Skykomish River, WA
Skykomish River - Forty five minutes to an hour from Seattle, the Skykomish River flows out of the central Cascade Mountains through the south and north forks which join to form the mainstem river at Index. It then flows through Gold Bar, Startup and Sultan before joining the Snoqualmie at Monroe. If any river is considered Seattle's home water, the Skykomish would probably be it. It hosts runs of winter and summer steelhead as well as four species of Pacific Salmon. Silvers, chum and pink salmon predominate with Chinook salmon hanging on with a remnant run of fish. Sea-run cutthroat also run the Sky in the fall.
The Skykomish, or the Sky as it is locally known, has two distinct sections that keep anglers busy throughout the year. From Sultan downstream to the mouth, the valley stretches out, farmlands predominate and the river widens and slows down a bit compared to upriver. The riffles and runs are generally shallower, wider and longer and are perfect for swinging a fly for anadromous fish especially in higher water. Upstream from Sultan and Gold Bar the valley tightens up and the river is faster, deeper and more boulder strewn. This section produces fish throughout the year, but it really comes into its own for the fly angler when the water is lower.
The Skykomish is a great fly fishing river and it is best known for its steelhead fishing. The river opens June 1 st to a mixture of late wild winter steelhead and early hatchery summer runs. Summer run steelhead fishing continues throughout the summer and into late fall until heavy rains bring the river back up to winter time flows. As summer moves into fall, silver salmon and pink salmon (in odd years) crowd the river. If the summer run fishing has been slow, these fish provide a great angling experience before the onset of winter. With late fall come the first winter fronts which will invariably raise the river to winter heights and generally this heralds the first fishing of the winter season. Chum salmon arrive first sometime in November with numbers building to a peak around Thanksgiving. The first hatchery winter steelhead are always caught at this time and these fish peak in December and early January. The first of the year is the time when fly anglers seek the ultimate prize on a fly rod, the native winter steelhead. These fish can return at anytime during the winter, but their numbers increase right up to the time that the rivers closes at the end of February. The river is closed to fishing in March, April and May to protect the fragile run of native winter steelhead that spawn during this time.