Fishing Options in Longview, WA

Cowlitz River in Longview, WA
Cowlitz River in Longview, WA

Each morning in southwest Washington‚ anglers rise early to cast their lines in the clear waters of Cowlitz County‚ home to some of the state’s most abundant runs of fish.

“This is a vital area for fishing because the Cowlitz River intersects with the Columbia River right at Longview and Kelso‚” says Craig Bartlett‚ public information officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Cowlitz River provides world-class fishing year-round. Spring brings the emergence of chinook and coho salmon‚ while steelhead are plentiful in summer months. The Cowlitz also is considered the best winter steelhead river in Washington‚ Bartlett says.

Another popular year-round fishery – the Columbia River – is home to one of largest sturgeon populations in world. Sturgeon commonly grow up to 5 feet long‚ in contrast to the 6- to 7-inch smelt often netted here by commercial fisher men. The small fish turn out in record numbers between January and February‚ making Kelso the Smelt Capital of the World.

Steelhead‚ chinook and coho salmon also thrive in the Columbia. Bartlett says the river’s abundant fish supply is a result of location and lack of interference from dams and other man made developments.

“Because the Lower Columbia spills right into the Pacific Ocean‚ there’s not a lot of interference with those runs‚” Bartlett explains. “It’s a direct shot.”

The Columbia also carries an abundance of yellow perch‚ crappie‚ and large- and smallmouth bass – perfect for avid warm-water fishermen like Chuck Downer‚ outdoor columnist for The Daily News in Longview.

“No matter what type of fishing you prefer‚ you can find it here‚” Downer says. He says the Kalama and Lewis rivers also are favorites of local fishermen‚ carrying both summer and winter steel head‚ spring and fall chinook‚ early- and late-stock coho and sea-run cutthroat trout.

The Toutle River supports fishing for summer steelhead‚ while the Coweeman River tributary is an excellent source for winter steelhead. Additional lakes and rivers provide seemingly end less fishing options throughout Cowlitz County.

While the region’s ample variety of fish species lures anglers from across the nation‚ Bartlett says visiting fisher men first should familiarize themselves with the many regulations protecting local water life. Rules have become more stringent for endangered species of certain salmon and steelhead. In most areas‚ anglers can catch no more than two a day‚ and wild fish – characterized by an intact atapose fin – must be released.

“We’ve developed a fishing strategy to take advantage of hatchery fish on the rivers without compromising the wild fish‚” Bartlett says. “That can be tricky for people from out of town.”

Whether angling from the bank or anchored in one of the nearby rivers or lakes‚ fishermen here are sure to be reeled in by the promise of the next big catch.

“There are plenty of fish to catch and plenty of seasons to catch them in‚” Downer says. “It really is some of the best fishing in the country.” For fishing regulations and additional information‚ visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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