Welcome to the Emerald Water Anglers Seattle fly fishing reports page for all your local, western Washington and PNW region fly fishing information. We cover more water as an outfitter and guide service than anyone in Washington and as a retail store we want to be your portal into the sport with honest and current fishing reports so your upcoming time on the water with or without us can be planned as well as possible for maximum enjoyment.
Thank you for visiting and if we can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to ask. To receive special reports and news on upcoming events, new destinations and products please sign up for our newsletter here or call the store with questions, even while on the water — 206-708-7250.
1.16.18 Dead Cold Winter
The past couple weeks we have seen downpours, snow, bright sunny days, and cold frosty mornings. This has surely been a Winter of ups and downs. Monsoon rains bring our rivers up and the following dry, cold pulls them back down. If you’re able to hit the water right, you’re in for some good days.
We are still in our “early” season but fishing is picking up. Between our locals “S” rivers and the OP, you have plenty of water to dip your toes in. Fortunately, for all those dwelling in the Seattle sprawl, the Skykomish just reopened for Steelhead fishing and will resume the normal season. The Skagit has had glimmers of fish when the conditions are right and we have been seeing a few big fish being picked out in some of the rivers on the OP. In our recent low and clear conditions, we are throwing heavy tips and lightly weighted flies. Focus on the deeper parts of runs and work the buckets heavily.
We still have availability for the OP this coming season and will be opening up more space shortly. Give the shop a call if you want to book a trip! (206) 708-7250
The past couple weeks on the Sound have been ridiculous. In a fishery that we often dub as “predictably unpredictable”, it has been exactly the opposite. Even with the crazy tides that we have experienced, the fish are voracious and coming so close to your feet that you could tickle them. Hot flies have been the Coastal Critter, Glass Minnow, and Mini Deceivers. In addition, for those fly tyers out there, throw a bit “pop” into your fly. Try orange, chartreuse, or pink baitfish. You will be surprised at the response you receive with bright colors this time of year.
The Yak is still fishing great despite the colder weather. Our best luck has come on bigger streamers as we have found that the fish willing to move for a fly will want to make the most out of their caloric output. In addition to that, you can really pick apart a hole using Euro Nymph techniques and tungsten jig head flies (can be found at our shop). The best part of the day is going to be when the sun is highest and the water warms up slightly. The fish will take advantage of the more comfortable conditions so fish hard when you can be most effective.
12.22.18 We’re almost there…
We have had a crazy couple weeks here in the Seattle area. From high water to wind, it has been difficult to get on the water, even for the toughest of anglers. Fortunately, the weather is looking better in the coming week, there are wild steelhead trickling into our local rivers, and SRC fishing could not be better.
Our local bread and butter has been phenomenal recently. We have found that the best flies have been ones that incorporate some sort of “hot spot”. Think oranges, pinks, greens, etc. Anything that pops and can get a SRC’s attention. In the next week, we have some perfect morning tides which are convenient for squeezing in a few hours before lunch and holiday duties.
Fishing has been great on the Yakima recently when the water stays consistent. With the warmer low pressure system we saw this last week, the fish have been feeding and are not opposed to chasing down that chunky streamer that has been sitting at the bottom of your box, waiting for action. My favorites for this time of year are Dolly Llama’s, Circus Peanut’s, and Sculpzilla’s. Trout Spey is especially fun this time of year in the deeper buckets.
The time is now! After this most recent high water event, there are some wild winter fish in the system. In fringe conditions, like we will see often this season, fish light and to the bank. I prefer dark colors in low-visibility conditions and unweighted tube flies so I can swing way into the shallows. Best flies for this part of the season would be Hartwick’s Marabou Tubes or Flashtails, Loop Leeches, and Guide Intruders. Our OP season will be picking up shortly and we will have guides stationed out there in about a month. For now, most of our fishing is directed in the “S” Rivers north of Seattle.
Side note: If you are new to the Spey game and looking for your first big rod, we provide a free Intro To Spey Lesson with a purchase of a Spey rod/reel/line package. We have a class on 1/5 that still has one spot open.
If you have any questions on local fisheries, where to go and what to use, please feel free to give us a call! (206) 708-7250
December 13, 2018. Spey Time…Among Other Things
Ok, water is now cold, snow is on the lower peaks surrounding Seattle, ski shops are a bustling mess of people which means…winter steelhead, we didn’t need to tell you that just thinking out loud.
