Cowlitz, Green, North Fork Toutle rivers will close to chinook salmon fishing



VANCOUVER, Wash. – Starting Oct. 2, anglers will be required to release any chinook salmon they intercept on the Cowlitz, Green and North Fork Toutle rivers due to low returns of hatchery chinook.

State fishery managers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said the closures are necessary to ensure that enough fall chinook return to those rivers to support hatchery production during the coming year.

All three rivers will remain open to retention of other fish species, as listed in the 2017 Sport Fishing Rules.

“This was a tough decision for fishery managers, but we can’t ignore the lagging chinook returns,” said Dan Rawding, acting WDFW regional fish manager. “We have to think about producing fish for next year too.”

According to the pre-season forecast, 3,900 hatchery fall chinook were expected to cross Barrier Dam this year, with a goal of collecting 1,900 fish for hatchery broodstock. So far, only 700 chinook have returned to the river, and Rawding said fish managers are now hoping to get 1,400 back to the hatchery.

The Cowlitz River remains open to fishing for coho salmon, summer steelhead, and sea-run cutthroat trout.

On the Green River, only 400 chinook have been collected this year out of an expected return of 1,000 hatchery fish. The broodstock goal is 800 fish at the hatchery, which produces chinook returning to the Green and North Toutle rivers.

Two other large Columbia River tributaries – the Kalama and the Washougal – will remain open to fishing for chinook salmon. There, too, chinook returns are lower than expected, but fishery managers still expect to meet hatchery broodstock goals on those rivers, Rawding said.

Rawding said WDFW will continue to monitor salmon returns in area rivers, and will consider reopening rivers to chinook fishing if returns improve in the coming weeks.

More information about these rule changes can be found on WDFW’s website at

Daily limit for hatchery steelhead will increase on the lower Cowlitz River

Action: Cowlitz River anglers may retain up to 3 hatchery steelhead.

Effective date: April 1, 2015, until further notice.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Location: Cowlitz River from boundary markers at the mouth upstream to 400 feet (or posted markers) below the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery barrier dam.

Reason for action: There has been a strong showing of late winter run hatchery steelhead on the Cowlitz to date. The hatchery brood stock goal is expected to be met.

Other information: Barbless hooks are required. From the Lexington Bridge Drive in Lexington upstream to the Highway 505 Bridge in Toledo, anglers may fish with two poles with a Two-Pole Endorsement.

New rules will be coming out in July. Under recently approved permanent rules, barbed hooks may be used in the month of July. In addition, anglers with a Two-Pole Endorsement may fish with two poles upstream to 400 feet (or posted markers) below the barrier dam beginning July 1.

All other permanent rules apply including the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement.

Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.

Washington State Fish and Wildlife Fishing Reports July 15th – 21st


Don Armeni ramp, West Seattle — July 19: 19 boats with 39 anglers caught three chinook and seven coho; July 20: 57 boats with 120 anglers caught nine chinook, 11 coho and 103 flounder; July 21: 50 boats with 120 anglers caught four chinook, 15 coho and two pinks.

Eddie Vine ramp, Shilshole Bay — July 16: 75 boats with 153 anglers caught 66 chinook, 22 coho, one pink and 25 flounder; July 17: 19 boats with 39 anglers caught 11 chinook; July 19: 93 boats with 180 anglers caught 24 chinook, 20 coho and 29 flounder; July 20: 115 boats with 244 anglers caught 30 chinook, 28 coho, four pinks and 80 flounder; July 21: 107 boats with 215 anglers caught 24 chinook, 29 coho, five pinks, one sockeye and 68 flounder.

Everett ramp — July 16: 94 boats with 212 anglers caught 96 chinook, 11 coho, three pinks and nine flounder; July 17: 25 boats with 61 angles caught 19 chinook and one coho; July 19: 98 boats with 217 anglers caught 54 chinook, 10 coho and 53 flounder; July 20: 211 boats with 498 anglers caught 60 chinook, 25 coho, three pinks and 126 flounder; July 21: 175 boats with 390 anglers caught 39 chinook, 10 coho, 10 pinks and 155 flounder.

