Wishkah River

wishkah river

Flows into the east end of Grays Harbor at Aberdeen.

Take U.S.12 to Aberdeen and turn right on Wishkah Road which parallels the river.

Aberdeen has all you amenitites.

Big Mouth John’s Tackle

Winter Steelhead, Coho and Chinook Salmon, Resident and Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout, and Seaperch

Fishing the Wishkah:
Though only one valley away from the Hoquiam, the Wishkah is a much better salmon and steelhead river, thanks to its better fish habitat and access to the water. Though your chances of hooking a keeper chinook aren’t all that great, work your way up Wishkah Road to the mouth of the West Fork Wishkah during October and November and you just might locate a Coho or two.
The winter steelheading is up and down from year to year, but some season the Wishkah will give up 150-200 fish. The best part of fishing the river is that the steelhead fishing remains pretty consistent from December until the end of the season in March.
Sea-Run Cutthroat is fair in the river in the month of October. Like the nearby Hoquiam, the regulations call for the release of all wild non-clipped Cutthroats.

Fishing for Steelhead to close Dec. 8 on three rivers in the Upper Columbia Basin

OLYMPIA – Steelhead fisheries will close one hour after sunset on Dec. 8 on the upper Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam and on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.

Fishing for whitefish will also close on the Wenatchee River one hour after sunset on Dec. 8.

The closures will not, however, affect steelhead and whitefish fishing seasons on the Okanogan River, Similkameen River, Methow River, and mainstem Columbia River from Wells Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries will remain open until further notice under previously published rules.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the closures are necessary to keep impacts on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“This year’s run is smaller than in recent years and contains a relatively high proportion of wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Because of that, we saw an increase in the rate of encounters with natural-origin fish in some fishing areas.”

Although anglers must release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in area fisheries, some of those fish do not survive and are counted toward ESA impact limits.

The federal permit authorizing the steelhead fisheries sets a maximum allowable mortality of natural-origin steelhead to accommodate variations in run strength and angling effort on specific waters. WDFW closely monitors the fisheries and enforces fishing rules to protect wild steelhead.

The primary reason the upper Columbia steelhead fisheries are permitted is to remove excess hatchery fish from spawning grounds, said Korth, noting that those fisheries provide popular recreational fishing opportunities and economic benefits for rural communities throughout the region.

WDFW fisheries managers are analyzing fishery impacts to date, and will produce a steelhead run update next month, Korth said. Some areas could be reopened at a later date for additional fishing opportunities, and anglers should keep a close eye on the WDFW website for these possibilities.

Specific waters that will close to fishing for steelhead an hour after sunset Dec.8 include:

Mainstem Columbia River: From Rock Island Dam upstream to 400 feet below Wells Dam.
Wenatchee River: From the mouth upstream to the Icicle River Road Bridge.
Icicle River: From the mouth upstream to 500 feet below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Areas closing to whitefish angling an hour after sunset Dec. 8 include:

Wenatchee River: From the mouth upstream to the Icicle River Road Bridge.
Areas that remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead include:

Mainstem Columbia River: From Wells Dam upstream to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Methow River: From the mouth upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
Similkameen River: From the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
When these fisheries are open, anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead, which can be identified by a clipped adipose fin, they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. Once anglers have retained two fish, they must stop fishing for steelhead.


Willipa Bay Area Map

willipa bay


Okanogan River

okanogan river

Steelhead, Fall Salmon, and Smallmouth Bass
Joins the Columbia River just east of the town of Brewster
Take U.S.97 east or Highway 17 north of the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers, and continue north on U.S. 97 to follow the Okanogan River upstream
There are plenty of motels and RV parks along the river, including Okanogan, Omak, Tonasket, and Oroville. Restaurants, groceries stores, gas stations, tackle shops are also available in all four of the towns. Osoyoos Lake State Park in Oroville, at the upper end of the Okanogan River also is a nice place to stay with all your amenities.
Here is a link to all of your North Central Wahington Parks;
Rules and Regulations:
Always watch WDFG fishing updates on this river shed as rule changes happen quite frequently
How to fish the Okanogan River:
With the possible exception of the much larger Snake River, the Okanogan offers the best stream smallmouth fishing in Washington. The okanogan has been a favorite destination of smallmouth enthusiasts since the early 1970’s, and it’s just as good now as it was then, perhaps better. Although not something you’ll hook every day, the river has Bronzebacks of five pounds and over, and while your looking for them, you’ll hook and release many number of smaller ones. What’s more, U.S.97 and the side roads off of it will provide miles of good river access for bank anglers. The season is usually open year around, but the best bass action occurs as the water begins to warm substantially, usually around the end of June, and holds up well into September. Leadhead-and-grub combinations, small crankbaits, size 1 or size 0 bucktail spinners, even wet flies and streamers will take them. If you don’t have any smallmouth tackle, invest in a few one-eighths to three-eighths ounce leadheads and a dozen three-inch Berkley Power Grubs in the pumpkinseed color. If that doesn’t take smallmouth, you’re probably fishing where the bass aren’t.

