLeader.  Cover water like you’re steelheading and you’ll find some fish.  Great fun!

With all of these rivers, please exercise catch & release, minimize handling the fish, and only use barbless hooks.  These trout are wild, native fish that should not be retained no matter what the regulations say.  Also, many of these fish may be juvenile steelhead or salmon.

Eastside Trout Rivers

Yakima River – Summertime fly fishing on the Yakima is a ritual for many Northwest anglers.  August on the Yakima will see the peak importance of terrestrials like hoppers, ants, and beetles.  Pale Morning Dun mayflies will also be important food items, as will Yellow Sally stoneflies.  A variety of caddis will flutter about and have a presence in the evenings a well.  August will also be an important month for the Short-winged Stonefly which looks like a Golden Stonefly and hatches in the evening or night.  Spending the day on the Yak casting a Chubby Chernobyl or a Pat’s Rubber Legs close to the shoreline would be a good way to target the river in August.  Keeping PMD flies (nymphs, emergers, duns and spinner patterns) and Yellow Sally Stonefly patterns (nymphs, dries) close at hand would be a good idea as well. 

Yakima River Rainbow - Jordan Rae Photo

Yakima River Tributaries -- Some rivers in Eastern Washington to think about would be the tributaries of the Yakima like the Naches and the Teanaway. 

Methow River -- The Methow River is a good choice in August and a river that produces some healthy-sized trout, often on large dry flies.  Double-check the regulations on the Methow before taking a trip as they can change abruptly and without notice. 

Icicle Creek – Icicle Creek is a tributary of the Wenatchee River and is a small stream with lots of eager small to medium trout.  Take a 3-weight rod, a box of dry flies and go at it.  Lots of hiking room to get away from folks and typically a great day with lots of activity.

Trout Lakes

Trout lakes in Washington can still be productive but the fish can get lethargic in some lakes due to warm water temperatures.  If you do fish our trout lakes, concentrate on early morning and late evening hours for what will often be the best fishing of the day. Also, many lakes have gobs of adult damsel flies flying around this time of year and this fishing can be good all throughout the day.  Fishing dry fly adult damsel patterns can be a hoot during the summer.  Otherwise, most of your fishing should be concentrated on the deeper water with a full-sinking line. 

Some good lake trips for August might include Pass Lake near Deception Pass fishing full-sink lines during the day and quickly stripping baitfish streamers near the shoreline in the late evening.  Lenice and Nunally lakes can be good in mid-summer too, fishing olive leeches down deep or damsel dry flies on the surface.  This is also a prime time of the year to fish those higher elevation lakes you’ve heard about and been thinking about trying. 

With the warmer water temperatures of August, I like to always take a landing net so that I can land the fish as quickly as possible.  Also, use heavier tippet if you can get a way with it.  Landing fish quickly minimizes their time in the warm, low oxygen surface water of the lake.  Land and release them quickly and let them get back down below the thermocline of the lake where the water is cooler and has more oxygen. 

Steelhead and Salmon

Steelhead -- Steelhead fishing usually gets a bit tough in August in our local rivers due to low and clear waters.  It seems like there were definitely more fish in rivers like the Skykomish this summer.  So, that is good news after a couple rough years.  Heading to the Forks, WA area to fish the Bogacheil or Calawah may be an idea for some low-water, stealth mode steelheading.  This can be a pretty cool trip without hardly any other anglers around.  Or, head down to the Deschutes River in Oregon and fish low on the river as good numbers of fish are heading over the Columbia dams now.  I'm happy to report, the Columbia system is seeing a pretty good return of steelhead over Bonneville dam right now so, at the very least, get some time carved out on the calendar for fall! 

Coho Salmon – It sounds like a ton of coho are off the coast and entering Puget Sound this year based on quite a few reports we've heard.  Fly fishing for these fish can be good in Puget Sound if you have a boat.  From shore, it can be hit or miss, but August and into September would be the time.  In mid-September through October  will be the time to hit the silvers in our local rivers.  If you love swinging flies for steelhead and haven't spent time swinging for silvers, maybe save some days on the calendar.  Swing with your two-handers just like we do with steelhead but throw a twitch in there every once in a while.  Then, before the fly goes into the hand-down, strip it back with an aggressive retrieve.  Fish flies in pink, chartreuse, black/blue, and purple.  We have some new coho flies that will get it done!

Sea-Run Cutthroat in Puget Sound

The sea-run cutthroat scene has been pretty quiet this year.  A few guys are getting out there, but we simply haven't seen as many anglers or reports this year.  More folks will probably start stalking the beaches as the number of silvers builds, but usually our area of Puget Sound is pretty good for sea-run cutts right now.  

Bass and Warmwater

Fly fishing for bass, carp and panfish is great fun and perfect for an August day in the Seattle and NW Washington area.  Take a pontoon boat, your 6wt-8wt, and a box of poppers and hit your small local lakes for largemouth bass this time of year.  Nearly all our local lakes have bass in them.  Concentrate on early morning or late evening for prime time topwater action.  During the day, try a full-sinking line with flies like the Sheila’s Sculpin and fish along the outside weedline or near shaded areas around docks or trees. 

Most of our larger lakes also have smallmouth bass.  In August, most smallmouth will probably be hanging around deeper rock structures in around 20-30 feet of water.  Fast sinking lines and flies like the Crazy Dad fished by dragging the fly along the rocky bottom will often get you into fish.  If you don’t have a fish finder, use the appearance of the shoreline to help you determine where the rocky lake bottom areas may be.  Fish your fly right on the bottom of the lake and when you feel the fly bumping rocks, you’re in the right spot.  Fish at least 10lb or 12lb tippet if you don’t like breaking fish off. 

Banks Lake Smallmouth -- Banks Lake in the area of Barker Flats is a great place to go right now for smallmouth.  These typically aren’t big fish, but they are plentiful when you locate them, and they will tow you all over the place on a 6wt.  A great trip would be to launch a small boat or pontoon boat at Barker Canyon boat ramp and fish along the shoreline in 10-15 feet of water.  A 6wt rod with a type III full-sinking line, fluorocarbon 10lb leader, and a Sheila’s Sculpin, olive Jawbreaker, or an olive Crazy Dad will hammer the fish on a good day.  Make every effort to go when wind won’t be an issue….

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