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.