Scott's Summer Steelhead
I headed to the upper Skagit for some steelhead and salmon fishing. My first stop was the Powerline run on the Upper Skagit. Saul waked into the run as I was stringting up my rod. He went ahead of me swinging a weighted pink leach pattern with no takers. I fished behind Saul swinging a purple egg sucking leach pattern on my 7136 two hander on a sink tip. I hooked a fish right in the bucket of the run but it turned out to be a foul hooked chum. I switched to my single hander with a floating line, long leader, and a mini-black bart. I hooked a chum after only a few casts. I released it after a short fight. I continued working down the run and hooked a big dolley varder when I was about half way down the run. I went back to the top of the run, switched back to my two hander, and tied on a purple egg sucking bunny leach. Once again, I tied into a big dolley varden about a third of the way down the run.
After a couple hours, I left Powerline and moved upstream to the Chapel Run. The water looked great, but I only had time to work the top of the run and I didn't touch a thing.
Scott and I floated one of the Sky tributaries. The third run we fished was a boulder drop that shoots the water into the middle of the run. It is a long run with boulders on river left. We started at the top of the run with a type 6 sink tip, 3 ft of 15 lb fluorocarbon leader, and a egg sucking black woolly bugger with a orange egg and tied with medium dumbbell eyes. Scott made two casts and got a hard grab. The fish pulled some line, flipped in the surface, them made a short screaming run. I told Scott it was a steelhead and he was jazzed. After a couple minutes, a couple good runs, and a lot of work on Scott’s part, he finally slid his first steelhead into the shallows. It was a beautifully colored 25.5” hatchery buck.
Phil, Jason, and I spent the day on Pass Lake from 8:30 in the morning until around 3:30 in the afternoon. The water was colored with about 4 feet of visibility and the surface water temp was 48 degrees. The surface tempurature rose to 52 degrees as the air temperature rose during the day.
We started off using #6 olive/orange woolly bugger on one rod and a red string leach on the other. Both rods were set-up with Cortland 444 density compensated type 2 full sinking lines and 9 ft leaders tapered to 3X tippet. We worked our way around the smaller bay near the boat launch, staying 30 to 50 feet off of the shore. We got a number of grabs, but no solid takes.
We moved out to the larger part of Pass lake and started working our way down the West side of the lake. We stayed about 100 feet off of shore and worked our way along the downed trees with no takers. Once we got to the rock ledge, we turned and headed East toward the far end of the lake. Shortly after changing direction, Jason got a good take, and just when the fight was getting good, the line broke. I could tell by the way the rod was moving that I was a nice fish.
I tied on another string leach and we continued to the other end of the lake. Once at the East end of the lake, we turned and headed North. We didn’t get any takers, so we turned around and headed South, and followed the shoreline to the West. Every few minutes as we were working from one end of the lake to the other, Phil or Jason would get a tap on the fly. Finally, around 11:00 AM, as we approached the boat launch, Jason got another good hook-up and the fight was on once again. This time he managed to get the fish to the boat and we netted a beauty of a 16” bow. We continued our way around the bay near the boat launch and Jason hooked up again with another nice bow. At this point, I decided the string leach was it and I tied one on Phil’s line also.
As we were working along the North side of the small bay near the boat launch, Phil got a good take and the fish pulled off a bunch of line, then nothing….until he got it near the boat. At this point, it headed straight for the bottom and I knew it was a big brown. When he finally got it to the boat, I managed to fit the 20” brown into my little net. It was a beautiful fish with a full body, a huge mouth, a some nice big teeth that managed to stick my finger as I was carefully removing the hook.
We continued working the shoreline along the South end of the lake and the North shore in the bay near the boat launch. Phil and Jason managed to hook into a number of beautiful bows in the 16” to 18” range. At 3:30 we called it a day and Phil hooked into one more nice bow as we were headed to the launch.
If you are thinking about hitting the lakes this fall, now is the time to do it! I tend to focus on the fly only and selective fishery lakes as they tend to have more large fish, but that is just me. Fish intermediate or full sinking lines and something big, woolly buggers and bunny leaches are both good choices. Get it down and hold on!
