Anytime after March 20th and before June 30th is the best time to specifically target Columbia, Kalama and Cowlitz River Spring Chinook.
Where do we meet?
Common meeting locations include: 4005 Dike Rd Woodland, WA Lower River Rd Vancouver, WA Kalama River Rd Kalama,WA Cowlitz Falls Day Use Park Randle,WA
How big do they get?
As you can see from this picture they vary in size from about 8-15lbs but can get as big as 20-30lbs.
What's the limit?
There is no annual bag limit but the daily limit is usually 1 fish on the main stem Columbia so they can let some fish move to the tributaries for additional sport fishing opportunities and spawning, and usually 2 on the tributaries. These are daily limits and again their is no annual or weekly limit.
What do I have to bring?
1. Fishing license with Catch Record Card and Columbia River Endorsement 2. Dress to be outside for the day - rain gear or waders are recommended always 3. Polarized sunglasses are great if you have them! 4. SUN BLOCK! 5. Hat with visor is always good when you're outside on the water 6. Whatever you want to eat or drink for the day 7. Cooler to get your fish home
What if I have to go to the bathroom?
On the Columbia you can pee off the side of the boat or use a bucket - I know sounds wild huh?
On the Kalama you can squat in the bushes.
On the Cowlitz there is an actual restroom and lots of privacy along the edge of the fishing waters.
Do you clean the fish at the end of the day?
Yes, we always clean your fish at the end of the day. Filleted ready to bbq, freeze or send to the smoker.
How much does it cost?
Half days are sometimes available for $150/person.
Full days are only $199 now and can go as high as $225-250/person depending on fishery.
How many people on the boat?
Drift boat trips are for 2-3 people on the Kalama River
Big sled trips on the Columbia are for up to 6 people maximum
Small sled trips on the Cowlitz are for up to 4 people maximum
Big sled trips on the Cowlitz are for up to 6 people maximum
We have lots of guides and boats available so we can take larger groups - but most prime dates for Spring are at least partially full - so let me know in advance if you need more than 1 boat so we can find you a good date.
Do I need a license?
YES. All Columbia and Tributaries require a Washington State Fishing License and a Catch Record Card for Salmon and Steelhead and a Columbia River Endorsement. If you're fishing on the Columbia the Oregon License with same cards and endorsements works great too.
Where should I stay the night before?
For the late March Early April fishery stay anywhere in Portland or Vancouver with north Vancouver being the easiest for travel the morning of your trip due to traffic.
For the Kalama North Vancouver is also a very easy place to stay.
For the Cowlitz River there is the Seasons Motel in Morton (a bit overpriced for what it is) and then there are several options in Packwood, WA.
Any campgrounds nearby?
For the Kalama there is Kamp Kalama.
For the Cowlitz there is the Cowlitz Falls Campground and the Taidnapum Campground is the 2nd closest.
Can I bring kids?
Please bring kids! How else are we going to pass along this amazing culture to future generations?
What time do trips start?
Morning trips usually start just before sunrise.
Late morning trips around 10-11am.
Afternoon Trips around 3pm.
How much do I tip the guide?
The average is $20-50/person to the guide.
Leave a review on Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor! That is worth a lot to me :)
Who will the guide be?
If you have a favorite guide let us know in advance so we can ensure you know what dates he/she is available.
Our guides so far for Spring are as follows:
Columbia: Ryan and Chris Kalama: Aaron and Tommy Cowlitz: Casey, Ryan and Chris (maybe Aaron too!)
Do I need to bring waders?
If you're fishing the Kalama waders are a good idea if you have them, but not required.
If you're fishing the Columbia rain gear is better than waders.
If you're fishing the Cowlitz then either is fine.
If you're new the Pacific NW or to King Salmon Fishing in the NW we are happy to share with you our passion for the fisheries that the beautiful waters that surround you offer anglers like you and me year round. Portland Fishing Trips are available year round on the Columbia River and it's tributaries for King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon.
The 2017 Columbia River Spring Chinook Season will begin in March and run through about the 2nd week of April when the recreational fishery will shift to the tributaries around Portland, Oregon including the Wind River, Drano Lake, Willamette River, Cowlitz River and Kalama River.
The 2017 Forecast for Spring Chinook which are destined to pass right by Portland, Oregon is over 100,000 King Salmon! We will be targeting these fish from March 20th until around April 8th near Portland, Oregon before we shift our efforts to tributaries like the Kalama and Cowlitz Rivers.
Steelhead can be found throughout the North Pacific. Asia and North America are where you want to go if you want to catch a Steelhead. As a result of dams, habitat degradation and over fishing the natural range of steelhead has been reduced resulting in a loss of Native Steelhead especially in the Pacific NW.
