Cowlitz River Fishing

Species: Coho Salmon, Steelhead, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Whitefish

Open: year-round above Lake Scanewa

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 for up to date and information about the Cowlitz River Basin.


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 Campground.