Cowlitz River Fishing Guides

The Cowlitz River is world famous for Salmon and Steelhead Fishing. Salmon and Steelhead can be caught from the mouth of the Cowlitz near Longview to the Barrier Dam Salmon Hatchery.

Cowlitz River fishing guides are certified and licensed fishing guides who fish the Cowlitz
River and who are local fishing guides who know "how to catch fish on the Cowlitz river" because they fish there every day.

Cowlitz River Strong and wide, the Cowlitz River rolls downstream along 1-5 from the Toledo/Vader area, past Castle Rock and then loops below Kelso/Longview into a giant fishhook shape before joining the Columbia. Huge salmon push their ponderous forms upriver in the Cowlitz, yielding thousands of catches to rodsmen enroute. A 24-hour fishery from 400 feet below the barrier dam near Salkum from April I through July 31 allows anglers to take six fish daily, only three of which may exceed 24 inches. During the period August I-March 31 downstream from the salmon hatchery barrier dam signs the basic freshwater salmon bag applies, with two adult fish permitted in a six- fish take of salmon over 10 inches in length. From Oct. I through Dec. 31 all Chinook over 28 inches in length caught upstream of the 1-5 bridge must be released, however. The upper Cowlitz, from the inlet of giant Riffe (Davisson) Lake to the confluence of the Muddy Fork and Ohanapecosh Rivers is open all year round for taking a daily freshwater salmon bag limit (see Washington state fishing regulations WDFW website. )

Cowlitz River Fishing Guide is a great website to find a fishing guide for the Cowlitz River and catch some Salmon & Steelhead near the Columbia River.


Erik purchased a brand new boat for this season.
The new jet sled is a 23 ft Alumaweld 2008 model that is heated and accommodates 6 passengers very comfortably. Whether you choose to fish the famous Chinook Salmon, Chrome bright hard fighting Steelhead, or the dinosaur of the Columbia - the Sturgeon, Erik will guide you with his three generations of expert knowledge of the Hot Spots. Each trip offers a professional service and an unforgettable experience and a chance for that fish of a lifetime. Erik's Fishing Guide Service will provide an exciting and fun-filled trip. You will want to come back time and time again.

J.R.'s Guide Service

J.R.'s Guide Service is your Cowlitz River Fishing Guide offering the finest ocean, bay, river & stream fishing In Oregon & Washington. The goal of J.R.'s Fishing Guide Service is to exceed our customers' expectations in every way we possibly can.
The Cowlitz River in SW Washington is a very popular place for Washington fishing destination for Salmon and Steelhead. Cowlitz river fishing guides who know the river catch more Salmon and Steelhead because they know where to fish when the seasons and water conditions change. JR's Guide Service can put you on the fish and have proved this again and again over the years. If you have heard about the great fishing opportunities and want to experience a great day of Salmon or Steelhead fishing, call J.R. Guide Service today and book a trip for the prime times.

Guide Service Northwest

Brad Hadfield of “Guide Service Northwest” has been fishing the Columbia & Willamette Rivers for 20+ years. His years of experience have given him the expertise needed for fishing Salmon, Sturgeon and Steelhead. Brad fishes the Columbia River from the Ocean to Bonneville dam depending on where the fish are, so you can be assured a great experience!

Chinook to 40 and 50 pounds are not rare in the Cowlitz, but most Chinook will drag scale needles to around 25-30 pounds. The best catches come in May and June and again in late September through November, when schools of bright coho salmon thrash their way toward the barrier dam area to join the fray. Plugs, back-bounced shrimp and cluster egg baits or bait and yarn combinations angled with drift rigs take their share of salmon. Bright spoons and spinners account for a good number of catches too, with coho especially fond of tiny No. 0, I and 2 Mepps spinners having nickel or brass finish. To cast and fish the pint-size lures, a No. 4 or 6 split shot is added 16 to 20 inches above the spinner. In the early 70's, tremendous runs of "silvers" flocked into the Cowlitz and the fishing near Salkum was superb. Another excellent way of hanging humungous salmon was to make long casts with thin, heavy spoons such as the Martin Tackle Ottogator or Luhr Jensen Krocodile across the river and work the spoons slowly downstream, letting them hang at the point of furthest travel to antagonize salmon into giving them a savage chewing.

  • Steelhead are in the lower Cowlitz all year long.

  • Spring Chinook Salmon and Fall Chinook that weigh up to 50 plus pounds.

  • Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Whitefish can be found above the Dam.

  • There are hatcheries at Blue Creek and Barrier Dam.

Current river flow information on the Cowlitz river, Nisqually river, Wynoochee river and Green river, plus lake levels for Riffe lake, Alder lake, Wynoochee lake and Cushman lake, are available on Tacoma Power’s Fishing Line, toll free at 1-888-502-8690

The Top Cowlitz River Fishing Guides
Why fish with anyone else when you can fish the world famous Cowlitz river with the top Cowlitz river fishing guides.

