Cowlitz River Fishing Report


Fishing enthusiasts hunting salmon, steelhead, and trout consider the Cowlitz River, which meanders through the center of southwest Washington, to be a legendary paradise. It’s a favored spot for both seasoned veterans and eager beginners due to its varied stretches, which present different difficulties and rewards.

The goal of this study is to give you a thorough picture of the Cowlitz River fishing scenario in 2024, including information on current fish runs, useful tactics, and insightful advice. Now that you have your rod, brush off your waders, and get ready to fish the Cowlitz River, a top-notch fishery in the globe.

For fisherman looking for an exciting battle with tough steelhead and salmon, the Cowlitz River, which meanders through the center of southwest Washington, is a paradise. From the tidal expanse near the mouth to the snow-fed headwaters, its diverse waters offer a plethora of fishing experiences for any skill level.

Situation as of 2024

Situation as of 2024
  • Water Flow: Moderate, 7,760 cubic feet per second beneath Mayfield Dam
  •  Four feet of visibility (fair)
  • The frigid temperature is 42.8°F.
  • Fish Runs: Coho Salmon: As the late run draws to a close, a few stragglers may be
  •  Steelhead in the winter: Early entrants are beginning to arrive; numbers should shortly
  • Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout: Year-round presence, tasty bite.

Current Fish Runs

Winter Steelhead:

Winter Steelhead: The winter steelhead, who are making their journey upriver from the ocean, are currently the stars of the show. According to reports, Tacoma Power is seeing a consistent flow at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator, suggesting a promising run. The high stages of the river close to Morton and the lower sections below the Toutle River confluence are the finest places to aim for.

Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon:  Although the coho run is almost over, there may still be a few stragglers to be found, especially above the Toutle River. When targeting these late-season fish, your best options are twisting jigs, spinners, and small plugs. Recall that only coho from hatcheries may be kept.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout:  In the Cowlitz, sea-run cutthroat trout provide activity all year long. Seek them out in the side channels and streams, particularly when the water level is low. Fly fishing is a popular method using small nymphs and streamers.

Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout

Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout: These hard-charging trout are available all year round and will take spinners, small spoons, and flies.

Methods of Fishing

Drift fishing

Drift fishing: Steelhead and coho salmon can be successfully caught using this time-tested technique. Employ a bobber to gently float bait, such as worms, eggs, or beads, through probable holding places.

Spin fishing

Spin fishing: Spin fishing is flexible and may be used in a range of environments. Depending on the species being targeted and the purity of the water, spoons, spinners, and plugs are all suitable options.

Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing: Fly fishing gives your fishing experience a refined touch. Steelhead and trout respond well to nymphs, streamers, and wet flies.

Success Advice

  • The timing is crucial: Make sure your travel schedule aligns with the peak run hours of the species you are targeting. Fish behavior is also influenced by water levels and flow rates, so before you go fishing, be sure to check the most recent information.
  • Prioritizing safety When wading in a river or going boat fishing, you should always wear a life jacket. Keep an eye out for shifting water conditions and stay out of hazardous zones.
  • Respect the fisheries by abiding by all fishing laws and morally releasing non-target species and spawning fish.
  • Local expertise: Don’t be scared to seek help from knowledgeable fishermen or local tackle stores. They can offer insightful information about certain river sections and the most effective methods.

River Conditions

River Conditions

The Cowlitz River’s flow rates and water quality can have a big effect on how well you fish. Always review the most recent reports before to leaving

High Flows: Draw fish to the edges frequently, but can be hazardous for boaters and waders.

Low Flows: These can facilitate wading but can draw fish to deeper pools.

Clear Water: Perfect for fly or lure sight fishing.

Fish must be drawn in by using bait or lures that vibrate strongly in turbid water.

Rules and Licensing

Recall that in order to fish in the Cowlitz River, you must have a current Washington State fishing license and, for some species, like sturgeon, a special permission. To avoid any unpleasant shocks, familiarize yourself with the regulations prior to your visit.

Local Resources and Advice
  • Employ a guide: If you’re unfamiliar with the Cowlitz River, think about hiring a knowledgeable local who can tour you around and point you in the direction of the best areas.
  • Examine reports available online: River conditions, fish catches, and regulations are updated on websites such as Cowlitz River Fishing Report and Northwest Fishing Reports.
  • Visit your neighborhood tackle stores: Stores like Cowlitz River Outfitters and Lost Creek Fly Shop provide helpful guidance, equipment, and fishing licenses.

For anglers looking for adventure, difficulty, and mouthwatering rewards, the Cowlitz River is a veritable gold mine. The Cowlitz offers a memorable fishing experience because of its wide variety of fish species, breathtaking scenery, and plentiful resources. Gather your gear, including a rod and reel, and prepare to cast your line into the center of Washington State’s fishing haven.

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