cowlitz river fishing report

Cowlitz River Fishing Report: Latest Updates and Tips for Anglers

Overview of the Cowlitz River as a Fishing Spot

Fishing on the Cowlitz River

The Cowlitz River is a well-known destination for professional and amateur anglers alike. It is located in Lewis County and flows through Pierce County, providing plenty of opportunities for fishing. This river is known for its diverse fish species and is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts year-round, but especially during the warmer months. Anglers come from all over the Pacific Northwest to fish in the Cowlitz River. The river offers up a mixture of fish species, including steelhead, salmon, and trout, making it a top destination for those looking to catch a variety of fish.

Where to Go for Cowlitz River Fishing

Fishing on the Cowlitz River

If you’re looking to fish in the Cowlitz River, there are many access points throughout Lewis and Pierce Counties. Popular spots include Barrier Dam, Blue Creek, and Mineral. Barrier Dam is particularly popular because it creates an artificial fish ladder for salmon and steelhead, making it an excellent spot to catch fish. The river also has many parks and recreation areas with easy access to the water where anglers can set up. Other popular access points include the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery and the Cowlitz Falls Campground.

What to Catch in the Cowlitz River

Fishing on the Cowlitz River

As mentioned, the Cowlitz River is home to a variety of fish species, including steelhead, salmon, and trout. Steelhead are especially popular in the river, and there are two runs of steelhead every year. Winter steelhead runs typically occur from December to March, while summer steelhead runs occur from May through September. Chinook and coho salmon also run in the river from late summer to late fall. Rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout are other fish species found in the river. The sizes of the fish caught in the river vary, but it’s not uncommon to catch fish weighing upwards of 20 pounds.

Fishing Regulations on the Cowlitz River

Fishing on the Cowlitz River

It’s important to know and follow fishing regulations when fishing in the Cowlitz River. Some of the regulations to be aware of include licensing requirements, limits on daily catch, and restrictions on fishing methods. Anglers should also be aware of the different areas of the river and the specific regulations that apply to each area. Regulations can change at any time, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the current fishing regulations for the Cowlitz River. This information can typically be found on the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife website.


Fishing on the Cowlitz River

The Cowlitz River is a popular destination for anglers looking to catch a variety of fish species. With the river’s diverse fish population and numerous access points, there are plenty of opportunities for fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels. Anglers should be aware of fishing regulations and make sure to follow them to protect the river’s natural resources and ensure that the fishing experience remains good for years to come. Overall, the Cowlitz River is a great destination for anyone looking to spend a day fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

Fishing Regulations

Cowlitz River Fishing Regulations

If you’re planning to fish at the Cowlitz River, there are regulations that you need to know. These regulations are in place to protect the river’s ecosystem and ensure the sustainability of fish stocks. The Cowlitz River is a popular fishing destination in Washington, and following the regulations helps to make sure that everyone can enjoy the experience.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) regulates fishing on the river. You can find detailed information on their website, but here’s a quick summary of the regulations that you need to be aware of:

Best Times to Fish

Cowlitz River Fishing Best Time

The Cowlitz River is a year-round fishery, but the best time to fish varies depending on the species you’re targeting. The spring and fall are excellent times to fish for salmon and steelhead. During summer, the river can get warm, and fish may not be as active. However, you can still catch trout and other species during this season. Winter is a great time to fish for steelhead, as they run in good numbers during this season.

Size Limits

Cowlitz River Fishing Size Limits

The size limits for fish in the Cowlitz River depend on the species. The WDFW sets these limits to protect the fish population and ensure that they have a chance to spawn and reproduce. Here are the current size limits:

  • Salmon: minimum size of 12 inches
  • Steelhead: minimum size of 20 inches
  • Cutthroat trout: minimum size of 14 inches

It’s important to measure your catch to ensure that it meets the size limit before you keep it. If the fish is undersized, you must release it immediately to prevent harm to the fish population.

Gear Restrictions

Cowlitz River Fishing Gear Restrictions

The WDFW also has gear restrictions in place for fishing on the Cowlitz River. These restrictions are designed to prevent harm to the fish population and ecosystem. Some of the gear restrictions include:

  • No bait allowed for salmon and steelhead fishing
  • Barbless hooks only
  • No fishing from a floating device

Make sure to read the full regulations before you head out on your fishing trip to ensure that you are using the appropriate gear.

