Fishing & Hunting Report: Cowlitz River Steelheading Heats Up

By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
“It’s pretty bleak out there,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center in Chehalis, “but if the weather clears up the rivers might drop into shape by Saturday or at least Sunday.”

The Cowlitz River is running high, but boaters and bankies both are finding some success hauling up winter-run steelhead.
“They’re still hooking into some nice cutthroat out there too,” McElroy said.
Last week Tacoma Power recovered 200 coho adults, 20 jacks, 175 winter-run steelhead, one fall Chinook adult and one cutthroat trout during five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.
A total of 52 coho adults, eight jacks and two winter-run steelhead were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton during the week.
During the past week Tacoma Power employees released eleven coho adults and five jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam at the Day Use Site. They released 49 coho adults, six jacks and one fall Chinook adult into the upper Cowlitz River at Packwood and one cutthroat trout was released into the upper Cowlitz River basin during the week.
River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 13,100 cfs on Monday, Dec. 17. Water visibility is seven feet.
Crabbing has been very good, said McElroy, “especially at the mouth of Willipa Bay and at Grays Harbor. When they can get out on the Columbia they’re doing well there too — but you’ve got to have the weather for that or else it gets dangerous.”
Riffe Lake has been fishing well between storms. South County Pond is still holding some lunkers.

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer and photojournalist. Visit her website The (Almost) Daily News (, find her on Facebook (Kimberly Mason – The Chronicle), call 269-5017 or email