Rich and I spend Thursday and Friday fly fishing the Methow River from just above the Gold Creek Rd area all the way down to a few miles above Pateros. The river was flowing at 430 CFS at the town of Methow and it was dropping slowly. The water was crystal clear and 46 degrees on Thursday morning. The weather on Thursday was overcast with a few sun breaks and it was sunny on Friday.
We started out fishing a run just downstream from Carlton. We caught a couple trout on the way down, but after fishing through it, I decided I didn’t really like the water and thought we should move downstream further. We continued working our way down river, stopping where we could find good looking water to fish. Around 2:00 PM we finally found what we were looking for. Rich hooked into a nice steelie, but it broke the line right after the hook-set.
We continued working our way up and down the river looking for open water. It wasn’t until we worked through the last run of the day that Rich finally found another steelie. After a couple swings through the top of the run he tied into a beautiful Bull Trout that ate his black hair wing fished just under the surface. After releasing it, he worked his line back out into the same spot, and bam, a steelhead nailed the fly and tore to the end of the run….which wasn’t far. After a couple minutes he managed to land a thick 5 lb hatehery steelhead. By this time is was dark and time to head back to the car.
Friday found us back at the same water as the night before….since it was the first open run we came across. Once again, Rich nailed a steelhead at the bottom of the run, or should I say, the steelhead nailed Rich. He set the hook too soon and the fly came out. As it turns out, that would be the last fish for the day. As a matter of fact, by 3:00 PM there were so many other guys on the river that we couldn’t find any decent looking open water to fish. We called it a day and headed to Winthrop for dinner and then back to the West side of the mountains.
I spent the last week on the Sky and Stilly fishing for silvers and sea run cutts. The cutthroat fishing on the Stilly was on and off, but mostly on. Cutthroat fishing is a little different than most trout fishing because there are areas where you think you should find fish, but you don’t. Then there are the classic SRC spots where you are certain you will find them and you find a lot of them. The places that hold the highest concentration of SRC are the deep slots with bottom structure and cover. Deep slots with stumps and overhanging bushes are great. Back eddies almost always hold a few fish also. We did nearly all of our fishing with 5 wt and 6 wt rods, floating lines, and 9 ft 10 lb leaders with a couple feet of 8 lb or 9 lb fluorocarbon tippets. Why such strong leaders and tippet for cutthroat? Well, occasionally you will hook a bigger SRC, and they are really strong. You are not going to keep an 18” SRC attached to your line with 5X tippet. Also, there are steelhead and silvers around. If you want to keep either of them on, and land them quickly, you need a strong leader. Flies that worked well over the last week were black spiders, yellow spiders, polar shrimp patterns, and a bead head salmon fry pattern tied with squirrel tail and a little flash. All of these were fished just under the surface on a tight line with a twitch. Another effective pattern was a big bright terrestrial fished on the surface with a twitch.
Earlier in the week the sky was loaded with salmon that were really not interested in biting. There were a lot of silvers and a few pinks. We tried everything including weighted salmon marabou patterns on a floating line and long leader, skating dries on a floating line, swinging a salmon fry pattern, and swinging a sink tip in a few spots. Based on the number of rolling, bright fish, I would guess hundreds of salmon swam by the boat over the course of the day. We did see three salmon hooked and a least one landed, and it was a beautiful fish. However, it was not hooked on a fly. After spending one fruitless day on the Sky, I decided to spend the rest of my time on the Stilly targeting SRC.
By the way, for all of those who claim that hatchery silvers don’t bite, I have a different theory. I believe that silvers are very sensitive to water temperature and clarity. I have found that when the water is cold, around 40 degrees, and visibility around three feet, silvers tend to bite really well. They bite so well, in fact, that you can catch one after another if you find a good concentration of fish. I have also found that under these conditions, you will not see a lot of rolling fish like you see when they are not biting. Of course, this information does not help much right now, with water temps in the high 50’s, but just wait a couple weeks and lets see what we find. If the rivers don’t blow out from a heavy rain in the next couple weeks, the silver fishing in the local rivers should be good.
