At about 9 o’clock we hook a very nice native Steelhead, weighing in at about 14 pounds. On our next pass we hook another nice Steelhead, a 13 pounder, another fighting native fish. We worked the area for about another 5 or 6 passes with no action. So we start fishing our way down river, and to my surprise, the guys were still wishing we were on the Cowlitz. These Western Washington rivers are difficult to know where to be and when without an experienced Guide. We fish another mile or two of river and hook another nice native Steelhead at around 13 pounds, and it was a dandy, these fish are so strong and such hard fighters. The sad thing was, I personally hooked all three fish, even though my clients had 3 good take downs that came up empty.
Wednesday the 24th, we fish the Cowlitz river on a short morning trip, and land a real nice 10 pound hatchery Steelhead immediately. On the second pass we fish on downstream another 3 to 4 miles without a bite. We head back up to where we had started and make 2 more passes and hook another fish. These crazy Cowlitz river Steelhead out foxed us and live to see another day.
February the 26th, we started out at Blue Creek on the Cowlitz river. I have Ernie and Rick with me today. On our first pass we get to the end of the run and I say, “reel ’em in guys”, then Rick yells, “Ernie’s got a Steelhead on”, the fish makes a couple of runs and then heads straight at the boat, spitting the hook at us. I asked Ernie what had happened, he says, “I couldn’t reel fast enough”, we all chuckle out loud
Back up the river we went, this week is prime time for Western Washington’s mighty Cowlitz river, with a B-run of winter Steelhead to get things started. Being the owner of Mike’s Guide Service and having spent a lot of time on the river, I know that during this last week of February through mid April, is when my customers should schedule their days for great Steelhead fishing. Occasionally we even get to put a spring Chinook in the box.Back to fishing; we make a couple more drifts with no bite, I add a little more weight and move us to the deeper side of the river, we see a Steelhead on below us, about that time I hook up. I hand my rod to Rick, and after a quarter of a mile fight, we finally land a nice 17 pound buck Steelhead. The guys anchored in their drift boats start yelling, “lets see that nice fish”, and we show it off.
After that we decided to fish the canyon, on the first cast Rick yells “Fish on”, yet it had already come off. Another hundred yards and Ernie says, “Fish on”, another great Steelhead around 14 pounds. We try a few more drifts and catch another Cowlitz Steelhead in the tail out, we’ve seen 4 to 5 other fish caught nearby.
Here we go again, Ernie has another fish that is so bright Rick says “is that a salmon?”, we finally get a good look, its another beautiful Cowlitz river Steelhead. Time for some lunch, says Rick, and after a short break with 4 nice Steelhead and some great photos, we decide to fish some water where we might find some salmon. We put big bait on the hooks and go looking, and wouldn’t you know it, on the second drift Rick gets another Steelhead, but a few minutes later it comes off. I ask Rick and Ernie if they want to keep fishing and Rick says, “my back is about done in” and Ernie wants another pass. Last drift, and I get a bite. I set the hook and the fight is on. Ernie and Rick both tell me to land it, and I do, it’s a bright chrome, 10 pound Steelhead. With 5 in the box we head for the ramp. Another great day on the Cowlitz river.Sunday, February 28th, we start out at Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, today I have Doc Kirby and Brian with me. We fish up around the ramp for about a half hour or so, and saw nothing going on. As we fished down river, we see a fish caught in the canyon, 2 hours later Kirby hooks up. After a 20 minute fight, we land a 14 pound, hen Steelhead, and 30 minutes later, Kirby hooks another Steelhead, this one is at least a 16-18 pounds, now he has some bragging rights. Finally I hook a fish, and I handed it off to Brian, this fish ended up being a unclipped Steelhead, around 11-12 pounds. About an hour later Brian misses a great bite, and within 2 seconds I hook up again. I hand the rod to Brian, this time it ends up only being a small hatchery fish around 8-9 pounds. By this time we’ve covered 8-9 miles of the river and decide to work our way back up river. After talking to some other fishermen that give us the thumbs down, we decide to fish upstream. We start another drift, and as soon as I look up, Kirby’s got another Steelhead on, 10 minutes later the Steelhead comes off, his luck has run out.
We decide to call it a day and head for home. We have had no rain and lots of nice big fish, another awesome day on the Cowlitz river, Western Washington at its best.