The natural range of Steelhead can be seen in the below image.
(source Wikipedia, 2017)
As you can see from this map of the north pacific ocean Steelhead have a range from Russia through southern Alaska and down the Western Coasts of Canada and the United States.
The largest concentrations of Steelhead being found in Russia and Washington State. While we don't offer guided steelhead fishing trips in Russia (yet, hahaha), we do offer lots of opportunities to catch steelhead in Washington State and for Columbia River Steelhead near Portland and Astoria.
Catching steelhead today has less to do with the natural range of steelhead and more to do with ODFW and WDFW regulations around the seasons for steelhead. Salmon and Steelhead seasons are set annually by state regulators in coordination with NOAA fisheries and local tribes. NOAA regulates salmon and steelhead seasons for federally listed endangered or threatened species.
Steelhead fishing is usually always open on rivers that have catchable numbers of hatchery steelhead during times that do not threaten native species of steelhead or salmon. It is common to see steelhead seasons created by hatchery steelhead which are planted at times of the year that ensure the steelhead return to the rivers at times other than when native steelhead and salmon are returning to help minimize threats to native fish species.
The best steelhead fishing in the populated world is found within a short drive of both Portland and Seattle metro areas. Portland based Steelhead Fishing Trips and Seattle based Steelhead Fishing Trips are definitely real true adventures that will result in you catching steelhead.
The Cowlitz River Steelhead fishery is a BIG ONE. One reason the Cowlitz River is so famous for steelhead is because it has huge salmon and steelhead hatcheries. The Cowlitz River is a very easy drive from Portland and makes a classic fishing trip for any angler. The Cowlitz River gets over a million steelhead smolts planted each year.
The Chehalis River also gets a lot of steelhead smolts planted each year. The Chehalis River has many tributaries and while it's not as big as the Columbia River it does contain some formidable numbers when it comes to catching winter steelhead.
Due to closures around north Puget Sound and the abundance of public access the Wynoochee River has become a very popular destination for steelhead fishing with ever increasing numbers of anglers found on this river since around 2000. The Wynoochee River is about maxed out these days with high numbers of anglers the locals are venturing further NW to find more quiet places to enjoy steelhead fishing. . .
A quiet river near the Washington Coast, the Humptulips River is usually best known for it's king and coho salmon fall fishery. Little attention has been given to the hatchery steelhead returns found on this river in both the summer and winter months. At this point you're getting a little far from the Portland Metro area but you're in luck because the small resort town of Ocean Shores is nearby and provides lots of lodging availability when you go on a Humptulips River Steelhead Trip.
The Lower Quinault River is located within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation. This means that fishing on this river is limited to Quinault Tribal Members and their guests or customers. Quinault Tribal members upon applying for a business and guide license can host up to 3 guests per day on this remote river which boasts more steelhead than you're likely to find anywhere outside of Russia. The upper Quinault River is open for all anglers to fish but is limited to native steelhead and stray hatchery steelhead.
The Lower Queets River is similarly limited to Tribal Members and their guests. However, the upper Queets has an abundance of hatchery steelhead for non-tribal anglers to enjoy. The Queets is a wild river and can go from 1000cfs to 50,000+cfs overnight so you definitely want to watch river flows and go your first time with an experienced guide.
There is an abundance of steelhead fishing opportunities near Seattle, many of which are outline above. The closest rivers for seattle steelhead fishing trips are the rivers which flow into Puget Sound, but have been heavily dampened by regulations aimed at protecting endangered wild steelhead. As you can imagine with so many people living on and near native steelhead habitat in the Seattle Metro area the real losers are native fish and anglers who appreciate their beauty.
Luckily there are remote rivers as close as 1.5 hours from Seattle where Seattle Steelhead Fishing Trips can be very successful. The Chehalis, Cowlitz, Satsop and Wynoochee are less than 2 hours from Seattle - read more about these rivers above.
We've talked about where to catch steelhead in Washington State now let's talk more generally about actually fishing for Washington State Steelhead.
The easiest way to fish for steelhead in Washington State is with a licensed fishing guide. All you have to do is show up with your fishing license and catch record card ready to catch steelhead. Steelhead fishing guides provide you with a boat, fishing rods, gear, bait and tackle all precisely set up for you to catch steelhead.
Book any Washington State Steelhead Trip Entirely Online - Winter Steelhead is best December through April: https://fishwaterswest.rezdy.com call/txt: 253-389-0359 email: firstname.lastname@example.org