Steelhead fishing on the Cowlitz River extends from the Barrier Dam Salmon Hatchery, through the Blue Creek Trout Hatchery area and all the way to the Columbia River. The Cowlitz River is a tributary that has fish mostly year round. I have fished this river for about 15 yrs. and I have to tell you, I'm continually surprised by the size of the fish that come out of this river.
Summer-Run Steelhead Fishing
June - September
To view one of our Steelhead fishing video, click the fish below.
Summer-run Steelhead on the Cowlitz River, a tributary to the Columbia River, is definitely the #1 hottest Steelhead fishing spot in the State of Washington. Summer-run Steelhead are pound-for-pound the best fighting fish in the Cowlitz River. Strong, hard-running, rod jerking fish with a "catch me if you can" attitude.
Equipment and tackle for Summer-run Steelhead fishing
I use the lightest possible tackle on Summer Run Steelhead. Diver and bait combos, Brad's Wiggle Wart Plugs, Hot Shot Plugs, presented while back trolling, or casting Lure Jensen spoons.
Another favorite technique is corkie and yarn free drifting, bait fishing with shrimp or small clusters of eggs.
Remember presentation is everything!
Winter-Run Steelhead Fishing
December - February
One of the most pronounced differences between winter and summer fishing is the level of the Cowlitz River. In the winter the water level is much higher and flows faster. Compensating for this by altering my tactics is one of my secrets.
Big, strong Winter-run Steelhead usually run 12lbs to as high as 18lbs. The Cowlitz River is really cool this time of year if it's not rainy and cold, it's one of the two, but the absolute silence and beautiful surroundings really make it a river to be floated and fished. I have heaters and hot coffee on board to fend off the chill.
Equipment and tackle for Winter-run Steelhead fishing
I use Flueger bait casting /level wined reels, with 12 lb. test Izorline, on 9- Lamiglas Rock Creek IM7-Series rods.
I fish a lot of light diver and bait combos or plugs, either one of these can really catch beautiful, bright, chrome, Steelhead... A once in a lifetime catch.