most people think of saltwater fly-fishing their minds drift to tropical
climates and fish species such as tarpon and bonefish. While the Pacific
Northwest lacks the hot weather and the typical saltwater game fish, it more
than makes up for it with outstanding fly-fishing and spectacular scenery.
spent some time fishing in warmer climates, but I always want to return back to
Washington State. Whether it's casting along the beaches of Hood Canal for
sea-run cutthroat or fighting the swells and currents casting flies for Coho
salmon in the Pacific Ocean, I cannot get enough of the saltwater fly-fishing
opportunities available right here.
of my summer is spent fly-fishing the Pacific Ocean for salmon and bottom fish.
Bottom fishing is targeting fish such as rockfish and lingcod. This is fishing
right up near the rugged rocks and shorelines that line the Northern coast of
Washington. The fishing is often fast and furious. Once you find the schools of
black rockfish, you will catch them one after another. They are aggressive, and
can even be caught on poppers occasionally. While fishing along the coast, you
will see sea lions, seals, tons of birds, and possibly a whale.
other primary saltwater fly fishing target in the Pacific Ocean is the Coho
salmon. Neah Bay is located in a perfect place to intercept millions of salmon
as they return to rivers from Oregon, British Columbia, and Washington. The
strong currents concentrate the fish as they feed on baitfish and shrimp. This
is incredible saltwater fly-fishing, with 10-30 fish days possible. Most Coho
salmon run between 4-6 pounds, but fish in the high teens are landed every year.
Casting baitfish patterns on sinking lines is the primary way to catch salmon,
but fishing on the surface is becoming more popular. Pink salmon are also
available every other year, and they only add to the fun.
offshore fishery requires a sturdy boat and some experience, but Washington
State also offers great saltwater fly-fishing right around the Seattle metro
area. Stretching from Bellingham to Olympia, Puget Sound is a large protected
body of water. Draining into Puget Sound are numerous rivers and creeks. These
watersheds produce annual runs of Coho, pink, and chum salmon that are available
to not only anglers with boats, but can be caught from shore. Along with the
salmon, Puget Sound and Hood Canal offer outstanding habitat for the sea-run
cutthroat trout. This native trout moves into the saltwater to feed. Casting
flies along the beaches is a popular fishery for these trout.
cutthroats are like ghosts as they cruise along the beaches. The beaches I like
to fish typically are rocky or have large amounts of oysters. This habitat
supports the feed, such as sculpins, baitfish and shrimp that cutthroat love to
eat. Fishing surface patterns such as Gurglers is becoming much more popular,
and is a great way to search for fish. The cutthroat will often show themselves
boiling at the dry, and then switching to a subsurface baitfish pattern will
result in a solid hookup.
are traveling through the Pacific Northwest, you might want to remember that
where there is saltwater, there is saltwater fly-fishing.
Chris Bellows, owner of Topwater Charters, Inc, which runs fly fishing charters
off the Washington Coast. His websitesoffer more information about
Saltwater Fly Fishingand
The American Boating Association
PO Box 690
New Market, MD 21774