The one yard line

Here's my take for what it's worth and that's likely not much but here goes. The skagit is a storied river with rich history. A history commercial interests will use to market immediately if it is open season on guiding. Second, with all the hype surrounding steelhead fishing it will see record traffic period. You have an expanded population, social media, and novelty. Good thing the skagit is big. I think an above poster is correct that most will congeal on the Sauk. It's less intimidating as far as size and holding water identification. I think it should be a baby steps affair. This means zero guiding for a bit and restrictive regulations. If all goes well then become more liberal in the approach. I think those at the front of the occupy movement should be consulted on how it goes down and not some cadre of guides or industry people. It's a gift getting it back, let's not abuse it and get it shut down in short order. As for myself I'd love to fish it but won't for a couple seasons till the novelty wears off and crowds thin. Do not underestimate the interest and novelty and the pressure it will bring. This is a different time in angling since it closed. I hope it gets done right and isn't commercialised. I'm sure outfitters are already brainstorming as to what would milk the most from this precious new resource to plunder.


Wild Trout forever
Anecdotal opinion from Olympic Peninsula rivers is just that anecdotal opinion.
Genius ! I did not pull a Rob and say "fact"....all opinion until, of course.

I am sure the rivers in Forks will not be deserted.

Let's see how it plays out, and let's hope fine adjustments are made. Fair enough.


Well-Known Member
how many angler encounters will necessitate thinking about impacts?
Good question Rob. The answer is, "it depends." It depends on the run size because the incidental take limit is a % of the run, on a sliding scale, with the % being larger when the run is larger. It goes like this:

<= 4,000 4%
4,001 - <= 6,000 10%
6,001 - <= 8,000 20%
> 8,000 25%

At a runsize of 4,000 the allowable take is 160 steelhead, of which the non-treaty share is 80. Using a 10% mortality rate, 800 steelhead can be encountered. However, if the runsize is that low, there ain't a snowball's chance in hell that anglers will encounter 800 of them. At low runsizes, angling success is so low that angler interest and effort drops off significantly, further reducing the number of encounters.

If it were up to me, for runsize forecasts of less than 4,000 I'd rather just close the season. But the tribes want allowable take every year so that steelhead don't interfere with scheduled salmon fisheries.



Well-Known Member
As you're likely aware, social and biological outcomes are joined at the hip, . . .

How so? Are they joined, that is? I can see how either bad social and good biological outcomes - and vice versa - can occur independent of one another.

However, as mentioned, further details still need to be confirmed before such a fishery is implemented, notably considerations of how social response will affect sustainable biological outcomes. Not to mention the related feasibility of how to thoroughly monitor and enforce such a large and diverse fishery, even if the Dept somehow finds the funds to do so as the Director promised.

If fishing pressure is intense and catch, as revealed by NMFS' required monitoring, exceeds the take limit, the river closes. The take limit isn't negotiable, exceed it, and the river closes, period. Just as the Methow has closed prematurely when the wild steelhead encounter rate has been met. This should be no different. If the Department doesn't provide the required monitoring, the river will not open. Period. You can take that to the bank.

Myself, others, and orgs are in the process of crafting exactly what our recommendations to meet the above considerations should be, so I apologize for a lack of detail at this time. I know it's something the Department is also thinking about, but their track record is far from stellar.

The Department can think all it wants, but NMFS is setting a take limit in stone. The Department's track record is irrelevant.

Related to the above and with all due respect to the OS crew, I strongly believe there is a very real and legitimate threat that if it reopens, the Skagit in March will quickly look like the lower Hoh has the past 5+ late winter/spring seasons: hyped nationwide, generally over-pressured by users of all types, overcrowded now that everyone and their uncle has a boat and it's a non-technical float, in peril of not consistently meeting escapement goals or worse trending below them and downward, and eventually, once again circling the ESA-listing drain.

Unlike the Hoh, the Skagit has a take limit. It cannot be exceeded. If your parade of horribles results in the take limit being met, the river will close to fishing. Period.

