Cowlitz flow


Active Member
Right now the Cowlitz is flowing at 14K+ cfs. That seems high; what's a good level for swinging a fly near the Blue Creek launch? Is there a good flow to watch for that allows one to wade out a bit for casting?

I'm new to the spey game, so I don't know where else to go. I've tried the Skookumchuck, but couldn't find areas with enough room for casting. Are there any other spots on the Cowlitz or surrounding area to find some good swinging water? My casting skills don't allow for limited space, yet. I don't have the time or resources to drive out to Forks for the weekend. To be honest, I'm not even sure what good fish-holding swinging water looks like.


Active Member
10K still seems like an awful lot of water (though I must admit I've never swung a fly near the boat launch in winter). Closer to 5K seems more reasonable, imo.


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
Though gear fishing, guys catch fish right but next to shore in the winter at 14k.
I agree with Phil on the 10K in the winter.
5K or less to me would be more of a summer water level.
I don't particularly like it at 10,000. I preferred it 7000 or less. But if I only have a weekend to go I will fish it when it is at 10,000 or less.

I remember Ed Ward once writing somthing like fish Rivers High, fish rivers low.Fish them on the rise and fish them on the fall.

The lower part ofthe run at BC is better at high water. IMO. The best thing about high water is you know the fish should be close to the bank
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Active Member
I fished the Cowlitz at 15K and muddy. No wading that day. Hooked up on a nymphing rig, cast behind a submerged automobile, right next to the bank. Talk about "fringe holding water." The fish got out in the current and kicked my ass in short order. I haven't fished it above 8K since, and I very much prefer it below 5K.


We floated it at 12000 cfs below blue creek many years ago. No room to swing, but we did get out on an island with a backchannel. This was back in the days when December got good returns of winter fish. A school of steelhead was holding in the only pool deeper than 1' in the channel. I dabbled a small bright pattern on a floating line in front of them and watched as a small 5-6lb steelhead rose and took the fly. He threw the hook and spooked the rest of the fish, but it was a fun moment in an otherwise quick and uneventful float.


Active Member
I would fish it at 10 if the water was clean 3 foot or more of vis. It’s been many years but I remember some access at I-5 on the lower river. I think it’s all very high bank & private property from blue creek down. Or if you feel adventurous go poke around the Tilton river. Course the Lewis & Kalama are just a little further down the road.

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