The month of August was cold and wet. Combining this with a higher than normal snow pack made for better than normal conditions on the lower Sky. When we started out, the flow was around 950 cfs, the visibility was around 3 feet, and the water temp was around 58 degrees.
Bret, Bob, and I spent the day on the lower Sky. Bob had never fly fished before so we spend some time on the first run working on his casting. Bob picked it up really quickly as we were quickly back in the boat working the far bank for sea run cutts. After working our way downstream we ran into a good pod of silvers. We switched to 8 wt rods with long leaders and weighted marabou flies. After an hour or so, Bob hooked into a little silver on a fuchsia marabou fly. We found a lot of fish, but most were not in a biting mood. Finally, while fishing under bright, sunny skies, Bob hooked into a good fish. He had to work hard to get it close enough to the boat to get it into the net, but after about five minutes, we managed to boat it.
When we finally made it to the gravel bar, we weighed it in at around 5 lb.
The Stilly got a little shot of rain this weekend so I decided to spend the morning on the river as it was dropping. I walked into the first run around 8:00 AM and I had the water all to myself. The skies were overcast, the river was flowing at 2000 cfs and the water was off color with a green/brown tint with about 3 ft of visibility. I was using my 7136 two hander with a type 8 sink tip, 5 ft of leader and a purple/black marabou streamer. After working down the run for a half hour I got a solid take and the fish pulled off 50 ft of line in a heartbeat. I worked it in quiclky, but it threw the hook within 10 feet of me. Damn!
The Stilly is crystal clear above Deer Creek and colored with 3 ft of visibility below. There are fish around if you know where to look.
I fly fished the West side of Johnson Point for sea run cutthroat on the incoming tide from 12:30 to 1:30 PM. I found a pod of small cutthroat near one of the less defined points near where the cliffs and the houses are closer to the water. The cutthroat ranged in size from 6 to 8” and where all caught on a salmon fry pattern with a gold bead head, ostrich hearl hackle, squirel tail wing with a couple strands of crystal flash, and a silver oval wire wrapped around a gold body. I was using a 9.5 ft 6wt rod and an intermediate line.
After two months of waiting, I finally made it back out on the river. The Stilly was on the drop and it looked like it was clearing, so I headed out for a couple hours in the late afternoon. I found the NF Stilly wadable below Deer Creek with about 12" of visibility. The water color was on the dark green side, which was good, but definately not clear enough to spend the day on this part of the river. Especially since it is supposed to rain for the first part of this week. The water temp was a chilly 47 degrees.
The water is much cleaner above Deer Creek. If you have to get out on the river, this is where I would spend my time. At least, if I was going to fish the Stilly.
With the continued cool weather, I expect the lake fishing to continue to be very good. If you wanted to be certain of catching a good number of fish, my bet would be on the lake fishing.
I spent the day with Robert and Mary at one my favorite lakes at the South end of Whidbey Island. Robert had never fly fished before and Mary had not done it for a very long time. They were both so excited about getting into the sport that they bought a two person pontoon boat and a couple very nice fly rods for trout fishing, complete with floating and sinking lines for both rods.
We spend a little time on casting practice before getting on the water. We also had to get the new boat set up with rod holders, etc. Once we finally got on the water, around 11:00 AM, we found that fishing to be smoking hot once again. The hot fly was the 6” red string leach. And it seemed to catch the biggest fish, however, we caught fish with a small olive woolly bugger also. Basically, anything that looks like a damsel fly nymth, this time of year, will work great.
The fish were in great shape and ranged in size from 12" to over 19", with the average fish at around 16".
The lake fishing has been smoking hot over the last few days on lakes at both the North and South ends of Whidbey Island. On the days that I was on the water, the air temps were cool to down right cold. I left my gloves at home on Saturday, thinking I wouldn’t possibly need them in May…..big mistake! The water temp, however, had been in the ideal 48 to 54 degree range, with the best fishing in the early afternoon when the air temps are the warmest.
