Stillaguamish River reopens to fishing, Cascade River remains closed

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Action: Reopens the Fortson Hole section of the North Fork Stillaguamish River to fishing.

Effective dates: Jan. 24 through Jan. 31, 2014.

Species affected: All species.

Locations:

  • The North Fork Stillaguamish River reopens from the Swede Heaven Bridge downstream approximately 4 river miles to the French Creek confluence.
  • The Cascade River, a tributary of the Skagit River, remains closed from the Rockport-Cascade Road downstream to the mouth.

Reasons for action: Closures on both rivers were necessary to allow the Whitehorse and Marblemount hatcheries to collect sufficient winter steelhead broodstock to meet egg take needs. The Whitehorse Hatchery has now collected sufficient winter steelhead broodstock to reopen the North Fork Stillaguamish River.

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Stillaguamish River

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Species:
Winter and Summer Steelhead, Chinook and Coho Salmon, Chum and Pink Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Dolly Varden
Location:
Flows into Port Susan west of Arlington in Snohomish County
Directions:
Take Interstate 5 to Highway 530 and turn west toward the lower river or east toward Arlington to reach the upper portion of the river. Highway 530 parallels the North Fork, drive east on 530 out of Arlington, turn right (south) on Arlington Heights Road, and right (south) again on Jordan Road.
Facilities:
Food, gas, tackle, fishing license, and other amenities are located in Arlington, or along I-5
Fishing the Stillaguamish River:
The “Stilly” has been a long time favorite of mine, and is one of western Washington’s top summer and winter steelhead streams, and has a fair number of salmon to boot. The North Fork is especially famous, having been among the favorites of Zane Grey and his fly-fishing buddies. It is still open to fly-fishing in the summer months, and feather tossers catch as many as 500 fish in a season. July usually produces the best summer-run catches, and you can find summer steelhead in all the summer months and into the fall. January on February are the top months for winter steelheadeading on the North Fork.
The South Fork also produces both winter and summer steelheading, but on a smaller scale than the North Fork. A good year sees 200 summers and 200 winters.
Sea-Run Cutthroat fishing used to be a big draw in the Fall, but now varies with the regulations. They aren’t as abundant as they use to be, but October through December can bring flurries of them into the river.
Only the main river, downstream from Arlington, is open to salmon fishing, and then only for pinks and chums. There are chinook and coho in the river, make sure you read the rules and regulations. Pink salmon runs peak in September, and what there is of chums peaks in November. The Stilliguamish is one of only a few rivers that allow you to keep Dolly Varden, but they must be at least 20″. One of the best river fishing times I ever had was in September just west of the bridge at I-5, I was fishing for Cutthroats and it had not rained in months I came around a downed log and found a mix school of fish of about 100, chinook’s, coho’s, and chum’s. The fish where stacked and had now where to go because the river was so low. Well I was Cutthhroat fishing and had nightcrawlers, then I remembered I had power-bait in with my trout gear. WHAM!! fish on!, fish after fish snapping my 4 pound test of on numerous occasions. Although I did eventually land two 12 pound chums. Oh what a great day!