There are rivers all over western WA at this time that are open and may have a sizeable chrome fish swimming in them so no better time than now to get your swing on. We are super excited about several new rods out there on the market, Thomas and Thomas, Gloomis, Echo and Winston and we are well versed in all of them with super short heads like the Scout to longer more traditional heads like the Delta. PLEASE come talk with us before you invest money in a stick. There is more nuance in this facet of the sport than in almost any other and it can make all the difference to have it nailed.
Enough of that equipment talk, Skagit, Sauk, Sky, Sno, Bogi and others are ready for you to step into and water levels are in great shape at the moment, could change tomorrow but that is winter season for you.
On top of this, the east side trout fishing remains strong from Rocky Ford to the Yakima so don’t restrain yourself, go get some therapy this Holiday Season! Flows are low, wading is good and fish are actively chasing streams, taking droppers off big dry flies and a few of those even took a swipe at the surface fly. Get there before the snow does…
Lastly, Puget Sound is in normal winter shape, gin clear water, windy some days and placid others with tides making it difficult on some beaches so pay attention. That said, today was all fish but one taken on the Sound Searcher, a surface fly we adore. Fishing should be consistent all winter into spring so this is a fabulous time to make yourself familiar with this fishery. Again, PLEASE come ask us questions, we are quite simply here to help you be successful and love nothing more than to see and hear about it afterwards.
Happy Holidays everyone, store is full, some great events coming in the next few months so stay tuned to our Events Page and see everyone on the water!
November 13, 2018 Winter is Coming
The first cold days of late Fall are setting in. That familiar bite of a frosty morning has us thinking about big water, two-handed rods, and dime bright steelhead. Break out that old Stanley thermos, pour a steaming pot of coffee in there, and settle in for the seemingly long, but shorter days on the water. Winter is coming.
Puget Sound - This is the best time of year for big Cutthroat. Don’t fret about the small things like fly choice or tackle, just get out there and find the fish. We have been finding success on patterns such as the Glass Minnow and our favorite, the Sound Searcher. Staple flies like a good ol’ Clouser Minnow have been working great too. The tides are looking decent for the next week, get out there!
Yakima River - The mornings have been cold. If you’re making the drive over Snoqualmie Pass, focus on the latter half of the day. Once the sun comes over the hills, fishing tends to get a little better but they are pretty lethargic until that happens. We have been fishing streamers, exclusively. Whether it is with Trout Spey, or single hand, our favorite flies have been Sculpzillas (black, olive, or natural), Dolly Llamas (black/white, black/olive), and Bottom Scratchers.
Steelhead - There are some Summer Run opportunities on the Columbia River tributaries like the Klick, Deschutes, GR, and JD. As the weather gets colder, think sink tips and leech style flies. In the next week or two, the first Winter Steelhead of the season will be trickling in through our estuaries and into the main rivers. These fish are headed straight for the hatchery and your grill, if you’re lucky. If there’s no adipose fin, bonk ‘em. They are there for retention and we will do our very best to remove them from the gene pool. As we get into December, wild fish will arrive and then we need to be extra careful with handling our special fish. Popular flies are Hartwick’s Flashtails, Guide Intruders, and Fish Tacos.
If you need help getting set up for Winter Steelhead season, we are hosting the Dec Hogan Spey School which will lay out the be-all and end-all that is steelheading with a two-handed fly rod. We are booked full on day one (12/1) but still have a few spots left on 12/2. If you’re interested, give the shop a call at (206) 708-7250.
November 7, 2018 Welcome Mikela!
We are beside ourselves excited to welcome Mikela Rigney to our Women’s Program as an instructor and guide. You will begin to see more of her showing up over the next few months as she gets herself ready for the spring season. You can read a bit more about her on our guide profile page here.
Steelhead are on our brain as we move into the winter season but as we speak many of the rivers for chrome are a bit out of shape with more rain coming. The Skykomish has a few fish in right now as does the Klickitat and Grande Ronde. Not a ton of fish but some and there have been some of these magnificent fish looking up for skating flies which is maybe the most exciting way to connect with one. Watch for flows to drop here shortly and be ready to get on the water!
The Yakima River had a slight bump in flow and was tainted with some color from some of its tributaries as a result some of the rain we have received lately. It is on the drop and the fish are still very active towards BWO’s and smaller streamers on the swing and strip. We have been spending a ton of time lately exercising our trout spey rods of choice being the Thomas and Thomas DNA 3wt and the Loomis IMX Pro 3wt, both of which are nothing short of a blast to cast and create a very different perspective of this fishery. Come by and get caught up on the latest.