The hot fly over the last few days has been a 6” red string leach. We caught fish trolling it on a full sinking line, trolling it on an intermediate line, and casting it into the bank on an intermediate or floating line and stripping it back to the boat. The cast and retrieve is a blast because you can see the fish come out of no where and slash at the fly or just plain cream it. Before you start casting to the big fish hanging around the edges of the lake, you have to be prepared for hard hits these fish are going to put on your fly. I use a leader in the 9 foot range tapered to a minimum of 3X with a strong 3X minimum tippet.
The fish at both lakes ranged in size from 14” to 20” with the average fish in the 16” range, and most of them were very strong fighters and in great shape.
Lloy, Barnie and I spent half the day at Pass Lake outside Anacortes on Hwy 20. The weather was beautiful with clear skies, a light wind, and water temperature around 54 degrees.
We started out fishing a #10 olive woolly bugger with an olive/orange tail on an intermediate line on Lloy’s rod. Barnie was casting a white woolly bugger on a floating line into the bank and stripping it out. Within five minutes of getting on the water Lloy had a nice fish on, but it threw the hook before we could get a good look at the fish. We continued working around the edge of the lake and within a half hour Lloy hooked into another fish.
Since we failed to raise anything to the white woolly bugger on the floating line, we switched tactics. Barnie put the floating line away and I switched him to a full sinking line with a olive woolly bugger. We continued working around the edges of the lake near the boat launch and continued hooking fish that ranged in size from 14” to 17”.
Eventually we headed to the far end of the lake. Since the water was closer to 20 ft deep in along the edges of the middle of the lake, we switched the intermediate line to a full sinking line with a 6” red string leach. We hooked a number of fish on the way to the far end of the lake, but most were in the smaller 10” to 14” range. As we rounded the corner to the shallow end of the lake near the boat launch, Lloy hooked into a fish that at first I didn’t think was any big deal. As soon as she started to reel, the fish took off and started smoking line off the reel. It stopped, gave a couple head shakes, and threw the hook before she got a chance to reel in any line.
We stayed on the water until 2:00 PM, but the last half hour was uneventful. The morning was definitely the time to be on the water.
I headed out to North Camano for some more beach fishing. I tried out a new spot and found deeper water, very little, if any, eel grass, and a decent sized school of 1" salmon fry. I didn't see any cutthroat, but I used the opportunity to match my salmon fry patterns in my box with the fry that were swimming around at my feet. After an hour of so of casting with no takers and no surface action, I dedided to move on.
I headed back to the same place where I had success a few weeks earlier, armed with a salmon fry pattern that matched size and color of the fry in the water. I was using my 9.5 ft 6wt rod, a 6wt intermediate sink rate line, and a 9 ft bonefish leader. I found a patch of eel grass and made a cast 20 feet beyond the edge, and down current. I was using a moderate paced strip retrieve and I hooked up within a couple casts. I was pretty sure it was a cutthroat, but it came off after only a couple seconds. I continued my cast and retrieve and worked down current. I hooked another fish about the same size as the first. I managed to keep this one on for only 30 seconds longer than the first, and once again, I never got a good look at the fish.
I worked my way down current and around the point, however, I found the water to be too shallow and I was hooking up on the grass and the bottom a little too often for my liking. I headed back to where I was hooking fish earlier and started working the water again. I started seeing an occasional fish. One made a big splash and another just rolled in the surface. I assume it was chasing down salmon fry. I finally hooked another fish just as I was getting ready to head for home. This fish wasn't huge, but it was strong and managed to pull line off my reel a couple times. After a couple minutes I slid a 16" dolley varden into the shallows.
Dennis and I headed to one of my favorite lakes for a day of trout fishing. We didn’t get a real early start in hopes that the lake would warm and the fish would be more active by the time we got there. When we pulled into the parking lot I was very surprised at the number of cars. I hadn’t heard many lake reports at all except a mention of Lake Goodwin. Apparently the word was out that this lake was on.
As we headed out on the water I quickly noticed that nearly everyone was fishing chironomids. I also noticed that no one was catching anything. We were geared up with full sinking lines and a #10 olive woolly bugger on one line and a 6” string leach on the other. My plan was to fish the weed line on the far side of the lake, but we dropped the lines in the water and trolled on the way over. When we were in the middle of the lake, Dennis’s rod went down hard and it was easy to tell he hooked into one of the bigger rainbows. After a couple minutes we slid a very fat 16” bow into the net, and then back out.
