Chinook and Coho Salmon, Cutthroat Trout, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pikeminnow, Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout, Sculpin, Tiger Muskie & Yellow Perch
West of Mossyrock in Lewis County.
Take U.S.12 east from Interstate 5 about 17 miles to the lake. Turn left (north) at Silver Creek to reach Ike Kinswa State Park on the north side of the lake or cross over the lake on U.S.12 and go just about a mile to Mayfield Lake County Park.
Kinswa State Park has RV and tent sites, rest rooms, and a boat launch. Matfield Lake County Park offers rest rooms and a boat launch. Snacks and beverages are located at the small stores around the lake. All other amenities can be found in Mossyrock.
Rules and Regulations:
Open year around, there is an 8-inch minimum size on trout. All cutthroat trout in Mayfield Lake and in tributary Tilton River must be released. Remember, only adipose clipped rainbow trout may be retained in Mayfield Lake and the Tilton River. Currently the minimum size limit for muskies is 50 inch.
Fishing Mayfield Lake:
The reservoir is 13 miles long, averages about 1/2 mile wide, covers 2,250 surface acres, and has 33.5 miles of shoreline. It has two major arms, Winston Cove and Tilton Cove. The current state record of 31.25 lbs. came from this lake several years ago, and occasionally 25 to 30 lb. class tiger muskies are caught here. It is generally best to fish this lake in the middle of the week, not only because of crowded boat ramps and heavy boat traffic on weekends, but also because Tacoma Power may release water over the spillway on weekends to put water in the river below for recreational fishermen. The best time to fish Mayfield for tiger muskies is from mid-June into September, although the tiger muskies remain catchable until early October. Radio tracking studies indicate they suspend in deep water and are inactive in winter and early spring. Washington Fish and Wildlife studies show that they feed almost only on northern pikeminnow also known as squawfish.
This reservoir was formed by the construction of Mayfield Dam. It is managed for catchable rainbow trout and warmwater species. Tiger muskies were introduced in 1993 to help in controlling nuisance northern pikeminnow (squawfish) populations. Water enters Mayfield Lake from the Mossyrock Dam (backing up Riffe Lake) above, and exits through the turbines or (rarely) over the spillway of Mayfield Dam into the Cowlitz River below. Under normal reservoir operating conditions, the maximum water level fluctuation is 10 feet. There are two safety barriers above the dam, consisting of a log boom and a steel pontoon boom. Watercraft are not allowed in the restricted zone between the log barrier and the dam. The most important thing you need to remember about Tiger Muskie fishing is that they spend most of their time within six feet of the surface. Spinner baits and Blacktail Spinners in black, red, brown, and various other color combinations of these colors will take them, as will five to seven inch shallow diving plugs and surface plugs the same size. Mayfield’s two structure types are weeds and wood. The large weed flat opposite Tilton Cove holds the majority of this lake’s tiger muskies. Weeds in Winston Cove also hold fish. Look for shoreline areas with underwater stumps and logs. The best time is mid-week on cloudy days. Now that the Tiger Muskies have gotten abundant and are reproducing on the abundant squawfish, once again the state has started planting the lake with rainbows. Planted as fingerlings they soon grow to catchable size in the 12 to 14 inch range. Most of the locals troll with Pop Geer and worms for their trout, but Kwikfish, Triple Teasers, Rooster Tails, and my favorite the Wedding Band Spinner works well. Don’t be surprised when your fishing for rainbow’s that you hook into a small coho or chinook salmon from Riffe Lake and the Tilton River where they commonly make their way into the mix of the trout population. The large-mouth fishing is scattered around the lake, but if you set your mind to it so be it. Try fishing along the high bank on the north side of the lake, west of the state park. There are submerged rocks that can be found here around the entrance of the Cowlitz Arm.
Largemouth Bass can also be found in Mayfield Lake in the weed beds and in the Tilton River arm. Warm weather can bring explosive top water action. Plastic worms, crank bait and spinner baits are good choices here. Smallmouth Bass have been planted in Mayfield Lake but have not been as successful as in neighboring Rife Lake.
Perch fishing is great most of the year with the best catches taken near the weed beds or in the Tilton River Arm. This is easy fishing, just drop a worm over the side or from the bank and wait for the 10 to 14 inch fish
Summer and Winter-Run Steelhead, Coho and Chinook Salmon, Cutthroat, Green and White Sturgeon (at the mouth)
Joins the Columbia River at Camas.
