Fishing Report -

Winter Fishing Report 2021

- Fishing report winter 2021

Yakima River: After roughly the middle of September the Yakima is returned to its normal flow from running high all summer due to irrigation needs. When the temperatures drop to below freezing, it’s time for nymphs down deep and streamers on sink tips. The whole river is wade-able at this point and more than likely you will have it too yourself or mostly to yourself.  A trout spey is a great winter tool along with a euro specific rod in a 10’-11’ range. Flies to have this winter; streamers in olive, browns,  black, white, in a 2”-3” range #-4-6, with streamers don’t get hung up on patterns as it’s all about movement. Nymphs ranging from small perdigons, hare’s ear, P.T, Small dark #14-18 range will find fish. You will want to get this down with a heavier point fly so a T. J hooker or anything jig eyed and with a heavy bead in the #8-14 size. Dark browns, olives, black and light tan are good colors to try. If you want to be dirty, the whitefish spawn during the winter so their eggs become available and well placed bead might find some interesting things. Whatever you choose to do keep it simple, cover water, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Puget Sound: The cutthroat fishing has been consistent with some good reports of fish around in the central sound. Chum and pink salmon fry will be emerging from local area streams soon! The south sound is always a consistent producer in the winter and spring months. Resident Coho along with resident kings (Blackmouth) and cutthroat can all be found in the same school at times if you are lucky enough to experience this! Baitfish patterns will be your best bet but anything resembling a small squid in winter is also something to experiment with. Honestly cutthroat are  the least pickiest  species  of salmonid so anything small, slightly transparent with some  flash retrieved in a stop go fashion will gen really produce. If you don’t get what you’re looking for on your first beach in about an hour head to a backup location and continue searching. Full intermediate lines along with an aggressive full floating line are the only two lines needed. Grab your 5-6wt and go explore our local gem.

Westside Lakes: Local area lakes have been planted recently and will fish well and here’s a link to explore what lakes have been planted https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports/stocking/trout-plants/all. The lakes that are not planted yet will still have decent opportunities but they tend to be slower as the numbers of fish are much lower in our naturally reproducing lakes. Chironomids, leeches and baitfish will be the most common food sources this time of year.

Eastside lakes: Mostly over for now and or most lakes are closed for the season. Early March can be a good time to start back on the basin lakes with a good chance of having early season success. March is a great time to get out and fish chironomids. 

Snoqualmie Forks: The forks will be slooooow but they are open and you will generally have a good amount of solitude though as a trade- off. Streamer fishing and nymphs will be your best bet. Don’t get hung up on patterns as much as covering water correctly and getting out and exploring new water for those warmer months. Sculpin imitations, leeches, and a box of attractor nymphs is all one needs to be dangerous on the forks.

Bass/Warm-water: Bass will be going deep looking for more consistent temps and food. This time of the year the salmonid fry and baitfish are migrating so the bass will follow the food and or relate to heavy structure with deep water near. Panfish, crappie, perch etc. will still all be around but generally very slow so when targeting them go small and take your time. We have good warm water fishing in most of all our local lowland lakes including carp and tiger musky so get ready for spring and warmer temps!

Olympic Peninsula: WDFW recently updated our regulations on the peninsula to include no fishing from  a boat, and catch and release all rainbow trout. Keep up to date here: https://www.fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2611 Hatchery Steelhead will start showing right about now and from here until Christmas will be the peak of the run generally. The majority of the wild fish tend to show up from January to April. Like all west coast anadromous fish stocks the OP is experiencing significant run loss and severely depressed fish populations. At this point as anglers we need to fish for these fish in manners and ways that greatly reduce our impact on them. Getting your “one fish for the day” is a great way to look at it. If you hook up and or land a fish hang it up for the day and take pictures, work on your cast, explore a new area etc. anything but continuing to pressure these fish after you get one is just greedy.  Giving them a chance to spawn and thrive is what is needed and hooking as many of these beautiful fish in a day is just plain careless and causes fish to not spawn and prematurely return to the ocean. Here is a link to the most up to date run sizes and info: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/score/score/species/steelhead.jsp?species=Steelhead

Pass Lake: Chironomids, leeches, and baitfish patterns presented down deep on a full sinker or deep on an indicator rig are good bets this time of year. The browns are always looking for meat to chase and the rainbows will be eating midges all winter to stay fat. Good time for solitude and a spin around the lake in your float tube. Think low numbers but the possibility at some of the biggest fish of the season.

Local steelhead waters: Closing soon (Jan 31) so get out and enjoy before they close. The Sky, Snoqualmie, and Green will have a few early returning hatchery fish from here until New Year’s Eve. Get out locally if you have a time shortage or just want to see our local waters in winter. Keep expectations low as there is only a few 100 fish returning now to our local rivers.

Skagit System:  We are still in limbo as to the status of the 2021 Catch and release season on the Sauk and Skagit. We have our fingers crossed. Keep updated on WDFW news here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news same rules apply here though pertaining to etiquette and fishing pressure. If somebody is in a run move above them or wait until they sufficiently move far enough down the run to start in above them. If you do go below somebody make sure you are 100 yards well below them before you start fishing.  Most runs are not this long but some are 200 yards plus and in these cases it is not considered rude to step in well below (100+ yards ) of the angler.  If the run is less than 100 yards wait at the top to start. Stay positive, be a steward of our resource, and remember to keep your impact minimal.           

Montana: We are well versed in the waters of Montana; from the Clark Fork to the bighorn we know a thing or two. Stop on in as we can get you setup for a trip anywhere out west. Check out these reports for the Beaverhead and Bighorn https://www.sunriseflyshop.com/montana-fishing-reports/

 Alpine Lakes: Time to call it a day up high. Most of the lakes will become covered in feet of snow here in the next few weeks so get those boxes and boots ready for next summer! A good box of terrestrial dries and leeches are all one needs to find success on our local alpine lakes. Remember to adhere to leave no trace principals when you spend time in our back country.