After reaching the far side of the lake we spend a half hour casting olive woolly buggers into the bank and stripping them back to the boat. We tried this on a full sinking line and with an intermediate line. We didn’t get any takers, so I decided the water was not warm enough for the damsels to be moving around much yet. We went back to trolling damsel patterns on sinking and intermediate lines. Within 15 minutes, Dennis hooked a beauty of a rainbow. We didn’t measure it, but we guessed it to be around 18”….and it wasn’t a skinny little fish either. It was fat and all colored up.
We worked our way around the lake over the next hour and had a number of bites, but not a lot of hook-ups. After talking to a couple guys on the lake that I knew, we found out the state had planted 4500 6” rainbows a few weeks earlier. Apparently this fish were too small to fit our flies in their mouth.
We decided to stay at the far end of the lake and work the bank along the cat tails. This proved to be a successful strategy and we managed to hook into 7 or 8 really nice rainbows through the course of the day. As the morning turned to afternoon the fish started to focus more on the chironomids and less on our damsel patterns. The chironomid fishermen started catching a lot more fish and we started catching less often. I suggested we switch to chironomids, but Dennis wasn’t too interested. We continued with our damsel patterns and we continued to catch a few fish until we got off the water around 2:30.
My last two North sound steelhead rivers closed on April 1st. If you want to fish for steelhead in Washington State, you are forced to travel to the Olympic Peninsula along with the other steelhead anglers. This gave me a great opportunity to spend some time on the local beaches. I have been meaning to do this for a couple years now, but it always seems the steelhead and the rivers they call home this time of year pull me away from the salt.
It just so happens that a couple friends of ours just bought some property on the North end of Camano Island. This is a great spot for beach fishing because this is very close to the mouth of the South Fork of the Skagit River. This fork of the Skagit has the largest in tack estuary habitat that harbors juvenile salmon and steelhead and the fish that eat them, sea run cutthroat and dolley varden. This is the time of year that the chum and pinl salmon fry hatch and start making their way toward the salt water.
My plan was to fish the outgoing tide for a couple hours before the low tide. Things didn't end up working out that way and I fished from an hour before low tide to an hour after. The conditions were great with clear water and overcast skies, that is, until the wind started howling along the beach.
After looking around for a while, I decided to head to a point where I could see the current moving. There was good bottom structure with eel grass and large gravel with a few sandy spots between, but no surface action. I started fishing a salmon fry pattern but didn't get any takes. After about 15 minutes I switched to a 3" long sculpin pattern. I was fan casting and moving down the beach. My first cast was down wind, my second cast was straight out, my next two casts were upwind, then I would step down the beach a few feet. I was stripping the line in pretty fast in an attempt to keep my intermediate link from hanging on the bottom. After a half hour on the water I finally got a take. The line came tight and the water erupted. It was a good fish. After a couple minutes I managed to swim a 17" bull trout into the shallows.
I continued working my way down the beach until I reached a bay where the water wasn't moving much. I headed back to the point and worked the water with a couple different patterns for another half hour.
The outside temperature is finally warming up and the lake fishing should start picking up soon. Lake Goodwin in Stanwood is already putting out rainbows in the 15 - 16 inch range. If you have boat, it is a good lake to check out. I you fly fish it, stick to water in the 10 - 15 ft depth range. If conditions permit, I will spend some time on one of my favorite lakes next week.
Tim, Matt, and I floated the middle section of the Skagit. The conditions were almost perfect with the river flowing just under 15,000 cfs at Concrete, 4-5 ft of visibility, and overcast skies. There were no boats on the river and we didn't see another angler. The fishing wasn't great, but we managed to hook a few small dolley vardern before lunch. After lunch, Tim was working a large flats area on the edge of some faster water and a gravel bottom with softball sized rocks. He hooked a hot fish that took about 20 feet of line, turned, came right back at him, and threw the hook. He never got a look at the fish to know if it was a dolley varder or steelhead. He was guessing a dolley, but I'm not so sure.
