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A buddy and I are planning to float the Skykomish for the first time in pontoon boats this Thursday on January 2nd. We are looking for any good feedback on where to PUT IN and TAKE OUT considering the flows are so low.

Ideally we would like to put in around Gold Bar or higher, and take out at Sultan, but are not sure how safe it is once you are around Gold Bar or higher. Maybe we are better off from Sultan down to Ben Howard Rd?:dunno

We are looking for any advantage we can create considering the slow steelhead reports. Any good input will be greatly appreciated.

MIKE
 

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I would put in at Two Bit and drift down to Ben Howard so you won't be rushed. You can fish in order: Thunderbird, the Island Pool below Thunderbird, IRS and a run just above the Ben Howard Takeout. Sultan to Ben Howard is about an 8 mile drift.

I launch my pontoon boat at Thunderbird. It's a pain to pull the boat down to the water but it saves time over launching at two bit.

An alternative float would be Ben Howard to Lewis Street Bridge. There are three long riffles in this stretch. Two of the three riffles can be accessed by walk in anglers so you may have company.

Have been on the river several times this week with no luck. The water is low and clear.
 

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If you want to float above Sultan, you can put in at the High Bridge and float down to the Sultan River (or all the way to Two Bit if you want to rush it). The upper drift is a little trickier than from Sultan down, but nothing particularly hairy (less any new sweeps I don't know about; always scout blind channels or turns before you attempt to float them). I'm afraid I don't know that drift well enough to recommend any particular riffles. I do believe that during the hatchery season many people consider the upper float better as the hatchery fish tend to blow through pretty fast on their way to Reiter.

That said, most of the popular, well known fly drifts are in the lower section, including Taylor flat, two-bit, Thunderbird, Island pools, IRS, Ben Howard, Audit pool, Buck Island, Hansens, and the Penitentiary (most of these offer walk-in access, so you would also probably find more elbow room above Sultan). These are the holes that I know and like best, so these are the floats I like best. Since you don't need a ramp, I might suggest floating past Lewis, to Hansens or the Pen, maybe starting at Ben Howard (you could fish Audit, Buck, the riffles below Lewis, Hansens, and/or the Pen). The only problem is that these are all walk in spots, and if thurs is crowded they will all likely have someone on them by the time you get there (but what else is new?).
 

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If last Sunday was any indication, you should not find much competition on the lower part of the river. I fished Buck Island from 8 a.m. to about 11:30 and saw narry a soul besides my fishing partner and some guy who was practicing his spey cast above the island. Also fished Taylor Flats from noon to about 3:30 and didn't see anyone other than folks in jet sleds, but they didn't seem to be too interested in that section of the river. People seemed to be headed further up stream; I suspect because they think the hatchery fish have already headed up stream. (There were tons of gear guys at the Cracker Bar, but that's as far up river as we went so not sure what it was like beyond that point.) As for fish, we didn't touch anything at Buck Island other than a sucker and a big whitefish. At Taylor Flats, we didn't touch anything, except that my partner had a little softmouth grab.
 
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