Jumping fish on Lake Washington and Samm


My other car is a fly rod.
Hello folks. Both on Lake Washington and Sammamish I've seeen schooling fish jumping on the surface from spring thru summer, sometimes with big fish jumping after them. This is typically near shore. This happens so often that I want to starting targeting the jumping fish. Could these be Red Side Shiners, smelt, or somehing else? I haven't been able to get close enough to identify them, but they are silvery-ish, 3 to 5 inches.


Evan Burck

Fudge Dragon
They are salmon smolts from the Issaquah hatchery. You can target the wild cutthroat that chase the baby salmon, however I think targeting the smallmouth and largemouth bass in the slough with the same flies provides better sport.
Back in my days of living in Redmond, I actually had a really fun time targeting the huge pikeminnows in the slough on streamers. Basically like fishing for brown trout.


Active Member
A few years ago I was casting a dry fly off the bulkhead at one of the Seattle Lake Washington parks not fishing for anything in particular. Casting practice mostly on a hot summer evening. At twilight a school moved in, not really jumping but boiling. I was able to get them to take fairly easily on probably a size 16 elk hair caddis. Some sort of minnow species with the average size about five inches.


if it's not this, then what?
When I was 15 years old I would see these fish off of a park in Mount Baker. This was before I was a fly fisher, I cast out a #3 Mepps spinner and caught a few. They were salmon or trout smolt. I also saw rising fish off of the Seward Park Loop on the north side quite often, figured they too were salmon or trout smolt, but never sure since I never fished for them.


Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
I found that usually means something below them. A streamer that sinks through them quickly then stripped fast with pauses often found a fish, sometimes worthwhile sometimes a "trash" fish. On the north end they were usually bigger cutt's and rainbows, or bass by the docks.


Active Member
In addition to the juvenile salmon Lake Washington has huge populations of sticklebacks and longfin smelt. The sticklebacks and smelt are year long prey base for the cutthroat and various predators. The feeding can be opportunistic either targeting post-spawning sticklebacks and smelt; most die after spawning and are taken as they struggle before death or as floaters. The predators also target the feeding sub-adult fish that can be driven towards to the water surface. In the summer it was not uncommon to see the cutthroat forcing the smelt to the surface in the evening. The feeding would be short lived by suspect a well placed streamer would be taken by the obvious attacking cutthroat (some of which can be of significant size)

A basic white streamer with a darker back (dark olive?) of appropriate length should be adequate regardless of the forage species.


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