Lower Skagit River Day Trip (Float)
Hosts: Dave Campbell and Jim Watson
The Skagit River is 150 miles long and drains approximately 1.7 million acres. It originates in Southwest British Columbia, Canada, and flows through Manning and Skagit Valley Provincial Parks before entering Ross Lake and Washington State. Ross Dam is the largest and most upstream dam of three making up the "Skagit River Hydroelectrical Project", Diablo and Gorge being the others. Below Gorge Dam the river is often dry as the water bypasses the river and runs through a tunnel to emerge at Newhalem. The river flows S.W. picking up the Cascade River and the Sauk River where it turns west. The Baker River, which has 2 dams, Shannon and Baker, comes into the Skagit at Concrete, WA. The river heads west past Hamilton, Lyman, Sedro Woolley, Burlington and Mount Vernon until it splits around Fir Island and enters Skagit Bay in Puget Sound.
The Skagit River is a big river that's wide with long shallow runs and plenty of deep places for the fish to hold. It's full of large rocks and boulders. The Upper Skagit is a tailwater river and is gin clear most of the time. The Cascade River, a major tributary that enters at Marblemount, will be turbid at times during the Winter but other than that, the upper Skagit will stay clear. Below the Cascade River confluence, the Skagit River becomes wider, and continues on a shallower slope with slower riffles and runs. Downstream of the confluence with glacier fed Sauk River, water levels and turbidity are frequently very different from the upper Skagit. This is especially true after heavy winter rains.
A small run of summer steelhead starts in June. In the summer there are a few Chinook Salmon but the Pink Salmon that enter every other year, and the Silver Salmon, are the main salmon attraction. Fishing for them is best during the late Summer. Right behind the salmon are runs of Dolly Varden and sea-run cutthroats that feed on the salmon eggs. The Coho Salmon enter the river in the Fall. The winter steelhead, the Skagit's main attraction, enter the river around the first of the new year.
Pink Salmon only show up in odd-numbered years. But when they do move in, they provide fast action for about 5 weeks, from the middle of August to late September depending on the rain. In recent years the Skagit has seen record and near record runs of Pink Salmon. Our outing this August will be focused on Pink Salmon. We will float and fish the Skagit River at the height of the Pink Salmon run. Also, on the menu, resident bull trout and early Coho.
Although the Skagit River from Marblemount to Rockport State Park is not a serious whitewater river, it flows from 4 to 5,000 cubic feet per second in August and can be cold and fast with moderate wave train in places. This is not a river for rafting novices and newbies. The put-in and take-out will accommodate trailered rafts/boats.
Note: There is a launch fee at the take-out at Rockport State Park. Each participant is responsible for their own launch fee.
What to Bring for Fishing
- PFD is always recommended for wading and riding in boats.
- Washington state fishing license with salmon tag
- Waders, wading boots, and wading staff.
- Suitable water craft which can include personal pontoon boat, raft, or drift boat.
- 5, 6, or 7 weight rod with a sink tip line, 3X leaders, and strike indicators
- Just about any type of streamer fly or nymph
- Black woolly buggers
- Pink streamers
- Vest, hat, and glasses (with strap)
- Sun Screen
- Rain Gear
Food & Beverages
- Bring your own food and drink
- Bring your own chair
- Directions will be provided to registered attendees prior to the outing
- Shuttles will be organized as the outing date gets closer
Cancellation Deadline: If you need to cancel, notify the outing hosts no later than August 20th.