Puget Sound has been having some good and difficult tides. Super high water forces you to find access where a back cast is possible which is yet another reason the trout spey has been so much fun because the new lines from Scientific Angler and Airflo which are integrated shooting heads make fishing the Sound possible with this set up completely possible. Salmon are about finished for now which means the SRC’s are super comfortable and curious so this is a great time to be on the water with baitfish patterns. Our final thought here is as we move into this time of year, when all the rivers are puking chocolate milk which is going to happen, the Sound is just sitting there with clear water and fish waiting for something to do so get to know it NOW.
As always, we are here to help you be successful on the water, any water so don’t hesitate to come by and ask questions or call, email or even face-time. We look forward to talking with you soon.
October 20, 2018 Shorter Nights and Better Days
This morning was cold, foggy, and generally pretty awful. As a native Western Washingtonian, I thought to myself…“beach weather”. So off I went in search of Sea Run Cutthroat under a dimly lit sky, slightly chilling from being under-prepared for the time of year. It is in this transition period from early-to-late Fall that we, as anglers, get excited about the awesome fisheries that the PNW offers in the rainy months.
Puget Sound - If you find yourself yearning for a place close to home, with which you don’t need to dedicate a full day, the Sound is the perfect place to be. Fish a half day, just one tide exchange, and see what happens. We are finding a lot of happy, hungry fish celebrating the fact that the hot Summer is over. Fish are consistently being found all over the South Sound. Pick a beach and get out there, we are in the best time of year.
Yakima River - Although the water is very low (920 at Umtanum), the fish are still playing nicely. We have seen sporadic success on a prospecting October Caddis dry fly with a baetis nymph dropper underneath. In the middle of the day, BWO hatches have been strong and you can find rising fish in the flat, glassy riffles and tail outs. If all else fails, FISH STREAMERS. Swing for the fences, go big or go home, as we like to say. Streamers, streamers, streamers.
Don’t forget about Trout Spey either. If you are new to the spey game, or trout spey in general, book a trip with one of our professional guides. We’ll get you started on the right foot.
Steelhead/Salmon - Our summer steelhead season is still underway and fish can be found in some of our local Puget Sound rivers, as well as the Columbia River tributaries such as the Klickitat, Deschutes, etc. As the weather gets colder, don’t be afraid to throw on that sink tip and bulk up the fly size.
Salmon season is going OK. Most salmon fisheries are limited at the moment and it pays to give the regulations a second, third, maybe a fourth read to see where it’s legal to target what. In the next week or two, we will start seeing chum salmon showing up in the Sound and in local rivers. Chums are awesome; just flat out awesome. They fight hard, take a fly well and are great for photos. For fly choice, egg sucking leeches, marabou clousers, or hareball leeches can be good options – Chartreuse, fuschia, and purple.
In addition, don’t rule out fishing in lower mainland British Columbia. You can make it up there in a short 2-2.5 hour drive which is great for a long day or even an overnight. Rivers like the Vedder, Chilliwack, Stave, Squamish, etc. can all fish great this time of year and have about seven times as many salmon.
Closing notes - This time of year is super special. After we receive some significant rain in the next week, we will see our rivers flush with fish. Don’t get discouraged by weather or bad days on the water, every day is different this time of year. One day may be lights out, dumb, stupid good fishing while the next day is crickets. That’s the fun of fishing in Washington, you never know what you’re going to get.
That’s all for today. Signing off here – stay warm, stay fishy, and most of all, have fun out there, folks.
October 1, 2018 Rain, Fall and Leaky Waders
Well, woke up this AM to the welcome arrival of moist weather in the Seattle area. Rain is so important to our fisheries that while we understand why many enjoy the Vitamin D supplying sun, rain allows most of our fisheries to remain healthy for the fish we enjoy pursuing. So with a long summer of great weather slowly disappearing in the rear view mirror, we keep moving forward with what to expect ahead.
The Yakima River will continue to be a fishery to be excited about for the next month and half at least. While flows dropped quickly this year, we have always felt it is in Oct. when the reliability of hatches and the trout reacting to them settles in. Flows are way down, wading is totally viable right now, BWO’s/Baetis/Blue Winged Olives are going to be the norm here soon. Still fall stones and October Caddis will be in the game too but as the water temps drop, smaller insects will be the norm.
Puget Sound is putting out some great SRC’s and for those who have been persistent, some nice Coho have been coming to hand as well at Lincoln Park and other shore access points around the middle of the Sound. We really begin to get excited about the Sound as the sun stays lower in the sky and the kelp dissipates. SRC’s will be aggressive towards just about anything, all we suggest is keeping hook size small, even when chasing Coho so as not to fatally injure any smaller fish who find your fly irresistible!
