ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fly Fishing Washington’s North Cascades

Updated on December 12, 2013

Off the Beaten Track in the American Alps

The popularity of fly fishing in Washington State had grown tremendously in the last few years, and many of the Evergreen State’s prime fishing spots have taken a beating in the process. Blue-ribbon fisheries such as the Yakima River, Rocky Ford Creek, and the Methow River have all experienced a dramatic rise in fishing pressure. If you are looking to get off the beaten track and fish in solitude, look no further than the North Cascades.

Its All Up Hill

Before you grab your rod and head to the mountains, you need to be aware of one thing: everything in the North Cascades is up hill. Prime fly fishing spots rarely exist right next to the road, so you need to be prepared to hike a few miles, or bushwhack. This is a fairly rugged part of the world, and a sturdy pair of boots is almost mandatory if you want to enjoy it. The region is blessed with numerous streams that are full of rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout. For those really wanting to earn it, there is a ton of quality alpine lakes whose beauty will take your breath away. Rumor has it a few golden trout exist in some of the high alpine lakes.


The streams of the North Cascades are perhaps the most fun to fish. Walk in just a few hundred yards, and you will catch fish. Go a few miles, and you will most likely be the first person to fish there in a while. Because the fish here rarely see a fly, you can throw pretty much everything at them and they will take it. I suggest beetles and ants, as well as small hoppers depending on the time of year. Royal Coachmen, Humpies, and Caddis are always good to have as well.

Alpine Lakes

For the person willing to grind out some vertical, the lakes of the North Cascades provide some of the most amazing scenery and fishing. Plan on hiking anywhere from 2-6 hours, with upwards of 2,000-3,000 feet of elevation gained. Hiking into a lake is a great way to spend an entire day in the area and fully enjoy the landscape. If you are a real bad-ass, consider packing a raft or small float tube as this will give you unlimited access to the water. Make sure you have plenty of water, and a purification system to make more as needed. The journey into an alpine lake is arduous, but the reward you get makes up for the sore legs.


I prefer to use an 8 foot 2 weight for both the alpine lakes and the streams of the North Cascades. It packs down into a small tube that I can fit in my day pack, so I don’t need to be super careful on the approach in. Floating line with 5-6X tippet is the way to go, and a handful of the flies I mentioned above work great. Less is better, especially if you are hiking up into a lake, or one of the higher elevation streams. I have experimented with Teva sandals when wading some of the streams, and they don’t protect your feet much, so I would suggest taking your wading boots.

Additional Gear and Critters

There are bears in this part of the world, including a small population of grizzlies, so plan on carrying pepper spray or a side arm. There is also a small pack of wolves that were recently introduced as well. The upper reaches of the North Cascades are also home to mountain lions and wolverines. Black flies, mosquitoes, and other annoying critters can be a real pain depending on the weather, so don’t forget the bug spray. Water purifying systems are key as well, and make sure to carry a first aid kit. This is a mountain environment, so plan accordingly.

Where to Go

As a guy who has spent much of his life in the North Cascades, I would get into deep yogurt with the locals if I gave away all of the “secret” spots to fish. I will tell you this: Consult a topo map of the area. Start at the town of Twisp and look west, as well as north, going all the way into the Pasayten Wilderness Area. There are so many streams and lakes out there it is almost overwhelming. Make sure and check the fishing regulation before you go as there are some closures due to salmon and steelhead recovery efforts. Don’t forget to pack out your trash, pinch your barbs, and display required vehicle permits as required.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)