“The upper Skagit is a visually stunning place to lose yourself on the water; it’s a destination that offers solid fly fishing close to a significant metropolitan area of Vancouver, BC… The river itself is stunningly set within the Cascade Range and it was a privilege to enjoy its aesthetic wonders. Every bend in the river offered another vista, or the chance to view some of the other flora and fauna that reside in the valley. The valley lends itself to connecting humans with the outdoors as it’s just so calming, and its accessible yet far enough away from the urban sprawl to provide a sense of solitude. Being out there on the river is therapy for me… The Skagit is a treasure…”
– Reece Fowler, freshwater ecologist, Skagit River Therapy, Sage Fly Fish
– Read More Link: Skagit River – The LOONS Flyfishing Club

The Skagit River arises in Allison Pass in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. As a small mountain stream it flows northwest, crisscrossing provincial Hwy 3 and gradually collecting tributary streams, to its meeting with the Sumallo River at Sumallo Grove in Manning Park. From here it turns southward, traversing a narrow valley through Skagit Valley Provincial Park until it spills into a broad U-shaped valley carved by continental glaciers during the Ice Ages and heads south to Ross Lake and North Cascades National Park Service Complex in Washington State.

The upper Skagit River supports native populations of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), as well as two species of char and their hybrids, Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus), a species of concern, and Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma). The river is a popular fly fishing destination, relatively close to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, but far enough from these large centres to keep it from being crowded.

Turning west below Ross Dam, the Skagit continues through the reservoirs of Diablo and Gorge Dams, the two other dams that collectively comprise Seattle City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project. Flowing out of the National Park, the Skagit enters agricultural lands as it makes its way from the mountains to the coastal plain and empties into the Salish Sea near Mount Vernon, WA.

Downstream of the hydroelectric project, the Skagit is the only river in the lower 48 states that still sees all five species of Pacific salmon come to spawn. It’s thought that the narrowness of the Skagit Gorge below Diablo Dam was a significant barrier to fish movement, preventing the upstream advance of salmon even before the construction of the dams. This view is supported by the lack of historic salmon evidence further upstream.

Photos: AJ Fedoruk