Lower Skagit set for first-ever sockeye fishery | Outdoors
There's a new kid on the salmon fishing block this summer. A robust sockeye return will allow a first-time angling opportunity on the Lower...
Seattle Times staff reporter
There's a new kid on the salmon fishing block this summer.
A robust sockeye return will allow a first-time angling opportunity on the Lower Skagit River from June 16 to July 15.
"We've never had a sockeye fishery on the Skagit," said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
"A prediction of 35,000 fish offers us a chance to give it a try. This is the largest prediction we've ever produced on the system."
The Skagit will be open from the Highway 536 (Memorial Highway Bridge) in Mount Vernon to the mouth of Gilligan Creek, located about 3 miles above Sedro-Woolley. The daily limit will be three sockeye, with a minimum size of 12 inches.
Many are wondering what tactics will work best, as sockeye tend to be shy and reluctant to hit a lure or bait.
"Think pink spin-n-glos and a sand shrimp," Barkdull said. "Keep it simple and your presentation on the small side."
Others will try a small bare red salmon hook along with a thread of pink or red colored yarn or a plastic corkie float. Adding liquid anise or shrimp scent will also work to your advantage.
With plenty of snow in the mountains, the Skagit River might be on the high side at times, along with swift flows.
"We're looking at a lot of snowpack this year, and depending on what the weather is doing we could see a lot of snow coming off the hillsides," Barkdull said. "It will have a big impact on this fishery, both negatively and positively. If we get a lot of runoff in the next two to three weeks, the flows may be on the downside, but that didn't happen last year."
Even if flows are high, anglers can still catch sockeye by fine-tuning their tactics.
"Generally, the sockeye will be glued to the banks, sometimes within 3 to 5 feet from shore," Barkdull said. "If you find travel lanes, then you'll catch fish. These fish won't be holding in (deeper water) holes, and they're movers."
The open section of the Skagit has ample bank-fishing locations, along with good public boat launches.
"We had a purpose in mind when we decided to open this particular stretch of river, and there is a lot of public access," Barkdull said. "If the water is high, that'll reduce the amount of bank access and could make it crowded."
Anglers with propeller-type motor boats need to be careful around Gardner Road Bar and Highway 9.
"Those who aren't too familiar with this area need to be aware of all the logs in the water, and the channel splits into multiple grades that aren't super defined," Barkdull said. "The launches at Sedro-Woolley are above that point, and navigable with a prop as long as you're careful."
Take dad fishing on Father's Day weekend
There's no better way to bond with Dad than taking him trout fishing.
To improve anglers' chances of bringing a fish home for the grill, the state will plant 5,000 triploid rainbow trout, averaging 1 ½ pounds apiece, into 14 lakes just before Father's Day.
Triploids garner lots of interest from anglers looking to hook the "bigger one."
They're a sterile trout that spends its entire life gorging on feed instead of thinking about creating offspring. They can grow to trophy size if not caught in their first year, and if the lakes have ample
The following lakes have recently received plantings of triploid trout:
King County — Green Lake, 870; Lake Geneva, 450; Bitter Lake, 100; Echo Lake, 100. Snohomish County — Blackman Lake, 300; Gissburg Ponds (Twin Lakes), 350. Skagit County — Whistle Lake, 300. Kitsap County — Island Lake, 300. Grays Harbor County — Vance Creek (Elma) Ponds, 100. Pierce County — American Lake, 1,200. Kittitas County — Cooper Lake, 265; Lavender Lake, 150; Easton Ponds, 150. Spokane County — Williams Lake, 365.
• Free Fishing Weekend in Washington is June 9-10, and it is great time to take someone out and get them hooked on the sport of fishing. On those days a fishing licenses isn't required, nor is a Vehicle Access Pass (which comes with a fishing license); Discover Pass; Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement; or a Two-Pole Endorsement. State Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers that all other rules still apply, including seasons, area and lure or bait restrictions, and size and catch limits. Catch Record Cards (first one is free) are required to fish for salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, and halibut. Details: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/free/.
