Steelhead, Bull Trout, Rainbow, Whitefish, and Chinook Salmon
Enters the Columbia River at Pateros
Take Highway 20 east to Mazama and drive downstream along the river. Near Twisp, turn south on Highway 153 to stay near the Methow. From the south, take US Highway 97 to Pateros and turn onto Highway 153.
Alta Lake State Park, near the mouth of the river west of Pateros, has tent and RV sites, restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Food, gas, lodging, and other amenities can be found in Pateros, Twisp, and Winthrop.
Fishing the Methow River:
The river is home to resident Cutthroat, Rainbow, Bulltrout and Whitefish. In addition to the resident fish population, anadramous runs of Chinook and Steelhead are significant. Methow river trout fishing can be great July – September. Steelhead fishing in October and later is based on whether the State opens the river for steelhead. This river is listed as a closed river unless there is an “emergency opening”. However you can fish the Methow regularly for trout July-September and look forward to showing you this beautiful watershed. You will find some trout fishing activity scattered alond the Methow, particulary on the upper reaches around Twisp, Winthrop, and farther upstream, but the most serious angling effort is centered around the adult steelhead that travel hundreds of miles through the Columbia River system to return to this clear, cold mountain river. Hatchery-run steelhead provide most of the action, as all wild steelhead are to be released. It’s amazing how many hatchery steelhead smolts must be stocked here in order to provide even a mediocre sport fishery. Would you believe plants of 400,000 smolts from the Wells Hatchery just to produce enough returning adults for a sport catch that’s ranged from about 500 to 1500 fish a year? Oh, the joy of trying to catch salmon and steelhead through a river system that is clogged with hydo-electric dams.
When fish do finally make it back to the Methow, they begin providing worthwhile catches in August, with September and October almost always the best fishing months. Although technically summer steelhead because of the time they enter the Columbia, they hang around all winter and are available to Methow anglers whenever conditions allow. During some mild winters, good catches are made straight through from September to March. Other years, when there’s a lot of ice and snow in the Methow Valley, the fishery all but dies in the winter, coming to life again for a few weeks when conditions improve in March.
Much of the Methow River steelhead catch comes from the slow water at the river’s mouth, where boat anglers have the advantage. Some troll diving plugs or spinners along the bottom for their fish, but for many years the standard technique has been troll or drift with the wind trailing a leadhead jig (Maribou) that’s suspended from a small float. Farther upstream, where moving water allows for more traditional drift fishing techniques, the river is shared by hardware and fly anglers, and both catch their share of fish. Fishing with Phil Lund, you will be strictly fly-fishing and if you get the chance learn how to spay fly fish!
It’s safe to say that fishing the crystal-clear Methow is one of Washington’s most popular steelhead streams among fly-casters. But if you’re thinking about fishing bait, forget it, the river is under selective fishing regulations that prohibit bait, and you can only use lures with a single barbless hook. If you are a novice fishermen and are looking for the extreme excitement, call Phil Lund with the information provide below with a link to his web site. I have been fishing my whole life, in my opinion he is the greatest fishing guide I have ever known, with King Salmon caught in the 90 plus pound range, and many steelhead from the Olympic Penninsula in the 25 to 30 pound range. I’ve seen them mounted on his walls!
Methow River Guide “Hall of Famer” Phil Lund
Methow River Steelhead Fishing courtesy of Red’s Fly Shop!