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Kalama River


Kalama River: Steelhead fishing has been fair the last few years in this legendary stream. The Kalama gets both summer and winter steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout. Wild cutthroat and steelhead must be released. Spring chinook angling closes April 1 from Modrow Bridge upstream to the deadline below the Kalama Falls hatchery. Angling remains open through July 31, with a one-fish daily bag limit, from the mouth to Modrow Bridge. Fall chinook returns are expected to be down this year, with fishery closures probable. The river is easily accessible from I-5, and gets quite a bit of pressure from the surrounding metropolitan areas. A section is set aside for fly-fishing only. Check the regulations pamphlet for boundaries.

Recent Reports

July 6, 2000
Thanks to: Steve Roundy
It's about time!!! That's all I have to say. Hooked up with Rob Orzel, guide for Pritchard's Western Angler there on the river, and drifted from Pritchard's to Modrow bridge. We saw a lot of nice fish today...all steelies. Just a few holes down from Pritchards I finally caught my first steelhead. 8-9lbs and as shiny as could be...beautiful fish. Caught her back trolling sand shrimp. Had a couple other hits on sandshrimp but nothing else in the boat. Too much pressure over the holidays has got the fish a little spooky but plenty of fish. Should be good in a couple days when the fish get a break.
June 24-July 3, 2000
Thanks to: David Burnham
Floated the Kalama from the red barn down to camp Kalama on the 25th and 26th. Did not run into numbers of fish until we got to tackle grabber. Picked up one fish each day below Mahaffeys drifting eggs. Anchored up at the roundhouse hole and pulled divers and sand shrimp, easy pickings, Hint Hint!!! Most off the fish we picked up were caught during the middle of the day, when everyone else was off the water. Kalama river steelhead never caese to amaze me, they just dont follow the rules. Spent the next couple of days stugeon fishing around the Trojan area, lots of fish in the 36 inch range, did pick up one keeper at white cross. Stayed fishing in the lower Kalama the rest of the time. Enjoyed some of the best steelhead fishing I have seen in qiute a few years. I would highly recommend a trip down ther this summer. Later this month and into August the canyon will be the ticket. I know I will be there.
May 6, 2000
Thanks to: Tyler Laurenti
Our experience was absolutely nuts! This river must have been stocked with tons of hatchery fry, because we could not retrieve our lures/nymphs without a 4-7" fry on the end of the line. It was absolutely ridiculous. These fry were so accustomed to being hand fed that they were starving in the river environment! Seriously, they would strike lures bigger than them, they would attempt to eat the bobber\indicator on my fly-line, they were friggin' hungry! This did obscure our intentions that day. We had intended to catch Chinook, but couldn't get enough time to present the lure due to the fry problem. Oh well, I guess that this comical situation is better than getting skunked! To our credit, we did manage to catch some mid-size rainbows off of blue fox size 3. Currenly, the river is very wadeable, but somewhat milky due to glacial run-off.
Feb. 5, 2000
Thanks to: Noel Johnson
On Saturday Feb. 5, my daughter and son-in-law and I took a drive up the Kalama River road. We saw several fisherman coming back to their cars after fishing, but we didn't see any of them carrying any fish. Dave, at Pritchard's store, said there are some fish around. We also stopped off at Kress lake. Fishermen there were not getting any bites. Several boats went up and down the Lewis the last couple days but I haven't seen any fish caught.
Jan. 16, 2000
Thanks to: mike n.
Drove down from Tacoma to see if there was any truth to what the Fishing & Hunting News said about the Kalama. Arrived at daylight to find most of the upper holes covered by several others. I moved down & found the Red Barn hole open. In such a rush to claim a hole I didn't think about grabbing my net. My third cast I hooked a nice bright 5-6# buck. He came right to me without a fight. I was leary about grabbing a hot fish (with 6# test). But, since a fellow had just came down I asked him if he would help me land him. He agreed. So, I moved up river to him and made the mistake of trying to turn the fish towards him (down river). That's when the hook popped out. I had one more take down about 15 minutes later. But, it was a nice 12 inch Rainbow. Not another hit after. I moved down just above the Mudrow bridge with a side planner & plug. But, had no luck. This was my second trip to the Kalama, and I really enjoy it compared to the Cowlitz! I'll be back. Oh! By the way the visibility was about a foot and a half with very fishable flow. The clarity was a little off so I used a larger corky than normal. The color, well...
Oct. 25, 1999
Thanks to: Don Jaeger
In regards to the report that Mike Covey submitted about the Kalama River, he is full of it. That river has been very productive to many people. Lots of fish. For those of you who take this info and use it do not listen to this man he has no idea about what he is talking about. Probably has never really fished before in his life and only wishes he could. Anyways people like him ruin this web site and should not be allowed to place messages on it.
Don, what is your report?
Oct. 23, 1999
Thanks to: John F.
Arrived at the lower Kalama (down stream from the R/R Bridge) around 4pm on Saturday the 23rd. The water was on its way coming down after high tide - Saw several coho moving back and forth, and managed to land a nice 9-lb. buck on a Mepps.
Oct. 19, 1999
Thanks to: Michael Covey
Left the house at 2:30am to head there, with much anticpation of catching a lot of fish. All of the reports we read said FISH ON!!!! We arrived at the river near 5:00am and found a place to fish. The river is small, shallow, and has a lot of snags underwater. No fish were visible, and if there were any fish around, they were scared off by the pesky sea-lion that was hanging around. Forgot to bring the 30.06 to take care of him, so needless to say, we were skunked.
Sept. 11, 1999
Thanks to: Knee Deep
Caught an 11 pound Blackmouth (if it was in the river, it was not likely a blackmouth [immature chinook]). Fishin was awesome!! Eggs Eggs Eggs...Bring boxing gloves and band-aids. Gettin rough out there sometimes. Can't we all just.......GET ALONG?!
Aug. 26, 1999
Thanks to: Daniel Simon-Romeo Bortis
We went to the Kalama to see if the salmon were in yet. We saw nothing, but other anglers were telling us about how good the salmon fishing was at night [is this legal?]. So we are going to check it out tommorrow night. Also we are going to head out to the Naselle River to check out the fishing. Hopefully we will do much better than we did today. Fish On!
Aug. 25, 1999
Thanks to: John Y
Took my wife and kids to the Kalama to search for those famous native steelhead. What a sad state of affairs that river is in! Searched for hours and hundreds of yards to spot any wild fish in the Holy Water. Not one seen. Went down to the upper hatchery and one of the employees said they've seen only 75 wild fish go past the hatchery (usually there are over 500 this time of year). Saw tons of trash ALL OVER the banks. Saw tons of USED TOILET PAPER all over too. Disgusting. To top it off, four teenage boys were snagging and killing hatchery fish above the lower 1000' dead line in Closed Waters. I feel sorry for the fish, the river, and especially the local businesses that used to depend on fishermen for their livelihoods. That river used to be a classy, blue ribbon flyfishing mecca, attracting a sophisticated and well heeled group of fishermen. Look at it now..... At the very least Fish and Game or the local businesses ought to put a few more porta-potties along the river, and bust the poachers. My two cents...
Aug. 9, 1999
Thanks to: Troy Smith
I got to the Kalama at about 6:00a.m. the water was very low and clear so I used one of my home-tied lures (looks like a popsicle for flyfishing tied on hook with foam a real salmon and steelhead slayer on popular waters or on schools of fish that have been pounded by corkies and jigs). Anyway I walked down to the river and on the first cast I saw a fish dart across the river and slam my offering. A nice 8-lb. buck after I released the fish I moved upriver to better holding water. I then caught 4 more steelhead before another angler came in with a boat and scared all the fish. Oh well, what a fun day! Tight Lines.
Aug. 8, 1999
Thanks to: Robert L. Crocker
Went looking for some of the "fly-fishing only" spots along Kalama to see if Summer Runs will hit Black Wooly Buggers... This is a very complicated river (at least from the standpoint of regulations) so I'll try to pass on a few things I found on the trip. The markers for this river used by the WDFW for regulation purposes are Modrow Bridge, The Natural Gas Pipeline Crossing, the Lower Salmon Hatchery, The Upper Salmon Hatchery, and Summer's creek.
   Modrow bridge is on Modrow Road and only a mile or so up from the I-5 Bridge. The "Natural Gas Pipeline Crossing" is maybe a half a mile to a mile down stream from the "Lower Salmon Hatchery". Pipelines are not really visible from the road as you travel up river. What you will see is a sign for a place called "McAfees" or something like that. If you turn in there you will see the pipelines (They are green). McAfees charges $1 to park. There are two very nice state access areas upstream of McAfees and in the neighborhood of the lower salmon hatchery. Lower Salmon hatchery is very visible and on the left. The "Upper Salmon Hatchery" is a few more miles up stream and the sign is visible on the right. Summers creek is quite a bit further upstream and the bridge is not marked. However, the map only shows one bridge crossing any Kalama River tributary so I was just guessing that this was the one.
   Upstream of the "Pipelines", access to the river is very steep at all but one or two access spots. There is also lots of shoreline that is marked "private property", and a number of residences along the river.
   About 16 miles up the river from the freeway bridge (and a mile or so above what I believe was Summers Creek) the road is blocked by a Weyerhauser Gate. The sign on the gate says that "walk in" traffic is allowed. It also says that the gate is closed because of problems with vandalism and dumping of trash.
   Despite the steep access, private property, and complicated regulations, the river was receiving a lot of attention from sport fishers. Noted two that were definitely fly fishing but also observed two with spinning rods along the fly fishing only section above Summers Creek. I tried drifting a black wooly bugger in a riffle upstream from the Weyerhauser gate for an hour or so with no luck.
July 4, 1999
Thanks to: WALLY
Started out about 06:30 at Pritchards, Fishing with a friend and his wife in their boat. She was pulling a red wiggle wart, my friend a blue wart and I was pulling a Large pearl flatfish. About two miles down river, my friend's wife's rod started that familiar bouncing action that we all love to see. I told her that she had a fish on. It was her first steelie from a drift boat pulling plugs. She was very nervous and unfortunately the fish took one nice jump to show us a nice bright steelie about 12-14 lbs. Oh she was mad. It took us a few minutes to assure her that she had done everything correct. My buddy got us back over into the hole and we let out our plugs again, we hadn't gone twenty feet when her rod bent over again. Same fish? Maybe, but that one was gone too. About an hour later, we had anchored and where throwing bait into a hole. I was throwing eggs and corky/yarn, when all the sudden I reallized that I had a fish on, I saw him rolling and thrashing in the hole, but I had reacted to slowly and he was gone. That was it for the day, pulled out at madras. going back this weekend the 17th hope to see ya there with a "FISH ON".
July 11, 1999
Thanks to: Jackson
Fished the Kalama for a few hours in the evening. Tossed spinners, bobber/jig directly above and below Pritchard's. No action to report. Anglers should take the time to clip barbs or fish barbless, there are tons of smolt in the river.
July 4, 1999
Thanks to: Wally
Started out about 06:30 at Pritchards, Fishing with a friend and his wife in their boat. She was pulling a red wiggle wart, my friend a blue wart and I was pulling a Large pearl flatfish. About two miles down river, my friends' wife's rod started that familiar bouncing action that we all love to see. I told her that she had a fish on. It was her first steelie from a drift boat pulling plugs. She was very nervous and unfortunately the fish took one nice jump to show us a nice bright steelie about 12-14 lbs. Oh she was mad. It took us a few minutes to assure her that she had done everything correct. My buddy got us back over into the hole and we let out our plugs again, we hadn't gone twenty feet when her rod bent over again. Same fish? maybe. But that one was gone too. About an hour later, we had anchored and where throwing bait into a hole. I was throwing eggs and corky/yarn, when all the sudden I realized that I had a fish on. I saw him rolling and thrashing in the hole, but I had reacted too slowly and he was gone. That was it for the day, pulled out at Madras. Going back this weekend the 17th hope to see ya there with a "FISH ON".
June 26, 1999
Thanks to: Greg Lund
Floated from Pritchard's to the first take out. Hooked one, lost it on a log. Saw 2 others caught. Still high enough to float.
June 25, 1999
Thanks to: Jason Paulus
Started fishing at 7:00 on Friday using corky and eggs. Right at dusk, about 9:30 I caught a bright hen around 9-lb. Fished hard all day Sat. and Sunday without a bump.
May 8, 1999
Thanks to: Jackson
Fished the Kalama for 4 hours Sat. afternoon. Picked up 1 hatchery buck, about 10 lbs. on spin-n-glo/yarn, below Pritchards. Not a whole lot of people out, but I didn't get there until after noon so maybe they were all gone.
May 2, 1999
Thanks to: Jackson
Fished the Kalama for 6 hours from Modrow to the canyon without any luck. Fished bobber/eggs, yarn/corkie and spinners. Talked to a few other people who had no luck either.
May 1, 1999
Thanks to: wayne
Well here we go. Spring is upon us for steelies and the Kalama is producing fish. Bright early summers and there is still hatchery fish available, believe it or not. Fishing is the type I like, you have to work for them. Fishing all the nooks and crannies. The hot spots are up in the canyon, Deadline to Saddle Rock. Today a nice hatchery fish 10 lb. was taken on sand shrimp. Bright as a silver dollar. Let's face it Salmon and Steelhead fishing is different than it has been in the past years. It takes more skill than ever but attitude is the most important part for at least hooking into Steelhead on the Kalama. Fish are around so give it a try but be ready a lot of fish are in the teens.
Mar. 21,1999
Thanks to: wayne
The Kalama is in great shape today. Good color and flow, it's a little bit high but will lower daily. Salmon can be taken until Apr. 1, Limit 2. Spring natives are in the system now they are bright and large, steelhead that is. Hatchery steeles are also available. Lures are working well, silver #5 french blade with blue beads. Try silver steelies. Bait that's hooking salmon is monga (large) sand shrimp. From here thru the summer the Kalama is going to be a excellent fishery. The bite goes off and on, so don't give up, fish a full day.
Mar. 13, 1999
Thanks to: Michael Martinez
This is the first year of steelheading for me. I'm hooked! I decided to hire a guide, seeings as I hadn't had much luck on my own. You can do all the reading you want, but I suggest hiring a guide for the hands on experience.
   I booked the trip with Rob Orzel. He has several boats and guides, he does it all, he has fly fishing trips, Sturgeon trips, and guides the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis river. He took the time to teach my friend and I how to cast, how to read the river and find fish. We covered a lot of techniques on our 8 1/2 hour trip.
   The river was not in the best shape, but I wasn't there to catch fish, I was there to learn! The bonus was my friend landed a nice Native Steelhead, about 35 inches! Rob asked if we wanted a picture of this beautiful fish, unfortunately we forgot our camara! Ten minutes later I hooked a nice early summer steelhead, it put up quite a fight, it came out of the water several times, but it finally broke the line with all those acrobatics on the surface of the water!
   I highly recommend Rob, this was a very inexpensive learning experience. He can be reached at 360-673-4690.
Feb. 20, 1999
Thanks to: wayne orzel
We are still fighting the effects of lots of water. Steelhead are still showing up in good numbers. The river color is trying to stay green. As of now it's 3 ft. [of] vis. and fish are willing to bite. Last Sunday (2-14) two fly guys hit a school of fish in the lower canyon and had a ball. Still too much water for drift boat fishing.
Feb. 5, 1999
Thanks to: wayne
Water still high color ok. strainge happenings. There is half pounders (steelhead) at deadline. Picked up 12 or so in about one hr. Jigs were working.
Feb. 3, 1999
Thanks to: Rick Hale
Well My buddy Danny and I had just gotten off of work, and after spending several hours fixing the trailer, we finally got the boat in the water. We put in at Pritchards, which was CLOSED. This was not a good sign for us. The water was high but still had enough visibility (we thought) to turn into a productive day. After getting washed down the river (our anchor didn't hold). We finally found a couple of nice holes the we could spend some time in but to no avail. We pulled the boat out of the water just as the rain started.
Jan. 16, 1999
Thanks to: wayne orzel
This is a Fishing report for the Kalama river. River levels are high with all the rains this week. Steelhead have been taken in the caynon area with jigs. I don`t see why flies should not work using a mini sink-tip and short leader, close to the bank. Patterns of red white peach in color. This is the best winter run we have had in many years. There has been a lot of action for the bait guys so far.
Oct. 24, 1998
Thanks to: Matt Wirkkala
I fished the Kalama below Modrow Bridge on Oct. 20-24 and caught nine steelhead, 21 chinook (all either chrome or bright), and several jacks. All the fish were hatchery fish and most were released. Two of the steelhead went 21, and 22 pounds with most averaging from 6-13 lbs. The chinook averaged 10-25 lbs. Almost all of the fish took fresh roe drifted weightless. A few of the salmon took a plain corky either green or bright orange bounced off the bottom. Some other fish I saw landed were taken on spinners. Mostly Blue Fox Vibrex in copper and gold. If your looking for a hot salmon and steelhead river with quality fish then I'd hit the Kalama right now before it rains and the fish shoot upriver.
Sept. 9, 1998
Thanks to: Jeff Jackson
Fished the Kalama River in the canyon below the hatchery. Got there around 10:30 and wish I would have been there sooner. Landed and released 1 hatchery buck steelhead, about 15 lbs. Hit it in fast water above a bunch of old kings on a #4 black Vibrax. ALOT of old kings and coho in there below the hatchery. Salmon fishing is closed there so people should not target these fish. Water was clear, good flow considering no rain for awhile. Water temp was 56 degrees.
August 10, 1998
Thanks to: Matt Wirkkala
The steelhead fishing is pretty good out here. I had two hook ups' early, but lost both. I also landed a chinook but had to release it. The hatchery is dumping their surplus steelhead back down at Modrow Bridge to give the anglers another chance. All slamon must be released due to low return estimates. The steelhead are taking sandshrimp early and will fall for lures such as Steelies and jigs.
August 6, 1998
Thanks to: Matt Wirkkala
I started out fishing below Modrow Bridge at about 5 a.m. As I walked down to the river I saw three steelhead right off. There were several fish rolling on the surface. I fished all morning without a strike except from the squawfish. I came back to the bridge around noon and hooked and lost a very large and brite salmon. Lost him, but I'll be back. I saw over a dozen chinook also.
July 13, 1997
Thanks to Scott Wilwert for the following report:
We hit the Kalama before first light this morning and the river and the weather couldn't have been more perfect, the fishing however... well that's another story.
We started hitting the holes from the bank high up in the Canyon almost to the Holy Waters where we got to watch a few springers that were a little past their prime fighting the riffles and rapids as if they were going somewhere.
We fished about five holes on our way down river without a strike, throwing sand shrimp, eggs, cheaters, corkies, you name it. Nobody was doing anything. Around 9:00am we found ourselves down at Beginners Hole at the mouth of the creek. About eight guys were hitting it hard and we saw three fish come out of there in an hours time. They were bright beautiful hatchery steelhead in the 8-10lb class and they took the guys that caught them as far as 100-150 yards downriver before they were landed. Now I don't know exactly how far these fish travel in a day, but I can guarantee you that these fish probably hadn't purged all the saltwater out of their systems yet, that's how fresh they were.
We packed it in at 11:00 after six hours of fishing only to confirm what I already knew....... the steelhead are still one step ahead of me on the Kalama.
June 29, 1997
Thanks to Dave at Pritchards Western Angler for the following report:
The Kalama is still putting out great numbers of fish for the guys who show dedication. Four nice steelhead taken on flies yesterday (leech & caddis patterns), and three others taken by the bait guys. It would be lovely to get some rain to mix up the attitude of the fish. The river is too low for the drift boaters, you will bang up your bottom something fierce. And there is still a few decent springers around as well. If you have any questions you can email me at Fllyfish@AOL.com.

Dave at Prichards Western Anglers

April 13-14, 1997
Thanks to RGM for the following report:
Fished the Kalama from red barn to Modrow, hooked several chinook, landed one (all must be released), and landed a very bright summer Steelhead. Also are a fair number of late winter fish in the river, wild and hatchery. River was going out as of Monday the 14th. Lots of flood damage, so the Kalama does not rebound very well after too much rain.

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