Lewis River North Fork

lewis_river_north_fork
Species:
Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Spring and Fall Chinook, Coho Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout, and Rainbow Trout. There also was 10,000 Chum Salmon fry placed in the river in May of 2012. Also, there will be another 100,000 fry released in the river in June, 2012.
Location:
The East Fork Lewis River is a free-flowing stream in SW Washington near Vancouver. The East Fork begins up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and travels down through Clark County connecting with the main Lewis River near Woodland and the Columbia River.
Directions:
Take Interstate 5 to Woodland and drive east on Highway 503 to parallel the north side of the river for more than 10 miles, or drive east on County Road 16 to parallel the south side of the river.
Facilities:
Boat ramps on the south side of the river include a rough one at the end of Haapa Road (four-wheel drive only) and the popular launch farther upstream at Cedar Creek. Another launch on the north side of the river near the mouth, off Dike Road, gets a lot of use by anglers fishing the lower river. Above Woodland on the noth side of the river are the “island” ramp, about three miles upstream from town, and a rough launch at the golf course, both of which are accessible off of Highway 503. Restaurants, gas, food, and lodging are in Woodland, along with the company LAMIGLAS.
Fishing the North Fork of the Lewis River:
The Pacific Northwest has very few places where anglers can catch both salmon and steelhead 12 months a year. But the North Fork of the Lewis is one such place. Granted, the numbers mighty small in January, and the winter steelhead catch is dismal at best. The North Fork of the Lewis has a well-earned reputation as one of Washington’s
top Spring Chinook rivers. April and May are the peak months, but Springers can be caught as early as February, and as late as July. A good month will see anglers taking over 2,000 fish between the 10 to 30 pound range. The most popular and famous spring chinook spot on the river is the slow, deep pool at Cedar Creek boat launch, but be warned: You will not have the place to yourself. When the fish are in it will be stacked with boats, and is know as the “Meat Hole”. Fortunately for those that like a little more elbowroom, there are also productive holes upstream and downstream from Cedar Creek, including some excellent water near the salmon hatchery and the long, deep run a shorter distance downstream from the Haapa boat ramp. All the usual spring chinook goodies work, including roe-clusters, live ghost shrimp, and or a combination of the two. Many boaters back-troll sardine-wrapped Flatfish or Kwikfish plugs. The North Fok of the Lewis usually has a fall run of Fall Chinook, with September and October providing the most excitement, but the Coho run can be the most exciting in these months. These 5 to 15 pound silvers begin hitting in September, peak in October, and continue providing fair fishing into November. About 5 years ago there was a report that fish and wildlife found the carcass of a 42 pound coho (silver) which would blow up the world record, let alone the state record. Summer-run steelhead do a good job of keeping anglers from dozing off in between spring and fall salmon seasons, they actually show up in the river in April, and many are caught by spring salmon anglers during May and June, but July and August are by far the best summer months for steelheading. As with salmon fishing this river is best fished by boat anglers, but all the public bank fishing spots will produce summer-runs. Casting spoons, spinners, various steelhead bobbers, roe-clusters, and fresh shrimp all work well with bank anglers. The summer steelhead catch here over the past few years has ranged from 2,000 to 4,000 fish annually. Winter steelheading on the North Fork of the Lewis is a tougher proposition, despite liberal plants of hatchery smolts. Anglers may catch as many as 2,000 winter-runs a year, but in some recent winters the catch has been bad. When you consider the release of 200,000 smolts, and anglers catching 400 fish. Cutthroat trout also are protected by wild catch-n-release regulations here, and fall cutthroating success may very well hinge on the size of recent hatchery cutthroat plants. Stocking efforts are impressive with some years of more than 20,000 fish. Although overlooked by most serious anglers, the Upper North Fork above Swift Creek Reservoir provides some awesome trout fishing, with rainbows making up the bulk of the catch. The river also offers some huge Dolly Varden, which must be released. Forest Service Road 90 above Swift Creek Reservoir provides bank access, and some anglers use inflatables or kayaks to float various sections of the river.

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