Washington Rivers


What to Expect in July

Note: This What-To-Expect is from Westfly's Legacy pages and may not accurately reflect the current fishing at this venue.

Usually, the Northwest's most reliable and predictable warm weather begins on July5. It might come a week or two early, but the lesson is: whatever the fishing was in June, it's probably about to change.

During hot weather, fishing--regardless of species--will be best early in the morning and in the evening. If the sun is up, look for shady water; that's where you're most likely to pick up trout. Hot spells don't last forever, and fishing can rebound quickly after a couple of days of cooler temperatures. Anglers should be alert to these weather trends and head for the rivers when a cool stretch comes along.

On many rivers, pale morning duns are one of the big stories at the beginning of the month. Pre-hatch, use a size18 Pheasant Tail nymph with a small split shot (if the regs permit). Drift it near the bottom, then let it rise on a swing to simulate a nymph heading for the surface. Hatches usually begin around noon. As the hatch progresses, trout will begin taking emergers, then duns. When you see trout rising to duns, switch to a size 18 Parachute PMD, Sparkle Dun, or PMD Cripple. A size 16-18 Rusty Spinner will imitate the spinner stage of the PMDs, so carry a few in your box in case you encounter trout sipping this final stage of the pale morning duns. The hatch will become less important later in the month.

Pale evening duns will be present on many rivers the first two or three weeks of the month. Hatches usually occur in the mid-afternoon to evening hours. Although this hatch is fading out, trout may still take the duns from habit.

Watch, too, for midge hatches in the early morning hours and at dusk. When trout are midging, a Griffiths Gnat can work for a dry fly, especially on high lakes and rivers. A midge pupa pattern is always a good choice.

Take ant patterns anytime you visit a river, especially one on the east side of the Cascades. Beetle imitations, can also be effective. By the end of the month, hoppers will be available to trout on many rivers; a Parachute Hopper works very well on most streams.

Mostly, though, July is caddis time. Elk Hair Caddis, CDC Caddis, Parachute Caddis, Casanova Caddis, X Caddis, Sparkle Pupa, Soft Hackle, and Diving Caddis are all patterns to have in your fly box this month.

During the caddis season, either fish a Sparkle Pupa near the bottom, or a dry fly downstream (or downwind) from overhanging trees or grass. When caddis are hatching in the evening, use the pupa pattern or a Soft Hackle near the surface, or a Diving Caddis (or Soft Hackle) on a wet-fly swing.

This is a good month for fishing small streams for trout. Many mountain streams are in good shape by early July, but might be low and clear by the end of the month. Small-stream fish are often not fussy about fly patterns. Attractors such as Parachute Adams or a simple size14 Elk Hair Caddis can work well. Don't ignore nymphs just because you're on a small stream, though. A size 14-16 Pheasant Tail or Hares Ear can be very attractive; use a small yarn indicator--it makes less splash than any other kind of indicator and is very sensitive.

iiiSteelhead.ggg Summer-run steelhead continue to arrive in the rivers of Puget Sound, the Peninsula, and southwest Washington. July is a major month for migratory fish. Traditional tactics with standard flies, such as Green Butt Skunks, Freight Trains, Purple Perils, Silver Hiltons, etc., work well this month. As the water drops and clears to low summer levels, use smaller, darker flies.

As the weather dries out, rivers will get low. On low rivers, steelhead will be concentrated into a smaller number of deeper, cooler spots. Also, fewer fresh fish will enter the river, and those that are already in the river will develop lockjaw. Anglers will have to travel farther in search of suitable runs, but when they find them they will have more fish to cast to.


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