Such a situation is a result of both social and biological outcomes, and it's what we need to plan to avoid on the Skagit as best as possible through heavily conservation-oriented regulations. We shouldn't squander such an opportunity.
If whatever social outcomes lead to a biological outcome expressed as reaching the take limit, doesn't the existing plan to close the river at that point prevent a negative biological outcome measured as too low a spawning escapement? If not, how so?

There’s only so many truck/trailers that can park at each take out on the Sauk, and I HIGHLY doubt any of the newbs will be floating from the mill down:) ....that’s one thing that will actually limit boats on the lower Sauk. As for the Skagit, it only takes a few successful swingers to start posting pics, and maybe some guys in boats floating by that will try that run tomorrow, etc. .......might be a lot of walk ins for a bit eh Brian!

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
There’s only so many truck/trailers that can park at each take out on the Sauk, and I HIGHLY doubt any of the newbs will be floating from the mill down:) ....that’s one thing that will actually limit boats on the lower Sauk. As for the Skagit, it only takes a few successful swingers to start posting pics, and maybe some guys in boats floating by that will try that run tomorrow, etc. .......might be a lot of walk ins for a bit eh Brian!

Ya, too bad I don't have anytime to use mid week:confused:


Geriatric Skagit Swinger
A couple of observation on the comments in this thread.
As Salmo and others have stated, there is a safety valve built into the plan. Once enough fish are encountered, season is over. I would also point out that another factor which could be put into play would be sliding the opening and closing dates around. Both of these things could be considered conservation driven.

I find it interesting that with all the concern about overcrowding, only one has vowed to stay away and another has decided to skip the Sauk. I think he's lying about the Sauk! :) The pull will be strong...

Personally, I'd like to watch a season go by before clamoring for more rules.

I will be holding a Skunk Party on opening day at Howard Miller Park - for those of us that are most unfortunate in our angling endeavor. :)


Active Member
My point has been the heavy lifting ain't quite done if we want to do this right. And no one has said shit about fly fishing only on the Skagit, nor will any group I'm involved with.
Could you be more specific on the "heavy lifting...if we want to do this right"? Likewise, I'm not sure what you mean about "fly fishing only on the Skagit". Is that something you are advocating?


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
The Sauk will be a shit show. The yarn ball heroes that rose to glory on the coast will feel at home on the smaller river with some more clearly defined high banks and slots to pound with bobbers.

The main stem Skagit won't be as bad per say, however sleds can roam the free plains and hit where they want, and the section that is open in the proposal really isn't that big. Shit, even the most popular run off late that produced a few dozen Instagram (and wff) posted swung fish last year will be closed. Combine the sleds with those Sauk avoiders and it will certainly be more crowded than it was ten years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I like a good yarn ball rodeo every now and then, but those that have visions of solo swinging a Sauk/Skagit gravel bar for hours on end without interruption are just delusional. That said, this description can be applied to 90%+ of steelhead rivers these days.
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I love how the .org fish conservancy groups want to jump in now to push their rule proposals after the heavy lifting has been done by other individuals
OS purposefully stayed away from any of the so called " dot orgs" because we didn't want the waters muddied by other issue. To rail against them now is uninformed or disingenuous. It was in part the singularity of purpose that made OS effective.


Geriatric Skagit Swinger
I would have to say that the actual heavy lifting was done by those at WDFW that wrote the plan, and did it in such a manner that getting federal approval should be a nearly foregone conclusion. The OS contribution was that of getting the department to think outside the box a little bit and see if it might work.

Although I personally had very little interaction with the "dot orgs" the science was there for anyone that cared to look at it. Their support was welcomed even if we might have seemed a little aloof and guilty of holding them at arm's length. Again, that singleness of purpose required that of us. But, their support, their ability to bend some ears to take us seriously, and the other behind the scenes work they did was a part of it all. It's a win, win; we all get to fish.

Now that we are on the doorstep of a new management era, the 'well regulated season' that OS has been about, it's a perfect time for a reset. A reset of attitudes, expectations, cooperation, and respect for the fishery that was once taken away. If I could, I would sprinkle some fairy dust over the whole thing and make it all warm and fuzzy. It's up to you folks, each individual, to try and establish a fun and fair playground. Maybe some Skagit Tradition to go with those Skagit lines?