SW Washington fishing updates

The Guides Forecast
SW Washington by Ian Carter

Things are winding down with Salmon in our portion of the Columbia. Steelhead fishing on the Lower Columbia continues to be excellent. Tuna have been caught and Ocean Chinook is on fire.

REMINDER, please verify the regulations before fishing any body of water.

BEST BET – Lower Columbia below Cowlitz for Steelhead​

Lewis Report​

Things are slow on the Lewis. Fishing pressure is very light and virtually nonexistent. The only boats rolling through town are heading to the reservoirs. Steelhead have yet to show in any significant numbers. WDFW creel checks showed NO REPORT. As a reminder, when fishing the Lewis from the forks to the mouth the Steelhead retention limit is one. That area is also closed for any retention of Steelhead for the month of August. Retention above the forks you are good to keep three per day, year-round.

The gauge level at Ariel has lowered to 2.4ft. and holding. Water flow is mostly steady and is currently 2,030cfs. It is still some 25% below the median. NOAA’s gauge in Woodland is 10.29ft. I plan on fishing the Lewis on Monday and will report next week.

Kalama Report

Korey at Bob’s Sporting Goods indicated that a few steelhead are being caught, he didn’t have any specifics. Angler checks by WDFW reported NO activity. Fishing pressure has dropped way off.

For those of you who utilize the Camp Kalama RV Park, bring some extra cash. The launch fee is now $20. The park was recently taken over by RV Inn Style Resorts.

Cowlitz Report​

The river went through a transitional period this week. On July 14th the river levels were dramatically dropped from 5,500cfs to 2,200cfs. Fishing success for Steelhead tapered off for some.

Dave’s Guide Service cell: (360) 201-9313 tells me that fishing seems to be slowing down on the Cowlitz the last few days. There have been lots of boats in the upper river.

WDFW angler check data reported that Cowlitz River I-5 Br downstream – 47 bank rods kept six steelhead. Cowlitz River Above the I-5 Br – 39 bank rods kept 25 steelhead. 22 boats/72 rods kept 100 steelhead and released one jack.

Steelhead counts are doubling every week. Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 246 spring Chinook adults, 42 spring Chinook jacks, 439 spring Chinook mini-jacks, 434 summer-run steelhead adults, and one cutthroat trout over five days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Columbia Gorge and Tributaries​

The tributaries have little to report right now and participation is low. WDFW reported nothing for the Wind, Drano, and Klickitat. Chinook counts at Bonneville have dropped off and Steelhead are remaining consistent. The Sockeye are done for our neighborhood. I haven’t heard any reports for the Columbia Gorge area this week.

Reservoir Report​

All three Lewis River reservoirs are fishing well. Merwin received a bonus stocking of 1,300 trout in the 1.3lb range. They were left over from the Merwin Special Kids Day fishing event put on by WDFW. There were over 200 kids that enjoyed this event. Due to Covid restrictions the event has been on a two-year hiatus.

The fish are all much deeper and will continue to be as the summer progresses.

Columbia Summary

As they seem to be everywhere this summer, the mosquitoes are especially atrocious at Willow Grove. Sportsman’s Warehouse in Kelso is holding a Fall Chinook Seminar on Tuesday July 26th at 6:00pm. Speakers are Cameron Black with Gone Catchin’ Guide Service and Blair Johnson with BGS Guide Service. It’s free and no registration is required. Contact Nathan for more details, his number is 360-423-2600. Nathan says the Columbia is fishing excellent for steelhead and suggests fishing below the Kalama River and better yet, closer to and even below the County Line Park. Steelhead fishing on the Columbia is the best it has been in years.


Reports out of Westport indicate limits of Chinook coming between the 260-300 line. A report comes from All Rivers & Saltwater Charters about their first Tuna trip of the season that also included Salmon. “We headed further offshore after we caught salmon first thing in the morning and after a few hours of trolling through some ugly green water it cleaned up a little and we started catching doubles and triples. We only had about 2 hours on the grounds by then but managed to 6 Albacore and lost few others! Right on time, and close to 45nm! Once we can get some other boats out to help locate the best areas it’s looking like we’ll be in good shape!

Other Area Lakes​

Reports from Silver Lake indicate that Crappie fishing is good when you can find them. They are apparently showing up in strange places, like the middle of the lake. Water clarity is not very good. Top water fishing for Bass should improve. The Bass are becoming wise to the fishing pressure.

Weather and Tides Outlook​

The SW Washington weekend Columbia tides are trending for early morning high tides flowing out until midafternoon for the St. Helens reporting station and vicinity.

As the weekend progresses the temperatures are forecasted to rise. Lows in the mid 50’s and highs by 90 on Sunday. Saturday looks very pleasant with a high of 80 degrees. That should hopefully keep the wind down for at least through Saturday.

Please contact me by email or text with any questions or comments. You can also find me on Facebook or Instagram @washingtonhomes.realestate
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