Take Highway 14 to Washougal and turn north on Highway 140, which parallels the main river for about 10 miles. The bridge in the picture above you will cross over. Take Skye Road north of Highway 140 and turn right (east) on Washougal River Road to follow the main river upstream, or turn north on North Fork Road, past the Skamania Hatchery, to reach the West Fork Washougal.
There are several public access spots and a couple of places to launch boats along Highway 140. Food, gas, tackle, and lodging can be found in Camas or Washougal.
Fishing the Washougal River:
Washougal’s claim to fame is that it produces steelhead 12 months a year. It has a strong run of summer and winter steelhead, thanks to generous steelhead smolt counts yearly of over 100,000 of each run. The summer run is by far the larger of the two, and most years this small tributary of the Columbia gives up more than a thousand fish to anglers. These are the famous Skamania Hatchery steelhead that where such a huge success and caused such a stir among anglers when they where transplanted to the Great Lakes system nearly 3 decades ago. May, June, and July produce the best catches and the fishing drops off considerable in August (let alone all the swimmers). Wild steelhead release regulations are in effect throughout the year, make sure to stop by the hatchery, the last time I was there I saw some monster 25 pound steelhead holding in their rearing ponds!. The highway provides fairly good bank fishing access to the lower Washougal, and there are three spots along the river where boat anglers launch to fish. This is a small river with plenty of boulders, so don’t try boating unless you know what your doing and have a chance to check out the river before you go fishing. The safest boating is when the river is high, during low flows boating is nearly impossible, except for the lower portion of the river. The hatchery produces good numbers of coho and chinook salmon that return to the river throughout the fall. Make sure to check the rules and regulation before salmon fishing on this stream. As a rule of thumb you usually can keep two hatchery (fin clipped) salmon a day, and here thats what many anglers do when fishing is good. Take your favorite trout rod along with you if your visiting the Washougal for fall salmon, and if their biting you may want to try your luck with a little sea-run cutthroat fishing. Some 30,000 to 40,000 cutthroat smolts are released every year, this is the number 3 river in the state with stocked cutthroat smolts.
Sturgeon fishing is usually fished right at the mouth where the Highway 14 bridge crosses the rivers mouth as it enters the Columbia River, and there are opportunities fishing from a boat in the mill holes, sometimes as deep as 30 feet.
Rainbow Trout, Chinook and Coho Salmon, Winter-Run Steelhead
Flows into the north arm of Mayfield Lake.
Take U.S.12 to Morton, turn north on Highway 7, drive half a mile, and turn left (west) on Highway 508 to follow the river downstream. Drive three miles and turn right (north) to reach the North Fork Tilton.
Ike Kinswa State Park is located where the Tilton flows into Mayfield Lake, and has both tent and RV sites, restrooms, with showers, and other amenities. Food, gas, lodging, and tackle are available in Morton.
Fishing the Tilton River:
Generous late-spring plants of hatchery rainbows provide most of the fishing action on this small tributary to the Cowlitz River system. While most of the planters are legal-sized eight to ten inchers, the Department of Fish and Wildlife also includes a number of so called jumbo rainbows to 15 inches. Trout fishing is best in June and July. Liberal regulations on the main Tilton allow anglers to use bait and keep up to five trout per day and any trout eight inches or longer (only one may be bigger than 12 inches). On the north, south, east, and west forks of the river, selective fishing regulations are in effect, so you have to use artificial lures, and flies with barbless hooks, and the limit is two trout per day.
Before the construction of Mayfield Dam in the 1960’s, the Tilton flowed directly into the Cowlitz River, but now it enters the north end of Mayfield Lake. As dams tend to do, Mayfield cut off the once healthy runs of salmon and steelhead on the Tilton. Fish are now trucked from the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery and the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Downstream migrating salmon entering Mayfield Lake from the Tilton River are diverted with a screen to a fish passage channel at Mayfield Dam so they can swim to the lower river without passing through the powerhouse turbines. Unfortunately only a few percentage offish that are trucked get caught. This little stream where anglers where accustomed to catching 10 to 20 pound winter steelhead with amazing frequency, now only a few dozen “transplanted” steelhead are caught now. The coho and chinook that are trucked in provide a little better action in September, October, and into December. If you can’t find any fishing spots to your liking on the Tilton, check out the public access at Tilton River State Park, one of the newer state’s public angling acquisitions. Although the 100-acre does provide access to the famous “Dodge Hole”, one of the better known fishing spots. This was written in the Seattle Times on August 1, 2012: Tilton River from mouth to West Fork – The salmon daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adult Chinook. Release wild coho. New for 2012: Release wild Chinook.
