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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-12-2008, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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Skagit below concrete?

I've got a friend with a 14' valco with a 15hp Honda on it. I know that's pretty light on the hp, but is there any stretch of the skagit this boat would be suitable for? If so, how high up the river could one safetly navigate? Also, is there enough fly-fishable water below concrete to make it worth exploring?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 04:52 PM
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He could use his boat anywhere from the boat launch at Marblemount all the way to Skagit Bay. Yes, there is a lot of fly fishable water below Concrete. Remember that Wes Drain caught the 20#er on the fly he then called Drain's 20 in honor of getting a 20# steelhead well downriver of Concrete at the mouth of Gilligan Creek.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 04:57 PM
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i am assuming if it is 15hp, it is a prop....depending upon waters levels, there are places on the river that can get a little skinny for a prop.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 07:59 PM
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Certainly it's possible...

... but, you better be good at reading water. If not, carry a spare prop and shear pins. Some of the skinnier riffles on the Skagit are below Concrete. This is because the river isn't what it used to be in Wes Drain's day - significant gravel accretion has occurred since that time, and because the lower river is of lower gradient this is where the sediment tends to collect. This same condition also has done an effective job of covering up most of the cobble bottom that used to exist in the lower river from about Grandy Creek down. Drive in to where Gilligan Creek pours into the Skagit and see for yourself - Wes Drain would not recognize it! The "last best place" in "recent times" that had extensive rock was Lyman Bar, and sadly, that was wiped out by a flood a few years ago. Of course there are still places that one can take steelhead on the fly - but they are very widely spread apart, and much of it is very "un-classic" water and requires a considerable investment of time to figure out. There is TONS of water that looks flyfishable, but only a small minority of it puts out fish with any semblance of "consistency" But if you have lots of time...

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 08:13 PM
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And oh yeah...

...unlike the Rockport area where a good portion of the boats are occupied with anglers from the 'burbs that often show a modicum of etiquette towards flyflingers, this is pretty much the domain of the "local boys" and their Skagit scows. These guys fish "their" water regardless of whether or not you are standing in it, meaning that you might have boats drifting down on you, and past you, about 100' out, casting their baits IN toward your feet!

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2008, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like a pleasant crowd, possibly more poorly socialized than myself...

I drove the south skagit highway heading out of the Sauk on Sunday, crossed back over to 20 at Sedro Woolley.. I really only saw a few places that looked promising, but my overall impression was, as you said, that there was a lot of running in between fishable pieces. Since I like to make the most of my time, maybe I'll pass for now...

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Last edited by Trevor; 02-14-2008 at 02:45 AM.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-2008, 12:53 PM
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Wanted to elaborate...

...a bit on this subject. I didn't want to leave too discouraging a vibe about fishing the water below Concrete... but as far as flyfishing steelhead goes, it is one of the more difficult venues to figure out. I just believe that for novices to steelheading, it isn't exactly the best type of water to start trying to figure things out in. Heck, not just novices either... I know of many "experienced" flyfishers that have been "beat down" by the lower Skaj. If you think that the Skagit around Rockport is big and hard to read, the "lower" river dwarfs the "upper" river's characteristics.

It is a more "logical" progression to learn where/when steelhead can be found with a fly on smaller waters and then once a foundation of that basic knowledge is established, then expand into the more difficult aspects of the game. In our Puget Sound rivers, as far as "big water" goes, the Sky is the easiest to learn from - it is easier to read and has higher degree of circumstances suited to steelheading with a fly. The Sauk is a couple of notches higher in difficulty category than the Sky - it is a more "hit and miss" proposition (I think Sauk fish are faster "travelers" than Sky fish, so it's harder to be "in the right place at the right time"), and the frequency with which the river changes makes it hard to pin-down good fishing spots for any length of time. The Skagit above Concrete is the next level up in challenges, containing less fly-water per mile than either the Sky or Sauk, and the characteristics of the taking places are not necessarily very distinct. The Skagit below Concrete is the epitome of difficulty, big, BIG water containing even less fly-water per mile than any of the aforementioned rivers, difficult access with many of its steelhead lies indistinguishable in feature from the other 90% of the "non-holding bars", and if there was ever a circumstance to illustrate the "here today, gone tomorrow" truism of steelheading, this section of river defines it. But, for those that are into the biggest challenges, and willing to sacrifice considerable time and energy in the process of learning, the lower Skagit can be a rewarding place to fish.

To put it another way, if you are having difficulty figuring out either the Sky or Sauk, then your not doing yourself any favors by taking on the lower Skagit!

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Last edited by Riveraddict; 02-15-2008 at 01:17 PM.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-15-2008, 03:16 PM
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RA is correct about much of the holding water not being very evident in the Skagit below Concrete along with fair distances between the good water. I also agree with him that it is not a good place for novice steelheaders to go for the same reasons that he provided. And yes, the river at Gilligan Creek has changed, but you can still find fish there (not at the mouth though) if you know what to look for in holding water. I greatly miss the Lyman Bar; but alas, it was taken out in the October 2003 flood. The periodic flooding the Skagit experiences also changes the river below Concrete in pretty major ways, which unfortunately, sometimes wipes out an area like the Lyman Bar.

RA is also correct that oftentimes experienced fly fishing steelheaders take a look at a run on the river below Concrete and erroneously conclude it is poor water to hold steelhead. My friend Bob Arnold is one who I've taken to some runs below Concrete and his comment was, "This is not holding water. We are wasting our time." based upon what he observed from shore. However, I regularly fish the Skagit in a few favorite runs from near Mount Vernon to Concrete and find steelhead.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-16-2008, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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My game plan...

I'll probably leave below concrete alone for this season, but I may try a canoe trip or two during low flows this summer to check the area out. If I see anything I like, I may give it a go next season.
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