Suggestions for the San Juans?

Does anyone here flyfish the San Juans? I am heading up to Friday Harbor this weekend and wonder if anyone has any suggestions or comments. I have never fished saltwater before so I thought since I am there I would try a little.

Love this web site. Keep up the great work!!


AKA Beadhead
I think your options for SW flyfishing in the San Juans are actually quite limited. Since there are no rivers to speak of you will not find the coho and chum staging to go upstream. There is a run of coho that goes by the SW shore of San Juan Island on it's way to canadadian rivers but I would guess that its coming to its end if it hasn't already. There are Blackmouth (resident chinook) in san juan waters but few people, if any fish for them from shore. You may have a better chance getting into some rockfish off Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Is. or the Doe Bay area on Orcas Is. But the water gets deep quick so you would probably be better off with spinning gear.

All in all you would probably be better off going for trout or bass in one of the lakes. Try Egg lake, Sportsman's lake or the private Lakedale Campground on San Juan, or Mountain or Cascade Lakes in Orcas' Moran State Park.

If your on San Juan Is check with King's Market in Friday Harbor. They would be able to tell you what's biting and where.
I have done well jig-fishing off San Juan Island (the south side) for rockfish, lingcod, and greenling. Never tried it with a fly though, I fished usually at 20-100 feet. I think the freshwater would be better anyway. Sportsman Lake would be good for bass, and the private Lakedale lakes are REALLY rich and full of big ol trout and bass. Nobody can catch em with bait, though, because there are too many weeds. Perfect lakes for flyfishing.

The other posters are pretty much correct as far as salmon goes this time of year. However, don't overlook the poster that suggested fishing for rockfish on the west side of the island. I have done LOT'S of fly fishing for rockfish in the San Juans and while it can be difficult at times, it is really fun. Fish rocky, kelpy, drop offs with a sinking line and weighted fly such as a heavy wooley bugger. Cast it from the rocks, let it sink and retrieve it with a slow strip. The difficulty comes when the tide is running and you need to get the fly deep. You are pretty much limited to about 20ft of water to be effective, however, you might be surprised at your results. I think this technique is more effective during the summer as the fish move a little deeper during the winter months. I have never done it this time of year but I'll bet there are still fish to be caught. Don't limit yourself to the west side, any place you have access to a bouldery beach that drops off quick to deep water is worth a look.