Stehekin River Regulation Help Needed

FlyFishNoob

New Member
Hi, I am new to freshwater fishing and especially new to fly fishing, and I am planning a two day trip to the town of Stehekin in mid-April. I plan to fish the Stehekin river and its tributaries by myself (without guides). However, I am really confused regarding the regulations on that river. According to the WDFW rulebook, Stehekin river opens Saturday before Memorial Day, which means it will be closed when I get there. Capture.PNG
According to the National Park Services website, however (I believe the Stehekin river is located inside the North Cascades National Park), there is a catch-and-release season from March 1 to June 30 on the lower stretch of the river. 1614970314223.png
I also called the guy at the lodge we will be staying at, and he said I can fish while staying in Stehekin (although he did not specifically mention the Stehekin river), which made me even more confused. My questions are: 1) Will the Stehekin river (or its tributaries) be open by mid April? and 2) Is it possible to catch a fish there? If possible, are there any general flies I should use? (I am happy with catching one thing that moves for this entire trip, whether if it is trout, pikeminnow, sucker, or even just a crawdad, since I have been skunked for all of my previous attempts at trout) Any info will be appreciated, thank you!

P.S. please take this post down if my question is inappropriate. I found several threads on this forum about the Stehekin river so I figured it is probably not someone's secret spot.

Edit: I have emailed WDFW about the regulations but so far they haven't responded yet
 
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smc

Active Member
Hi, I am new to freshwater fishing and especially new to fly fishing, and I am planning a two day trip to the town of Stehekin in mid-April. I plan to fish the Stehekin river and its tributaries by myself (without guides). However, I am really confused regarding the regulations on that river. According to the WDFW rulebook, Stehekin river opens Saturday before Memorial Day, which means it will be closed when I get there. View attachment 274016
According to the National Park Services website, however (I believe the Stehekin river is located inside the North Cascades National Park), there is a catch-and-release season from March 1 to June 30 on the lower stretch of the river. View attachment 274018
I also called the guy at the lodge we will be staying at, and he said I can fish while staying in Stehekin (although he did not specifically mention the Stehekin river), which made me even more confused. My questions are: 1) Will the Stehekin river (or its tributaries) be open by mid April? and 2) Is it possible to catch a fish there? If possible, are there any general flies I should use? (I am happy with catching one thing that moves for this entire trip, whether if it is trout, pikeminnow, sucker, or even just a crawdad, since I have been skunked for all of my previous attempts at trout) Any info will be appreciated, thank you!

P.S. please take this post down if my question is inappropriate. I found several threads on this forum about the Stehekin river so I figured it is probably not someone's secret spot.

Edit: I have emailed WDFW about the regulations but so far they haven't responded yet
Hey Noob.

According to the NPS site: https://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/fishing.htm Fishing anywhere in the park complex is subject to all WA State fishing regulations

and... also from the park site

Know Before You Go!​

In order to protect spawning fish populations, it is necessary to comply with special regulations including closures, seasons, catch limits and gear restrictions. This information is available from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Still, if the lake is open for fishing you might have some opportunity. At any rate, the valley should be beautiful as it blossoms into spring. Enjoy!
 

Freestone

WFF Supporter
It will be closed while you are there. There is no C&R season for 20/21. If you look at the header at the top of the page where you saw this information, it says this is summary of what the “usual” regs are but to see WDFW for the real regs, which it also says on the specific NPS page about fishing the Stehekin.

01E8D50E-9510-4269-A0DD-3DC84DB1D6FE.jpeg

59AC5935-F823-40DC-BD44-CCAC6D7EFB9A.jpeg

When fishing in WA and trying to decipher the Regs, I find it most helpful to start out assuming that the river or lake is closed then try to prove myself wrong. If I start out assuming or hoping that is it open, it can lead to confusion as I try to prove myself right.
 
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FlyFishNoob

New Member
Thank you for all your help! Are there any other body of water except for lake Chelan that is open by mid-April (nearby streams that feed into lake Chelan, alpine lakes, basically anything that is open) I can't seem to find any info. I am not asking for secret spots, but just public and well known spots that is open for fishing. I prefer not to directly fish Lake Chelan since I have absolutely no idea how to fish a lake that big
 
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Freestone

WFF Supporter
Thank you for all your help! Are there any other body of water except for lake Chelan that is open by mid-April (nearby streams that feed into lake Chelan, alpine lakes, basically anything that is open) I can't seem to find any info. I am not asking for secret spots, but just public and well known spots that is open for fishing. I prefer not to directly fish Lake Chelan since I have absolutely no idea how to fish a lake that big
In short, No.

If a river or stream in WA is not specifically listed as open, AND, the date is not during the General Stream Season, then it is automatically closed.

Again, it is easier to just assume something is closed unless you find specific information that says it is open.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
The lake can be worthwhile, but not really newby friendly. I've done downriggers for big fish with friends from wenatchee, and picked around creek inlets with a fly rod on canoe trips. Was glad to go with folks who knew the area. Check the regs, be careful, and good luck.
 

O. clarki

New Member
It may not work out for flyfishing on this April trip but it is gorgeous country and you will want to return some time. In lieu of fishing there are tons of hiking opportunities and the local bakery is amazing!
 

FlyFishNoob

New Member
Yeah I might plan another trip there in the summer to actually fish the stehekin river, which I wanted to do for some time. Thanks to all the help I received!
 

FlyFishNoob

New Member
I also have another question, and I will really appreciate it if someone can help. I saw some reports from back in December about people catching cutthroat trout off the boat docks at lake Chelan. I do not really know the specifics of how to catch these fish (which dock they fished from, what kind of flies they used, etc.) Will it be possible to catch them off the docks at Stehekin in April? Thank you!
 

Chic Worthing

WFF Supporter
I have a cabin 8 miles down from the mouth of the Stehekin River would not recommend your original plans. I fish downstream from the mouth but the lake is not very accomodating to downstream or upstream travel. My son-in-law and daughter fished this stretch once and traveled up-lake by bicycle and had a great time.

A guide is the best way to go and I understand you are not interested. The Stehekin River has a strong current and the shoreline is very brushy and mostly private property. Have rarely seen a private property sign, but that doesn't grant access. The only good way to fish the lake is by boat but I have had good days with a pontoon boat casting to shaded areas along the shoreline. The lake itself can get very rough and whips up things up in a hurry. And it is in a very narrow and long canyon and the wind is common The depth is about 1500 feet deep and the bottom is 388 feet below sea level.
 

triploidjunkie

Active Member
I
I didn't know that. Crazy!
I'm on some gear fishing forums. I read one report where they were catching mackinaw at 500 ft. Thought it was a typo and they meant 50 ft. Nope. The guys that fish it hard use downriggers, and specialized gear to get down.
 

Freestone

WFF Supporter
Can you fish the mouth of the stehekin in the actual lake itself? I mean right at the mouth?
The mouth is very wide and the town side of the mouth is all private property so one would have to have a boat/kayak/canoe to get there from town or one could float down to it about 4 miles in a pontoon boat (which you need to somehow get to Stehekin and then get to the upstream put-in). The other option is to go up the road about 5 miles, cross a bridge and hike 4 miles back down to the mouth. Bottom line is that there is no super easy, fast way to fish the mouth without a boat (which isn’t so easy to get to Stehekin).
 
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