Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Its finally here - Skykomish River Report

The months between February 15th and June 1st can be very painful for steelhead fisherman in the Puget Sound area. We find ourselves spending the weekends tying flies and drinking twelve too many beers from the couch strictly out of boredom.  The only options to stand in a river are the 4 hour drive to the coast, or hope one of the rivers in Eastern Washington have a surprise opening. There are the weekends spent chasing sea runs in the Puget Sound or trout from a lake somewhere, but it’s just not the same. People around here like to steelhead fish so much, that on April 6th hundreds of us went and pretended to be steelhead fishing at Occupy Skagit up in Rockport in an attempt to cure this 3 ½ month case of cabin fever. So when May 31st rolled around you can imagine how excited many of us were.
Opening Day on the Sky
Unfortunately, the season has started off a bit slow.  Warm days and snow melt had the Skykomish River running high and hard on June 1st. For the first week or so of the season, the river was running between 8,000 – 10,000 CFS, but was still fishable and was holding its color. The lack of rain and the mild temps over the next week caused the river to drop down to under 5,000 CFS, according to the USGS readings. When the river is right, it seems to be running near the 6,000 CFS mark.
 I have never seen as many boats and people on the Skykomish River as I did on Saturday June 1st. There were multiple instances where I could’ve slung my fly into a group of tourist on a jet boat they were so close. You were either trying not to fall in the river from the jet boat wake or you were casting in between drift boats floating down the river.  I did not see anyone fighting a fish, never had tug on my fly, nor saw any signs of fish. All in all, not a very enjoyable experience.

The next weekend the river had come down and people were starting to thin out a little. I think due to poor reports from the week before. Katie and I decided to brave Reiter Ponds on the Hwy 2 side. Normally, I dodge this area with every ounce of my being. Something about fishing at the hatchery lined up with a bunch of rednecks pounding Steel Reserve from a paper bag doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather stand in the woods by myself and not catch anything than be there. But unfortunately, if there are fish being caught anywhere in the Skykomish River, it is probably at Reiter Ponds. We spent about an hour or so there, and out of the 15 – 20 guys that were there, we saw two fish caught on the highway side down river from the hatchery.

We left there to explore the Wallace flats. We started under the railroad bridge on the Wallace River and were going to work down towards the mouth to where it dumps into the Skykomish. Katie hooked on miniature rainbow on a small light green Wooly Bugger. When the levels are right, the water between the bridge and the mouth is very nice. I have had steelhead run up river right in front of me here and I have caught salmon here, but today I had no such luck.
Wallace River
Overall, it has been a pretty dismal start to the season. It’s still early though, many months to go, and things are looking up. I spoke to a guide on Monday 6/17 that was able to get into a few fish over the weekend and says that he is having better luck each day. A steelheader’s glass is always half full, the fishing is getting better every day.  Merry Steelhead fishing!!

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