Please be aware that every body of water has unique and specific rules and regulations. Please check the 2012/2013 "Fishing in Washington" regulations pamphlet, online at www.wdfw.wa.gov, for the actual regulatory language, rules and sport fishing seasons. ( Download the entire pamphlet here.)
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Draining the slopes of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. St Helens and eventually emptying into the Columbia River, the Cowlitz has a 2,480 sq mi drainage basin, is roughly 105 miles in length and has three major hydroelectric dams. Major tributaries include the Cispus, Tilton, Ohanapecosh and Toutle Rivers. Two fish hatcheries are located along the river and that has resulted in the re-introduction of salmon and steelhead in the upper Cowlitz River basin. Sportfishing is exceptional and the Cowlitz consistently ranks as one of the states' top ten steelhead and salmon producers. Visit CowlitzFish.net for up to date and information about the Cowlitz River Basin.
ACCESS: Best access is at road crossings, as much of the river is through private property. The Cowlitz parallels highway 12 east of Randle, WA. Best launch is at the Cowlitz Falls Dam area and boat launch at the Day Use Park. From Morton, take highway 12 east to Savio Road. Turn right and go to Kiona Road. Turn right and follow Kiona Road to Falls Road. Turn right and continue to the Day Use Park on the left. Another area is the lower part of the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz accessed by the La Wis Wis Campgrounds. Open year round above Lake Scanewa.
In Mt. Rainier National Park, this moderate-sized, high-elevation river follows the Chinook Scenic Byway (SR-410) from its source at American Lake, before emptying into the Naches River. Popular for summer Cutthroat, Brook and Rainbow trout fishing and whitefish.
ACCESS: At the Mesatchee Creek Trail about 6 miles east of Chinook Pass off Hwy 410. Also, approximately 8 miles from Chinook Pass it is possible to bushwack and wade upstream from the Lodgepole Campground. Other access can be found along approximately 12 miles downstream to the junction of the Bumping River.
From Packwood: go north on 52 Rd, right on 5280 Rd, right on 5270 Rd (which parallels Butter Creek). Selective gear rules = only unscented, artificial flies or lures with one barbless single hook are allowed; bait is prohibited; fish may be released until the daily limit is retained. See Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing Rules for more information.
This River, popular for fishing and outdoor recreation, flows down the east side of the Cascade Range, through the Wenatchee National Forest and the William O. Douglas Wilderness area. It is joined by the American River and eventually becomes the Naches River.
This river originates from the Carbon Glacier on the northwest side of Mt. Rainier and flows into the Puyallup River. The river is prone to flooding due to its high glacial sediment content which deposits into the river valley. The river valley is known as a temperate rain forest due to the high annual rainfall, (70-90 inches). Best known for winter salmon and steelhead. Easy access between Carbonado and Carbon River Entrance to the park.
This large river, a tributary of the Yakima River is eventually joined by the Bumping River. It is adjacent to Chinook Scenic Byway (SR-410) and is very accessible, close to campgrounds. Excellent whitefish angling during the special winter whitefish-only season. The Naches River basin is rugged mountains and wilderness. Historically it was an important travel corridor between the east and west side of the Cascade Mountain Range via Naches Pass.
Fed by the Nisqually Glacier, this 81 mile river drains the southern slope of Mt. Rainier. Nine tributaries join this river and drain into Puget Sound. Historically, the Nisqually River played an important role in Native American fishing rights. Accessible on Hwy 706 from Elbe to the Nisqually Entrance.
There is good fishing anywhere below the bridges where Fish and Wildlife has stocked the fish. This creek gets a lot of fishing pressure because it is easily accessible from the 52 Rd. See Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing Rules for more information or contact the Cowlitz Valley Ranger Station, POB 670, Randle WA, 98377; phone: 360-497-1100.
Campgrounds along White Pass Scenic Byway US Hwy 12 provide easy public access. The Tieton River begins in the Goat Rocks Wilderness area in two forks, the North Fork Tieton and the South Fork Tieton Rivers and eventually joins the Naches River. Fish for rainbows and whitefish, with whitefish angling best during the special whitefish-only winter season. The Bureau of Reclamation's irrigation water management results in high flows and unfishable conditions from early September to late October.
Fishing at Alder Lake is a fun and exciting pastime for anglers of all ages. This large Nisqually River reservoir five miles south of Eatonville covers parts of Pierce (1690 acres), Thurston (1117 acres), and Lewis (124 acres) counties. Year-round open fishing season. Available species include rainbow and cutthroat trout, kokanee, largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and bullhead catfish. The kokanee fishery is expected to be good this year. Try flashers and a wedding ring-type lure with bait for terminal gear. There are several boat ramps and good bank access. Disabled accessibility at Tacoma Power's park - Level 1; WCT, Blk Tpa, dp, docks, mooring.
Anglers can now enjoy fishing the Little Nisqually arm of Alder Lake and avoid boat traffic at the same time. As a part of Tacoma Power's wildlife management plan, no-wake zones have been established in Alder Lake to decrease the rate of erosion, protect nesting waterfowl and minimize disturbance of the excellent fishing opportunities in Alder Lake.