Rogher and I floated the middle section of the Skagit. The conditions were perfect with the river flowing at 16,000 cfs at Concrete, 3 ft of visibility, and overcast skies. There were no other boats on the section of the river we floated, but there were a couple walk in anglers on the first couple runs at the start of the float. We came up empty handed in the first run, but I managed to tie into a beautifly buck in the second run. I was working a shallow, heavily riffled section of the river and I hooked up on my third cast. The fish took about thirty feet of line before I was able to turn it and bring it into the shallows.
Around noon the flow bumped up to 17,000 cfs and the visibility dropped a little. We managed to hook into a few dolley varden in the afternoon. The biggest was 24" and was hooked on the edge of the fast water near one of the islands.
Deene, Jerry, and I floated the Sauk River. The conditions were almost perfect with the river flowing at 3200 cfs and dropping, 4 ft of visibility, and overcast skies. There were only a couple other boats on the water and no walk-in anglers. We worked some great water in the morning without touching a fish. We finally hooked up after lunch in a shallow, fast moving riffle. The fish headed across the river taking about 30 feet of line. I managed to work it toward the bank, but it was definately an unwilling participant in the battle. After moving it into the fast moving shallows within 20 feet of the end of my rod, it jumped, threw the hook, and swam off. It was a three foot long hen in great shape, other than the net marks. This really surprised me bacause the Skagit Biologist said WDFW had an agreement with the tribes that no netting would occur if the run was below the agreed upon goal of 6000 fish. We all know the run is below the escapement goal because the river is closing a month early, so there shouldn't be any nets in the river.
I guess it is time to make some phone calls.
Anyway, there are steelhead in Sauk. Fish during the week to avoid the crowds.
I walked into a run on the Sauk and a few runs on the Skagit. The rain on Friday night pushed the flow on the Sauk from 2300 cfs up to 3800 cfs and river was running dirty. It had about 6” of visibility and had a greenish brown color. I fished one run near Darrington. The top of the run looked pretty good, but after working about 10 ft into the run is was all sand for the next 50 feet. The tail out of the run was great with nice big boulders and very little sand. After working the run hard I moved on to the Skagit in search of cleaner water and more fish.
If you plan to float the Sauk below Darrington, you better check out the launch access first. Snohomish County, I believe, is installing a new bridge next to the Saw Mill and the boat launch is blocked. You can get an inflatable into the river with a little work, but if you have a drift boat, you are going to have some trouble getting it into the water.
I was a little surprised at the amount of color in the Skagit below the Sauk. It the two areas I fished, the water had 2 ft to 3 ft of visibility, but it still had the greenish brown color. Once again, the head of the first run was great, but I ran into sand after about 10 ft. The tail out was in better shape.
The last run was beautiful from the top all the way down to the bottom, but with the same visibility and color. It swung a fly well, but I didn’t touch a fish.
Rumor has it, there are steelhead being caught in certain areas of the Skagit, just not in big numbers.
The Skykomish River fished well over the last couple weeks of February. The river was running around 4000 cfs (The gage at Gold Bar is off due to the flooding last fall) and there were a mix of both hatchery and wild steelhead caught over the last two weeks.
I spent half a day on the Sauk and Skagit checking out some runs that I haven't fished since last year. Here is the scoop. The conditions on the Sauk are great. The water has a slight green tint to it with 4 - 6 ft visibility. The water temps are probably in the high 30's. There is still a lot of snow on the foothills around the Sauk and the water level is still pretty low. It could use some more water, but you have to be careful what you ask for!
The Skagit is running crystal clear above the Baker. The DAm on the Baker has pretty much been running non-stop due to the cool weather so the water in the Skagit just below the Baker has about 2 ft of visibility. The Skagit has 4 to 6 ft of visibility once you get a mile or two down. The water also has a slight green tint. I would spend my time on the Sauk if I could fish a weekday (It is packed on the weekend), or the Skagit below the Baker any time.
The wild steelhead have not shown in big numbers yet on the Sauk or the Skagit, but expect a good push in the next couple weeks.
Now on to the recent regulation changes on the Skagit, Sauk, Cascade, etc.
