Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing the Stillaguamish River
The Stillaguamish River, locally called the "Stilly", is
located in northwest Washington about an hours drive
from Seattle. It's formed by its North and South Forks.
This river is considered one of the top steelhead fishing
destinations in the country. Both of its branches rise in
the Cascades. The two forks join at Arlington and flow to
the north end of Port Susan in the Puget Sound.

The North Fork, approximately 45 miles long, begins
from several small streams near Finney Peak.  Boulder
River and Deer Creek are two of its many tributaries.
The Summer run of native steelhead use Deer Creek for
their spawning grounds. Fly fishing Deer Creek is
considered top notch by anglers from all over the
country. Fly fishing the Stillaguamish River is nothing
new. The North Fork of the Stillaguamish River was the
first ever designated "fly fishing only" river.

The South Fork, approximately 30 miles long, also forms
in the Cascades and is the lesser fished branch. The
main branch is approximately 20 miles long. Steelhead
are caught in the South Fork but not near as many as
the North Fork.

In addition to a Winter and Summer runs of steelhead,
the lower river also has a late Fall run of cutthroat trout
from the sea. There's also four species of salmon that
use the river to spawn but only Pink Salmon can be
taken on their every other year run. The winter run of
hatchery steelhead are usually difficult to take on the fly
due to the high water levels.

Rainfall is a problem for the lower section of the North
Fork below Deer Creek. From August into the Winter, it
is usually blown out. The water remains fairly clear
above Deer Creek most of the time.

The season is closed during March, April and May to
protect the spawning native steelhead.
The river is closed to fishing during most of the Spring.
Summertime is the best time for the steelhead with July
being the top month.
Good fishing continues on into the early Fall. It's the
best time for the sea-run cutthroats. October is the best
month for the Coho Salmon.
The water is usually very high in the Winter although a
winter run of hatchery occurs. January and February are
the top months. Chum salmon can be caught in
Type of Stream

Steelhead (Native and Hatchery)
Sea-run Cutthroat Trout
Chinook Salmon (Closed)
Chum Salmon
Pink Salmon
Coho Salmon
Dolly Varden