• The Washington Parks and Recreation summer natural and cultural history interpretive programs are at Larrabee State Park, 245 Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham. Dr. Marilyn Boysen will lead the programs June 30, July 14, Aug. 11 and Sept. 1. A Discover Pass is required to attend the programs. Details: www.parks.wa.gov/events.
• The public is invited to attend two kids fishing derbies June 9 at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island and Lake Sylvia State Park in Montesano. The derbies are free for children ages 15 and under. Anglers must take along their own equipment. A Discover Pass isn't required.
The Cama Beach kids' fishing derby is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a program on fishing basics. Limited fishing gear will be available for purchase. Rowboat rentals are $20 during the event. Details: www.cwb.org/2012fishingderby.
The Lake Sylvia kids' fishing derby is 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the park kitchen shelter. Anglers may participate in a pancake breakfast for $3 or begin fishing after arriving. Details: 360-249-3621.
• The Salish Sea Native American Culture Day is June 9 at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island, and the CamOcean World Oceans Day Festival is June 16 at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island. Also the State Parks' free day is June 9 in recognition of National Get Outdoors Day when a Discover Pass isn't required to visit any Washington State park. The pass is still required though on lands managed by state Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources. Details: www.parks.wa.gov/events.
• The Orvis Store in Bellevue at 10223 N.E. 10th Street is offering free fly-fishing lessons through July. Each class consists of one hour of casting instruction followed by one hour of rigging. Attendees will receive a $25 coupon off any purchase of $50 or more toward Orvis gear. Each participant will also get a free Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers membership. Details: www.orvis.com/ff101.
• The Manzanar Fishing Club documentary film is now playing at the Landmark Varsity Theatre, 4329 University Way N.E. in Seattle. The true-life story is about Japanese-American internees during World War II who ventured out of the relocation camp lined with armed guards and barbed wire to fish for the prized trout of the Sierra Nevada's high-altitude lakes and streams. Show times are 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Details: 206-632-6412.
• The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance's Mountain Bike Festival Summit Ridge BikePalooza is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 10 at 29000 Maple Valley Highway in Black Diamond. There will be free bike demos, poker race for all abilities, technical skills challenge, slow race, kid's race, raffles, food concessions and latest mountain biking gear. Trails and free-ride park will be open. Details: www.evergreenmtbfestival.com or 206-524-2900.
• Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering low cost life jackets June 16, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Evans Pool, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. North in Seattle. Cost for infant to youth large is $20, and for teens to adults is $30. Details: 206-684-7440.
• The Washington Butterfly Association free lecture titled "Butterflies of China" with Dr. Robert Pyle is 7 p.m. June 9 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st St. in Seattle. Details: 206-364-4935 or go to www.naba.org/Chapters/nabaws.
• The Washington Waterfowl Association in the Yakima Valley is hosting the Washington State Duck Calling Championship 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at Columbia Park in Kennewick. For details, call 509-786-9196.
• The state Department of Natural Resources has opened the Tiger Mountain State Forest mountain bike trails. The trails provide mountain biking opportunities for all skill levels. The trails are located at the Iverson Railroad Grade, Northwest Timber and Preston Railroad Grade trails. Details: http://tinyurl.com/tigermtn.
• The Washington State Parks and Recreation is hosting the Discover Outer Space event 3 p.m. to sunset Tuesday at Goldendale Observatory State Park, 1602 Observatory Drive in Goldendale. Visitors can view the rare orbit of Venus traveling past the face of the sun. The last time this occurred was in 2004, and won't happen again until December 2117. A Discover Pass Permit is required to attend this event. Details: 509-773-3141 or www.parks.wa.gov/events.
• The Washington Sea Grant and the Gig Harbor Boat Shop are hosting a Coast Guard-approved First Aid at Sea course 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8 at the Eddon Boatyard, 3805 Harborview Dr. in Gig Harbor. Cost is $80 ($40 for active commercial fishermen). Preregistration is required. Details: 206-543-1225.
• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.
• Mount St. Helens climbing permits are on sale. Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet. Details: 360-891-5007 or www.mshinstitute.org.
• Issaquah Alps Trails Club has weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.
• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and conditions. Details: www.wta.org.
• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org