Sauk River, WA
The Sauk River, which is approximately 90 minutes from Seattle, is one of the jewels of Washington state. It is a brawling river and is included in the Wild and Scenic River System. A free flowing river with mountains and forest cascading right into the river in places, it is swift with larger boulders and varied currents that produce intriguing and challenging water to fish. The Sauk produces both winter and summer steelhead as well as silver and chum salmon. Dolly varden char also inhabit the runs and riffles.
The Sauk has three distinct sections that are of interest to fly anglers. From the logging town of Darrington down to the mouth of its major tributary, the Suiattle, the river is smaller and more difficult to fish due to limited public access. This section is best fished using a boat for access. From the Suiattle down to the local spot known as "The Native Hole" the river widens a bit, takes on more water from the Suiattle and has numerous sections which are choked with large boulders and faster water. This section is easily accessed from the highway bordering the river. In the lower Sauk below "The Native Hole" the valley widens and the streambed becomes much more meandering. Smaller rocks and sand have filled in this section quite a bit and each year this section changes with every high water that occurs. Most of the water here is best accessed from a boat. The whole river is very tempermental for fishing as rain in the mountains can color the water easily due to sediment runoff.
The Sauk opens on June 1 st and is not much of a river to fish due to heavily silted water from glacier runoff. The Sauk becomes fishable again later in the fall when cooler temperatures freeze the glacier and winter storms are still a few weeks away. The Sauk gets a few silver salmon and chum salmon each year, but most anglers target the dolly varden char that inhabit the river feeding on the bounty that comes in the form of salmon eggs and flesh. A small hatchery winter steelhead run spices up an angler's dolly fishing, but the real prizes of the Sauk are the late running native winter steelhead which easily average 10 to 12 pounds. Larger fish are hooked each year and every one is thick shouldered and strong. These fish run the river right up until the river closes on April 30th. The river is closed during May to protect native spawners.