Chinook, Coho, Pink and Chum Salmon, Winter-Run Steelhead, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Longfin Smelt
Flows into Bellingham Bay, northwest of Bellingham
To reach the South Fork Nooksack, exit Interstate 5 onto Highway 20 at Burlington and drive six miles east to Sedro Wooley, where you will turn north onto Highway 9 and drive 14 miles to the river. To reach the North Fork of the Nooksack, continue north on Highway 9 to Deming and turn right (east) onto Highway 542. Drive 3 miles and turn right onto Mosquito Lake Road to reach the Middle Fork, but stay on Highway 542 to reach several good stretches of the North Fork.
Ferndale Campground, about 1.5 miles north of the town of Ferndale just off of Interstate 5, has tent and RV sites and other camping facilities. Scottish Lodge Motel and several bed and breakfasts are also available in the town of Ferndale. Dutch Village Inn, Windmill Inn Motel, and Hidden Village RV Park are among the possibilities in Ferndale. Food, gas, restaurants, and tackle are available in Ferndale, Lynden, and other smaller towns along the river.
Fishing the Nooksack:
This vast river system, stretching from northern Skagit County nearly to the Canadian border and from Bellingham Bay to the North Cascades, is a shadow of the once productive steelhead and salmon river it was a few decades ago. In the year 1985 anglers caught more than 1,800 winter-run steelhead from the main Nooksack, but by the year 1995 the river kicked out a dismal 44 fish. The North Fork and South Fork Nooksack contributed only a couple dozen steelhead to that total. For a river that is stocked with 106,200 (2012) (down from 146,500 in 2011) hatchery steelhead smolts every year, those are some mighty poor numbers. I guess the bottom line is whether you choose to plunk the slower waters downstream of Emerson or drift-fish the main stem from Emerson up to and including the North and South Forks, steelheading on the Nooksack is a tough proposition, so why even bother.
The same goes for Sea-Run Cutthroat, which once provided excellent angling action. Local anglers do catch cutthroat here and there throughout the river from September through November, but the harvest-trout fishery certainly isn’t worth a long trip from anywhere.
Salmon fishing is a better bet, especially on the main stem of the Nooksack. Boat and bank anglers catch several hundred hatchery coho from the river during September and October each year, a catch that’s often comprised of about half adult fish and half one to two pound jacks. December can provide some good chum fishing as well.
Chinook and Coho Salmon, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Carp, Mountain Whitefish
Flows into the Columbia River south of Richland.
Drive east from Yakima to Granger on Interstate 82, paralleling the river most of the 24 miles. Take Granger Emerald Road east from Granger to parallel several miles of the river downstream of Granger. Continuing downstream, the stretch of river between Sunnyside and Prosser can be reached by driving south off Interstate 82 on Highway 241 about seven miles to the river or south from Grandview on Euclid Road. Interstate 82 parallels the river again along the 14 miles between Prosser and Benton City. Drive north from Benton city on Highway 225 for 10 miles to fish some of the lowest portions of the river before it joins the Columbia.
Several boat ramps are located along the lower Yakima, including those in Granger, the Sunnydale Wildlife Area, Horn Rapids, and the mouth of the river at Kennewick. Food, gas, tackle, and lodging are available in Yakima, Granger, Sunnyside, Grandview, Prosser, and the Tri Cities area.
Fishing the Lower Yakima River:
Chinook salmon on the Lower Yakima River is open for hatchery spring chinook from the I-182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser. This section is expected to open sometime in May and to remain open through June 30.
Starting this sometime in May, the Upper Yakima River from the I-82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam will be open for hatchery spring chinook. This section is expected to stay open through July 31.
The Yakima is expecting a return of 5,000 hatchery chinook.
The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery chinook. All wild salmon and all steelhead must be released.