Steelheading on the Okanogan has been an up-and-down proposition for many years, but it’s usually on the up enough to make the trip worth while. The lowest count in the last 20 years was in 1993-94 with only 175 fish taken from the river, but many season top the 500 fish mark according to WDF&G. If you have to pick just one month of the year to fish for steelhead on the Okanogan, make it October. That single month typically produces half of the catch for the entire year. September, November, and March may also provide some pretty good steelhead fishing. Spoons, spinners, diving plugs, fresh roe clusters, ghost shrimp, and most of the popular steelhead bobbers all account for their share of fish. If you are looking for a guided fishing trip anywhere in this area you should get a hold of “Hall of Famer” and legendary fishing guide Phil Lund at: http://methowriverguide.com/home

Moclips River


Sea-Run Cutthroat and Winter Steelhead
Flows into the Pacific Ocean at Moclips
Take Highway 109 west out of Hoquiam and follow it up the coast 30 miles to Moclips and the mouth of the river. The only road leading east out of town parallels the south side of the river.
The nearest place to find all of your amenities is Ocean Shores, 17 miles to the south, but Moclips has lodging, RV parks, groceries, gas and tackle.
Rules and Regulations:
See your Washington State fishing handbook for further updated rules and regulations.
Fishing the Moclips River:
Although this coastal stream is open during the winter months to allow for a steelhead season, the winter fishery doesn’t really amount to anything. In fact there where years in the 90’s that Fish and Game recorded no winter steelhead catches. For most people the Moclips River is to far away and the steelheading is too poor for the drive. Now on the other hand the fall fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat can be a worthwhile endeavor. Like many other streams around the Gray’s Harbor area, the best cutthroat fishing occurs within 24 hours of the end of a heavy rain that causes a good rise in water levels. Roll a nightcrawler or a small cluster of salmon roe along the bottom to catch them and preferably on an incoming tide.


Toutle River Steelhead Fishing 1965-1970

Toutle River Steelhead 1965-1970 from David Rice on Vimeo.

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:

Snohomish River

Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, Chum, and Pink Salmon, Sea Run Cutthroat, Dolly Varden, Sturgeon, Mountain Whitefish, and Rainbow Trout.

Enters the Puget Sound at the Port of Everett

Take Interstate 405 to Highway 522 at Woodinville and turn east. Drive 12 miles to the bridge that crosses the Snohomish just before the confluence of the Snoqualmie and the Skykomish Rivers. Turn left (north) on Elliot Road and drive two miles to the first of several roads leading to the east (right) toward the river at various points. An alternative is to take Interstate 5 to Everett and drive east on U.S.2 to Snohomish, where two highway bridges cross the river and turn west (right) onto River Road to fish the south side of the river between Snohomish and Everett.

Boat ramps are located on the river in Everett, Snohomish, and off of 115th Avenue S.E., about midway between Snohomish and the Highway 522 bridge. Food, gas, lodging, and tackle are readily available in Everett and Snohomish. Try John’s Sporting Goods in Everett for some insider information with John Martinis.

Rules and Regulations:
See the WDFG rules and regulations pamphlet for further updated details.

The Snohomish River is a river in the U.S. state of Washington, formed by the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers near Monroe. It flows northwest entering Port Gardner Bay, part of Puget Sound, between Everett and Marysville. The Pilchuck River is its main tributary and joins the river at Snohomish. The river system drains the west side of the Cascade Mountains from Snoqualmie Pass to north of Stevens Pass.


