Goskagit

Portions of the Skagit and Sauk rivers will open to steelhead fishing Monday.

The state Department of Fish & Wildlife announced the opening Thursday. The fishery will run Feb. 1 to April 13 on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Up to two hatchery steelhead can be retained per angler. Wild fish must be released.

The fishery will be allowed on the Skagit River from the confluence with the Cascade River in Marblemount to the Dalles Bridge in Concrete. It will be allowed on the Sauk River — a tributary to the Skagit — from the Sauk Prairie Road Bridge in Darrington to the mouth of the river in Rockport.

Fishing must be done during the day and cannot be done from a motorized boat that is moving.

Anglers are required to report their catch. That will help Fish & Wildlife understand the impacts to wild steelhead and other fish that may be caught accidentally during the fishery.

The Skagit River steelhead preseason forecast is for 4,297 to return to the watershed. According to a fishery management plan that took effect in 2018, when the forecast is between 4,000 and 6,000, the state can provide some fishing opportunity.

Fisheries were held in 2018 and 2019, but not in 2020 when too few fish were forecast to return.

Puget Sound steelhead are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Lawsuits over the species previously ended a hatchery program on the Skagit River and suspended catch-and-release fishing for several years.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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