The last five days on the Skagit 2012


Ignored Member
Chris, the reason given by Mill Creek to close the lower river was to protect out migrating steelhead. They made no distinction between summer or winter. Wild spring/winter steelhead are leaving the river at all times of the year and likely more of them are leaving during the height of the pink season. If they truly want to protect wild spring/winter steelhead the river should be shut down to all fishing. Period. They know this and this is why I say they are full of shit. The only reason they close it for steelhead during late winter and spring is so they can say they are doing something. In reality it does nothing for steelhead and only takes away fishing opportunities. It is all bull shit.

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic

You are correct. Cutthroat fishing in the lower river is far less dtrimental than any of the other fisheries that are open.

At this point, any open fishery has to be Ok'd by the feds. Either they aren't OK'ing it presently or the state isn't asking them to.

Go Pat.'s,


AKA Joe Willauer
Very good post Chris! It's easy to get upset when you find people fishing where you want to, or see lots of pressure, but I think you make a great point that without people fishing, no one is going to protect the things that we all love.


Active Member

Great post, thanks.

I don't want to change the direction of your thread, but is there a Steelhead Management plan required for the east side rivers, Wenatchee, etc. and if there is, do you know if it is in place already? Thanks for any information.


Active Member
Chris -
Nice report!

I have watched (and even fished some) steelhead fisheries for far more years that I would care to admit to and have seen that angling pressure adjusts to the fish abundance. The result is that even during periods of low abundance the few anglers that are still fishing can experience some pretty decent fishing. However adding more anglers typically drives the catch rates down and pressure quickly adjusts

BTW - It seems to me that balance point (cpue) for winter steelhead fly fishers is about a fish for every 3 days for the better anglers.

Chris/Kerry -
I believe the issue on the lower river spring fishery is not the Feds but the State and how they have opted to implement the State's steelhead policy. The federal impacts guidline calls for fishig related impacts to not exceed that of the average for decade prior to the listing. During that decade that lower river spring fishery was open most years and the tiny impact on steelhead was included in the overall average impacts.

The problem is the tendancy of the State to use a broad stroke approach rather than at each fishery individually. I agree with you Kerry if there were harvestable salmon returning at that time of year the fishery would be open. That said I think there is a decent chance you will be able to fish the spring on the lower river again - am looking forward to seeing the decisions the WDFW commission made this weekend.

EH886 -
There is State wide steelhead plan (can be found on WDFW's web site). A huge difference between the Skagit and those upper Columbia tribs is that the upper Columbia hatchery fish are considered part of the listed stock and have similar run timing as the wild fish. On the Skagit the hatchery fish are not part of the listing and the hatchery and wild fish have very different run and spawn timing. Those differences allow the managers to craft very different fisheries to access the hatchery fish while limiting impacts on the wild fish.

Tight lines


I have to kind of laugh queitly as one of the reasons I love the skagit is the peace and solitude for the most part...lot different then being on some of the lower mainland rivers this time of year..

Think what Kerry says has a lot of merit to...Closing a river in my mind just means less people will care about what happens to it...short version..

Fished the upper for the first time in a long time this sat. Not sure if i'm finding better water walking in and that's the reason the boat guy had to fish it next to me...everywhere I went....or they thought I knew where the good water was and came in to fish it as well? Damn boat followed me all day and only one bull to show for it...

Getting time to face the hoardes again I'm afraid...damn steelie bug is a mother..
I'm so glad to read this thread. The Skagit was one of the first west coast rivers I fished when I moved here. I taught myself how to swing the fly while fishing for pinks. Then I fished the Skagit for steelhead fairly frequently for about 5 years until I finally gave up.
That river is just beautiful. Let's hope for a comeback.
I've been seriously considering a permanent relocation to the Skagit/Stilly/Saulk area until reading this thread. Are these troubles representative of all WA steelhead rivers or is this a local problem?
Moving back to the PNW to fish the autumn of my life is the goal and since I'm free to move anywhere, the quality of fishing ranks high on the list.