We know fly fishing in Washington State – Summer Steelheading is upon us and we have had plenty of off the water time here in the North Puget Sound to tie dozens of flies and prepare our fly fishing tackle for the brightest and most acrobatic fish of the season.
Tactics for fly fishing in Washington and the early season are still very similar to what is done in the spring. The water is still high and cold from the melting snow pack in the upper reaches of the rivers. Swinging similar size streamers as used in the spring are still the most effective and fly reels loaded with the lines and sink tips to cast them should still be used.
We are still weeks away from making the change to the fly fishing tackle synonymous with summer; the dry line and classic we flies which are a pleasure to cast and fish. Until the flows lower and the water warms the game is still about getting down and slowing the swing. Pay close attention to the daily rises and dropping of water levels, they will dictate where fish will hold or when they will be on the move.
Early in the season is the best opportunity to catch one of the most explosive and fun fish of the season. The early 3-salt summer steelhead is a true race car, its larger size and energy stored in the form of fat reserves provides for some very hard grabs as well as acrobatics that are un-matched.
As the season progresses, the 2-salt fish will make their way into our rivers in greater numbers providing ample opportunity to catch fish throughout the summer. As the water drops and eventually settles, steelhead will play their version of musical chairs and settle or hold in particular pools. These pools are often well known to local anglers but the prize goes to the angler who does his homework early in the summer and finds the un-pressured pool or slot that holds fish. These veritable gems can be surprisingly obvious yet ignored by other anglers or exist in less frequented areas of the river. Often, when steelhead first enter a river early in the season, if one or two fish slow down and hold in these spots these areas will consistently hold fish throughout the summer.
The summer is here; fly fishing Washington at its best so get out there.