Good news! The Skagit, Sauk, and Cascade have gone to a selective fishery starting today, 2/16. This is a emergency regulation change that is long overdue and needed to protect the wild steelhead that are in the river right now and will stay in the river until they are done spawning in April, May, and June.
You are also allowed to harvest two hatchery steelhead per day. This is also a good thing because we want to get as many hatchery steelhead out of the river as possible to keep them from spawning with the wild fish. I am sure there will be a number of differing opinions on this regulation change, but I support it. A number of studies have been done that show the survival rate for hatchery fish that spawn in the wild is very low. When a hatchery steelhead spawns with a wild steelhead, the survival rate for those offspring is also very low. The end result...the more hatchery steelhead that spawn in the wild, the fewer wild steelhead return four years later.
WDFW has also decided to close the Skagit River system one month early. I am not exactly sure their justification for this change, but I am sure it has something to do with sharing the pain across all user groups. In all reality, the escapement goal was dropped from over 10,000 wild steelhead back in 2002, to the current goal of 6000 fish. The river system is not even meeting the reduced escapement goal. In my opinion, the goal should be much higher, considering the Skagit river is the second largest river in the state, and the 6000 fish goal is lower than the escapement goal of the Skykomish River which probably has half the habitat of the Skagit system. The Skagit River probably should not have been open for the last 6 years, minus 2006 which saw a fabulous return, and it probably should not be open until the run increases dramatically.
I would like to thank those of you that submitted comments to WDFW requesting a selective fishery on the Skagit River in February. It appears that department finally heard the voice of reason. For those of you that did not submit comments, hopefully this provides encouragement to do so in the future. I am sure this rule emergency change is temporary. With the recent ESA listing of Puget Sound Steelhead, we will most likely see many differences from the past. Hopefully the selective fishery on the Skagit System is a sign of things to come.
I posted a portion of the regulation change below. Please visit the WDFW web site for the complete reguation change.
Skagit River system steelhead rules change
Action: The Skagit, Sauk, and Cascade Rivers and Fisher Slough will go to the selective gear rules, release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day, beginning Feb. 16, 2008.
Effective date: Feb.16, 2008 through various dates See Locations and Restrictions.
Species affected: Steelhead and all other game fish.
Locations and Restrictions: Skagit River: · From mouth upstream to the Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) effective February 16 until May 31. Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) upstream to Gilligan Creek: effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From Gilligan Creek to Dalles Bridge at Concrete effective February 16, 2008 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport effective February 16 until March 31(closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River effective February 16 until March 31(closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From Cascade River to Gorge Powerhouse (Dam) effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.
Sauk River · From mouth to the Darrington Bridge effective February 16 until March 31 (closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day. · From the Darrington Bridge to Whitechuck River effective February 16 until February 29 (closed March 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.
We had a wet few days prior to this trip and the Sky was up and colored. It was flowing at 2500 cfs in the morning and had around 2 ft of visibility with a green tint. I decieded to do a short float due to the predicted rain and rain it did! It rained all day long and it never stopped. I think the rain drops got a little smaller a few times, but we were wet by the end of the day.
I walked Craig into the first run and showed him how to cast a sink tip and let it swing. He picked it up fast. I moved back upstream to help Sarah get started and before she even got in the water Craig had a fish on. I didn't even get a chance to show him how to fight our west coast fish. He managed to land a good sized dolly on the 20+ range, mostly on his own.
I was surprised that as the day went on, the water conditions didn't really change. When we got off the water the visibility was still around 2 ft despite all the rain.
Deene and I floated the middle section of the Skagit. We were a little surprised to find it was in beautiful shape with 4 to 6 ft of visibility was a green tint. We got a little sleet in the morning, and little rain during the day, and some snow as we got off the water, but all in all, the conditions were great.
We were also surprised to find that most of the runs were swinging a fly very well. I only found one run that fished well last year but seemed like a waste of time this year.
Deene managed to tie into a couple dollies in the second run we fished and a couple more towards the end of the day. All fish were hooked in the slower runs which wasn't surprising considering the water temps were around 36 degrees.
