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I recently moved to Snohomish and have been trying to find some luck along the Skyhomish river since it is so close. Being a fairly inexperienced fly fisherman, I tried my luck on the Sultan river up off of Trout Farm Road. Within an hour I caught a 14-inch Rainbow with a Mayfly, but had no luck for the next 3 hours. After a couple trips back to the same area due to access restrictions I've had no suck luck. Starting to think that I experienced an abberation as opposed to finding a good location. Just wondering if anyone else even fishes that river or sticks to certain locations on the Skyhomish. Is the Sky even good for trout?
 

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Be the guide...
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Until the SRCs come in, the only trout fishing on the sky worth speaking of is going to come from up in the head waters of the forks and tribs. Even then you will probably be fishing for a lot of baby salmon and or steelhead. Pretty much taboo to target those. Wait for the SRCs to show in the lower river. Oh, and the pinks will be so thick by mid Sept that you will have trouble finding anything else...
 

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The South Fork of the Skykomish has resident cutthroat and rainbows, in the mainstem and the bigger tribs. They are very few and far between, but they tend to be nice, as demonstrated by the fish you found in the Sultan. One- or two-fish days, spectacular scenery, possible wildlife sightings, and pretty nice fly water will be your rewards. Head well upriver, around the town of Skykomish.


By fishing the South Fork, you avoid targeting wild native smolts. Sunset Falls on the South Fork is a barrier to anadromy. WDFW has created something of a fishery up there by capturing and trucking stray hatchery steelhead, chinook, and coho (likely mixed with some wild fish that were headed for the North Fork) from the base of the falls. By August, the hatchery steelhead will be available, but smolts you catch up there will be progeny of hatchery or other out-of-basin stocks.

That said, the resident populations are relatively fragile by themselves (probably not helped by the presence of the non-natives), so tread lightly please.
 

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Just an Old Man
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I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

I'd hate to call you wrong Ray,but have you been up on the river in September to November. The Tye river has a real healthy run of Silvers. The Beckler gets quite a run of steelhead. I've caught steelhead up as high as the Foss river. I've always had good luck on the Rapid river. What I like best about the area is that it doesn't get much pressure. This is from one who likes that area.

Jim
 

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Ray is correct; the falls are a complete barrier to all anadromous fish. The only adult salmon and steelhead above the falls are those that WDFW transports there. They are netted out below the falls, trucked up and around and released near the mouth of Barclay Creek.
 

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This is one of those happy incidents where everyone is right. Preston and I are right that without WDFW there would be no anadromous salmon or steelhead in the SF Sky. But Old Man is also right. The fishing can be pretty darn good up there for steelhead and salmon in the late summer and fall.

Good numbers of steelhead and coho spawn up there, and according to WDFW, Bridal Veil Creek has the highest density of chinook spawners of any trib in the system. (As you might guess, I don't think this is necessarily a good thing, given the provenance of the fish.)

My point was that if you went up there searching for trout, and you caught some smolts, you wouldn't necessarily be imposing any risk on a "natural" anadromous resource.
 

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Just an Old Man
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I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

I see your point. I shouldn't of jumped in so quick with my .02 cents worth. But I've always had a good time fishing up there. At certain times of the year the fishing is really good up there. But it seems to be in August and a little in September.

Jim

P/S I'll shut up now as I don't want to give out too many secrets. Before computers I used to find all these places by my lonesome and now in this new age it's all about "Hey where's the good fishing at". I tend to ramble on now and then but when your laid up there isn't much more you can do but sit at the 'puter.:bawling

Me again:beathead
 

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I definitely agree on the native rainbows; I have caught several while swinging muddlers or other wet flies in the fall, the largest of which was about 14 inches. But they are not of enough density to expect more than a few if you target them. I watched a pod of nice ones rising one afternoon eating occasional mayflies; I caught one on the swing and then the rest spooked. Current conventional wisdom is that the native rainbows in steelhead streams are a protection layer against extinction; in the event that ocean conditions or something else kill off all or most of the steelhead, the rainbows can interbreed and over time some will start heading to the ocean again. Amazing if true.

I think the debate about the barrier falls is extremely interesting. I have heard lots of people say that the only anadromous fish above the falls are trucked, but I have heard of fish caught up there well before the trucking supposedly takes place. I know several people who swear that fish can make it through the falls. The real question is whether or not fish appeared up there before the trucking practice started.

Circlespey
 

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Just an Old Man
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I forgot what I was supposed to remember.

All this talk about the falls makes me want to ask this question. How high are the falls and could a fish get up over them? I've never seen them and would like to so how do you get to them.

Jim
 

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While doing snorkel surveys on the north fork of the tolt, I know that steelhead have been encountered above 16 foot falls. It takes favorable water conditions but they are incredible leapers/swimmers. I have heard that the same situation applies to sunset falls.
 

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Summer steelhead can and do surmount some pretty impressive falls. But I think that fact that the SF Sky is naturally outside the anadromous zone is actually documented, or at least acknowledged by WDFW. At any rate, I know for sure that WDFW captures and trucks fish around the falls.

Sunset Falls (If I've identified them correctly) don't seem all that high, really more of a cataract than a true waterfall. But it is a pretty tight constriction, and could be a velocity barrier at high flows, and perhaps it is a vertical barrier at the low flows of summer and fall. And of course the "falls" I was looking at may not have been Sunset Falls.
 

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Physhicist
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If you were looking at the falls along highway 2 you weren't looking at Sunset Falls. Go find Sunset Falls sometime. Any fish that could jump up that one would be the fish I want on the end of my line!:D
Dave
 

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Back in the 'fifties there was a scheme to build fishladders around the falls on the South Fork of the Skykomish, rather like the successful effort at Granite Falls on the South Fork Stillaguamish. I understand they (I suppose it was the Department of Fisheries at that time) ran out of funds before much was accomplished. At that time there were no anadromous fish above the falls, only resident cutts, 'bows and, possibly, bull trout. Could there have been a few summer steelhead that were able to surmount the falls? Who knows? Some believe that there were summer-run steelhead who were able to get up through the Skagit Gorge before the tunnel from Gorge Dam to the Newhalem power house dewatered that stretch; they would have had to have been some pretty skookum fish.
 
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