Cowlitz River Coastal Cutthroat

Jeff Norman

There is a coastal cutthroat hatchery and boat launch at Blue Creek, about 7 miles west of the barrier dam. This is the only stretch of river where you can catch and keep fin-clipped coastal cutthroat, with a limit of 5. During the winter steelhead runs, there might be 60 motorized sleds in the area. This time of year is quiet. We saw only one other boat, and they were throwing gear for summer-run steelhead and Chinook (they caught a 20 pound Chinook). There’s a nice 5 mile float to the next take-out, which took us about 6 hours. We fished mainly from the boat, with October Caddis. We also wade-fished a couple of stretches and I had a lot of action using a trout Spey rod and a Purple Joe. These fish are aggressive on the take, and put up a nice fight. My largest was about 16 inches, but I have seen them up to 20 inches. They start appearing in late August through October. Once the November rains raise the river, they’re harder to locate.

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