We have been doing a TON of spey casting classes lately so we figured we should put it out there, no time like the present to be gearing up for steelhead season. Learn now so when winter arrives, you are sound in technique to handle the heavier heads, flies and tips that come with winter steelheading. We will be running our 20 year, swing only program yet again on the O.P. which is already seeing heavy bookings so please get a day or two with us on the calendar before we are full.
As far as the leaky waders goes, we are a deposit location for Recycled Waders and are also stocked with fresh, new NON leaky waders to get you through the next season or two. See everyone soon, call, email or stop in with any questions and as always, thank you for reading!
September 23, 2018 Fall Has Arrived
In more ways than one, fall is leaving its annual mark on the region. With recent weather systems passing through, wind has been a constant while we have also been seeing some rain especially up against the mountains which blew out some of our local small streams such as the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie.
That said, cooler water means some of our favorite fall hatches on the Cle Elum and Yakima are in full swing such as October Caddis, Crane Fly and the beginning of Blue Winged Olive. Flows are still down and should be for the remainder of the fall so walk and wade anglers should be able to get on their favorite stretch of water again and work the runs. DO NOT forget to toss some streamers as well such as olive or natural bunny leaches and so on.
Puget Sound is beginning to see some coho in the central Sound near Vashon and cutthroat have been more active so we should be good moving forward for regular activity.
We also have a Women’s Wader and Boot Fit Night here at the store on October 14th from 6-8pm, snacks and beverages will be on hand. It is free to attend, great way to meet some other women anglers, try on and ask questions about getting new equipment for the coming season and meet Devon who is taking on the Women’s Program for us until we can find a new director.
September 19, 2018 Fall, Fog and Fly Fishing Seattle
When the fog finally descends upon the water around Seattle, its official…fall has arrived. What does this mean for those fly anglers living and traveling here? Well let us spell it out…
Puget Sound - Alive and well, sun is lower, still have some good spring tides and migratory coho are arriving daily. Not necessarily in giant numbers but they are around and where legal to do so, should absolutely be targeted! Baitfish patterns are a good bet but would also look to be doing some surface fly action such as gurglers, Miyawaki Poppers and Sound Searchers. Be sure to be using 10lb test or better so when you do come tight to one of these silver bullets you can hang on a bit longer!
Mountain Creeks - Still low but with much cooler water temps. They are still easily waded but fish will be a bit more lethargic so either start the morning with a dropper on back of a bigger dry or get on the water just a bit later in the day. Either way, we have about 4 weeks give or take until weather sets these on their winter time tangent…can’t buy a fish tangent that is!
Yakima River - This is hands down the time to be on the Yak. Flows are down and will be consistent unlike the spring season. Fall hatches of October Caddis, Crane Fly and some early BWO are already present with some evenings still showing caddis. Streamers are or seem to be a favorite of the big West Slope cutts in the upper river so pick you poison and get out there. With flows down right now wade anglers have the river back too, woohoo!
Steelhead - With all the water temps cooling down, this helps those summer run chromers be a bit more active and be willing to enter the rivers so the Skykomish, Green, Snoqualmie and Stilly are all good bets right now. Grab your two hander and a skater and get on your favorite run early or late and swing away. Numbers of fish aren’t great but for those with the two handed, swing state of mind this shouldn’t be an issue, there might always be one there!
Can’t say this enough, we are always here, willing and happy to answer any questions you might have no matter how silly you might think they are. We just want to see you succeed out there!
September 7, 2018 - Here and There
Difficult to not begin this report with results from our recent trip to Kamchatka because it was such a great experience. Bears, fish, Russian’s, Vodka and more bears…it was awesome! For those who really wanted to, fishing a mouse fly all day long was totally doable even though you ended up with more of these beauts than big rainbows, some of those came around as well. Will we go back? YES!!!
We are in September so our small waters, the mountain creeks will be bidding us adieu here soon, we would give them about another month or so before we call it on them. During this time however, the Yakima has already begun to drop into shape flow wise and cool air is already tangible so fall hatches and wading the Yak and Cle Elum is ready now!
Fall also means we open our arms to migratory Coho in the Sound. There are some around already even down as far as Lincoln Park and more cutts have been showing themselves again from the beaches as kelp begins to dissipate it will only get better…
Fall steelheading is here too which is just the warm up for winter so no time like the present to break out the spey rod and start warm up the long rod up. Skykomish and Cowlitz for those of us here in the Seattle area will be our best bets with a few other smaller rivers thrown in.
Come by the store, give us a call or shoot us an email and we can answer any questions for you about where, when, why, how and what…we are always happy to do so.