Anglers must have the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, plus a fishing license. Anglers may also use two-poles by purchasing a “two-pole endorsement.” The fall chinook fishery starts in September and running into the month of October, with the coho fishery right behind it in the month of October.
The lower Yakima River from Granger downstream to the Columbia River is well known for robust populations of smallmouth bass and channel catfish during the spring and summer months. Though some shoreline areas are open to the public, most of the better fishing areas are only accessible by boat.
Unlike the “Blue Ribbon” trout waters upstream from Yakima, this lower stretch of the river meanders slowly through the flat river valley, warming fairly fast in the spring and summer and offering a haven for warm-water species. Clean rock and gravel comprise much of the river bottom throughout this stretch, providing perfect habitat for small-mouth bass, and they thrive in these waters. Although it doesn’t get much fishing pressure, those who do fish these waters of the Yakima tell lots of stories about the huge smallmouths that live here. The extreme lower end of the Yakima also has largemouths, but this river doesn’t offer a whole lot of prime cover for largemouth bass.
It does, however, suit channel catfish very well, and anglers have made some good catfish catches here over the years. Casting from the banks with chicken livers, night crawlers, and foul-smelling stink baits produce some channel catfish of 10 pounds or more, with the best fishing coming in the months of June and July.
There is no daily limit on bass in the Yakima River but no more than three over 15 inches can be retained. Channel catfish are present throughout the lower Yakima River but the best fishing is usually in the lower ten miles during late Spring and Summer. There is no current minimum size restriction and no daily limit on channel catfish in the Yakima River. A fall chinook and coho salmon season is scheduled for September 1 to October 22 from the mouth to Prosser Dam. The lower Yakima River is open to fishing from March 1 to October 22 below Prosser Dam and May 1 to October 31 above Prosser Dam to the Hwy 223 bridge at Granger. The lower Yakima River is closed to trout fishing (both resident trout and steelhead).
The Nisqually River supports naturally reproducing populations of Chinook, chum, coho, and pink salmon, and cutthroat trout. In addition, a very large hatchery Chinook salmon program plants Chinook salmon into the river. Winter and Summer-Run Steelhead, and Sea-Run Cutthroat
Enters the Puget Sound between Tacoma and Olympia.
Take Interstate 5 to the Old Nisqually exit and follow Pacific Avenue south two miles to Reservation Road. Turn left on Reservation Road and left again on Highway 510 (Olympia/Yelm Highway), which roughly parallels the south side of the river before crossing over it at the small town of McKenna.
Grocery, gas, and tackle are available in Yelm, and lodging can be found in nearby Lacey.
Fishing the Nisqually River:
Illegal tribal netting years back all but wiped out the winter steelhead, the river is trickling back but the winter steelhead run is on the “Threatened Species Act” catch and release all wild fish on this river. In 2012 the hopeful natural escapement goal might reach 300, in 2011 268 total winter steelhead returned according to WDFW, in the past 20 or so years the top year was 1989, which produced only 3,807 winter-runs.
Wild Chinook Salmon from the Nisqually are on the “Threatened Species Act”, and the Wild Coho Salmon is not far behind. Please always catch and release all wild fish.
Hatchery “fin clipped” Salmon fishing starts to pick up at the beginning of August, this fishery is a hit and miss opportunity. The Indians don’t start netting normally until the second week of August, which gives the sportsman about a two week window of opportunity to land a nice chinook salmom from 10 to 30 pounds. There are two or three launches on the river, one being on a military post. There are a few drift boat holes that anglers usually fill, then the other majority of fishing is done from the shore. Ghost shrimp, diving plugs, and roe clusters work well here. The pinks move in in the beginning of September every other year, followed by the coho towards the end of September and into October. In the meantime, chum salmon are the biggest draw for anglers on the Nisqually these days. Chums come on strong with the first highwaters of November and provide fishing action well into January most years. Favorite spots are the long drift immediately above the Pacific Avenue bridge, and a few miles upstream near the mouth of Muck Creek. Nisqually river chums are fond of green yarn, small green steelhead bobbers, or bobber and yarn combinations.
Sea-run cutthroat trout are available in the Nisqually from about August through November, chasing the salmon eggs, but they get little attention on this river. The best cutthroat fishing is in the lower section of the river, as they sometimes go in and out with the tidal flow.
