Cowlitz River Fishing

A big Salmon from the Cowlitz River

The year around fishing on the Cowlitz River is some of the best fishing that Washinton State has to offer. Lance Fisher Fishing offers guide services for two runs of Steelhead and the two runs of Chinook Salmon.. The Cowlitz River drains out of the Cascades, through Lake Scanewa, into Riffe Lake and finally makes it’s way through Mayfield Lake before being able to run free. The Cowlitz flows through the towns of Toledo, Castle Rock and Longview before ending up in the Columbia River. The whole river is fishable by jet boat below the Barrier Dam and at different points during the year I venture into nearly every section of the river as I guide my clients during various runs.

Cowlitz River Salmon Fishing

Cowlitz River Salmon fishing kicks off in the month of April with the arrival of Spring Chinook Salmon. These fish remain in the river well into August, but fishing is focused on the months of April, May and June. The Spring run will regularly see over 20,000 fish return which makes it one of the larger Spring Chinook fishing opportunities in the region. We will target these fish by side drifting, backtrolling diver and bait and even by twitching jigs.

Big bright Cowlitz River Spring Chinook Salmon

Cowlitz River Fall Salmon begin entering the lower river in August and good fishing for Chinook and Coho will last clean through October on good years. Cowlitz River Fall Chinook are good biters and a lot of fun to fish while enjoying our awesome fall weather.

For more on guided Salmon trips on the Cowlitz River, visit my Cowlitz River Salmon fishing page.

Cowlitz River Steelhead Fishing

For those of you looking to fish for Steelhead, my guide service targets both runs of Steelhead on the Cowlitz River. The Cowlitz River summer steelhead run starts in June and goes through August. Cowlitz River Summer Steelhead are awesome to fish for and known far and wide as one of the best fighting fish in the region. Summer days on the western slope of Mt. St. Helens? Yes, it’s pretty nice. 

A limit of chrome bright Cowlitz River Summer Steelhead

Cowlitz River Winter Steelhead start showing up in December and run all the way through March. The Cowlitz will see a run show up around the middle of December and last through the middle of January and then another run will show up in March and last well into April. These A and B runs offer big strong fish that are great eaters and fun to catch!

Locations We Fish on the Cowlitz

The Cowlitz is a long river and many that book their guided fishing trips with me wonder which part of the river they will be fishing. There are two major locations that we fish out of, Castle Rock, Washington and the boat ramp out of Blue Creek near Salkum, Washington.

Blue Creek Boat Ramp on the Cowlitz River

Castle Rock Boat Ramp on the Cowlitz River


Fishing Licenses for Fishing the Cowlitz River

WDFW fishing license, Salmon and Steelhead Tag and Columbia River Basin Endorsement are required to fish Salmon and Steelhead on the Cowlitz River. If you’re able, you can purchase your license, tag and basin endorsement online at the WDFW online store. ***If you purchase online, it will take 10 days for the WDFW to deliver your documents to you*** If you’re looking for a license at a retail location, here is a list of WDFW licensing retailers.

Easy day of fishing on the Cowlitz River. Nice weather and nice fish.

Lodging when Fishing the Cowlitz River

Blue Creek- Salkum, Washington

If you’re fishing the Blue Creek area in Salkum, Washington, most of my clients have stayed at the Country Cabins. The place is rustic, but well kept and the Mom and Pop that own it are very kind and helpful. Nothing fancy, but a good place to stay while fishing the area. Here’s their Country Cabins Trip Advisor Page.

Castle Rock, Washington

Castle Rock is located not too far from Longview, so you’ve got options there. You’ll also find VRBO opportunities in the area if that is more to your liking. To actually stay in Castle Rock, I would check the Trip Advisor page. I don’t have anything there I endorse, but there are a few options.

For any questions you might have about Cowlitz River fishing, or to simply book a trip, contact me via our Questions and Reservations page, or 971.401.0521.