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.