Winter and Summer Steelhead, Spring and Fall Chinook, Coho and Chum Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout
Enters the Pacific Ocean at La Push on the west side of the Olympic Penninsula
Take U.S.101 to the town of Forks and turn west onto La Push Road about two miles north of town. Drive eight miles and turn right on Mora Road, which parallels the north side of the Quillayute River.
A boat ramp and considerable access to the river can be found at Lyendecker Park, where the Bogachiel and the Sol Duc Rivers converge to form the Quillayute. Mora Park, farther downstream near the rivers mouth, also provides access and a rough boat take-out spot. Also nearby is Three Rivers Resort, which offers cabins, RV and tent sites, hot showers, a small store with groceries, tackle, laundry, food and gas. All other amenities will be located in the town of Forks.
Fishing the Quillayute River:
Though officially only six miles long, the Quillayute is one of the Northwest’s busiest salmon and steelhead rivers. That’s because every fish bound for the Bogachiel, Sol Duc, and Calawah Rivers has to pass through the Quillayute to get to their respective destinations. Now, if you’re one of those calculating types, your already thinking that stationing yourself somewhere along the Quillayute will put you in perfect position to ambush tens of thousands of salmon and steelhead that will be funneling right past you as they swim upstream. Unfortunately, most of these fish will being going like at a bat out of hell to their home stream, meaning you won’t catch many of them. So much for logic.
It’s true that fish headed for the productive Quillayute tributaries must pass right through the lower end of the system to get to where ever they may be going, but it’s “holding” fish that provide most of the action for freashwater salmon and steelhead anglers, not moving fish, so the Quillayute isn’t the hot spot that it might appear to be at first glance.
But the river is still worth fishing. Angler’s here pick off their share of winter steelhead beginning in November and continue catching fish right on through April, not in huge numbers but at a better clip than a lot of other streams. Likewise it’s not a red-hot place for summer-run steelhead, but you can catch them if you work at it.
Spring chinook bound for the upstream tributaries are also picked off on the Quillayute, although not particularly in large numbers. The springer fishing may be better when the Sol Duc River is low and clear, as it often is in the spring. Under those conditions, the salmon may lie and wait in the Quillayute, waiting for a little rain to raise the river levels, presenting anglers a good opportunity to pick them off. Although there’s the possibility of hooking a fall chinook the size of a car, anglers here catch relatively few of them. In most years, in fact, anglers catch more chum salmon than fall chinook from the Quillayute.
The traditional highlight for fall salmon anglers on the Quillayute has been the annual coho run, but recent years the river has been closed for the taking of coho.