COWLITZ RIVER - SUMMER HATCHERY STEELHEAD
MID JUNE TO LATE AUGUST

Mid June means that the long waited summer steelhead-fishing season has finally arrived once again. Beginning in May the first of the hatchery steelhead begin their trip into the Cowlitz and other southwest Washington rivers looking for the hatchery they were reared in. The first of the main run starts to show in cacheable numbers around the second week of June. The hatchery steelhead runs peak around mid-July and begin to taper off in mid-August.

In early June the first of the anticipated summer hatchery steelhead begin to show up. We are also catching Spring Kings in here at this time. We will target the Spring Kings usually from May through June. The numbers of steelhead begin to build and the summer steelhead specific to this river will start to stack up in the blue creek area of the Cowlitz river. The hatchery steelhead is what makes the Cowlitz river renowned for the steelhead fishing. The Cowlitz River is still one of the most productive for Summer Steelhead in Washington State. It is close to metropolis Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia, Portland, Oregon and Sea-Tac Airport. We will fish in shorts on some of those hot summer days. The summer hatchery steelheads that enter the Cowlitz River usually average in size about 6 to 10 pounds with the occasional 15 to 18 pound steelhead to be caught. You will see mostly 8-pound steelhead in June, July, and August.

We fish the Cowlitz river from our 23' 6 Alumaweld super-vee pro jet boat, a very stable platform that can accommodate up to six fishermen for the type of fishing trips we offer here. We use only the finest of equipment, including g-Loomis and Lamiglass fishing rods, Gamakatsu hooks, Shimano and Ambassadeur reels, Yakima Bait product, Berkley products, Pure Fishing Products, and Izorline. Of course if you're more comfortable with your own gear, bring it along. We mostly use ultra-light G-Loomis spinning rods and Shimano Stradic reels filled with 10 or 12 pound Hi-Vis line. On the terminal end we use either a single no. 1 bait hook with a corky and yarn, or yarn with a small offering of cured salmon eggs or shrimp. We also use a double, (tandem tied), no. 4 hooks with bait or shrimp. We utilize a drift fishing or side drift technique, (where all the gear is cast out one side of the boat and the whole boat and cast gear slide down the river along a seam or along the riverbank or through a hole). At times we will also pull divers & bait or cast a float and jig or a float and bait, shrimp or cured salmon eggs. We might also pull diving plugs like a Hotshot or a Tadpolly after we have gone through a hole drifting with bait or float.

During this time you can catch anywhere from 8 to 12 fish per day. During the summer steelhead fishery we have had days with up to 27 fish hooked for four fishermen.

Reserve fishing dates as early as possible because prime dates, especially weekend trips, book early.

Our technique is usually drift fishing for the steelhead with corkies and yarn or small bits of egg offerings or we will side drift eggs or a float and jig, shrimp, or eggs. we will sometimes pull plugs like hot-shots or tadpolly's or use divers and bait in certain parts of the river or after we have gone through side drifting with bait.


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