According to my Lady, who loves to fish and grew up in the Longview area, you should try the Kalama River (up Kalama River Rd), the Lewis, the Cowlitz (Lexington and above), Abernathy Creek, and the Toutle River (Castle Rock and above)
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON Jul-30-01 AT 08:43 AM (PST)[/font][p]Good, well known lakes around there are the Mount St Helens lakes. Silver Lake is really fun for some big bucketmouth bass, and some on topwaters. Recently, however, eel-like streamers have been working best for me. Coldwater is huge, deep, and indimidating, but has special regs, and if ya like sinking lines, has some monster bows to be taken. Merril Lake has nice brown trout, and is famous for the Hex hatch. Castle is extremely hard to get to, but is well worht the effort. Look thorugh the old stuff in this forum for info on Castle. Have fun out there, and tight lines!
Directions to Castle have already been covered on the forum. Use the search utility, search on Castle. Beyond that some more background on Castle including a report came in from one of the gracious members who just went.
1. Directions: Tough to find the trailhead. It is just under 25 miles of gravel logging roads. We ripped our oil pan off the first try in. If you drive slowly and do not take any wrong turns we timed it at a little over 2 hours on the logging road(s) just to get to the trailhead from downtown Toutle. Get a Weyerhaeuser map, but beware as they have changed some of the road numbers. See Gary Brault at Toutle River Fly Shop for directions and gear.
2. Hike: There are two trails in. The first and longest is close to ten miles. The trailhead is at Sheep Canyon. The second shorter route is just under 4 miles and very steep, about 2000' of elevation. You need to be in very good physical condition as the trail is straight down on the way in, and straight up on the way back. (This is not an understatement - our group included a former college soccer player, a triathlete, a track and cross country runner, and a cyclist and we all thought it was a difficult hike.) You also need to stay on the trail - apparently three people have perished trying to get to the lake by trying to take a "shortcut", and another man was airlifted out by Medivac in June.
3. Camping: There are limited camp sites on or around the lake because of the steep canyon walls. Plan on staying there overnight unless you are an aerobic superman and can hike in and out on the same day.
4. Fishing: My impression is that the rumors about the fishing are highly exaggerated. Castle Lake fishes like an alpine lake - in another words, the fish are not that well fed and are fairly undiscriminatory as to what they take. They are also not as big as some of the reports I have read. The average fish is 11-13", with the few exceptions over 15". We saw none over 16", from our group or anyone else on the lake. The fish all have fairly large heads, a sure sign of low available food mass and slow growth rates. I also quizzed some of the locals who had fished the lake extensively - they have never seen a fish over 17" from Castle. (Coldwater Lake a few miles away is a different story, larger fish are quite common there.)
Fishing seemed a little slow judging from the results of the other folks on the lake. We were fairly successful, and took fish on dries in the mornings and evenings, and also by going deep with buggers and damsel type patterns.
In summary - (and I hate to pierce the shroud of mystique that surrounds Castle) - it is a nice experience if you enjoy backpacking, but if you are going just for the fishing you may be disappointed. For the same 7-8 hours in total journey time and effort it takes to get to Castle from Seattle, you could be fishing Chopaka, or any of the Kamloops area lakes in BC and catch larger and more fish
I was planning a trip in to Castle Lake in August. Went up to Castle Rock yesterday and got a quad map from the DNR, the guy there told me that Weyerhauser has been closing the gate at the end of the county road. So I drove down S. Toutle Road to the end and sure enough the gate is locked and there is a sign saying no motorized access. So I guess the only way would be through Sheep Canyon. So it looks like I'll be fishing Merrill or Coldwater instead.
OK - it sounds like Castle is not the hottest option, at least for now...... how about some others - I've heard about Coldwater, where is it and what's the scoop.... also, Abernethy Creek - I think I saw that just west of Longview near where I will be living - is that the one?
Coldwater is huge and deep, and is right by Mt St Helens- you cant miss it on a map. It is brand new, formed during the blast when mudflows and debri dammed up Colwater Creek. The lake has introduced rainbows, and native cutts that survived the blast, that used to live in the creek. It is relatively rich and has nice 16 - 22 inch fish. The best technique is definitely sinking lines ans streamers, as hatches rarely draw the rainbows attention. You can only launch at the boat launch, because the laeside vegetation is being protected. It is no bait, barbless single hook regs, and you can keep one fish over maybe 16 inches (it might be 18). I have only fished it twice, but was pretty successful, with a few really nice hard-fisghting bows. For more info just look in guidebooks like the Flyfishers guide to Washington.
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