In conclusion, fishing on the Cowlitz River is a great experience, but it’s important to follow the regulations set by the WDFW to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks. Knowing the best times to fish, size limits, and gear restrictions will help you to have an enjoyable and rewarding fishing trip.

Fishing Spots

Cowlitz River Fishing Spots

Located in Washington state, the Cowlitz River is an excellent spot for fishing enthusiasts seeking adventure and challenge. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, the river has fantastic spots where you can cast your line and reel in a variety of fish species.

Blue Creek

Blue Creek Cowlitz River

One of the most popular fishing spots along the Cowlitz River, Blue Creek is located near Morton and is accessible from Highway 12. Here, you can find the famous winter-run steelhead species that can weigh up to 20 pounds! Other fish species found in this section of the river include chinook, coho, and chum salmon.

Blue Creek is an excellent option for fly fishing enthusiasts who can use nymphs, streamers, and dry flies to attract the fish toward their lures. The river’s relatively slow-moving waters provide ample opportunities to catch fish, and the beautiful scenery makes for a perfect day of fishing.

Mossyrock Dam

Mossyrock Dam Cowlitz River

Mossyrock Dam is another excellent spot for fishing on the Cowlitz River. Located close to Centralia, this area boasts of abundant fish species such as chinook, coho, and steelhead. The presence of the dam creates ideal fishing conditions with deep pools, fast rapids, and slow stretches of water.

Anglers visiting Mossyrock Dam can fish from the bank or take a boat out into the water. The river’s unique structure allows for different fishing techniques, from trolling to drift fishing and even fly fishing.

Toledo Creek

Toledo Creek Cowlitz River

If you are looking for a more secluded and quiet fishing spot on the Cowlitz River, Toledo Creek is your best bet. This section of the river is located near the small town of Toledo and boasts of year-round fishing opportunities for steelhead, chinook, and coho salmon.

Toledo Creek is a popular spot for drift fishing and is easily accessible through a short hike from nearby parking areas. Its calm waters attract anglers seeking a peaceful and isolated fishing experience without sacrificing the thrill of catching trophy fish.

The Cowlitz River is a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts, and these three spots offer some of the best experiences you can ever imagine. With the right gear and techniques, you are guaranteed to catch your fair share of fish and create unforgettable memories.

What to Catch

Cowlitz River Fishing Report

The Cowlitz River is known for its excellent fishing, and it is home to a variety of fish species. Anglers can enjoy a range of fishing experiences, from fly fishing for steelhead to casting for salmon and trout. Below are some of the most commonly caught fish species in the Cowlitz River:



There are five species of salmon that can be caught in the Cowlitz River: Chinook, Coho, Chum, Pink, and Sockeye. Chinook salmon, also known as King salmon, are the largest and most prized species among them. They can weigh up to 50 pounds and are best caught in the fall and winter months. Coho salmon, also known as Silver salmon, are the second most common species and can be caught in the river from late summer to early fall. Chum and Pink salmon are smaller species and are usually caught in September and October. Sockeye salmon, also known as Red salmon, are the least abundant species and are usually caught in July and August. The best bait to use for salmon fishing is eggs, sand shrimp, or herring.



The Cowlitz River is also a popular destination for steelhead fishing. Steelhead are rainbow trout that migrate to the ocean and then return to freshwater rivers to spawn. The best time to catch steelhead is from November to March. Steelhead fishing is usually done using fly fishing techniques, and the best flies to use are egg patterns, nymphs, or streamers.



The Cowlitz River has a healthy population of Rainbow and Cutthroat trout, which are best caught in the river’s upper reaches. The best time to fish for trout is from April to June. The best baits to use for trout fishing are worms, power bait, or spinners. Fly fishing techniques also work well when fishing for trout.

Steelhead Trout

Steelhead Trout

The Cowlitz River is also home to Steelhead Trout, a migratory species that is an excellent game fish. Steelhead Trout are typically caught using similar methods as those used for Steelhead. The best time to fish for Steelhead Trout is typically in the winter months, although they can be caught all year round. The best baits to use for Steelhead Trout fishing are eggs, shrimp, or a variety of lures such as jigs or soft plastic baits.