Alder Lake is located on State Highway 7. From Tacoma, take Interstate 5 south to State Route 512. Travel east on SR 512 about 2 miles to the Pacific Avenue exit (SR 7). Go south on SR 7 about 27 miles, turn right on to School Road and follow the signs to the park.
Located one mile west of Rimrock Lake and 5.7 miles east of White Pass, this reservoir at 3,615 feet holds rainbows and has a public boat launch. The best fishing area is the west arm - take Rd 1200, Tieton Reservior Road, off Highway 12.
Located just east of White Pass along Highway 12, this high elevation lake is a good beginners lake. It's open year-round although it doesn't start producing well until early June. Fishing is good throughout the summer for 7- to 10-inch rainbow and brook trout. A large Forest Service campground and rough boat launch are located near the lake.
Located at the summit of White Pass and on the Pacific Crest trail this fly-fishing-only lake is usually ice-free by early June and offers excellent fishing for 8- to 16-inch brook trout throughout the summer. Facilities include a Forest Service campground and boat launch. Use of motors is prohibited.
By some accounts, Mineral Lake is one of the best trout fishing lakes in Western Washington. It receives a healthy number of plants in the springtime and is usually listed as one of the top picks by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for the annual Lowland Lakes Opener in April.
Mineral Lake is located very close to the small town of Mineral. To reach Mineral Lake, get on Hwy. 7 either approaching from Hwy. 12 from the south or from the north via Hwy. 161 passing through Eatonville. Turn east on Mineral Rd. North and proceed two miles to the lake. Anglers are often rewarded with a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier. The fishing season opens the last Saturday in April and runs through September 30th. More than 100,000 fingerling rainbow trout are planted each year, and good fishing is anticipated for trout up to 12 inches long with a few larger ones. Illegally-introduced largemouth bass are present. The WDFW boating access is small, so patience is needed when launching. A public fishing dock provides very good access for all anglers. A private resort provides boat rentals. Disabled accessibility - Level 2. WCT, lgs, two fully-accessible fishing docks with lower guard rails.
Mowich is the largest Lake in Mt. Rainier National park and can be fished from the shoreline or a float tube. The Mowich Lake Campground is nearby.
Located about 90 miles south of Tacoma, Riffe Lake is the reservoir behind Tacoma Power's Mossyrock Dam on the Cowlitz River. There are launch points off of highway 12 at milepost 103 - the Kosmos Road Boat Launch and the Taidnapam Park Launch - and at Mossyrock Park on the southwest side. The Mossyrock Dam Overlook at milepost 90 is heavily used for shoreline fishing, has no boat access but does have good parking, potties and is right on the side of highway 12 at the Mossyrock Dam. It's very popular.
This large reservoir along Highway 12 on the Tieton River, about 10 miles east of White Pass, provides good fishing for 8- to 11-inch kokanee, with a 16-fish kokanee catch limit. There are also a few rainbow to 16 inches. This is one of the best and most popular kokanee-fishing destinations in Yakima County from May - July. The lake is closed to bull trout fishing. Public and private campgrounds are located by the lake and public and private launch ramps are available.
South of the White Pass Highway in the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District are several popular fishing lakes. From an elevation of 2,000 feet to over 4,500 feet, these lakes are well known for cutthroat, eastern brook and rainbow trout. Most lakes do not allow motors, however Chain of Lakes, Horseshoe Lake, Takhlakh Lake and Council Lake do allow electric motors. Walupt Lake allows both gas and electric motors. The size of these remote fishing meccas range from small ponds -- as in Yellowjacket Pond -- to 384 acres at Walupt and 452 acres at Packwood Lake. For more information on fishing in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, access: www.fs.usda.gov/....
Walupt Lake: FS Road 21 to 2160
Takhlakh Lake: FS Road 23 to 2329
Packwood Lake: FS Road 1260 to Trail #78
At Packwood Lake, selective fishery regulations require single barbless hooks and a 10-inch minimum size limit. Also, there is no fishing of the lake's inlets and restricted fishing of the lake's outlet.
For more details and species listing access: www.nps.gov.
The park has a limited season as most lakes are ice-free only mid-July through October. Lakes and ponds open the last weekend in April through late October. Rivers, streams and beaver ponds open late May or early June through late October. Please check the Washington State fishing regulations for exact dates and more detailed information.
Fish are not native to park lakes, but some still survive as a result of past fish stocking efforts. Consequently, there are no limits on the number of fish that can be taken from park lakes.
Native fish are found in park streams and we encourage you to use barbless hooks and artificial lures and to release uninjured fish.
Motorized boating is prohibited in the park. Non-motorized boating is permitted on all lakes except Frozen Lake, Reflection Lakes, Ghost Lake and Tipsoo Lake.
No license or permit required in the park.
The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only (Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat and Brook Trout). The use of bait or other lures except artificial flies is not permitted.
Anglers making overnight trips into the backcountry must have a wilderness camping permit which may be obtained from any Ranger Station.