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Seeking advice for the Washougal

2230 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Howzer
Can anyone provide me with advice for fishing the Washougal? I'm going to be in that neighborhood this Sunday-through Tuesday, and
I want to try some dryline fishing over those skamania fish. I've never been down there before, so any pointers on areas to check out, where to park, what rock to stand on (okay, we don't need to go that far) would be appreciated

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Nate - it's been a long time but I did well there one year. I fished several spots over two days and hit fish both days.

Here's what my feeble brain cells can recollect...

There is a large pool near the mouth (Columbia R) where many fish roll at dawn and dusk. Not a very attractive place but lots of fish showing themselves. Figuring this out would be really something. I caught nothing there but a spinner guy caught a nice buck in the big pool. I moved on because it was lacking aesthetically.

Upriver there were a few great spots:

Big park for swimmers

There is a park with large, deep pools and giant rock formations on the opposite shore. It is a beach where kids and families swim during daylight hours. If you get there are the crack of dawn or dusk you are likely to get a fish to grab a fly. I landed a very nice summer buck here in the lee of a big rock about 3/4 down the semi-circular run just before dark on the first evening. It's kind of a big bend with sand on the inside and giant boulders lining the opposite shore.

the 'bridge'

There is a bridge over the river not too far out of town with room for one vehicle to park on the east bank of the river. You can't really get down to the water unless you climb down the bank on the upriver side and fish down to the pool on the downriver side of the bridge. If the water is low there are often a horde of summer runs in that pool wanting to get up the shallow riffle. At dawn the second morning I saw the most impressive show of Washougal steelhead attacking bugs (nymphs emerging?) on the surface. Hooked up relatively easily but did not land the fish. You might look for a way to get onto the rocky shore on the west bank downstream from the bridge. I'll look on a map to see if I can recall the street. A good looking surface bug would get torpedoed quickly here, I hope they do half of the surface boiling they did that morning, you'd still be impressed. Once they went down, they were hard to raise. I think they were responding to some morning emergence of something, maybe caddis.

The glide

There is a pool alongside one edge of a park or cemetery (can't remember which, I was focused on the water!). There is a fence along the road on the perimeter of the park and on the other side of the fence is this killer pool. The head of the pool is where two forks come back together. There were visible fish in this confluence but I could not get them to take. I walked down and fished the long gravelly / bouldery glide from the fence side. Nada, you are standing in the good water from this side and it's overgrown. I walked back up to the edge of private property at the confluence and waded across to fish the glide from the far bank. BINGO! What a beautiful pool, probably the best I fished on the whole river. Classic gradual descent of water on a rocky bottom with lots of character - big pockets, rocks, and a deeper channel on the far bank. Landed a beautiful rose-cheeked hen of about 31", fought like the dickens. I am sure there were more in there but I was pretty sated and had more water I wanted to cover.

I think order of promixity to the mouth was:

a) bridge
b) park
c) glide

There was a lot of more classic bouldery run water upstream but I had spent a lot of time there and it was time to head back toward Seattle to stop at the East Fork of the Lewis and the Kalama before I called it a trip.

Sorry I can't recall more, maybe looking at maps will help me recall details. If so I will clarify later.

Say, why don't you give Bill McMillan a call? ;)
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Juro, thanks for digging into your memory banks. You had a pretty good time exploring that river, gives me high hopes for my first visit. I'll look for your spots. If I see big chromers thrashing on the surface I'll probably get the steelhead version of buck fever and my fishing concentration will fall to pieces. It's happened before (Dylan is my witness).
Howzer, here are some of the well known spots I have fished (not secrets!).
1. Juro was right, big pool at the mouth, though not that good it can give up a fish now and then.
2. Just above the big pool though is some nice water (if its not too low) we called it the bowling alley drift, because its behind the bowling alley there in town. It will be on your right after you go past the paper mill. If you cross a bridge you have gone to far. But you will see it when you do cross the bridge. Was a very good spot years ago. Don't know now how it fishes. But do fish the lower end just above the big pool in the late afternoon (you might have to elbow some the locals) and try a shrimp fly or a sculpin deep!
3. Next if you can find it is the park in town. Cant remember the street its on but you go over the bridge and then maybe a 1/2 mile and turn left. Ask in town (Washougal) and some one can tell you. Theres a boat launch there. No secret here just fish what looks good.
4. Next up is the middle bridge, may be 4-5 miles up river, cant remember now. Any way you follow the river road up river and you will see it.
5. After middle bridge comes the next boat launch. You will see this too if you drive up that far.
6. Last would be another bridge. Cant miss this one. There was a store right next to this bridge so this is an easy one. The trick here is to find the trails up and down river that lead to some nice spots.
Last thing to be said are the various pull outs and one car spots. Keep your eyes open and you wont miss them.

