Cowlitz Steelhead Run Coming on Strong

By The Chronicle

As predicted, steelhead fishing heated up on the Cowlitz River and is expected to continue to improve in the coming weeks, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Joe Hymer.

“Despite cold weather, that first jag of winter steelhead was definitely on the bite,” Hymer said. “So long as the rivers don’t rise too high or fall too low, we could be looking at a darn good fishery this year.”

Hymer said river levels are key: too high and it can get dangerous for anglers; too low and the fish are easily spooked. Hymer said checking out river levels is easy on-line at

“Most anglers do best when water levels are rising or dropping,” Hymer said. “It’s a lot harder to catch steelhead in the peaks and troughs.”

Hymer said top fishing rivers are the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Grays, Washougal, Elochoman and White Salmon rivers, and Salmon Creek in Clark County.

Tracey Borsom of Fish Country, Inc. in Ethel also reports a vibrant steelhead run on the Cowlitz. She said boaters are finding success with divers and striped shrimp and sand shrimp. Those on shore are catching fish with a jig and bobber tipped with sand shrimp. Bolsom recommends trying a steelie spoon.

Besides steelhead, late-stock coho are also still being caught and should continue through December. Most of the coho are turning dark, but a few bright ones can be landed. Hymer said the

Cowlitz River offers the best chance for coho.

If trout is your preference, WDFW plans to stock several lakes with thousands of half-pound rainbows. The five lakes are LaCamas in Clark County, Battleground Lake, Klineline Pond and Icehouse Lake in Skamania County.