Manchester ramp — July 17: Nine boats with 19 anglers caught one chinook and two coho; July 19: 20 boats with 36 anglers caught two coho and 16 herring.

Kingston ramp — July 16: 33 boats with 75 anglers caught 12 chinook, three coho and 17 flounder; July 21: 59 boats with 134 anglers caught eight chinook, 15 coho, one pink and four flounder.

Port Orchard ramp — July 15: Five boats with 10 anglers caught no fish; July 16: Three boats with three anglers caught no fish; July 18: Four boats with eight anglers caught one coho; July 21: Two boats with three anglers caught no fish.

Glenn Street ramp, Bellingham — July 20: 25 boats with 60 anglers caught nine chinook, one coho and 37 pinks.

Blaine ramp — July 19: Three boats with six anglers caught no fish; July 20: Two boats with seven anglers caught one kelp greenling and three lingcod; July 21: Three boats with six anglers caught eight pinks and two lingcod.

Swinomish Channel ramp — July 20: Eight boats with 21 anglers caught two chinook and five pinks; July 21: Six boats with 14 anglers caught two chinook and one pink.

Cornet Bay ramp, North Whidbey Island — July 15: Six boats with 14 anglers caught 12 pinks; July 19: Three boats with five anglers caught two pinks; July 20: 11 boats with 28 anglers caught one chinook and 18 pinks; July 21: Four boats with nine anglers caught no fish.

Washington Park ramp, Anacortes — July 15: 24 boats with 43 anglers caught 13 chinook and four pinks; July 19: Eight boats with 22 anglers caught six pinks; July 20: 20 boats with 59 anglers caught 11 chinook, one coho and 38 pinks; July 21: 13 boats with 38 anglers caught 21 pinks.

Olson’s Resort, Sekiu — July 16: 45 boats with 110 anglers caught 37 chinook, 53 coho, 19 pinks and three rockfish; July 17: 22 boats with 50 anglers caught 19 chinook, 14 coho, four pinks, 11 rockfish and one kelp greenling; July 18: 37 boats with 85 anglers caught 70 chinook, 18 coho, seven pinks and one rockfish; July 19: Five boats with 14 anglers caught 13 chinook, three coho, two pinks and two rockfish; July 20: 86 boats with 206 anglers caught 130 chinook, 10 coho and 61 pinks; July 21: 62 boats with 168 anglers caught 44 chinook, 10 coho, 13 pinks and one rockfish.

Van Riper’s Resort, Sekiu — July 16: 20 boats with 39 anglers caught 10 chinook, nine coho, four pinks, one rockfish, two lingcod and two kelp greenling; July 18: 37 boats with 85 anglers caught 70 chinook, 18 coho, seven pinks and one rockfish; July 19: 50 boats with 123 anglers caught 46 chinook, 13 coho, 33 pinks and one rockfish; July 20: 51 boats with 141 anglers caught 70 chinook, five coho, 16 pinks and three rockfish.

Curley’s Straitside Resort, Sekiu — July 18: 13 boats with 39 anglers caught 11 chinook, seven coho and three pinks; July 20: 13 boats with 33 anglers caught five chinook, four coho and 15 pinks.

Freshwater Bay ramp — July 19: 18 boats with 31 anglers caught 27 chinook, four coho and 10 pinks; July 21: 22 boats with 41 anglers caught 28 chinook, six coho and 15 pinks.

Ediz Hook ramp, Port Angeles — July 17: 36 boats with 71 anglers 34 chinook and nine pinks; July 18: 41 boats with 81 anglers caught 37 chinook, one coho and 13 pinks; July 19: Four boats with 10 anglers caught no fish; July 20: 44 boats with 91 anglers caught 26 chinook, two coho and two pinks; July 21: 59 boats with 139 anglers caught 51 chinook, one coho and 10 pinks.

Fort Worden State Park ramp north of Port Townsend — July 21: 31 boats with 68 anglers caught 42 chinook.

Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina — July 16: 79 boats with 169 anglers caught 194 chinook and one pink; July 17: 67 boats with 149 anglers caught 70 chinook and one coho; July 19: 63 boats with 130 anglers caught 55 chinook, three coho and one pink; July 20: 67 boats with 154 anglers caught 37 chinook, two coho and three pinks; July 21: 43 boats with 98 anglers caught 24 chinook and one pink.

Hoodsport shoreline, Hood Canal — July 15: 10 anglers caught one pink; July 20: 20 anglers caught four pinks; July 21: Nine anglers caught one chinook and five pinks.

Salsbury County Park ramp, Hood Canal — July 18: Two boats with three anglers caught one chinook.

Skokomish ramp, Hood Canal — July 20: Eight boats with 22 anglers caught two chinook; July 21: Nine boats with 17 anglers caught four chinook.

Redondo Beach ramp — July 16: 13 boats with 23 anglers caught three chinook, one pink and 16 flounder; July 19: 44 boats with 94 anglers caught one chinook, two coho and 165 flounder.

Narrows Marina and ramp — July 15: Five boats with 10 anglers caught no fish; July 18: Five boats with eight anglers caught one chinook; July 21: 11 boats with 25 anglers caught one chinook and six flounder.

Gig Harbor ramp — July 21:
Five boats with seven anglers caught no fish.

Dash Point Park Pier — July 16: Two anglers caught one pink.

Point Defiance Park ramp and Boathouse, Tacoma — July 15: 48 boats with 73 anglers caught seven chinook, one coho and 41 flounder; July 16: 36 boats with 72 anglers caught one chinook and 22 flounder; July 17: 22 boats with 36 anglers caught three chinook and 24 flounder; July 19: 53 boats with 114 anglers caught nine chinook, two pinks and 17 flounder; July 21: 103 boats with 223 anglers caught 12 chinook, one coho, one pink and 162 flounder.

Solo Point ramp south of Tacoma — July 19: Three boats with six anglers caught no fish.

Luhr Beach ramp — July 16: One boat with two anglers caught no fish; July 21: Five boats with eight anglers caught no fish.

Zittel’s Marina — July 15: Five boats with 12 anglers caught no fish; July 19: Four boats with nine anglers caught no fish.

Wollochett Bay ramp — July 20: Two boats with three anglers caught one coho.

Boston Harbor Marina — July 21: Five boats with 11 anglers caught no fish.

Columbia River below Bonneville Dam — July 15-21: 1,445 bank anglers caught four sockeye and 150 steelhead, and released seven chinook, and 285 sockeye; 237 boats with 536 anglers caught 113 steelhead, and released one chinook and 178 steelhead; five boats with 10 anglers released 13 sturgeon; one bank angler caught no shad; 12 boats with 20 anglers caught eight walleye.

Columbia River in The Dalles Pool — July 15-21: Three bank anglers released 20 sturgeon; five boats with nine anglers released 53 sturgeon; 14 bank anglers released one wild steelhead; two boats with four anglers caught two walleye and released four; two boats with four anglers released 50 bass.

Cowlitz River— July 15-21: 20 bank anglers caught 19 mini jack chinook and one cutthroat trout; 74 boat anglers caught 43 steelhead and released one cutthroat trout.

Lewis River mainstem — July 15-21: Nine boat anglers released one steelhead.

Lewis River North Fork — July 15-21: 11 bank anglers caught no fish.

Drano Lake — July 15-21: Two bank anglers caught no fish; 15 boat anglers caught one steelhead and released eight.


2013 Columbia River Salmon Forecast


Nearly 678,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this season. About 80 percent of those fish are “bright” stocks, most of which are destined for areas above Bonneville Dam, including the Hanford Reach and Snake River.

Brights are really the foundation of the recreational fishery, “and with the numbers we are expecting there is good reason to be optimistic about this season,”

Columbia River fisheries also are expected to benefit from a significant increase in coho numbers. The abundance of Columbia River coho is forecast to be about 501,000 fish. That would be better than the five-year average and total nearly three times as many fish as last year’s actual abundance.

A total of 114,675 angler trips were taken on the Lower Columbia last season, with 13,332 adult spring chinook kept (11,105 kept from April 1-22) and 2,409 released.

2012 Lower Columbia River numbers (caught by sport fishermen)

Bouy 10:

  • 13,900 Chinook and 8,000 coho
  • Chinook retention 8/1-9/3 (1 fish limit)
    and 10/1-12/31 (2 fish limit)
  • Coho retention 8/1-12/31 (2 fish limit)
  • 63,400 angler trips
  • 18,400 Chinook and 7,400 fin-clipped coho kept

Lower Columbia Fall Chinook:

  • 8/1-9/9; 9/10-16 (MSF); 10/1-12/31 Tongue Pt.-
    Warrior Rock, 8/1-12/31 Warrior Rock to Bonneville Dam 2 fish limit (1 Chinook thru 9/9)
  • 128,800 angler trips (2nd highest)
  • 22,400 adult fall Chinook kept (3rd highest)
  • 3,700 Chinook released
  • 4,200 jacks kept
  • 900 clipped coho
  • 5,600 steelhead kept, (3,500 released)



Live Fish Cam:

Cispus River

Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and Rainbow Tout
Joins the Cowlitz River above Riffe Lake
Take U.S.12 to Randle and turn south on Forest Service Road 25 (Woods Creek Road). Drive just over a mile and turn left (east) on Cispus Road (Forest Service Road 23), which follows the river upstream more than twenty miles.
There are a few forest service campgrounds along the river with campsites, restrooms, and water, but the nearest food, gas, tackle, and lodging are in Randle.
Fishing the Cispus River:
Wild cutthroat and planted rainbows provide some action on the Lower Cispus, below the mouth of the Muddy Fork. Above the Muddy Fork, anglers will find a mix bag of small cutthroats and brook trout. The season here runs from June 1 through October 31, and you’ll find small trout available all season. Fishing pressure gets fairly heavy during the height of the summer camping season, but you’ll have elbow room before mid-June and after Labor Day.


Toutle River

Summer and Winter Steelhead, Chinook and Coho Salmon, White and Green Sturgeon
Flows into the Cowlitz River north of Castle Rock
Turn east off of Interstate 5 onto Highway 504, which parallels much of the North Fork of the Toutle. Weyerhauser 4100 Road from the town of Toutle, 11 miles east of the freeway, parallels the South Fork of the Toutle.
Seaquest State Park, located right on Highway 504 near Silver Lake, has a limited amount of tent and RV sites, plus restrooms with showers and a RV dump site. There are also two private resorts on the lake, right alongside the highway. Other than those facilities the nearest gas, food, lodging, and tackle would be in the town of Castlerock.
Fishing the Toutle River:
After Mount St.Helens erupted in 1980, totally destroying the beautiful North Fork of the Toutle and the main Toutle below the confluence of the North and South Forks, fish biologists estimated in might take decades before the river would produce a steelhead fishery. Well, Mother Nature, with a little help from her humans assistants, shortened the timetable considerably, and the Toutle River system is now producing fair to good steelhead fishing, it’s not quite like the glory days but it is producing. Roles have been reversed between the once-great North Fork and the South Fork that received relatively light angler attention or publicity before the eruption. Now it’s the South Fork, which was only lightly damaged by the volcano, that provides most of the steelheading opportunity. Although records show that both are stocked with 25,000 to 30,000 summer steelhead smolts annually, with anglers catching 1,500 a season on the South Fork with only a few hundred on the North Fork. Water clarity remains a problem on the North Fork, silty and muddy, almost like a glacier run-off. All wild fish must be released on this stream. June and July remain the top two producing months for your steelhead action. South Fork Toutle River – From 4100 Bridge upstream, November 30 is the last day to fish for hatchery steelhead. From the mouth to the bridge remains open with selective gear rules in effect beginning December 1.
Fall chinook fishing usually starts around the beginning of September, but as most, it depends on the rains. The most popular spot to fish is at the mouth, where it enters the Cowlitz, right next to Interstate 5 on the north side of the freeway. The fishery usually peeks in the beginning of October, with the Coho coming right behind them. Still looking for smolt numbers at the time of this release.

Bank fishing from the Eco Lodge Park Resort property
Toutle River Fall King Salmon
This Sturgeon was caught 20 miles upstream on the Toutle! almost to the mouth of the Green River near Kid Valley, way to go Kevin!

Cowlitz River

Spring and Fall Chinook, Coho Salmon, Winter and Summer Steelhead, Searun Cutthroat, Columbia River Smelt, Green and White Sturgeon
Flows into the Columbia river near Kelso


Interstate 5 parallels the east side of the river from Kelso upstream to Toledo. But the most popular stretch of river is upstream, between Toledo and the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. To reach this area, take U.S.12 east from I-5, turning right (south) on Tucker Road, left at the Y onto Classe Road, left on Spencer Road, and right onto the road leading past the state trout hatchery and to the river. To reach the salmon hatchery further upstream, continue about four miles farther on U.S.12 to Salkum and turn right at the “Salmon Hatchery” sign.


Boat ramps can be found at the trout and salmon hatcheries, with well stocked tackle stores, gas stations, and grocery stores at the junction of U.S.12 and Tucker Road and at Blue Creek Bait and Tackle. Barrier Dam Campground, a short distance north of the salmon hatchery, has RV spaces.

Rules and regulations click the pamphlet


Fishing the Cowlitz River:
Winter steelhead and spring chinook are the two biggest draws at this river, and for every good reason. The Cowlitz has been Washington’s top winter steelhead stream every winter, giving up as much as 30,000 fish in a single season, although in recent years the numbers have been in the 15,000 fish range. Boat ramps at the salmon hatchery, trot hatchery, and other points downstream make this one of Washington’s most heavily boated rivers. During the winter season, a bulk of the boat traffic is concentrated on the two miles of river downstream from the trout hatchery. Some boaters back-troll plugs and diver baits combinations for their steelhead, but a technique called “free-drifting” has become very popular in recent years. It involves making long casts across and slightly upstream, using lighter sinkers than those commonly used associated with drift-fishing, and allowing the boat to drift downstream while your line drags behind. Bank anglers also make good catches of winter steelhead from the Cowlitz, but if you want to fish the best spots, plan on getting shoulder to shoulder and combat fish. The mouth of Blue Creek, just downstream from the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery, may produce several hundred fish in a single morning, with several hundred anglers on hand to catch them. The area below the Barrier Dam is also popular with spring chinook anglers, both those fishing from the bank and those who launch at the mouth of Mill Creek, where the gravel road ends in a two-lane boat launch. Boater’s can’t fish between the ramp and the Barrier Dam, but they catch a lot of chinook from the half mile of river immediately downstream from the ramp. Back-trolling Kwikfish and Flatfish with a strip of sardine lashed to the belly of each lure is effective for boat anglers, as is back-bouncing with large clusters of salmon roe and shrimp combinations. Bank anglers drift fish shrimp, roe, and the shrimp-roe combo known as the “Cowlitz Cocktail”. Spring chinook fishing peaks in May. As the spring salmon fishery tapers off, summer steelhead picks up, and the Cowlitz often provides excellent summer steelheading from July through October. There are dozens of producing fishing spots between the trout hatchery and Toledo. Boat anglers probably account for 70% or more of the fish. Coho returns have been poor in recent years. Hatchery production of sea-run cutthroat has been good enough on the Cowlitz over the past decade to allow anglers what amounts to a bonus trout limit. While the daily limit on most streams is two fish, it’s five on the Cowlitz. Release all wild fish if possible. The mouth of the Blue Creek is the hottest hole on the river. Rolling a nightcrawler on the bottom has been the best producer, some cutthroat reach 20″ in this river. Sturgeon and Smelt can be found near the mouth in the town of Kelso. Fall chinook fishing can also be a fun time. My last trip in the middle of September produced 5 Kings, and one wild release of a 30#. Most hatchery fall chinook range from 12#-25#.

Here is a picture of the Columbia River, where the mouth of the Cowlitz joins it on a busy day of fishing.