A word of warning though for up river spots!
Trespassing on the locals river land is not advised. They take it seriously there.
Good luck, I have many fond memories fishing there (my folks used to live in Camas, nice town).
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ok since this was my back yard i suppose I should help

First of all keep in mind that The Washougal fish have become a may and june show.. The steelhead now typically will hold in the lower 4 miles of river then bolt to the hatchery leaving the middle river almosy void of fish.

The lower river consists of water below the 3 mile mark on the Washougal river road. Fish above this area will be few and far between. The road Above here follows the river so anywhere you can pull over and park you can generally fish. Just don't go behind anyones house.
Start by fishing the lower river at first light. Start at the bowling ally there are a couple runs there you can fish. Ther is an awsome run if you hike downstream and cross the river it's about 1/4 mile below the bowling ally.
As you are coming out of the bowling ally there is a traffic light. Go straight across the main street on Shepard road. This will follow the river for about a mile and provides access at the sandy swimming hole.. Wade across the tail out and fish the right side of the Island. When you are done there continue east on Shepard road until you hit the Washougal river road. Drive straight across the river road and park by the telephone pole. Then walk across the bridge and follow the trail down to the river on the downstream side of the bridge. There is an excellent run right under the bridge. When your done there drive up the washougal river road less that 100 yards and take a right. Follow that road all the way to the back there is a subdivision back in there but the lots along the river have not been developed yet. When you see the large field and all the realestate signs park and cross the fields to the river there are a couple nice runs there. OK now Back out to the Washougal river road. From there drive across the bridge you fished under earlier and stay on that street until you come to a traffic light Turn left and stay on that street until you see the school on your left. At the end of the school property take a left ans follow it straight on until you enter Hathaway park and follow the road down to the river. There is a good run straight out from the boat ramp there and about a 1/4 mile downstream there is another.. That is every bit of water that has public access on the lower river. At least that is fly water.
The rest of the river is only accessed off of the Washougal river road. where ever there is room to pull off the road and walk into.
If you are having a hard time finding fish try going up to the steelhead hatchery and fishing above the wier. A lot of hatchery fish stray above there. It is a nuch smaller stream but it can be an interesting hike .
I can't stress enough though you gotta start at first light and cover a lot of water don't refish water you have already been through unless you raise a fish. Cover water!!!

I have tried to be as specific as i can if you need to know anything more let me know.
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WOW Nate - I wish I was going to be exploring the Washougal with you, reading this wealth of info. Skyrise, Rob - when I get out that way again I'd like to hook up with all you guys who obviously know the river well!
you may actually be hitting it right

They just recycled 250 fish from the hatchery back to the mouth. The water is low so the fish may move more slowly through the system..

Juro.. come out early next June and I'll make sure you see the best the river has to offer. And you can check out a few Burkheimers too. If nothings goin on on the Washougal we can always go fish the Klick.

Do you know if my rod is repaired yet? I spoke with Kerry a couple of weeks ago and he told me before July 4th. I've called a couple of times with no return calls. Kerry is a great guy but this is getting old.

Roballen, Juro, and Skyrise, thanks very much for the advice and detailed directions. I fished a few of the lower Washougal spots on Sunday afternoon, had them all to myself on a grey drizzly day, but found no fish. Seemed like all those spots fished pretty well, but they would have been much better with another foot of water. That run 1/4 mile below the Bowling Alley was especially sweet. Pretty much no one was fishing, which I took as a good indication that things have been slow. I didn't have time to fish around the hatchery.
My day and a half of meetings at Skamania Lodge ended at noon yesterday, so I spent the afternoon checking out the lower Klickatat and the White Salmon. The Klick was running milky, so I didn't fish it (maybe 2 feet of vis). I hiked down to the White Salmon and really liked that water, but moved no fish. A couple gear guys were down there too, hooking nothing. They said the fishing was pretty good a couple weeks ago. Is May/June the time for all those rivers?

Anyway, thanks again for pointing me to those spots, I really appreciate it.
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