Summer and Winter Steelhead, Coho, Chum, and Pink Salmon, Dolly Varden
Joins the Snoqualmie River southwest of Monroe.
Take U.S.12 through Monroe and continue east along the north side of the river, or drive south through Monroe, cross the bridge, and turn left (east) on Ben Howard Road to reach fishing spots along the south side of the river.
There’s a boat ramp and access area just above the Lewis Street bridge in Monroe, another ramp about two miles upstream from the bridge on Ben Howard Road, and two near the Mann Road bridge at Sultan. Food, gas, tackle, and lodging are available right along the highway in Monroe.
Fishing the Skykomish River:
Long one of Puget Sound region’s most popular, most publicized, and most productive steelhead rivers. This big beautiful river is consistently among the top two or three winter steelhead producers in Washington, giving up at least 2,000 fish per winter season, and some years doubling that number. Strong hatchery returns in December and January make those two months the best time to fish the Sky, but unlike many other Northwest streams, this one doesn’t have a February lull, so the fishing can be good then as it is earlier in the winter. March and April see the winter steelie fishery here turn to catch and release affair, one of the best and most popular of it’s kind in the Northwest. The biggest concentration of winter steelheaders, and often the biggest catches are around Reiter Ponds steelhead facility and from Sultan downstream to Monroe, but you might find a willing fish almost anywhere along the Sky during the height of the winter season. If you fish Reiter Ponds, arrive early, as in long before daylight, and take a selection of lead-head jigs to fish beneath a float. The area is known for it’s boulder bottom, and the jig and float combination will save you lots of fustration and lost tackle, and the combo catches steelhead. Summer steelheading can also be extremely good on the Sky. The summertime catch sometime tops the 2,000 fish mark, making the Skykomish an occasional entry on Washington’s top ten summer steelhead producers. June, July, August, and September all provide excellent summer steelhead fishing. As on many Northwest streams, gearing down to lighter tackle and using a more subtle approach is often the key to summer steelheading success.
Cohos and Chums share the salmon limelight on the Skykomish during a typical fall season, with pinks playing a part in odd-numbered years. Salmon angling is allowed up to the confluence of the forks, but it’s hard to beat the numerous pools and drifts from Sultan to Monroe, a stretch of river that’s as good as any salmon stream in the country. Pink’s show up in September, cohos in October, and chums are most numerous in November. Fish for all three and you’ll quickly see the improvement in fish strength and stamina as the runs change.
The Skykomish, and the entire Snohomish system, is one of the few places in Washington where it’s legal for angler to catch and keep Dolly Varden as part of the two trout daily limit. And Dolly Varden you keep must be 20 inches long or more. The Sky has produced much larger Dolly Varden, including the state record of 10 pounds back in 1982.
Summer and Winter Steelhead, Chinook and Coho Salmon, White and Green Sturgeon
Flows into the Cowlitz River north of Castle Rock
Turn east off of Interstate 5 onto Highway 504, which parallels much of the North Fork of the Toutle. Weyerhauser 4100 Road from the town of Toutle, 11 miles east of the freeway, parallels the South Fork of the Toutle.
Seaquest State Park, located right on Highway 504 near Silver Lake, has a limited amount of tent and RV sites, plus restrooms with showers and a RV dump site. There are also two private resorts on the lake, right alongside the highway. Other than those facilities the nearest gas, food, lodging, and tackle would be in the town of Castlerock.
Fishing the Toutle River:
After Mount St.Helens erupted in 1980, totally destroying the beautiful North Fork of the Toutle and the main Toutle below the confluence of the North and South Forks, fish biologists estimated in might take decades before the river would produce a steelhead fishery. Well, Mother Nature, with a little help from her humans assistants, shortened the timetable considerably, and the Toutle River system is now producing fair to good steelhead fishing, it’s not quite like the glory days but it is producing. Roles have been reversed between the once-great North Fork and the South Fork that received relatively light angler attention or publicity before the eruption. Now it’s the South Fork, which was only lightly damaged by the volcano, that provides most of the steelheading opportunity. Although records show that both are stocked with 25,000 to 30,000 summer steelhead smolts annually, with anglers catching 1,500 a season on the South Fork with only a few hundred on the North Fork. Water clarity remains a problem on the North Fork, silty and muddy, almost like a glacier run-off. All wild fish must be released on this stream. June and July remain the top two producing months for your steelhead action. South Fork Toutle River – From 4100 Bridge upstream, November 30 is the last day to fish for hatchery steelhead. From the mouth to the bridge remains open with selective gear rules in effect beginning December 1.