No matter what type of fish you are looking to catch, the Cowlitz River is an excellent destination for fishing enthusiasts. Make sure to check the local fishing regulations prior to fishing and obtain a valid fishing license before casting your line.

Fishing Tips

Cowlitz River Fishing Tips

If you’re planning a fishing trip to the Cowlitz River, it’s important to know the best tips and strategies to make the most out of your experience. The Cowlitz River is a popular fishing destination for anglers of all levels, thanks to its abundance of diverse fish species. Here are some key tips to help you succeed on your next fishing trip to the Cowlitz River:

1. Timing is everything

Cowlitz River Timing

Knowing the best time to fish on the Cowlitz River is crucial for a successful trip. Fish tend to be the most active during mild weather conditions and low-light periods, such as early mornings and evenings. Additionally, certain fish species have their peak seasons throughout the year, so doing your research in advance can help you plan accordingly.

2. Use the right gear and bait

Cowlitz River Gear and Bait

The type of gear and bait you use will vary depending on your targeted fish species and the river conditions. For example, if you’re aiming to catch salmon, you’ll need a sturdy fishing rod and a bait or lure that mimics their prey. Alternatively, a lightweight fly fishing setup can be effective for catching trout on the Cowlitz River.

3. Pay attention to river flows

Cowlitz River Flows

Water flow levels can greatly affect fish behavior and fishing conditions on the Cowlitz River. Higher water levels can displace fish and make them more difficult to catch, while low water levels can concentrate fish in specific areas. Checking the river flow levels before your trip can give you valuable information to plan your fishing strategies.

4. Practice proper catch and release techniques

Cowlitz River Catch and Release

The Cowlitz River is a natural resource that deserves respect and protection. As an angler, it’s important to practice proper catch and release techniques to minimize harm to the fish population. This includes using barbless hooks, avoiding excessive handling of fish, and releasing the fish quickly and gently back into the water.

5. Hire a guide for expert advice

Cowlitz River Guide

For a truly immersive and successful fishing experience on the Cowlitz River, consider hiring a fishing guide. A professional guide can offer insider advice on the best fishing spots, techniques, gear, and river conditions. They can also help you navigate the river safely and legally, and provide valuable education on responsible fishing practices and resource conservation.

By following these tips and doing your research, you can increase your chances of having a productive and enjoyable fishing trip on the Cowlitz River. Remember to always be respectful of the natural environment and practice responsible fishing practices to help preserve this beautiful resource for generations to come.


Cowlitz River

The Cowlitz River is a spectacular fishing destination located in Washington state. The river is not only great for fishing, but also provides anglers with picturesque views and endless opportunities to catch a variety of fish species. From steelhead to king salmon, the Cowlitz River boasts some of the best fishing in the state.

One of the reasons why the Cowlitz River is such a great fishing destination is because it is easily accessible. The river runs for over 100 miles, which means there are plenty of areas for anglers to fish. Additionally, there are many public access points and boat launches that make it easy for anglers to get on the water and start fishing.

Another reason why the Cowlitz River is such a great location for fishing is because of the sheer number of fish in the river. Depending on the time of year, anglers can catch steelhead, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and even sockeye salmon. With so many different species of fish available, anglers never get bored and can enjoy fishing all year round.

Additionally, the Cowlitz River is known for its quality fish. Many of the fish caught in the river are large and healthy, which makes for an exciting and rewarding fishing experience. Whether you are a seasoned angler or a beginner, the Cowlitz River offers plenty of opportunities to catch a trophy fish.

Finally, the Cowlitz River is a great destination because of the many resources available to anglers. There are numerous fishing guides and outfitters available to help anglers get the most out of their fishing experience. Additionally, there are many accommodations available in the area, including campgrounds, lodges, and hotels.

All of these factors combined make the Cowlitz River an excellent fishing destination. Anglers from all over the world come to fish the exciting and productive waters of the Cowlitz River. If you are looking for a great fishing destination, be sure to add the Cowlitz River to your list of must-visit locations.

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