Southwest Washington Fishing Report, September 15

In Southwest Washington this week, the Columbia is still fishing great above the closing line where trolleys and anchor anglers have had great success.

Tributary fishing is already starting to pick up with plenty of fish and cooler rivers. Local lakes and ponds are beginning to slow down dangerously as water temperatures drop. There are no creel reports this week because the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife did not send any.

North Fork

Fishermen carrying their catch.

Doug Reese contributed

The river is back down to 1,200 cubic feet per second, so I think they’ve finished the drainage and started work on the Merwin Dam. I will update further if I receive more information about flow changes, but as of now, this is the minimum flow through October 16th.

Fishing has been very good in the river in recent days. I fished Sunday and Tuesday of this week with plenty of bites but not many fish sticking to the bait at times. Sunday I fished near the golf course and probably had 15 bites with only two fish.

People read too…

Tuesday we fished the meat hole with several other boats and almost every boat had a fish or two. We landed two, one wild Chinook and one small Jack Coho.

Report rules

There are no live reports from Kalama this week, but I hear there are a good number of coho and chinook in the river.

Cowlitz Report

Last week, Tacoma Power employees recovered 42 summer tip chinook, 49 spring chinook, 26 spring chinook, 36 mini chinook, 99 fall chinook, and 18 fall chinook. Fall chinook, 180 adult coho cranes, 12 coho jacks, and 40 rainbow trout over four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.

Over the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 28 adult spring chinook, 10 adult spring chinook, 13 adult coho, two coho and three trout at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

Washougal Report

Washougal conditions have improved with most of the fish being caught in the lower part of the river up to mile marker 3 on the Washougal River Road. Anything past is very thin water with a few deep holes in between.

Columbia River Report

The lower river reopens this weekend of September 15-17, and the season extends over Warrior Rock to Boonville through September 21. There has been some great fishing in the river recently, despite it being very crowded.

Ian has yet to sneak close to a deadline at Warrior Rock in his recent outings. He fished yesterday and said there was a monster bite during the tide change in the afternoon, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

He caught two fish and saw a lot of other boats catching them. The Camas/Washougal boats were working great as well. I spoke with one fisherman on Sunday who said he was killing them near the mouth of the sand, but he did not give the exact location or equipment used.

The dam count is approximately 380,000 fall Chinook, which is already 6,000 more than expected with the season not over, which is really good news.

No creel reports this week.

Lake Drano

Lake Drano continues to produce fish in large numbers. I fished 2 hours here last Sunday and only got one shiny fish with a few tules beforehand, but we only had about 2 hours to fish. Phishers have had varying success, with some getting limits within an hour or two, but others not doing so well.

Warm water lakes and ponds

The bite of warm water species has slowed. This may be due to under-reporting due to most people chasing salmon in local tributaries, but with water temperatures dropping and falling fast approaching the catch for bass, panfish and catfish, it will only get worse.

Lake Merwin

Fishing is basically gone as very few fish are caught as most fish head into their home stream to spawn. Kokanee has some good color and the meat is very tender and off-colour. There are not many people chasing these fish. I’ll start hearing more in early spring.


No report this week. I’m still searching for literally anything here, but this is a completely new hunting area for me, so I don’t have any connections.

Seth Kulczynski has been on the water chasing steelhead and salmon in Southwest Washington ever since he can remember. He specializes in this area and has extensive experience fishing year-round from inland lakes to the coast. Additional reports from around the region can be found online at

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