Cowlitz River Information

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Oregon Fishing Guides: Not Just "ANY" Fishing Guide. Fish With One Of The BEST Fishing Guides In Oregon

All Guides Are Members Of NWGR (Northwest Guides & Resorts Association) so you can be sure of having a quality fishing experience with a knowledgeable fishing guide.
"If a fishing guide is not one of the best available in the area we just don't list them here"

Dan MacNeil, editor
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The popular area at the Salkum barrier dam yields a high number of steelhead catches, as does the fishing area below the Washington Department of Game trout hatchery at the mouth of Blue Creek, due south of Ethel via Tucker and Classe roads. At the upper barrier dam near Salkum, boat fishing is no longer allowed between the mouth of Mill Creek (good concrete ramp) and the barrier dam deadline markers. Anglers also should read their regulations booklet on legal hooks and daylight fishing in this specific area.

Good public boat ramps provide access to the Cowlitz fishing at Mill Creek, Ethel Bar, trout hatchery, Massey Bar, downstream of 1-5, at the Castle Rock Fairgrounds, above Lexington and two miles below Longview. Bank anglers have equal opportunities to sink hooks home at dozens of sites reached off Highway 411 near the river mouth or from county roads closely pursuing the Cowlitz from Toledo to Salkum. Fishermen can reach the upper river from Glenoma to about three miles short of Ohanapecosh by taking county and logging roads off Highway 12.

The Cowlitz River is approximately 130 miles long.  It begins in Mt. Rainier and runs West through Riffe Lake through Mayfield Lake and flows south past Castle Rock and Kelso, to the Columbia River near Longview.

Hatchery summer run steelhead daily limit increased
on Cowlitz, North Fork Lewis rivers beginning Aug. 1

Action: Up to three hatchery steelhead may be retained on portions of the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis rivers.

Effective Dates:

  • Cowlitz River - August 1 through October 31

  • Species affected: Hatchery summer run steelhead

  • Location: Cowlitz River from the Hwy 4 Bridge at Kelso upstream to 400 feet or posted markers below the Barrier Dam.

  • Reason for action: Hatchery summer run steelhead returns to the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis rivers have been strong. Through July 21, a total of 887 fish had returned to Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Last week, creel sampling showed excellent fishing with boat anglers averaging nearly ¾ hatchery steelhead per rod. At Merwin Dam on the North Fork Lewis River, over 5,000 steelhead had been counted through July 23. The hatchery escapement goals on both rivers are expected to be met.

    The Hwy. 4 Bridge that crosses the Cowlitz River at Kelso and the I-5 Bridge that crosses the North Fork Lewis River at Woodland were used as the lower boundaries of the increased hatchery steelhead daily limits to target fish destined to those systems. Steelhead destined for areas upstream from Bonneville Dam can be found this time of year seeking temporary relief in the cooler waters near the actual mouths of these rivers.

    Under permanent rules, the North Fork Lewis River upstream from Colvin Creek (located upstream from the salmon hatchery) closes to all angling beginning October 1 to protect the wild fall chinook spawning in the area.

    Other information: On the Cowlitz River, the trout daily limit is 5 fish, no more than 3 over 20". Minimum size 12". Release wild cutthroat, wild steelhead, and steelhead with missing right ventral fins.

    Surplus hatchery steelhead are being recycled downstream each week on the Cowlitz and North Fork Lewis rivers, typically at Massey Bar on the Cowlitz and at the Lewis River Salmon Hatchery.
    * Info above is from WDFW website

Great Links To Popular Northwest Fishing Websites

  • Washington Fishing Reports Weekly Washington Fishing reports posted by the WDFW for all regions

  • Columbia River & Tributary Fishing Reports by David Perez of Hooked On Fishing Guide Service

  • Tide Tables All Areas

  • Daily Water Flow In KCFS For Columbia River Dams

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Steelhead Fishing Tip (Steelhead Tip by Kurt Ruden)

Old school tap tap tap v.s. slinkie slide tap slide. If your old school and like the lead feel but hate the hang ups, and hate putting those shots in the cord. TIP take 2-3 feet of cord slide over a smoothed out end unrolled and straighten (best you can) traditional lead core, take DULL BUT GOOD LEAD CUTTER, cut 2-3 inch chunks off thru cord, make sure to crunch a little extra cord for melting seal. Seal both sides cut small shot like sizes for slinkie cut into bigger chunks for a more tradional tap tap feel when drifting rivers for steelhead with at least 1/4 of normal rubber lead combo without losing too much feel ....  MY 2 CENTS
Thanks to Kurt Ruden for this tip