Skykomish River Summer Chinook Fishing 2023

Skykomish River

I wish I could provide an exciting in-depth article about fishing the Skykomish for summer chinook this year, but it looks like the season will be cut dramatically due to the low abundance of natural origin chinook on the Snoqualmie River.

Right now the summer chinook season is set as a single 3-day opener, which is extremely disappointing to many anglers. We could potentially have more openers depending on an in season evaluation…

The Skykomish is an un-dammed river which flows freely from the north cascades and is home to a usually excellent run of summer chinook salmon, as well as a worthwhile summer steelhead run. 

What’s unique about this fishery is that you can hook either a summer chinook salmon or a summer steelhead on the same gear and in the same drift. To increase your chances of catching a retainable hatchery summer chinook, head downstream of the Wallace River near the town of Sultan.

So what happened to our Skykomish Summer Chinook Fishing Opportunity?

This in-depth article explains why there will be a very limited fishing season in 2023 on the Skykomish and what it means for the future.

Updated Status of returning Summer Chinook on the Skykomish River

Skykomish Summer Chinook 2023

These graphs will automatically update as fish start to return to the hatchery

Historical Run Timing of Summer Chinook on the Skykomish River

Skykomish Summer Chinook Run timing 2023

Summer chinook on the Skykomish just transition right into the fall run, they appear distinct to me on the graph above, but WDFW labels them all “summer chinook”. There will be fish in the river right about when it opens near the end of May, and they will peak in late June and into July.

Chinook continue to return and in greater numbers into September as well.

Forecast for 2023 Skykomish River Summer Chinook

Escapement history just counts fish at the hatcheries that report escapement, total runsize combines escapement plus estimated catch of hatchery fish.

The forecast for 2023 is for about 7,500 hatchery chinook and 3,400 natural origin chinook to return this summer and into the fall, which would be the biggest run of the past 6 years.

Fishing Regulations for Skykomish River Summer Chinook 2023

Here are the “proposed seasons” for 2023 for the Skykomish River, more details and regulations will be included in the 2023-24 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which outlines the regulations from July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024 and will be available in early summer 2023:

 SeasonMin. sizeDaily limitAdditional rules

Snohomish River – Mouth upstream to Hwy. 9 Bridge 

Sept. 16 – Oct. 15 


Daily limit 4.  No more than 2 coho. Release wild Chinook, chum.  Night closure and anti-snagging rule. Continuation of fishery dependent on ISU. 

Snohomish River – Hwy. 9 Bridge to confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers (all channels) 

Sept. 16 – Oct. 15 


Daily limit 4.  No more than 2 coho. Release wild Chinook, chum.  Night closure and anti-snagging. Continuation of fishery dependent on ISU. 

Skykomish River – Mouth to Wallace River 

May 27 – May 29 


Daily limit 4 Chinook.  2 adults. Release wild Chinook.  Night closure and anti-snagging rule upstream of Lewis Str. Bridge in Monroe. Continuation of fishery dependent on ISU. 

Skykomish River – Mouth to Lewis Street Bridge in Monroe 

Sept. 16 – Oct. 31 

  Closed to salmon.

Skykomish River – Lewis St. Bridge in Monroe to forks 

Sept. 16 – Oct. 31 


Closed to salmon.

Wallace River – Mouth to 200’ upstream of intake at salmon hatchery 

Oct. 15 – Oct. 31 



Daily limit 2.  Release Chinook and chum.  Night closure and anti-snagging rule.  Fishing prohibited from any floating device Nov. 1 – Feb. 15. Continuation of fishery dependent on ISU. 

Snoqualmie River – Mouth to Falls 

May 15 – May 14, 2024 


Closed to Salmon 

The permanent regulations will be released sometime in June, if you are interested in seasons taking place prior to June, they will be announced via emergency regulations

Emergency Fishing Regulations for Skykomish River Summer Chinook 2023

The above permanent regulations for the Skykomish River are subject to change at any time and without being updated on this blog. One must consult the WDFW Emergency Regulations before any trips to ensure they are in full compliance with state laws regulating fisheries.

How to fish for Summer Chinook on the Skykomish River

I would start with getting the float fishing technique dialed in for chinook salmon. These fish are great egg biters, so properly presenting a glob of eggs in the river will get hookups of both chinook salmon and steelhead.

You should also read our guide to river fishing for salmon.

If you’re looking for a good float rod, I would recommend reading my article about the best fishing rod for salmon as I break down my favorite rod specs. However, if you’re just looking for a helpful link on Amazon, here you go:

Pair the above rod with the below casting reel and you have a great setup!

We should also talk about the plunking method of catching chinook salmon. Because chinook are such great biters of bait, and plunking is a fishing method that puts bait right in the travel lane or holding water of summer chinook, this is a great way to target summer chinook on the Skykomish River.

My friend just bought this rod as the perfect plunking rod because of 1-6 oz lure weight while providing enough bend / action to battle hard fighting chinook salmon. 9’0 is a great size as well for casting off the bank.

Pair the above casting rod with the below very smooth casting Okuma Coldwater low profile casting reel: