Summer and Winter Run Steelhead, Cutthroat, and Dolly Varden
The Sauk is a the major tributary of the Skagit and joins the Skagit below Rockport. It is a wild and scenic river and, as such, is undammed. Fluctuations from rain, snow and glacier melt are common with a mean flow between 3500-4000 cfs. It is a wide river with ample gravel bars and road access.
Take Interstate 5 to Burlington and turn east on Highway 20, following it 32 miles to Rockport. Turn right (south) on Highway 530 at Rockport and follow it 19 miles up the Sauk River Valley to Darrington. An alternate route is to turn east off of Interstate 5 on Highway 530 near Arlington and follow it to Darrington. The Mountain Loop Highway and Darrington Clear Creek Road parallel the east and west sides of the Sauk, respectively, upstream from Darrington.
Rockport State Park, located near the mouth of the Sauk on the north bank of the Skagit River has 50 RV sites with hookups and a limited number of tent sites, as well as restrooms with showers. U.S. Forest Service Campgrounds located at Clear Creek and Bedal also have tent and RV sites. Food, gas, tackle, and other resources can be found in Darrington.
Fishing the Sauk River:
There was a time, about 3 decades ago, when the Sauk was one of Washington’s top two or three big-fish steelhead streams. Winter run steelhead where common in the 20 pound class, and every once in a while someone would beach a monster in the 25 pounds or better class. I remember an article or story of a guide releasing a 35 pounder that would have been a state record. The Sauk still has that trophy river mystique that makes it special for those old timers like me that still remember the good stories. If you caught a trophy-class steelhead now, chances are pretty good that it would be a catch and release situation, which isn’t a bad thing. Most of the monster steelhead that return to this river come in the months of March and April, which would follow the catch and release months. Now if you where to catch in the months of January and February you might be able to keep these smaller hatchery fish. Both boat and bank fishing are effective, and the Sauk River anglers use pretty much all the usual steelhead baits and lures to take these fish. The river also has a small run of summer steelhead, and anglers find them scattered throughout the river from the summer season opener in June through the end of August. They catch a few summer-runs in September and October also, but during those months all steelhead caught from the Sauk must be released. It’s okay to keep Dolly Varden from the Sauk if it’s over 20 inches long, and the river gives up a fair number of these bigger fish. Try nightcrawlers or shiny spoons to fool them.
The mouth of the Sauk River where it meets the Skagit River