Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Nooksack River
The Nooksack River is a 75 mile long river that drains an
area of the Cascade Mountain Range near Mount
Baker close to the Canadian border. The upper river
consist of three main forks, the North Fork, Middle Fork,
and South Fork. The North Fork is sometimes
considered the main Nooksack River. All three of the
forks begin in the Mount Baker Wilderness area.

The North Fork Nooksack River originates north of
Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades National Park.
Most of the river is followed closely by State Route #542
or the Mount Baker Highway. A couple of larger size
tributary streams add to the flow. Price Creek and Ruth
Creek converge with the North Fork prior to it reaching
the Nooksack Falls and flowing through a deep canyon.
Other tributaries including Wells Creek, Glacier Creek
and Canyon Creek, continue to increase the size of the
river. The North Fork is joined by the Middle Fork,
forming what's call the main stem of the Nooksack River.

The Middle Fork Nooksack River is around 20 miles long
and forms on the southern slopes of Mount Baker near
Baker Pass.  The South Fork Nooksack River is about
50 miles long and forms near Bell Pass and Lake
Wiseman. The South Fork converges with the main fork
near Deming in the Nooksack Indian Reservation. Below
the confluence of the Middle and South Fork, the main
stem flows from the mountains past Everson and
Lynden. The Nooksack River enters Bellingham Bay at
the Lummi Indian Reservation. .

The main attraction of the Nooksack River is the salmon
fishing. There is a fall and winter run of steelhead but it
is very low compared  to what it once was. Fish can be
caught and there are usually only a few fly anglers that
pursue them. There are also sea-run cutthroat trout that
enter the river as well, along with some Dolly Varden.
Coho, Chinook, Chum Salmon and Pink Salmon every
other year.

It is possible to fish from the bank of the river in a few
locations, but it is usually crowded at peak times of the
season. It far better to fish from a boat.

The Nooksack River has a good run of hatchery Coho
Salmon. Only the fin clipped Coho can be taken. There
is also a good run of Chum Salmon. These are native
salmon and you can retain non-clipped native fish.
There is also a run of Pink Salmon, of course, only every
other year. Make sure you check the special regulations
on the Pink Salmon.

The North Fork Nooksack River is the best area to fish
for  steelhead. The fish return to the hatchery located a
short ways the North Fork. Only fin clipped hatchery fish
may be taken. There are a few sea-run Cutthroat Trout
taken each year.

Varies by species - see special regulations
Cutthoat can be taken in the late Summer months.
Chum Salmon run from mid-October into December.
Chinook and Coho Salmon enter the river from
September through November. Fishing is best during
September and October. Of course, the amount of rain
and resulting water level is a controlling factor.  
September through November is the best time to fish for
the sea-run cutthroat.
The best Steelhead fly fishing opportunities are in the
months of January and February.
Type of Stream

Steelhead (summer and winter)
Coho Salmon
Chinook Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden

Medium to large

Northwest Washington

Nearest Towns

Varies by species - Make sure you
see the current regulations

Fair to good

Non-Resident License
State of Washington

National Weather Service Link

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Nooksack River Fishing Report - Archives:
12/12/13 Our local contact is reporting the river has had slush and solid ice for the past few
days and few if any steelhead have been caught. There is warmer weather in the forecast and
hopefully conditions will improve.
02/04/14 Customer ordering flies reporting the Nooksack River is producing only a few
steelhead. He was just preparing for better days. Low, clear water.
01/22/14 Local contact reporting conditions are better for steelhead but reported still only a
very few fish were being caught. Those were taken on nymphs. .
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 $100 are shipped via
Priority Mail.  
12/23/14 Sorry for the lack of reports. We are having trouble hearing from anglers on this
one. Let us hear your reports. Check out the
Perfect Fly Steelhead flies.
02/09/15 We have only received two good reports during the last couple of months for this
river. The hatchery return isn't so good and right now, high water is a problem. It usually gets
better near the end of the month when the season closes on Feb. 28
Nooksack River Fishing Report:
03/28/16 We are looking for a local resident angler or guide to assist us with fishing reports. If
you are interested, please send us an email to: