These Salmon are sparse and tricky when trying to convince them to bite but the fight is the best I have found. They hit hard and fight harder than their fall counter parts. The latest fish I caught almost took the pole from my hand when it hit. It gave me a couple of aerial spins before grabbing the current and diving deep. They take a lot more persuading to get them out of the current and it is not uncommon to have them charge up stream. This one was caught drifting two red corkies and a peach poke dot cheater.
Types of fish encountered : Depending on the time of the year, you will encounter cutthroat Trout, Steelhead, Chinook & Coho Salmon. Also in the fall when the Salmon are in you will encounter Jack Salmon, usually Chinook. A "Jack" is anything under 24", they usually will be about 18"+. Where to go : The most popular spot for bank fishing the Cowlitz is probably below the barrier dam Salmon hatchery near Salkum. Go east on Hiway 12 from I-5 & as you enter Salkum turn right on the Fuller Rd. Go to the intersection of the Spencer Rd & turn left. Not far the road forks & straight ahead is dead end, turn right & go down the hill to the hatchery & dam. Parking is plentiful, good restrooms, picnic tables & a boat launch here. If the fish are not biting you can take the grandkids up to the wire fenced intake to the hatchery fish ladder & look over the side possibly seeing fish milling around there before going up the fish ladder into the hatchery. Downstream off the Spencer Rd. 6 miles is the Trout Hatchery. Fishing is accessible along the bank above & below the launch. Another popular spot that is accessed with a well defined trail heading downstream from the Trout Hatchery launch parking lot, is the mouth of Blue Creek & is a good fish catching location if you like company. Casting : This will vary depending on where you are & the water/depth conditions. Usually this will consist of casting a gob of eggs, either alone or in conjunction with a Corky or Cheater. You could use basically the same rigging as for plunking, but with a lighter sinker. Others will cast spinners. Here you cast upstream enough so as to let your lure reach bottom about directly out from you. Let it swing in an arc & come inshore below you. On this or any river that has the potential of many fisherpersons sharing the river bank, to keep from getting tangled with your neighbor, if you are all strung out along the bank, the lower person casts first, with the next person upstream following. The farthest one upstream in the row will be the last to cast. If you miss your turn because you are re-baiting or attending your gear, tough. You have to wait until the rotation comes around to you again. If someone gets a fish on, then the others may have to pull their lines in or allow the fisherman with the fish on to negotiate over or under their line to create less a chance to tangle the fish & possible lose it for the fisherman. If it is a large fish, head downriver to where you can bring it to shore in calmer water. When it comes your turn with a fish on, they will do the same for you.
Drifting : Here the lure may also be a lure/egg combo, but using a lighter sinker that will allow the lure to bounce along the bottom. Another version of this method would be using a bobber. Here the bobber & sinker is adjusted so the lure will be drifted about 12" off the bottom. The bobber needs to be sliding on the mainline & be able to adjust it to the river depth & current at your current location. This lure can be eggs or a small jig. With this technique, you cast upstream at a bout a 45 degree angle, and take up the slack (reel in) slightly keeping the lure just bouncing along the bottom. When the line & lure is straight below you, you reel in & start over. The protocol is the same here as for casting if many are lined up, unless you happen to find a day or early enough in the morning when you can walk downstream with the bobber. Tackle- Reels- Most bank fishermen will probably use a spinning outfit, as it seems to be easier to cast farther that is needed in this larger river. What ever reel you decide, buy the best you can afford. I would recommend Shimano in their $40 or more range they all have stainless steel bearing cases and the drag works great . You also need a large enough reel to accommodate about 150 yards of 15 or 20# line(Shimano 4000s or higher have this capacity.
Rods- A 9' medium/heavy Salmon/Steelhead rod (for the money Okuma SST or Shimano Convergence or Scimitar are my recommendations)will probably be seen mostly, as it can be used well for cutthroat, or Chinook. Some of the dedicated jig fishermen use a 11'-13' rod. Line will vary depending the time of the year & what is in the river. But normally a 12-15# monofilament will do. If Chinook can be mixed in the potential bag, then maybe up to 20-25# could be used.
This week I caught this 10 pounder on ten foot leader, two watermelon corkies, one ounce weight and and shrimp scented yarn above the boat ramp at Barrier Dam. The one once weight is so you can cast about three quarters across the river there is a slot the fish travel up about center of the river hit this spot and I have gotten fish every time I have fished it in the last two weeks. A week ago my younger brother and I caught this 18lb -20lb springer drifting two white and orange poke dot cheater, ten foot leader, and a one once weight.
My youngest brother hooked this carp also on the white and orange cheater believe it or not it was hooked right in the mouth. I got this one three weeks ago.