Puget Sound fly fishing seminar

Dave McCoy, the head guide of Emerald Water Anglers shared tips and information on fishing the expansive waters of Puget Sound. The seminar, held Saturday, Jan. 21, was part of series of seminars put on by Northwest Flyfishing Outfitters in Portland.

About 20 people attended the seminar listening and writing down notes as Dave talked about access, tides, flies, rods, reels, lines, water temperature, seasons, etc. The primary fish being targeted are searuns and resident salmon since they are the most consistent fish in the sound. He noted that the sound is a year-round fishery but March through June and September through November are the best time to fish. With such a large body of water, it would be easy to get intimidated when trying to figure out where to start fishing. My goal was to learn more about this fishery since it is a natural for kayak fly fishing. You can cover more water than fishing from a bank, you can follow the fish as they move up and down the beach and you can get to fish further farther from shore. Dave did point out that kayakers are starting to explore this fishery especially the area near the Tacoma Narrows.

Here are a couple tips I picked up:
  • Fish the incoming and outgoing tides and eat lunch during slack tide.
  • Fish will move up and down the beach following bait.
  • Look for areas that have structure and creatures - such as sand dollars and such.
  • Cutts eat about anything so be prepared.
  • Floating lines with normally weighted flies offer the most versatility.
  • Some beaches have netting on the bottom to keep birds away from shellfish. These areas can be good and you can walk on the nets.
  • Top water flies will work even in winter.
  • Keep your tip in water and use 18 inch retrieves.
  • 12-pound test and 8 foot leaders are fine.
  • Use flies that imitate bait fish.
  • Knotless leaders are a must.
  • Remember weighted flies, especially cone heads, do not act like bait fish because the go up and down unless stripped very quickly.
  • Keep an open mind when fly fishing the salt - be creative and think.
  • Use nets to land fish and remember fly anglers care about the fish so be careful with every fish leave the beach cleaner that you found it.
Dave stresses that this fishery needs to be better understood and protected and he is happy to share his knowledge. Don't hesitate to contact him through Emerald Water Anglers. I look forward to exploring this water soon with a kayak and fly rod, hopefully with Dave.

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