Fall chinook fishing usually starts around the beginning of September, but as most, it depends on the rains. The most popular spot to fish is at the mouth, where it enters the Cowlitz, right next to Interstate 5 on the north side of the freeway. The fishery usually peeks in the beginning of October, with the Coho coming right behind them. Still looking for smolt numbers at the time of this release.
Bank fishing from the Eco Lodge Park Resort property
Toutle River Fall King Salmon
This Sturgeon was caught 20 miles upstream on the Toutle! almost to the mouth of the Green River near Kid Valley, way to go Kevin!
Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, and Chum Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat
Joins the Chehalis River at Montesano
Take Highway 8 (U.S.12) west from Olympia for 31 miles and turn north (right) on Devonshire Road, about 1.5 miles past Montesano.
Several boat ramps are located on Wynoochee Road. Montesano has everything you would need for amenities. Wynoochee Road provides access for both boat and bank anglers. A boat ramp is located about 3 miles upriver from U.S.12 near Black Creek, and another can be found about 6 miles upstream. There are 3 or 4 more drift boat launches farther upstream.
In 2010 there where 170,000 winter-run steelhead smolts released and 61,065 summer-run smolts released. The majority of the adult returns from these releases are expected during the 2012-2013 winter and 2013 summer seasons.
Fishing the Wynoochee:
Although it doesn’t get the praise or publicity as many other Washington steelhead rivers, the lower basin of the Chehalis River system producse steelhead 10 months a year, and its closed April and May. The annual sport catch exceeds 3,000 fish a year, from both winter and summer-runs. If you don’t have the luxury of fishing the Wynoochee throughout the year, concentrate on these two months for steelhead: March and June, these months seem to be the heaviest fish takers according to the statistics of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fall fishing for salmon is fair to good on the Wynoochee, with a few monster chinooks taken on roe-clusters or ghost shrimp in October and large numbers of coho on spinners and wobbly spoons in November. Most fall chinooks that enter the Wynoochee to spawn are heading for the mainstem Wynoochee River above RM 10.5 and in Carter, Schafer and Helm creeks. Small numbers of spawners are seen in Big and Anderson creeks.
Sea-run Cutthroat fishing gets under way on the Wynoochee as early as the middle of July and runs well into the fall. The best fishing is in September and October, especially right after a drenching rain that raises the river level a few inches. This is only a fin-clipped hatchery fishery.
Fishing is also open above the reservoir up to the base of the Wynoochee Falls during the winter seasons. For all areas above the 7400 Bridge, fishing from any floating devices is prohibited and selected gear rules are in effect. A good day in October on the Wynoochee might look like this:
Here’s a short video fishing the Wynoochee River for Fall King Salmon
Here is your link for the Wynoochee River flow:
Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, and Chum Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat
Joins the Chehalis River at Elma
Take Highway 8 (U.S.12) from Olympia to Satsop, which is about four miles west of Elma. Turn right (north) onto East Satsop Road and follow it upriver.
Schafer State Park, located on the East Fork Satsop, has tent sites and a few spaces with RV hookups, plus restrooms. Gas, food, lodging, and tackle are available in Elma.
In 2010 there where 58,800 winter-run smolts released on the east fork of the Satsop, they should be returning in the winter of 2012-2013.
Fishing the Satsop:
Fall salmon fishing is now the big draw on the Satsop, but this once-productive steelhead producer is hardly worth the drive for winter-steelhead fishing. Reports show only a few steelhead being caught in the winter. These reports would bring a tear to the eye of fishermen from the 50’s, 60’s, and the 1970’s when this was a top producing steelhead stream with big fish.
As I said, few people bother coming to the Satsop for steelhead now, but hundreds come for the salmon fishing. October can be quite good for the coho, many of the fish in the high teen’s. This river produces the largest silvers I have ever seen, even including Alaska. The 21 pounder that I hooked into at the mouth of Grays Harbor (Labor Day Weekend 2012) was bound for this river, and it would have weighed 23 plus pounds and broken the state record had it been caught in the river in October! The real circus starts when the chum salmon surge into the river from late October into January. Much of the action centered around two or three drifts on the East Fork Satsop, where it isn’t unusual to see a flock of anglers hook several dozen fish in the morning. The crowds make it sort of a combat fishery. Smart anglers fish the lower Satsop from boats.
