Kalama river question...

Anyone want to point me in the right direction? Not looking for a secret location just a starting point. I see there is a large section for fly fishing only and this is where I look to start. Is this an easy river to wade? Any suggestion on fly patterns? I have not had much luck fishing for that damn unicorn fish, steelhead, so this trip I plan on targeting anything but that damn fish.. And because I know you are gonna say something... THEY DON'T EXIST JERRY!!!! You will not change my mind on this..

Thanks in advance to anyone who is will to give advice..


Well-Known Member
Drive south on I-5. Get off at Kalama River Rd. exit. Head east, upstream. Lots of obvious access and lots of obvious posted property. The river is wadable at normal flows.

A fly pattern that is as good as any and better than many is a marabou streamer in your favorite color. Until later in summer when the water is low and clear. Then use a Spade in size 6 or smaller.

I don't know when you're planning on going, but you might consider that April and May will statistically be the months with the lowest abundance of fresh steelhead in the river, and you'll hook tons of outmigrating smolts if you're not careful. By June, abundance will be on the upswing, and the trip will be more worthwhile in terms of gas burned and time spent casting over unoccupied water.

The fly only water is in the upper river and gets the fewest number of steelhead. I thought WDFW only lets wild fish go above the falls, but they may let some hatchery summer runs go up as well. I'm not sure and haven't bothered to check. I wouldn't fish the upper river without first asking the hatchery folks how many steelhead they've allowed past the falls.

Hope I don't get voted off the forum for my next comment... Catching a unicorn fish would be cool, but is there other fishing worth fishing for here? Would trout be a target fish here? I am thinking of heading there next weekend if flows are good. Just wanting to try new waters.. Lake fishing ISPs fun but I think it's time for a change..


Active Member
James, like most of the lower Columbia tribs, the Kalama doesn't have any resident trout to speak of. If you're catching trout size fish they are almost always smolts. The Kalama gets some sea run cuts late summer. The water was just a tad faster than I normally like it this last weekend but its a good time to hit the water without the usual crowds.


Inept Steelheader
I would not target smolts if I could help it James... it's considered poor form for many reasons. Leave them be, especially the native ones up high. They already face far too low odds of survival.

That said, the Cowlitz would be my choice if I was in Olympia and looking to hook Steelhead at this point in the year. The Kalama should be decently fishable if this blip of rain coming through doesn't blow it out. Then again, I wouldn't expect to find many fish in there either.


Active Member
If you're hooking smolts take a few steps down until they stop tagging your fly. They're definitely not fun to catch, mortality is pretty high when you're yanking a size one gami out of their face. Plus it's hard to catch mature fish when the babies are playing soccer with your fly.
James, sounds like you're interested in catching some trout in moving water. Send me a PM and I might hook you up with a spot or two that won't put too many miles on your rig. Will need a brief chat re ethics and c&r, though, to ensure that I can trust ya to some wild fish.

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