Amidst the dense dark timber of the cascade foothills lies some of the most beautiful landscapes filled with elk and deer, winding streams, gorgeous trout and warming alpenglow coming off of the cascade mountains.
My favorite rivers to fish are the North and Middle forks of the Snoqualmie river above the falls, and the Cedar River. The North, South and Middle fork of the Snoqualmie all meet near North Bend at the Snoqualmie Prairie. These rivers are fantastic during the summer months, while the Snoqualmie forks are able to be fished in the winter the Cedar River is only able to be fished from the Saturday before Memorial Day until August 31st as Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to protect the salmon runs.
The North Fork - Snoqualmie River
The North Fork of the Snoqualmie River is an amazing system running for miles starting in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness from snow melt. This river is full of Rainbow Trout, Eastern Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout. This river fishes best in the summer months typically starting around late June and fishing well all the way until the end of September. The fish here aren’t picky as they will eat many different flies in lots of sizes. I have done well fishing purple haze in a size 14 and also a purple chubby chernobyl in a size 14.
While the fish are typically under 10 inches you may be surprised and catch something as big as 14 inches. The North Fork of the Snoqualmie is the most secluded of the forks, lots of the access is located down a dirt road challenging to access. But when accessed near the Three Forks Natural Area you are able to walk a few miles of public access, although be careful and know where you are walking. Phone applications like Hunt OnX or updated paper land access maps will be helpful.
The Middle Fork - Snoqualmie River
The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie is where anglers may find the biggest fish of the three forks. It is also the widest and deepest, fishing is slow during the winter months but picks up rapidly after the snow melt. Late Spring throughout the summer is where this river thrives, maintaining steady flows.
This river fishes as well as any in the area with lots of fish and quite a few over 12 inches, fish are ready to eat and have an abundant food source. Flies like the Pale Evening Dun and Chubby Chernobyl’s in a neutral brown or tan around the sizes of 12 and 14 work extremely well and bring lots of fish to hand.
Also running a small nymph tied off the hook bend of the main dry fly work very well. Nymphs in a Bead Head Flashback Pheasant Tail, Copper John, and Prince Nymph in sizes 10-14 will work well. Finding small riffles of fast-moving water moving into deeper slow-moving pools will be where most anglers find fish. Keep in mind the saying “Foam is home” meaning the small bubbles of foam in the water is where the fish will be hiding and looking for meals.
The Cedar River
The Cedar River running from downtown Renton starting next to the Boeing factory up to the cascades and can be fished through the summer. Most popular areas are ten miles down highway 169 from the mouth of the river past red dog saloon most often accessed from city parks or parking along highway and walking in.
Be mindful of where you park as this area is notorious for car break ins. Fish in the Cedar River may be pickier than the fish in the Snoqualmie forks regarding fly selection. Though fish will be eager to eat early summer as they haven’t seen any flies from humans since late August. Fish in the Cedar River can grow much bigger than what resides in the Snoqualmie, you may find fish that are stretching well over the 20 inch mark with most of the fish being between 12 and 18 inches.
The Cedar River has more hatches than other rivers though full season flies may be Elk Hair Caddis sizes 12-18, Parachute PMD’s sizes 12-18. Nymphs may work well something like a Bead Head Pheasant Tail sizes 12-18 and Pat’s Rubber Legs sizes 8-12.
All of these great waters are only open to fly fishing and cannot be fished with any bait or scent. As always it is important to check the regulations at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ to make sure that you are not fishing in closed waters or using illegal gear. Most importantly get outside and on the water to experience the great outdoors.
Wow! This is a super informative article, and the pictures are incredible!
Great article and pics! Love the northwest ❤️
Great well written article, this information is going to be very helpful when fishing some of these rivers, Thank you Jack Kostomay
Great articles. The author knows how to tell an enticing story while sharing information worthy of an experienced guide. Keep the articles coming!
Jack, can you please share one or two good parking spots on the snoqualmie middle fork (or south fork) to try fly fishing in mid-March? I recently parked at champion beach vault toilets and walked to the river only to find it very wide, cloudy water, rock garden, and no deep pools to fish. Any suggestions?