Winter Steelhead, Chinook and Coho Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Green and White Sturgeon
Enters the northeast corner of Willipa Bay
Take U.S.101 to Raymond and turn east on Willipa Road at the north end of the highway bridge just north of town to reach some of the boat fishing areas at the lower end of the river. To reach the upstream Willipa, take Highway 6 east from Raymond for six miles or west from Chehalis for 22 miles.
There’s a boat ramp near the mouth, at the west end of South Bend, and another about 3.5 miles upstream from the Highway 101 bridge. A fair selection of restaurant some lodging, along with tackle, gas and grocery stores are available in Raymond and South Bend.
Fishing the Willipa River:
This is arguably the best steelhead river among all the tributaries of Willipa Bay, and it’s no slouch to salmon fishing. The river is stocked with 50,000 winter-steelhead smolts annually and anglers catch anywhere from 500 to 1,000 adult Willipa River steelhead each winter. Hatchery fish, as most steelheaders know, return early in the winter, and the rule holds true here. December and January are the top months, but don’t give up on February and March. Leave your drift boat home when you visit the Willipa River in the winter months, as you cant fish from a boat on most of the best steelhead water from November through March.
The lower portion of the Willipa River produces a good number of chinook salmon in September and October, especially for boat anglers who launch at the Old Willipa launch area near the mouth od Ward Creek. Many try to time their lauch at high tide and fish as the tide ebbs. Flash Glo spinners are favorites by many of the local anglers, but back-bouncing with roe-clusters or back-bouncing with Kwikfish or diver and roe combinations also works here. The catch often includes a large percentage of jack chinooks weighing two to five pounds, but 25-35 pounders are also a good possibility. For many years into the early 1990’s you would always read about a 50 pounder caught in this area. The netters have pretty much ruined the wild fish in the Willipa Bay area. Coho salmon are scattered throughout the river from September to December, filling the gap between the chinook fishery and the winter steelhead run.
If you need to warm up your arm before salmon season starts try you luck with Willapa Sea-Run Cutthroat. Anglers start catching them in July, and by the middle of August you can catch them pretty much throughout the river, where they will provide excellent light gear fishing throughout all of October. If fishing gets to crowded in the lower portion of the river head on up to Oxbow Road via Highway 6 and cast a nighcrawler and slip sinker heavy enough to roll on the bottom with the current.
Here is a picture to the entrance of the “Willipa River Trail”, the trail goes along side the river for 5 miles. Ample space for the bank fisherman.
Winter Steelhead, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Chinook, Coho, and Chum Salmon, White and Green Sturgeon
Flows into the east side of Willipa Bay
Drive south from South Bend on U.S.101 for 18 miles and turn east on North Nemah Road or any of the next three gravel roads to the east, all of which reach the upper portions of the Nemah River. You can also fish some parts of the river by parking near the highway bridges and walking upstream or downstream
Bay Center has some amenities, with other needs in South Bend and Raymond
Fishing the Nemah:
The busiest and most exciting time of the year for Nemah anglers is in October, when large runs of scrappy chum salmon invade Willipa Bay. This fishery is hot, but short lived, providing several hundred fish in a few short weeks. The 2012 hatchery chum salmon smolt goal was 300,000 that was reached and then some with 487,700, the chinook smolt fry was at 1,917,150, with a survival rate of only 0.21% with an estimate of close to 4,000 chinook returning to the river a season. The three forks of the Nemah also give up a few chinook and coho salmon, most of them also caught in October.
Stocked with 10,000 hatchery steelhead smolts each year, various forks of the Nemah provide fair winter steelheading from December to February. More like a creek than a river throughout, it’s a pretty system that’s fun to fish when the action is hot, which is most of the time. Cutthroat fishing is usually good from August to Thanksgiving time, like most coastal watersheds.
All wild cutthroat trout and wild steelhead trout must be released, except that up to two-hatchery steelhead trout may be retained. Selective gear rules are in effect in some areas. Check the current regulations pamphlet for seasons, gear restrictions, and area boundaries.