Skagit/Sauk ????

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Smalma, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,798
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    As another season coasts to a premature end I'm wondering about folks impressions of these year's wild fish.

    Obvious the fishing has been less than stellar but from the few reports and pictures that I have heard/seen the bulk of the catch of the wild fish this year has been smallish 2-salt fish. That seems odd to me.

    1) The day that I caught my only wild steelhead of year I had 5 bull trout that were larger than the steelhead. That fish and the majority of the others that I have heard of were several pounds smaller than I would expect for 2-salts; more like Deer Creek summer steelhead than what I associate with wild Skagit winter fish.

    2) Over more than 3 decades my experience has been that the wild steelhead of the early season (November through February) have been dominated by larger/old fish (3-salts); not the 2-salts that seem to be the norm this year.

    While I'm reluctant to make too much from a small sample size if collective we are seeing the same thing then the age and size of the fish so far maybe significant.

    Thoughts/observations.

    Curt
  2. Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

    Posts: 6,440
    Duvall, wa
    Ratings: +1,618 / 2
    There were definitely large fish in the system
  3. Andrew Lawrence Active Member

    Posts: 734
    Renton, WA.
    Ratings: +100 / 0
    My small sample size consisted of a wild buck that I caught in mid-December that was approximately 6 - 8 lbs., and a wild hen that I caught this past Sunday that was approximately 5 lbs. So far, this season has been pretty slow for me. Then again, I haven’t exactly been able to get out quite as often this winter as I have in years past.
    UP20603.jpg SSPX00911.jpg
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  4. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,703
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,747 / 0
    Nice fish, Andrew.

    Niether of your fish look sexually mature to me. Wonder why that is? I always thought winters entered the river fairly close to being ready to spawn.
  5. Cruik Active Member

    Posts: 459
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +141 / 0
    My only wild fish this year so far came from a little bit south of the Sauk/Skagit, but it was also a smallish 2-salt (I believe) in a river where early run 3 salts are common. Probably a 6 pound fish or so. Not a big sample size, but there's my contribution. If there is a trend, what do you think the cause would be? Would it be a basin-wide issue like lack of food or late out-migration or could it be an ocean conditions thing that would affect other basins?

    P1230005.JPG

    Also, those fish of Andrew's could be sexually mature. All they need for sexual maturity are developed eggs and milt sacs, right? The buck is getting a beak and has a gray mandible, and the hen looks like she could have some well developed eggs.
  6. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,798
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +653 / 0
    Kerry -
    They look immature because they are. Nearly all those wild fish we catch in November, December and January are spawning at the same time as those that we catch in early April. Those that I have caught in November typically are chrome black and white fish that look more like a June first summer fish than a typically winter. Back in the day when those fish were bonked by some I have the chance to examine several of those females and typically their egg skeins would be less than 1/2 size of fully developed ones.

    The few early spawning wild fish (say prior to mid-March) are found in the lowest tributaries (largest numbers in the Nookachamp/Walker creek system); doubt many of us are fishing on those fish. Basin wide by mid-April less than 5% of the wild spawning will have occurred most years.

    Evan -
    I realize that there are some large fish in the basin. It just seems to me that an unusual portion of the fish this early in the run have been 2-salt fish and as I said on the smallish size. Individually we done catch enough fish to get a good read but I was hopping that collective we may be able to get a better read on what the run may look like./

    Curt
  7. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,544
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +715 / 2
    Could be the smaller wild fish are just mis-clips/not-clipped. I caught a couple from the Sky in mid December that were in the 6 pound range. Even the smaller wild fish we got from a river a bit north of there were in the same mold as the hatchery fish. Hatchery strays are pretty common. Caught a bunch of actual hatchery fish the past couple days from a river that receives zero plants.
  8. landlocked New Member

    Posts: 12
    altamont, Utah
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I moved out of state about 12 years ago, but was back visiting family in Mount Vernon over the weekend. Took a drive Monday up to Concrete, crossed the Skagit, and took the old road on the west side of the Sauk back to HWY 53(? I think it is). I saw two anglers the whole way up, and now know why. More floater looking at birds than flyrods!
  9. Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

    Posts: 421
    Whitehorse Mt.
    Ratings: +80 / 0
    I haven't caught any big wild steelhead this season. But I haven't caught any small ones either.
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  10. HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Posts: 2,747
    Bellingham
    Ratings: +103 / 0
    I agree with you Smalma, I have seen a lot of small fish this year. But I know of a couple monsters caught that give me night sweats.
  11. bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

    Posts: 2,262
    m-ville
    Ratings: +675 / 0
    only the small ones can pass thru the high seas squid gill nets?
  12. Brandon S Member

    Posts: 39
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +10 / 0
    I had an awesome single day season on the skagit yesterday. The photo is a 31" hen. The one that got away was a mid teens fish that blew up the surface for 5 seconds and left me shaking for 20 minutes after. Sad the seasons already gone......

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  13. Sean Beauchamp Hot and Heavy at yer 6

    Posts: 2,111
    Shoreline, WA, U.S.
    Ratings: +465 / 1
    Beauty of a hen! I spent maybe 6-7 full days swinging flies and stumbling around the skagit this season with no fish to hand by me. I lost one chrome hen similar to the one posted above after a great take and a quick show on the surface last Sunday. I look forward to a future where it may be possible to call feb 1 the beginning of the season as opposed to the end.
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