Coho and Chinook Salmon, Small and Largemouth Bass, Perch, Brown Bullhead Catfish,Crappie, Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and Rainbow Trout.
East of Mossyrock
Take U.S.12 east from Interstate 5 about 23 miles to Mossyrock, turn right (south) into town and go left (east) on Aujune Road, which leads to Tacoma Public Utilities’ Mossyrock Park Campground and boat ramp near the dam. To reach the upper lake, continue on U.S.12 about 5 miles past Morton and turn right (south) on Kosmos Road. Stay right to reach the steep boat ramp at the northeast corner of the lake or turn left and drive about 4 miles to the entrance of the Tacoma Public Utilities Park near where the Cowlitz River enters the lake.
Mossyrock park at the lower end of the lake has RV hookups, tent sites, boat ramps, and restrooms with showers, as does Taidnapan Park at the upper end. There’s also a boat ramp at the northeast end of the lake, about two miles off U.S.12 via Glenoma Road Groceries, restaurant, gas, tackle, and lodging are available in Mossyrock and Morton.
Rules and Regulations:
The lake is open for fishing year around. Your trout (or landlocked salmon) limit here is 5 fish, & this lake, like all waters of the state have a restriction whereby if you use bait, any that you catch will be counted toward your limit regardless if your keep or release them. However if you are using lures, with no scent, you can cull or release them all day. For this lake, WDFW has designated it as a 2 pole lake if you purchase that endorsement.
Fishing Riffe Lake:
The coho fishing is the main attraction at Riffe Lake, and it draws both boat and bank anglers from all over western Washington. In the spring and early summer, coho are near the surface, where they can be caught by trollers using strings of trolling blades and worms, white coen, cocktail shrimp or a combination of both. Bank anglers them by suspending the same baits three or four feet below a bobber. As the summer progresses and the thermocline establishes itself in this big, deep reservoir , the coho go deep, where both boat and bank anglers typically fish them 100 feet down with slip-bobber rigs. Most of the action takes place at the west end of the lake, within site of the dam. As for size, two year old comprise most of the catch in the spring and early summer, and they average 12 to 14 inches. The one year class begin to dominate the catch by July, and for the rest of the summer and fall, the average Riffe Lake Coho is eight to nine inches.
Another coho fishery that has really taken off is at the other end of the lake, where the Cowlitz River flows into the east end of the impoundment. This so called “108” bridge on the Champion Haul Road near Taidnapana Park has become a mecca for anglers who still-fish with all the bait mentioned above, while catching coho to 14 inches. Both spring and fall can be a productive fishery, but leave your landing net at home, the bridge is about 40 feet above the water.
A one time shortage of coho, the state planted steelhead in the lake which many anglers didn’t even notice the difference. Although rare, an occasional brown trout may grab one of the offerings meant for the coho here. If you want to target specifically on these trophy fish, some to ten pounds or more, forget the worms and go deep, trolling a Rapala or other large bait fish intimating plug or wobbling spoon.
Smallmouth bass are much more abundant than largemouths in this chilly reservoir, but you might catch both if you fish the upper end during May and June. As the creek channels fill with water that time of year, they draw hungry bass like a magnet, and then fishing crankbaits or plastic can be very good. Another possibility for bass is Swofford Cove, on the north side, near the west end of the reservoir. Both large and small mouths tend to congregate in the shallow, warm bay in the spring and summer.
Riffe has a healthy population of brown bullhead catfish, and the best time and place to catch them is during the spring, in the shallow flats at the upper end of the lake. Most catfish anglers launch at the Kosmos boat ramp in the evening and fish the shallow water nearby with nightcrawlers. Although not large at an average of 10 to 12 inches, they’re abundant enough to provide plenty of fast action and good eating for a few hours of fishing.
Riffe Lake Perch and Smallmouth Bass