With the past few weeks spent dodging tweakers and angry meat fisherman on the banks of the Skykomish river, I decide it was time to get out and try something different. So Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and made the trip up to the North Fork Stillaguamish river. The Stilly is a good river to fish when you want to escape from the crowds. Still a very popular river, it is further away from Seattle, doesn’t have the jet boat guide traffic, has some fly fishing only sections, and gets a smaller return of summer hatchery steelhead. Overall, less people.
As a rule of thumb, July 4th is when to start chasing steel on the North Fork Stillaguamish River. However, fishing has been tough thus far on the Stillaguamish. Early in the summer there was land slide somewhere up in Boulder creek, a tributary of the North Fork Stillaguamish. This has resulted in a blown out North Fork for several weeks. I have been watching the river closely waiting for it to become fishable. Flows are low running about 775 CFS, but the water is still pretty milky from the slide. It is definitely fishable with probably 12” or so of visibility, but there is still some clearing that needs to happen.
Dug and I took the opportunity to explore a few spots I have never fished before further up river near boulder creek. My first mistake was bringing only my Echo 12’9” 7 weight spey rod. This was a little heavy duty for this small of a river, works wonders on larger rivers like the Skykomish, but I never really had extend my line past the Skagit head I had lined up. My shorter 11’ switch rod would have been perfect for the job if I hadn’t forgotten it in the garage… Saturday was kind of a long night and I may have been a little spacey.
With the water still murky and my lack of preparation, Dug and I continued hiking around the river looking for holding water to come back to and fish another time. There are several spots that are readily accessible from HWY 530. The best stretch is probably between the famous Deer Creek all the way up to Fortson. This is a large stretch of river, and if you have no luck with the summer steelhead, there are numerous opportunities for some great cutthroat fishing up here, in fact, likely some of the best cutty river fishing around. The Stilly is a great place to spend a whole day and break out the BBQ for lunch. As soon as the river does some clearing I will be back again this summer.