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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks,

Good to see there has been a great start to steelhead season on our local rivers and that many new anglers are finding success. Congrats to all lucky first timers. Looking forward to making it out onto our local flows when time permits.

This series of reports will briefly review the 8 days I recently spent down in Washington targeting steelhead and bull trout. I will try to make it more pic heavy than than wordy.

I headed down on Boxing day in the old 1983 motorhome. Somehow I managed to make it across the border without being searched. Usually scruffy dudes rolling in beat up motor homes get pretty special treatment heading south but I was very lucky.

My first stop was the mighty Skagit River near the town of Marblemont. To those who fish this river on our side you would be amazed to see how much bigger it is down south. I think to say it is just a touch smaller than the T around Spences would be a fair comparison. It is a very nice river still though and was flowing crystal clear when I was there.

The first morning I started fishing right by where I camped out, the confluence of the Cascade and Skagit Rivers. there is a very fishy pool right where the cascade enters the Skagit:



If you look in the photo you will see the Cascade coming in from the right and a nice slick being created by the meeting of the 2 currents. This was very fishy slick and I saw a happy local catch a very nice hatchery doe from this location. The whole stetch around the Cascade confluence is very fishy as the majority of Skagit hatchery steel are bound for the Cascade and use this area of the Skagit to rest before they head up the much smaller Cascade.
I spent an haour short floating roe on this stretch but came up empty.

I decided to start bush wacking my way up the Cascade from the confluence, the going was slow and I found very little fishable water with heavy brush and log jams being the order of the day. I finally saw a clearing in the bushes and stepped out onto the first open gravel bar I had seen in a while. I was happy to see I had found a beautifull pool deep and flowing at that perfect choppy walking speed. Unfortunatly there were also 12 guys lined up along each side of it :(. After talking to a few locals I determined that I had bush wacked my way up to the Hatchery Pool :wallbash:.

I sat on a log for a while to observe the interesting techniques being utilized by the locals and then headed back to the motor home to have some lunch.

After lunch I decide to put the 3106 away and break out the 6wt. Little did I know that this breif morning bushwack would be the only time the trusty old 3106 would ply it's trade on The Skagit or it's tribs. Armed with glow bugs and streamers I headed up stream above the hatchery for some peace and quiet and hopefully some nice sized bull trout. The Cascade above the hatchery is like a different world than below. The crowds of anglers are replaced by a sparse scattering of folks. The bush wacking and log jams are replaced by a perfect sized pool/ riffle walk and wade stream:



I spent a very pleasent couple days fishing the Cascade far from the hatchery and it's crowds just me and the bull trout


This is the area of the Cascade that I would reccomend to those reading this, there are far less steelies up here but the scenery is great and the solitude is what sets it apart. The last photo for this post will be of my lunch break on the second day: relaxing on a nicely placed log giving the 6wt a rest and enjoying a fabulous Alaskan Winter Ale.



Very peacefull!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the kind words Rick, it was a good trip. It snowed every day I was down there pretty much wich was cool, better than rain every day for sure.

My brother canceled on me last minute so it turned out to be a solo trip, wich can be a bit dull on those long December nights but I brought lots of good books and fished dawn till dusk every day so was pretty worn out in the evenings anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Re: Washington Road Trip Report II- Sauk River

After leaving the Cascade with fond memories and a promise to return earlier next year when the chum are on their redds, I headed south from Rockport along the Sauk River. This river is a real beauty I would compare it in size the the Upper Squamish it also has many of the same characteristics.

The Sauk is not a hatchery steelhead stream, for me this is a plus since it keeps the folks away and busy on other flows. It's banks were very quiet, for the four days that I fished it I only bumped into a few other guys all fly chuckers. The water flows a very nice shade of green and the river is made up of big beautiful pools and nice fiffles. The water on this system is fantastic fly water: there is plenty of backcast room and lots of those long tail outs that we all love.



The above photo will give you an idea of the nice green color that the Sauk flows.

I spent all of my time on this system (4 days) targeting bull trout and had alot of fun while I was at it. The flies of choice were streamers like the ones below or glow bugs if they were being fussy.



(note the barbed hook you see in the pic was unused as of it's photo time)

The bull trout responded well to dead drifted glow bugs but I preffered to catch them on streamers, they hit these both on the swing and the strip.

