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I've heard that there is some fishing to be had in the PNW again. I am very interested on heading up to see and appreciate what the river has to offer. I'm willing to hire a guide, but I'm only interested in a guide that focuses on fly fishing, barbless hooks, and someone who cares more about the fish than catching them for a photo......I found such a guy on the Clearwater, I won't name him (Tracy Allen), incredible experience, passion for the sport, and compassion for the environment. If you have someone in mind that may fit the bill, please let me know. On the other hand, I could always DIY, I have a boat and live within 1000 miles, but I'd be happier to fly up and hire someone who is interested in sharing their experience and love for the river. Any advice is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
 

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PM sent, its not guaranteed that will be open, expect crowds and dont exspect to catch fish. If you do it will be a special experience.
 

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I'd heard that it won't be open next year due to a funding issue. Then I heard that there might be some way around it. Then I heard there wasn't and it's definitely closed.

It's a real shame as I'm planning a trip to Washington in the spring and I was hoping to pay homage.

That's all if you're looking for winter/spring steelhead though. I know not of other things.
 

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Waiting on them to finalize but my understanding is the funding had been “found”.
 

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Are other PNW rivers an option? If the Skagit is closed, does that also mean the Sauk is closed? Other S rivers? Penenusula rivers?
 

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Based on the 2019 season, you can reasonably expect the Skagit and Sauk Rivers to be crowded. Seems like everyone wants a piece of the legacy. The run sizes have been small that last two years, at around 5,500 wild steelhead in a very large river system, only a small fraction of which is open to fishing.

There are guides offering trips on both the Skagit and Sauk, but I don't think I know them and cannot offer advice in that regard.

Regarding the certainty of a season, the WDFW Director mentioned in a May staff memo that the season would not be open due to budget issues for fishery monitoring that are a requirement of NMFS' ESA permit approval. At the June WDFW Commission meeting, the Director responded that he would fund monitoring for the 2020 season, but that the 2021 season was dependent and contingent on a supplemental budget appropriation in the 2020 Legislative session. That's presently where that issue stands.

The Skagit and Sauk Rivers are managed as a unit. If the Skagit closes, so does the Sauk. No other Puget Sound rivers are open to steelhead fishing after February 15. Coastal rivers on the Olympic peninsula are open to their usual closing dates in March or April.
 

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Seems likely to open this year, and if so, I recommend reaching out to Emerald Water Anglers in Seattle as they have some guides who are obsessed with that area. EWA is a swing only operation, so expectations should be set to fish good water, see the beauty of that entire zone, and enjoy even getting a chance to swing for wild Steelhead on rivers with such significant legacy.

I had a great few days on the water with the EWA Team last season, and recommend them highly.
 

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I imagine Brian Styskal is still guiding there. His handle on here is highlander something. Strictly a swing guy, and long line guru. You might also find him thru the Burkheimer shop.
 

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Trevor Covich and Jerry French will be guiding the Skagit and Sauk if it's open.
 

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Just heard that the preliminary run size forecast for 2020 is down around 4,000 fish, about 20% lower than the last two years. That's not what I was hoping for, but forecasts like these are rough estimates. If more information becomes available I'll post that.
 

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The Wild Steelhead Coalition on Instagram have posted that the Skagit will be closed this spring due to the low returns.
 

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Related but unrelated to closures: I dream of the day I can fish for steelhead on the Elwha.
 

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I said above that I would post an update when I got it. Sorry, I forgot about this thread. The above posts are correct. WDFW notified me and issued a press release today indicating that the pre-season runsize forecast is 3,963 steelhead, just slightly below the 4,000 threshold for a season that was agreed to in the Skagit Resource Management Plan that NMFS approved in 2018 for managing Skagit steelhead seasons. The most probable causes for this low runsize forecast is the Pacific Ocean blob and regional droughts in 2015 and 2016. Ed told me that some of the tributaries where spawning redds had been marked in April and early May were dry by the end of May, long before the eggs hatched or fry would have emerged from the gravel.
 

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I said above that I would post an update when I got it. Sorry, I forgot about this thread. The above posts are correct. WDFW notified me and issued a press release today indicating that the pre-season runsize forecast is 3,963 steelhead, just slightly below the 4,000 threshold for a season that was agreed to in the Skagit Resource Management Plan that NMFS approved in 2018 for managing Skagit steelhead seasons. The most probable causes for this low runsize forecast is the Pacific Ocean blob and regional droughts in 2015 and 2016. Ed told me that some of the tributaries where spawning redds had been marked in April and early May were dry by the end of May, long before the eggs hatched or fry would have emerged from the gravel.
Terribly sad news. Ed who?
 
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