Nooksack Question - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Nooksack Question

Howdy team,

I was wondering if anyone has knowledge about the Nooksack River in northwest Washington state.

Specifically, does this river have steelhead in it - summer or winter - and is there any wade accessible spey water anywhere in the drainage?

Probably the bigger question is whether the Nooksack ever opens to catch and release fly fishers in this age of dwindling returns.

Anyway, if anyone has knowledge they can share, it will be much appreciated.


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 05:49 PM
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The Nooksack, along with all other Puget Sound rivers, has a wild steelhead population that is listed as threatened under the ESA. So no directed fishing season exists for these runs. Fishing is allowed during December and January for the hatchery steelhead run, but that run is so poor that it barely returns enough fish back to the Kendall Ck hatchery to meet broodstock needs for its egg take.

There are a very few summer steelhead in the Nooksack, mainly in the SF, and the area they inhabit, along with wild spring chinook salmon, is closed to fishing.

The upshot is that the Nooksack River is open to fishing for steelhead, but not during the times and places when a decent number of wild fish are around.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks SG,

That covers it nicely. Tough to get that kind of info over in my neighborhood. I appreciate the feedback very much.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 06:39 PM
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The main Nooksack and its three major forks are convenient to Bellingham anglers. And it's a beautiful river in places, esp. the North Fork. But due to its tendency to discoloration and its criminally attenuated anadromous fish runs, it shouldn't be considered a destination river.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Mac,

Info much appreciated. There's a very small chance I may wind up living in or near Bellingham, so I thought I would ask around about the Nooksack. Your and SG's posts tell the story pretty well.

Thank you,

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 01:22 AM
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If you end up coming out to Bellingham or near to Bellingham, keep in mind that the Skagit is not much farther a drive than the Nooksack from Bellingham. It has an OK hatchery winter run and wild winter steelhead in it. Unfortunately, the run size in it has been depressed since around 1999 and the C&R for wild late winter fish in March and April is no longer available. Although there is a very small run of summer steelhead in the Skagit system, it numbers only a few hundred fish and the Skagit is a very big river so finding them is extremely difficult.

The other "S" rivers are also within an easy drive of Bellingham. I.e. the NF Stilly, Skykomish, and Sauk can all be driven to within 1 hour to 1.5 hours. And all of them have steelhead in them. The NF Stilly and Skykomish have both winter and summer runs.

Also, the Vedder in B.C. is only 45 minutes or so from Bellingham and it has steelehead in it.
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