Medium to Large

Northwestern Washington

Nearest Towns

June 1 - February


Non-Resident License
State of Washington

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Guide - Gear, Tackle
Steelhead and Salmon flies
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Stillaguamish River Fishing Report
12/02/13 The Stillaguamish is high and muddy.
Not much opportunity at all.   
12/07/13 Customer reporting the Silly is
back low and clear. Some steelhead
showing up in the North Fork but fishing is
very slow. He ordered a selection of our
Perfect Fly nymphs that worked for him last
12/23/13 Our local contact reporting a few
fish are being caught but overall, it is slow
fishing. Most anglers are indicator fishing
with nymphs. He is using our Perfect Fly
Green Sedge steelhead larva and Black
Stonefly steelehead nymphs.
Fishing Report Updated 08/20/16
(Bottom Of Page)
01/11/14 Recent rain has the stream level
rising fast and should improve the fishing
conditions shortly.
01/18/14 Surely fishing has improved with
the recent rain but we haven't received any
reports coming from the Stilly or fly orders
this past week for the river.
01/25/14 Still no reports. Sorry.
02/01/14 A few fish were caught after the
last rain but it was very short lived. Until
there is more rain, we are afraid this will be
the same old lousy report.
02/08/14 Tired of lousy fishing reports?
Well hang on, things will soon get better.
Rain is in the forecast and will help the
conditions in the near future.
02/15/14 Stream levels are way up and
much more rain and rain/snow is in the
forecast for the next week.
03/01/14 Season is closed until June.
Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
06/07/14 Season is open but we have no
reports of any summer run steelhead
arriving. It will probably be the end of the
month into July before that happens.
06/14/14 Still no reports of summer steelhead.
06/21/14 We still have no reports of anyone
catching Summer run steelhead. It is usually
July before that happens regularily. Let us
hear from you.
07/27/14 Sea run cutts is the best bet now.
They will be coming in the river for the next
few weeks. Send us an Emal for a cutthroat
fly selection.
08/10/14 Still no good reports of sea run
cutts being caught. There are still a few
summer run steelhead being caught but
again, fishing is very slow.
08/16/14 A few summer runs are in the
river along with some sea-run cutts, but
few are being caught. Fish the deeper
pools, early and late using long leaders
and tippets and smaller flies.
08/30/14 Still no report of sea-runs showing
up. Low water conditions is hurting the
opportunity but things should change soon.
09/13/14 No reports for the past two
weeks. Low, warm water. Rain and cooler
temperatures needed.
09/27/14 A few sea-runs are being taken
in the lowest areas but no real movement
of the fish has taken place.
10/11/14 There are lots of Coho entering the
river and the sea-runs are following them.
What the stream levels, it is raining, but fishing
should be good and continue to get better.
10/18/14 Lots of sea-runs are being caught
by our customers but watch the water
levels. There is more rain forecast.
10/25/14 We received no reports but stream
levels have been high and falling now, but more
rain is in the forecast. Let us hear from you.
11/08/14 Anglers are catching some Chum
salmon and some sea-run cutthroat.
Conditions are pretty good.
12/07/14 One angler reporting catching
some steelhead on the North Fork but that's
about it. Let us hear from you.
12/14/14 No reports from the past week but
the river, especially the North Fork, is in
good shape level wise. Let us hear from you.
USGS Stream data:
NF Near Arlington
12/20/14 River is blown out and still rising.
What the levels before making a trip.
12/27/14 Stream levels are back down and
coho and steelhead fishing should be
decent. No reports from the past week. .
01/10/15 No reports of steelhead or
other fish for that matter.
01/24/15 No fish yet.
02/07/15 The river is blown out but falling;
however, there is more rain forecast
through Monday.
02/21/15 We received two good reports
about a week ago but the water is getting low
and the action slowing. They used our
steelhead nymphs.
03/28/15 Season closed to steelhead.
Check back with us June 1.
05/23/15 Send us an email and let us help
you plan your next trip.
06/13/15 No reports of any summer runs
yet. Most fish enter the river in July. We will
keep you posted.
06/27/15 Sea-run cutts are beginning to
show up. Very few summer SH have shown.
07/15/15 Closed to fishing from Marine Drive
upstream including the North and South
forks and all tributaries.
Fisheries managers say low flows and
unusually warm water temperatures could
lead to a high handling mortality of steelhead.
The fishery could reopen sooner if conditions
improve or it could extend beyond Sept. 30 if
improvements aren’t seen by then.
08/29/15 Still closed by hopefully, this will
change soon with the rain and cooler weather.
09/05/15 Sea-run cutthroats are moving into
the lower river in good numbers. The rain
really helped the conditiions.
09/12/15 Lots of sea-run cutts being caught.
Rain and cooler weather is expected next
week and that will help.
09/26/15 Sea-run cutthoat fishing has been
excellent. Plenty of Pink salmon and some
Coho salmon.
10/16/15 Salmon fishing is closed until further
12/06/15 There should be some winter run fish
entering the North Fork of the river soon with
the rain coming.
01/09/15 We are hoping the high water
episodes are about over. Current reading is
1020 cfs at 3.19 feet. Hatchery steelhead are
being caught. There is snow in the forecast
every day starting Monday and running through
Perfect Fly Steelhead Flies
02/06/16 Levels are recently up and down, up
now but should fall back down soon.
02/27/16 It is never too early to start planning
that next fly fishing trip. Send us and email and
let us help you do that.
03/26/16 Just a reminder that it is just over
two months until the season opens but not to
early to be planning that next trip.
08/06/16 Sorry for the lack of reports. Sea-run
cutts are coming in the lower river but mostly
hold in the deeper pools. Summer run
steelheads are being caught in good numbers.
Please don't snag the fish.
08/20/16 Plenty of fish are in the low and clear
water. Fish early mornings using light, long
leaders and tippets, and small flies.