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June 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

  • Women's Fly Fishing 101 Workshop - June 2nd - NSEA campus, Bellingham
  • The Confluence Fly Shop Free Spey Casting Clinics - Every other Wednesday, starting May 30th - Nugent's Corner
Skagit steelhead are truly something else - down to every last detail.
Photo by Jeff Cantle.
Our Veteran's Service Partnership chair, Cory Cuevas, taking full advantage of the Skagit River's spring opener.
Photo by Jeff Cantle.
Member Survey

If you haven't yet had the opportunity to fill out our member survey, please do so at the link below.

What we do at North Sound Trout Unlimited would not be possible without our incredible membership, so we are genuinely interested in what our members have to say.

This survey helps us figure out where our members want their donations to go, as well as in planning future events and providing valuable educational opportunities. 

Please help us out by filling out the NSTU Member Survey. Click here to add your input. 
Last Month
At our final chapter meeting before the summer hiatus, we welcomed Mike LeMoine, an Upper Skagit fisheries biologist. Mike shared the interesting history behind early settlers' agreements with tribes and how that history influences local regulations, including the North of Falcon process. It's fascinating just how important the wording of historical agreements is in making today's decisions on fishing regulations. We also got a peek at some current fish counts in our local rivers. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, Mike! 

Coming Up
  • Our friends at The Confluence Fly Shop have kicked off their free spey casting clinics at Nugent's Corner every other Wednesday starting May 30th. Please contact them for more info. 
  • The North Sound Women on the Fly are gearing up for their Fly Fishing 101 Workshop with Molly Semenick on June 2nd. At this time, there are two slots available due to some recent cancellations. Any last minute takers? Sign up here
American Rivers associate director, Jonathan Stumpf, sat down with our chapter's conservation chair, Chris Johnson, and wrote up a beautifully nostalgic interview about fishing for steelhead on the Nooksack River. You can read the interview in full here
After successfully landing this "freight train" of a lingcod (plus a few others), Scott Willison has us all scrambling to round up our friends with sea-going vessels. Take special notice of that 12" fly in this poor sucker's maw. 
Steelhead Spawner Surveys
Words By Scott Willison
It’s like someone flipped a switch.  Half days of wandering the lengths of Day and Finney Creeks, searching expectantly for something new, a redd, a fish, some itinerant sign of life.  Nothing, nothing, a little more and then one day a flurry of activity…everything happening at once.

That was a day in early May this year on our North Sound TU steelhead spawner surveys.  I started on Finney Creek mid morning.  Upon entering the wide bar as the creek bed opens up from an increasingly overgrown trail, I immediately found a new redd in the first tailout, and then another and another.  Sometimes you can stare indefinitely at a curious pock mark in the streambed, contemplating hydraulics, algal growth, substrate and the temporal ups and downs of water flow before making the call that it’s a redd or not.  Today’s decisions were much more straightforward; clean scoured gravel, almost glowing neon white in the green-hued current, probably a few days to a week old at most.  Things were happening.  Further upstream, I noticed a dark shape moving in the current.  Creeping closer and trying not to set off any alarms, I got pretty close to a big fire truck colored male steelhead, ghosting in the middle of a large flat.  He was pretty beat up, white fungal spots on his head and swimming a little rough around the edges.  I got within ten feet of him before he woke up and scurried off into some hidey hole at the head of the run.  I found several more fresh redds upstream before finishing the survey beat and wandering down the gravel road back to my truck.

I headed back toward the South Skagit Highway and downriver to meet up with Bridget Moran and survey Day Creek.  We parked and meandered across the meadow to survey a side channel and look for new spawning activity.  The braid was on the low side and we didn’t see much until we reached the mouth where the channel connects with the rest of Day.  Here we observed a handful of older steelhead redds that were still well defined but beginning to gloss over with light sediment and algae.  While we didn’t see much in the way of new spawning activity along the course of our Day Creek survey reach, the water was bristling with life.  In the off channels and rivulets, swarms coho and chinook , possibly some steelhead fry darted here and there, dominating the well-shaded tangles of roots and overhanging brush.  A blanket hatch of large, dark-bodied mayflies fluttered above the creek in numbers more akin to a Rocky Mountain tailwater than what we typically find in our western Cascades streams.  Day is filled with deep, tannin-stained pools and laced with rock ledges, one perfect steelhead hideout after another, though we seldom see fish.  Toward the end of our survey, we caught a brief glimpse of a big dark hen holding near a logjam.  She was difficult to see, but her big square tail wavered revealingly as the brief windows opened up in the current.  We crossed the creek and watched her for awhile from the high bank and got a good long look at her.  It was pretty cool.  

All in all a pretty productive survey before the unseasonable heat warmed things up to the point where the water was running high and off color.  Bridget was even brave enough to go for a swim on Day Creek, though it wasn’t entirely planned.  At least it wasn’t a terrible afternoon to fill up the waders.  While our surveys are winding down for the year, we’ll be back out there in the next month to collect temperature data from our stream loggers and move them for the summer as the water drops. 

Bridget, our media manger and Women's Initiative co-chair, removing a good portion of Day Creek from her waders after her totally intentional and completely premeditated swim.
Photo: Scott Willison 
These mayflies danced in hoards above our heads as we surveyed Day Creek in early May.
Photo: Bridget Moran
Monofilament Stations

We were able to build five additional mono tube stations thanks to the fine folks at The Home Depot's Bellingham store. They have been great supporters of our monofilament recycling program, and we are incredibly grateful for their support. 

Thank you for your donation!

From Our Committees

Women's Initiative

For updates on what we're up to, head over to the North Sound Women on the Fly Facebook page. You can also email us any time at northsoundwotf@gmail.comWe'll get you on the email list or answer any questions you have about getting involved.

-Kendra and Bridget


  • If you would like to support North Sound TU and our conservation efforts, there are a few ways to donate.
  • Donate your time and assist us at an event or volunteer to chair a position on the board (inquire via Facebook message or email to

  • Send us a check:

    North Sound Trout Unlimited, PO Box 3043, Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Sign up for our Fred Meyers rewards program - without any cost to you, this allows your regular purchases at Fred Meyers via your rewards card to refund 3-5% of all purchases back to the chapter

    1. Create a Fred Meyers rewards account here.

    2. If you already have a Fred Meyers rewards account, sign in and link it to NSTU by visiting your rewards profile here.

      NSTU is recognized as nonprofit 88119
    3. By phone: Call Fred Meyers customer support at 1-800-576-4377 (opt 3) and linking your card to our nonprofit (#88119)

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North Sound Trout Unlimited
PO Box 3043
Bellingham, WA 98227

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North Sound Trout Unlimited · PO Box 3043 · Bellingham, Wa 98227 · USA

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