Eric and I floated the Skykomish River in the Monroe area. The river was low and clear and flowing around 1300 cfs. There were quite a few other anglers on the water which was surprising considering the tough fishing conditions.
We fished some very productive looking water but didn't have much to show for it.
Action Alert from the Wild Steelhead Coalition - Wild Steelhead Management Testimony:
Please mark the date for Saturday, Feb. 2, 9:45-11:35 AM as there will be a public testimony before the Fish and Wildlife Commission in Olympia , WA regarding the WDFW recommendation of the State Steelhead Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. After the 2004 testimony on the wild steelhead kill moratorium, as a part of the Commission’s concession in the decision, the Commission mandated to the WDFW to develop a comprehensive steelhead science study and from the study develop a new steelhead management plan, which would be the guiding policy for steelhead management in the state of Washington .
Over the last 3 + years the WSC has participated in the science paper and steelhead management plan development by reviewing and providing recommendations from our own WSC research paper and other resources as well as actively attending the majority of the stakeholder meetings to insure recommendations were addressed. Now the time has come for decision on it’s implementation, while the WSC applauds the department for allowing us opportunity to participate, we have communicated that pieces have been omitted from the plan that will make it a true conservation plan that will actually aid in the recovery and diversity of wild steelhead. The WSC has recently taken action in this regard and funded two noted fisheries scientist to review specific pieces of the steelhead science and management plan to provide critical review and develop supporting information of our testimony to the Commission.
We are asking that membership attend this public hearing on Feb. 2 as an opportunity to testify and communicate to the commission that the proposed plan recommendation needs more work and is omitting critical information for real steelhead recovery. The WSC is developing talking points for our membership as communication aids in your testimony. These points will be passed on to you by early next week. We urge our membership and supporters to attend the testimony or email the Commission, this is a critical time for wild steelhead.
Thanks for your support.
Rich Simms, President, WSC
I walked into a number of runs on the Skykomish River from the Forks above Reiter all the way down to Monroe. I fished some beautiful water and some not so great water. The water was running clear with about 6ft of visibility and the water and air temp were both in the mid 30's. At times it even snowed pretty hard while I was on the water.
There were not many people out, and I didn't have much to show from my efforts.
Doug, John, and I floated the Sultan River in Sultan. The river was flowing at around 600 CFS and the visibility was around 4 feet. The skies were overcast for most of the day and we had rain on and off for most of the day. We fish some great water, both with floating lines and heavy flies and swinging sink tips.
Once again, we didn't touch a fish.
We made the decision to float the Sultan at the last minute because the Sky was quickly rising the night before and we didn't want to be fishing in a muddy river. As it turns out, the Sky was very fishable. I talked to a friend who landed a native over the weekend.
We were off the water early and I made it home in time to watch the Seahawks get brutalized by Green Bay....the better team definately won this game.
Doug Zaro, Walt, and I floated the Skykomish River from Gold Bar (Big Eddie) to Sultan. The river was flowing at 2000 cfs. The visibility was around 4 feet and the water had a greenish tint. The air temperature was between 36 and 45 degrees. It was overcast all day with rain/snow showers in the morning and afternoon.
We met at the Sultan Boat Ramp at 7:00 AM and were at the launch at Big Eddie around 7:30. There were a number of boats in the water and there were three other boats ahead of us ready to launch. One boat was fishing the water just above the launch. Most of the boats were hanging out in the first quarter mile of float from the launch to just around the corner.
We floated and worked our way down the river. We fished most of the runs from the bank swinging sink tips, and didn't touch a single fish. We also tried fishing a floating line and heavy fly out of the boat, but we didn't spend a lot of time with this. In most areas the water was moving at a pretty good clip and I didn't feel we were fishing the water very effectively.
Also, since the water was pretty low, the fly would only swing through a small part of most runs before hanging up. As a result, it didn't take long to fish most runs and we were off the water by 2:30 PM.
We never touched a fish or saw anyone catch anything.
We did, however, talk to an number of guys at the boat launch who managed to hook into a few fish at there very start of the float.
|2008 Reports||2007 Reports||2006 Reports||2005 Reports||2004 Reports||2003 Reports||2002 Reports||2001 Reports|