Southwest Washington River Fishing Report

Ethan Hopkins is a local fly fisherman that has been spending his summer break hanging out in the shop and fishing with his father. He is hooked and has been spending countless hours chasing all of our local species! Time on the water is limited right now for us but we get to live vicariously though anglers like Ethan. Ethan wrote up this fishing blog and we hope you all enjoy it! 


On the Water July, 2022

Southwest Washington is home to a diverse population of fish. Throughout the year, you can find a variety of species such as Steelhead, Coho, Chinook, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Resident Cutthroat, and Rainbow Trout. Ranging from all sizes, these fish are a ton of fun to catch, and can be caught on a variety of fishing setups. 

Current Conditions

Currently, in rivers feeding Willapa Bay, we are seeing a rise of Sea-Run Cutthroat (SRC) out of tidal water. The big SRC are finally making their way upstream for spawning. These fish can be spotted in big pools of water, often next to fallen trees, roots, and other obstacles in the water. Besides SRC, there's a solid population of Resident Cutthroat and Rainbow trout in the local rivers. These Resident trout can be frequently found yearly out of tidal water in these local rivers. 

As for the water condition, the water level has significantly lowered over the past couple of months. This has made it easy to wade up and down stream without any problems. The water is crystal clear which makes it easy to spot fish, and the water temperature is ideal for the trout.


Gear Recommendation 

When fly fishing for Sea-Run Cutthroat, a five weight rod is recommended. A five weight rod will give you enough backbone to land a SRC, while making casting easier with the heavier flies. Anything lighter than a five weight will make casting tough, and losing a fish more likely. If you don’t have a five weight in your arsenal, you can always bump up a size or two. 

The best flies for SRC are typically small streamers, primarily orange, peach, black, and pink. As for these SRC, they are going to typically be stuck to the bottom, so you’re going to need a fly heavy enough to reach the bottom depths. Big bead heads, and wire wrap are advised to help your fly reach the bottom. 

Resident Fish

While going after resident Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout, a four weight rod will do the trick. These resident fish are going to be significantly smaller in size, ranging from four to eight inches. A four weight rod will make traveling through the river easy, along with casting in tight zones. If you do manage to hook on a SRC, you will still be able to land it. If you're willing to take the risk, a three weight rod will be even better, making casting easier, and the fights more fun.

Recommended flies for these resident fish are dry flies, and nymphs. Recommended dry flies are mayflies and caddisflies. These will give you a good natural look, as mayflies and caddisflies can be frequently found. As for nymphs, a pheasant tail will do great. You can really throw any type of nymphs and still get bites.

-Ethan Hopkins 


Bruce Merighi:

Nice article about SRCs.
I’m hosting a summer camp for flyfishing kids this next summer near Shelton. Any thoughts about what would be the best areas in that neighborhood to bring 12-16 year olds that are new to throwing a fly and have a chance at macroinvertabrate stream walks? Also. Are you guys on line only or staff a store someplace in Ilwaco?

Mar 23, 2023

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