Summer has arrived in the greater Seattle area. July is another great month to get out and enjoy some fly fishing in Washington. Here is a list of some great fly fishing ideas and a fishing report for fly fishing anglers headquartered in or visiting the Western Washington region.
Rivers – Just about all the run-off from melting snow is pretty much gone and that means ideal local river fishing for trout in our area. The Cedar River has fished well for anglers this season and has a mix of plentiful small trout with the occasional giant lake-run fish. Other river/stream opportunities for the greater Seattle fly fishing crowd includes the forks of the Skykomish and their tributaries like the Beckler. The South Fork Stillaguamish, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, and the upper Green River are all good bets as well. This time of year, casting a smallish dry fly to shady, deeper pockets will usually find some fish. Especially on the Cedar and SF Sky, don’t be afraid to put on a fast sinking Poly Leader to turn that floating line into a sink-tip and chuck a big streamer into some of the larger, deeper pools. Some large trout come out of those rivers and they usually come to anglers stripping big streamers. Good dry flies for these rivers in July would be the Missing Link – Olive, Parachute Caddis – Tan, Keller’s Rocky Mountain Mint – PMD, Garcia’s Mini Hot – Hot Green. For nymphs, consider the Bjorn’s Red Pretty, Glint Nymph – Yellow, Psycho Nymph – Dirty Pink, and Morrish’s Hot Wire Caddis – Chartreuse. For big streamers, go with Shiela’s Sculpin or the Sculpzilla Jr. While writing this I just talked to a customer who showed me a photo of a gorgeous 19-inch fish from one of these rivers taken on a Sculpzilla Jr. Nice work, J.S. and enjoy your new net!
Our most noted trout river, the Yakima River, is in full swing in July as well. It’s time for the big dries on the Yak in July. River levels have been good lately as has been the fishing with big dry flies and nymphs. Golden Stonefly and PMD dry flies should be in everyone’s fly boxes as well as nymphs for the same bugs. Top dry flies to have on hand are the Chubby Chernobyl – Gold and Purple, 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 just in case you need to get dirty with those fish.
Another great July trout trip is to head over to the Bogachiel or Sol Duc rivers in the Forks, WA area and fish for sea-run cutthroat trout in those rivers. They usually return in great numbers and few anglers target them. Take that mico-Spey rod and swing small steelhead style flies like the Egg Dart, Knudsen’s Spider, Rolled Minnow, Chumpy Fry, or Borden Special on a floating line. You can also fish these patterns on single-hand rods as well as fish nymphs or dry flies for these aggressive trout.
Lakes – Most fly fishing lakes in Washington continue to fish well in July. Some of the shallower lakes with a lot of weeds can begin to get warm but our cool June still has most lakes fishing very well. Here are some good ideas for the popular Selective Gear lakes in our local region and Eastern Washington.
Pass Lake – Pass Lake is deep enough that it fishes well throughout the year. In July, concentrate mostly on fishing full-sinking lines with leech patterns like the Hale Bopp Leech – Brown. In the late evening, casting a minnow pattern tight to the shoreline and retrieving it on a fast strip can be very effective from now through the fall. Our Pass Lake Minnow is as good as it gets for imitating the lake’s Fat Head Minnows.
Lone Lake – Usually this time of year, Lone Lake begins to get warm and the fishing slows down. This year, again because June was quite cool, Lone Lake is still fishing well as of right now. Concentrate on fishing full-sinking lines with dark leech patterns like the Ruby Eyed Leech – Black/Red, the Gold Bead Bouface - Black, Drifter’s Crystal Leech. Chironomids are still worth a go as are damsel nymphs, dragon nymphs, and the Olive Willy – Red Bead is always a worthy pattern on this lake.
Dry Falls, Lenice and Nunally Lakes – These Eastern Washington lakes can be outstanding in July and the crowds have usually died down. Fishing during mid-day with damselfly dry flies can be a hoot and very productive. Cast the Deer Hair Damsel – Blue on a floating line and long leader near shoreline reeds and wait for the rise. Give the fly a twitch here and there and get ready for a fun day. Other “must have” flies are the Hale Bopp Leech – Olive, Olive Willy – Red Bead, Damsel Leech – Olive, Rowley’s Grizzley Dragon – Olive, and the Rickard’s Stillwater Nymph #1 – Olive. Fish all of these on a full-sinking line and 3X fluorocarbon leader.
Washington also has tons of lakes that are not regulated as Selective Gear lakes. These lakes can sometimes get a bit tougher as summer progresses but many of them continue to get fish stockings in summer. For a list of trout stocking reports in local lakes, click here.
All of the lakes mentioned here 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. A wheel system is highly recommended if you are planning to take your pontoon boat into these two lakes. Also, 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.
Steelhead & Salmon
Not much going on for salmon in our rivers in July but the steelheading on the Skykomish continues to be really good. Few guys seem to be getting out there, but it has been good for those that have. The Skykomish is running at 3,140 at the moment (Jul 3rd) and will probably get tougher if the river gets lower. Any shots of rain will probably be good days to be out there from this point forward. Fish sink tips with medium sized flies in dark colors. Great choices would be 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.
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. Also, consider hiring PFF’s own, Joe Ewing, for a guided day of floating the river as he knows the Sky like few others.
Another good river to consider would be the Bogachiel River in the Forks, WA area. Although it is currently running low, the Bogy can be a good river to look for summer fish in June/July and is pretty easy to walk or float.
Puget Sound Saltwater
Sea-run cutthroat trout fly fishing in Puget Sound has continued to be good. About this time of year, the central and northern portions of Puget Sound begin fishing pretty good and we’ve had many good reports from customers. To partake in the action, 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 walking-in and wading Manchester State Park, Olalla, or Penrose Point State Park for good cutthroat water. You can also hire Capt. Ben to guide you and fish from a boat for sea-runs and are nearly guaranteed a great day on the water.
Resident silver salmon are also available from the beach for fly anglers. Fish the same rod/reel/line setup as mentioned above. The same baitfish patterns are also appropriate, but some anglers like to choose slightly brighter, flashier patterns for the silvers, like the Skinny Herring.
Bass & Panfish
July has bass fly fishing written all over it. 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. Top choices for July would be Potholes Reservoir for largemouth and Sammamish for smallmouth. For Potholes, take an 8-weight rod, floating line, and 20- to 25-pound 8-foot leaders with large poppers like the Goodale’s Popper. Cast it into the heaviest, most matted-down cover you can find. For smallmouth, take your 7-weight and fish intermediate sinking lines like the Coastal QuickShooter and pound the shady side of docks with a Jawbreaker or Kraft’s Clawdad. Remember to cover lots of water and hit as many targets as possible. You’ll need a boat, but a pontoon boat works just fine. If you go to Potholes, put your pontoon boat in one of the arms at the north end of the lake and be careful not to get lost back there! You’ll see what I mean.
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 August report!
Pacific Fly Fishers