Winter-Run Steelhead, Sea-Run and Resident Cutthroat
Flows into the Chehalis River at Centralia
Take Highway 507 north from Centralia or south from Tenino to 184th Avenue SE and turn east. It’s a 7.7 mile drive from Highway 507 to Skookumchuck Dam and the end of the road. You’ll cross the river twice along the way, once at the 2.2 mile mark and again at 5.7 miles.
Groceries and gas are available in Bucoda and Tenino, with other amenities in Centralia.
Fishing the Skookumchuck:
Hatchery plants of one kind or another provide virtually all the action for anglers on the Lower Skookumchuck. At least 80,000 winter steelhead smolts a year are released from the hatchery facility at the base of the dam, and when adult fish from those plants return to the river, they provide a flurry of fishing opportunity. The best fishing is in March and April, and most of the steelhead are caught from a short stretch of the river near the dam. Like the Blue Creek Hole on the Cowlitz, or the Tokul Creek fishery on the Snoqualmie, what happens here is experience, especially on the weekends, but the catching can be good. There are a half dozen wide turnouts and parking areas along the last mile of road before you reach the end of the line, and there are good-looking steelhead spots near all of them. It doesn’t take long to see why this stretch of the river is popular.
Several thousand hatchery cutthroat are stocked in the Lower Skookumchuck most years, providing very good fishing in October and November. The standard river regulation of allowing two trout per person a day, at least 12 inches long, is in effect here. Wild steelhead and wild cutthroats must be released whenever you fish the Lower Skookumchuck.
Things are a little different on the Upper Skookumchuck, above the reservoir. This stretch has selective fishery regulations, so you can’t use bait or barbed hooks. It’s also pretty tough to find a legal-sized trout here throughout most of the season. Access to this upper-river fishery is via logging roads running from Vail.