When fishing a good pool I usually would start by covering the water with a stripped streamer, this is a quick way to cover water and locate fish. Once I found where the fish were sitting I would slow down and just swing streamers or drift glow bugs to pick off the less aggresive ones. The Char seemed to preffer shallow choppy water (2-5 feet) with good sized rocks for cover. Once I got dialed in to the ways of this river i was able to see the type of water where they would be holding with great regularity.

The fish were strong solid fish of around 16-25 inches with bright silver sides and a rather snakey look to them. They hit flies hard and put on a good fight considering the water temperatures at the time.









The above fish are a few of the ones I managed to land during my time on the Sauk, please pardon the poor pics I hate taking pics on solo trips.

I would have to say this river found a place in my heart and I will be back this winter for sure. This is my kind of flow quiet, beautiful and with just enough fish to keep me interested. Good road access is available but drifting is also certainly a possibility.
 

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great report PatAv

Those are the fish i need to get out and get on the fly. So far only gotten small bulls on spinners (vedder) oh and one good sized one in the Squamish fly fishing for pinks :thumbup: it was about 2-3lbs i guess. cant believe i almost forgot about that one. They sure do hit hard :thumbup: :thumbup: cant wait to find some places where those fish go 10+lbs
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the kind words Hook,

There are a few places with 10+ pound bulls around so you will find those trophys some day I am sure :)

You are right they hit hard and are stunning to look at.
 

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Glad you got to experience the Cascade while you could. They just closed it now in fear that they might not hit their escapement goals. ???

Hard to believe with the amount of fish we have been hitting on the Skagit lately. :confused:

I smell a conspiracy...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Washington Road Trip Part III- Stillaguamish River

This was the last river I fished while down in WA, so this will be the last part of this report.

The "Stilly" is a very nice river that is most famous for it's summer run steelheading. One of it's main tribs, Deer Creek has a run of super agressive and acrobatic summer fish that return in June-August. The river gained international aclaim for this fishery back in the day, even attracting anglers like Haig-Brown to ply their trades along it's scenic banks.

Like most steelhead fisheries the Deer Creek fish are almost just a memory today, and a shadow of their former numbers. There is however a fair fishery for hatchery summer runs on the Stilly today, but that is for another road trip and another report. Back to the present.

When I spent a day on the banks of the North Fork Stilly it was a cold clear day and the only day I saw any blue sky on my Washington adventure. The water I fished reminded me alot of my home river, the Chilliwack. Nice medium sized river with lots of great pocket water. I also managed to find some great looking pools that should have held fish but for some reason refused to give any up.



I short floated some good roe through alot of great looking water the day I walked the banks of this river, but the steel managed to steer clear of all my offerings. I also talked to many locals who found the fish to be equally stubborn. I did manage to hook some great football shaped rainbows of 14-16 inches, but they did not stand much of a chance against the old 3106 so were released quickly without a photo.

It is a nice river and I may head back to it one day, probably during the summer run or in the fall with a 5 wt to target some of those nice football trout with glow bugs. I was treated to a very nice sunset on the NF Stilly that I would like to share as my last photo for this post.



That is it for the Washington Trip report, I hope some of you have enjoyed it. I tried to include some info about the rivers I fished that will help others planning trips down that way.

My overall feeling is that I really enjoyed my time on the Skagit, Sauk, Stillaguamish and Cascade Rivers. I know I will be back to all of them eventually, some sooner than others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Dereke, Rick and Tuberdude for the kind words :)

My next trip will be back to the Sauk for a couple of days to show Kim some of the nice spots I found.

Then I have 9 days off in early march so I am considering a few options for that block. OP, Yak or maybe the Columbia in the west Kootenays if it is not too early.
 

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I was out on boxing day but much lower down, the road in the morning was pretty nasty and I didn't even make it to marblemount..

The cascade does get hit pretty hard and I also like to fish the area above it as there is nearly no one up there..some excellent coho up there too...your allowed four a day during the season...




Right across from where you were fishing on your first day is a nice bar that will produce as well...Wish I fished my own rivers more...Nooksack is another little gem and allot of fun for dollies etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey miilo, thanks. I never did make it back. My trips to Wa have grown fewer as of late. I have become rather disgruntled with border line ups after some nightmarish experiences.

As for the chum my plan was to target bullies with glow bugs behind chum redds, not the chum themselves.
 
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