Fishing Report Willapa Bay Rivers Beckon Steelheaders

Cowlitz River Still Slow: Best Bet Might Be an Overnight Trip to Olympic Peninsula

By The Chronicle

The mighty Cowlitz River is still slow going for those laboring after both silvers and steelhead.

According to Tracey Borsom of Fish Country, Inc. in Ethel, the fishing is “hit and miss.” She said the Blue Creek area on the Cowlitz “seems to be doing the best right now for steelhead.”

The main news, she said, is “we are still waiting for our big run of steelhead — it seems they are coming up in little groups right now. It’s worth giving it a try, but just not red-hot right now.”

Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center, confirmed the fishing conditions on the Cowlitz River. He said the fish will come up in small squirts, then it might be two or three days before another push of fish come through. McElroy said bank anglers are doing the best at Blue Creek, as the steelhead are hugging the shore. For those at Barrier Dam, they are still getting the odd silver.

All is far from lost for the salmon angler. The Chehalis River and those that empty into Willapa Bay offer prime opportunities, and this cold spell just might get the bite on big.

Fishing on the Chehalis River from Rochester on down for steelhead and the occasional silver is worth skipping out of work early and getting in two or three hours on the water.

The Willapa River is producing steelhead, and a few silvers should be had for a couple more weeks, McElroy said. The small North Fork of the Nemah River is promising, located about halfway between South Bend and Naselle. McElroy suggests trying above the hatchery up into the canyon on the North Fork of the Nemah for steelhead. Another small creek in that area — Smith Creek — might be worth a try. The Willapa River is another option, and McElroy said the Humptulips River should be “real good.”

If you have more than a day to burn — and we do have a three-day weekend coming up — load up the truck and drive to the Olympic Peninsula. The Queets, Hoh and Bogachiel rivers are just about entering prime shape, McElroy said.

“The peninsula should be the best,” McElroy said.

For the lake fisherman, perhaps this week is the time to try and drown a few worms. Both Borsom and McElroy said Mayfield is offering up limits of trout for bank anglers.

McElroy said crafty fishermen are getting limits at Mayfield Lake. Borsom said it might be time to pull out the maggots for Riffe Lake. Try around the Mossyrock Dam and also near the island just off the boat launch on the lower end of the lake.

It might be time to give the bucolic Swofford Pond an hour or two of your time. Carlisle Lake on a late afternoon for flyfishermen using midge hatches is also enticing.

For the dad or mom hoping to get their kid interested in fishing, don’t forget South County Pond, with its playground and covered picnic areas. That lake is regularly planted. Don’t go out now with the kidlings in this cold, but the next sunny day, take them out to South County Pond for a day of fishing and playing.

This Week’s WDFW Fishing Reports

Blue Creek boats:
18 boats interviewed, 47 anglers, 12 steelhead retained, 1 released

Blue Creek bank anglers:

53 anglers interviewed, 15 steelhead retained, 1 released

Barrier Dam bank anglers:

3 anglers, 0 retention


Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 416 coho adults and 72 winter-run steelhead during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

They released 190 coho adults and seven winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa and 22 coho adults and 10 winter-run steelhead into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton.

Cowlitz River — No report on angling success.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam — Little to no effort.

Bonneville Pool — The few boat anglers sampled did well on steelhead.

The Dalles Pool — Bank anglers are catching some steelhead.

John Day Pool — Boat anglers are catching some steelhead.