Scott Willison, owner and founder of the Confluence Fly Shop, takes us into the Skagit River to target bull trout, cutthroat, coho, and steelhead. We find out how Scott started the fly shop and how fishing on the Skagit River has evolved over the years. 

Scott shares his rod, line, and reel setup, his go-to flies, and the best times in a year to target each species in the Skagit. We also dig into some resources to learn more about fishing steelhead, bull trout, cutthroat, and salmon.


Click below and listen to the Podcast about Skagit River with Scott Willison:

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Skagit River Show Notes with Scott Willison

05:45 – Scott lives about 30 mins away from the Skagit River

09:00 – Scott and his partner opened the Confluence Fly Shop in 2013 then bought his partner out after a year.

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11:00 – Scott used to watch the TV show, Cheers. We had Henry Winkler on the podcast in episode 334 who played Fonzie in that show.

15:00 – Scott started fishing the Skagit River in the early 90s

19:10 – I noted episode 17 with Scott Baker McGarva where we also talked about the Skagit

20:45 – There are a number of Washington-based groups that protect and restore local fisheries and native watersheds like Wild Steelhead Coalition, Wild Fish Conservancy, and North Sound Trout Unlimited. Scott is a board member of the North Sound TU chapter.


24:50 – The Skagit hosts all 5 species of Pacific salmon. The pink salmon in the Skagit can be nothing short of Alaska quality. Coho fishery is pretty outstanding as well – October and November are Scott’s favorite months to fish for Coho.

32:00 – Skagit used to be a huge chum salmon fishery but now you almost can’t find chums in there

32:55 – The ever-present species that seems to thrive in the Skagit and Sock is the bull trout. Skagit is one of the only places in the world that has anadromous bull trout.

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34:15 – Skagit typically opens at the beginning of June and will remain open through the 31st of January

40:50 – Scott uses an 11 and 1/2 foot 4 wt Sage 1 rod with a 240-grain Scientific Angler Skagit Lite

Photo by Scientific Anglers

42:25 – One of the species worth noting in the Skagit is the sea-run cutthroat, also known as coastal cutthroat

48:30 – Scott tells us his go-to flies

53:44 – We talk about the difference between hooking on a coho, bull trout, and cutthroat

1:02:00 – Kamchatka is on Scott’s bucket list trip. Also Seychelles. Scott enjoyed our episode with Jako Lucas (episode 281) and Keith Rose-Innes (episode 335)

1:03:00 – Scott is going back to Cayo Frances Farm and Fly in Belize. He went there before on a DIY trip.

1:06:00 – You can harvest bull trout in Skagit River that are over 20 inches

1:07:00 – The Confluence website is a great resource if you want to learn more about bull trout, coho, cutthroat, and a lot of other species in Skagit. Scott does some pretty extensive newsletter and blog posts writing there.

1:09:00 – For resources, Scott recommends the book, Fly Fishing for Pacific Salmon and Fly Fishing Coastal Cutthroat Trout

1:09:40 – Tommy Lynch was on the podcast in episode 347. Scott noted our episode with Kelly Galloup too which was one of the best we had.

1:11:45 – Scott’s top 3 podcasts are: The Smartless Podcast, Outdoor Misadventures, and Fly Fish Food Shop Talk


You can Confluence Fly Shop on Instagram at @confluenceflyshop

Facebook at Confluence Fly Shop

YouTube at Confluence Fly Shop

Website at

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Resources Noted in the Show

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Videos Noted in the Show


Skagit River Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 017 – Dean River Steelhead with Scott Baker McGarva | BC Lottery – Squamish Fly Fishing


Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below



  1. Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know that you have a picture of the wrong Confluence fly shop, and are linking the wrong Instagram page for Scott’s Confluence Fly Shop in Bellingham.