Fishing the Snohomish River:
This river system provides excellent angling opportunities for summer and winter steelhead, resident and sea-run cutthroat trout, resident rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and whitefish. Sturgeon are found in the lower reaches, and many salmon fishing opportunities. Two of Western Washington’s better steelhead and salmon rivers, the Skykomish and the Snoqualmie, join to form this big, slow moving river known as the Snohomish. Since all the sea-run fish bound for the Sky and the Snoqualmie have to pass through the Snohomish, it stands the reason that it can be a productive fishing spot.
The reason it isn’t an even better producer is that it’s so slow, and deep it’s difficult to read. There are not many distinguishable holding spots for salmon and steelhead, so many anglers come here, scratch their head and ask themselves “where do I start casting?”. The river’s size and the nature of the shoreline give boaters a better advantage in the lower portion of the river, and it’s those boater anglers who score the best catches from the Snohomish throughout the year.
The coho run is the backbone for the fall salmon fishery here, with the pinks in the odd years. October is the prime month to fish the river for action. Backtrolling various diving plugs or casting flashy spoons and spinners are the techniques that take them the best. Chartrues for the coho and pink for the pinks. Catchable number of coho’s continue to pass throughout the Snohomish in November, and some large chums are also available by then to add to the intrigue od the morning bite. The pink’s enter the river in September and are present in great numbers. September through to November can offer some great cutthroat and Dolly Varden fishing opportunities.
As for steelhead, the Snohomish shines brightest as a winter steelhead stream, often ranking among the state’s top 10 producing winter steelhead streams. Catches of 2,000 or more winter-runs per season are fairly common on the Snohomish River. December and January,, when large numbers of hatchery fish pass through on their way upstreamto the hatchery facilities at Tokul Creek and Reiter Ponds, are the top months to fish the Snohomish. Back trolling plugs or diver bait combinations account for a good number of winter steelhead, as does plunking with fresh roe clusters, various winged bobbers, or a combination of the two. Summer steelheading is also a good possibility here, but the numbers don’t compare to the winter steelhead catch. The best months being June and July.



Monster Chum Salmon on the Snohomish River:

Monster Chum Salmon on the Snohomish River – Fishing – OSP from Oneshot Productions on Vimeo.

Rufus Woods (Columbia River)

Downstream from the Bonneville Dam to the Chief Joseph Dam

Walleye, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Kokanee, Rainbow Trout, and Triploids (1/2 Rainbow & 1/2 Steelhead).



Located upstream of Chief Joseph Dam, Rufus Woods Reservoir is 51 miles long. From Chelan upstream to the Grand Coulee Dam.


Take Highway 155 north from Coulee City or Highway 174 north from Wilbur to Grand Coulee to fish the part of the river directly downstream from the Gran Coulee Dam, this is the stretch that is fished for Walleye. To reach the upper section of the Columbia, drive east from Pateros on U.S. 97 and turn south on Highway 17 near Fort Okanogan. Highway 17 parallels several miles of the river’s north shoreline. Highway 151 parallels the Columbia downstream portion of this section, around the town of Chelan.


There’s a great boat ramp and facilities with no launch fee at Beebe Bridge Park, south of Chelan on the east side of the river. Across the river, at Chelan Falls Park, there’s a day use only ramp, and it’s also free. Boat ramps are located near the town of Elmer City, which is downstream from the Grand Coulee Dam, and at Bridgeport State Park, at the lower end of Rufus Woods Lake. Ramp’s at Bridgeport, Brewster, and Pateros provide access to Lake Pateros. There are two launches on the Colville side, with one withing a mile of each set of pen location that is so-so at best, and then 15 mile down the highway there is another state park with full hookups and boat launch facilities. Food, gas, RV Parks, lodging, and other amenities are available in Pateros, Brewster, Bridgeport, Coulee Dam, and Grand Coulee, where there is a nice Safeway. Bridgeport State Park at the lower end of Rufus Woods Lake, offers dozens of tent sites, and Full RV hook-ups.


Rules and Regulations:

Year round open season. Trout daily limit is two (2) and includes kokanee. On the waters of Rufus Woods, or within designated fishing areas (DFA), which are located and marked as such on the Colville reservation shoreline, either a tribal permit or Washington State fishing license shall be acceptable. A Washington State license is required when fishing from the Douglas County shoreline.


Fishing Rufus Woods:

Compared to most of the Columbia River system, the many miles of largely still water between Wells and Grand Coulee Dams are rather lightly fished by Washington anglers until the recent past 10 years of so of the Triploid fishery. Road access to much of this stretch-especially Rufus Woods Lake is limited, boat ramps are few and far between. It’s accurate to say much of this portion holds angling secrets that few anglers ever discover.
As most Washington anglers have heard by now, Rufus wood lake is the Evergreen’s newest trophy trout producer, having laid claim in Febraury of 1998 to the state record rainbow trout. Robert Halverson of Republic boated a whopping 24.45-pound rainbow that fell for a trolled Rapala, so you can guess what most of Rufus Woods trout enthusiasts have been fishing with ever since. This monster trout eclipsed the former state record by more than three ponds and measured 31.5 inches in length and 25 inches in girth. The long impoundment behing Chief Joseph Dam has long been a favorite of north-central Washington anglers looking for a trout of three pounds or better, but the newest addition to the state record book has made it a popular destination than ever.
Most bank anglers fish from the “Greenhouses” downstream to the “Net Pens”. Most use a steelhead set up with a slinky weight, and a long leader with power bait or a night crawler. The best fishing at Rufus Woods is when they are releasing water from the Grand Coulee Dam which causes current, and moves the fish around. I personally have seen 15 pounders that live underneath the pens and feed, feed, feed. I have heard of divers saying they have seen 20 plus pounders underneath the pens. One year Maribou jigs worked for me, the next year they didn’t.

Washington State Rainbow Trout Record, Robert Halverson of Republic boated a whopping 24.45-pound rainbow


As is the case throughout much of the Columbia, walleyes can be found here, too. The walleye fishery in Rufus Woods Lake and Lake Pateros continues to provide new surprises as to where and how the fish may be caught. Because the vast area available to walleye anglers, those who cover the most water often make the best catches. Try trolling along rocky points with diving Rapala’s or Power Dive Minnows or with the standard Columbia River walleye set up of a two ounce sinker, a spinner, and a night crawler stretched out straight on a two-hook rig.
Diving plugs similar to those used for walleyes are also effective for steelhead on some stretch of the river. Lake Pateros is a popular destination for fall steelhead anglers, many of whom troll diving plugs for their fish. The waters around the mouth of the Methow River are some of the most popular, but trolling for steelhead can also be good in other places, including off the mouth of the Okanogan River. September and October are usually the best months, but steelhead may be caught until ice becomes a problem in December and January.
Kokanee fishing in Rufus Woods Lake can be quite good, but relatively few anglers outside of the locals fish for them. Trolling with string blades, Wedding Rings or similar offerings will usually draw the attention of the fine eating little salmon.

View from the highway upstream from the launch, with the net pens to the upper-left.


Friends Greg, Chuck, and my dad Leonard and I with 172 triploids caught and released in 3 days of fishing Rufus Woods 2011. Here’s a picture of our 3 days worth of limits (24), all 4 to 7 pound trout.

rufus woods

Brother Shane and my two nieces with some nice Rufus Wood Triploids:


Puyallup River



Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, Chum, and Pink Salmon, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout, Mountain Whitefish.
Enters Commencement Bay in Tacoma.
Take the Puyallup exit off of Interstate 5 near the north end of Tacoma to reach the Lower Puyallup, which is paralleled by River Road on the south side of the river and the North Levee Road on the north side of the river. To reach the upper portions of the river take Pioneer Avenue east out of Puyallup to Highway 162 (the Summer/Orting Highway). Side roads to the east off Highway 162 provide river access at Alderton, McMillan, and other places along the way towards Orting. McCutcheon Road runs along the east side of the river from Summner to McMillan.
The towns of Puyallup and Sumner have every thing that you need.
Rules and Regulations:
See your WDFG rules and regulations pamphlet for details.
Fishing the Puyallup River:
Some of the best fishing on the Puyallup river is found from Sumner upstream to the mouth of the Carbon River, a few miles north of Orting. This is true for both salmon and steelhead. Many anglers float this stretch of the river, but McCutcheon Road provides plenty of access at more than a half dozen points.
Chinook start showing up in the Puyallup in August, and by mis-September the salmon fishery is going in full speed. Every other year the Pinks show up in masses. The hottest fishing action in the river is in October, when coho fill the river, most of them bound for the state salmon hatchery at Voight Creek, a Carbon River tributary near Orting. Boat anglers scor good cohocatches back-trolling Hot Shots, Wiggle Warts, and other plugs, while bank anglers do well with Blu Fox, Matric, and Flash and Go spinners.
A few steelhead trickle into the upper reaches of the Puyallup above the mouth of the Crabon, but you’re better off concentrating your efforts from McMillan downstream. If you’re a drift-angler, you’ll find plenty of good water between Sumner and McMillan, with no really area better than the others. If plunking is in your bag, stay downstream of Puyallup. Plunkers can do well on the North Levee Road, where there’s plenty of bank access and a good chance of catching fish right after a period of high water. Beware! this is a COMBAT fishery when the fish runs are at full strength.


Chum fishing in December on the Puyallup: