Lewis River Salmon Fishing 2023

The Lewis River that most anglers are interested is the stretch of river below Merwin Dam, draining Lake Merwin and winding its way through Woodland, to eventually join the Columbia River just north of Portland.

There are two hatcheries on the Lewis River: The Merwin Hatchery right near Lake Merwin and the Lewis River Salmon Hatchery which is a little more than halfway upriver between Woodland and Lake Merwin.

The Lewis River boasts returns of both spring and fall chinook salmon, along with a decent run of coho each year.

Updated Status of returning Fall Chinook on the Lewis River

Kalama Fall Chinook 2023

These graphs will automatically update as fish start to return to the hatchery

Historical Run Timing of Fall Chinook on the Lewis River

Kalama Fall Chinook Run timing 2023

As you can see, run timing for fall chinook on the Lewis River tends to be in that late September, early-mid October time period.

Forecast for 2023 Lewis River Fall Chinook

Kalama Fall Chinook Escapement History 2023

Escapement history just counts fish at the hatcheries that report escapement, total runsize combines escapement plus estimated catch of hatchery fish.

The Lewis River is not known for its abundant return of fall chinook.

Updated Status of returning Coho on the Lewis River

Kalama Fall Chinook 2023

These graphs will automatically update as fish start to return to the hatchery.

Historical Run Timing of Coho on the Lewis River

Kalama Fall Chinook Run timing 2023

The Lewis typically has a very nice return of fall coho salmon. Return timing tends to start in October on most years, but as you can see, November is game-on for Lewis River coho.

Forecast for 2023 Lewis River Coho

Kalama Coho Escapement History 2023

Escapement history just counts fish at the hatcheries that report escapement, total runsize combines escapement plus estimated catch of hatchery fish.

The Lewis River can be a great place to target returning fall coho on most years.

2022 columbia river coho returns chart

This picture is just examining the lower Columbia River coho returns in 2022 for both early and late returns. Both were fantastic.

2023 columbia river coho forecast chart

For comparison to 2022, 2023 is supposed to be even better for Columbia River coho which ideally plays out for a great season and run size of Lewis River coho salmon.

Fishing Regulations for Lewis River Salmon 2023

Species Date Additional Rules

from mouth (a straight line from a fishing boundary marker or from the outermost upland at the north shore of the Lewis River mouth southerly across the river to a fishing boundary marker near the south shore) to the mouth of the East Fork Lewis River CRC (611)

All species

Two-Pole allowed.

Trout

Year-round

Min. size 14″. Daily limit 2.

Steelhead (hatchery)

Year-round

Min. size 20″. Daily limit 3.

Other game fish

Year-round

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Jan. 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 1 adult. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook.

Aug. 1-Sept. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 3 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

Oct. 1-Dec. 31

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults including no more than 1 Chinook may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

from mouth of the East Fork Lewis River to Johnson Creek CRC (615)

All species

Two-Pole allowed.

Trout

Year-round

Min. size 14″. Daily limit 2.

Steelhead (hatchery)

Year-round

Min. size 20″. Daily limit 3.

Other game fish

Year-round

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Jan. 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 1 adult. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook.

Aug. 1-Sept. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 3 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

Oct. 1-Dec. 31

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults including no more than 1 Chinook may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

from Johnson Creek to Colvin Creek CRC (615)

All species

Apr. 1-Apr. 30

Anti-snagging rule. Night closure.

May 1-May 31

CLOSED WATERS.

June 1-Nov. 30

Night closure. Anti-snagging rule.

Trout

June 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 14″. Daily limit 2.

Steelhead (hatchery)

June 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 20″. Daily limit 3.

Other game fish

June 1-Apr. 30

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Jan. 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 1 adult. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook.

Aug. 1-Sept. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 3 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

Oct. 1-Dec. 31

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults including no more than 1 Chinook may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

shoreward of cable buoy and corkline at outlet of Lewis River salmon hatchery fish ladder

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

from Colvin Creek to overhead power lines below Merwin Dam CRC (615)

All species

Apr. 1-Apr. 30

Night closure. Anti-snagging rule.

May 1-May 31

CLOSED WATERS.

June 1-Oct. 31

Night closure. Anti-snagging rule.

Trout

June 1-Oct. 31

Min. size 14″. Daily limit 2.

Dec. 16-Apr. 30

Min. size 14″. Daily limit 2.

Steelhead (hatchery)

June 1-Oct. 31

Min. size 20″. Daily limit 3.

Dec. 16-Apr. 30

Min. size 20″. Daily limit 3.

Other game fish

June 1-Oct. 31

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Dec. 16-Apr. 30

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Jan. 1-Apr. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 1 adult. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook.

Aug. 1-Sept. 30

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6 including no more than 3 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

Oct. 1-Oct. 31

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults including no more than 1 Chinook may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

Dec. 16-Dec. 31

Min. size 12″. Daily limit 6. Up to 3 adults including no more than 1 Chinook may be retained. Release all salmon other than Chinook and hatchery coho.

from overhead power lines to Merwin Dam

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

from the cable crossing 1,300 yards below Yale Dam to Yale Dam

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

Old Lewis River streambed between Swift No. 1 Powerhouse and Swift No. 2 Powerhouse

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

Lewis River Power Canal

All species

Fishing from any floating device prohibited.

Trout

4th Sat. in Apr.-Oct. 31

No min. size. Daily limit 5.

Other game fish

4th Sat. in Apr.-Oct. 31

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

from Eagle Cliff Bridge to Muddy River and tributaries except the Muddy River

All species

Selective gear rules.

Trout

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Min. size 8″. Daily limit 10. Release wild trout.

Other game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

from the Muddy River to the lower falls and all tributaries including Muddy River

All species

Selective gear rules.

All game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-Oct. 31

Catch-and-release.

If you are reading the above regulations prior to July 1st of the current year, they may be out of date (reflecting the prior year) and you should consult WDFW for the permanent regulations, this message will be removed once the current year regulations are reflected here

Emergency Fishing Regulations for Lewis River Salmon 2023

The above permanent regulations for the Lewis River are subject to change at any time and without being updated on this blog. One must consult the WDFW Emergency Regulations before any trips to ensure they are in full compliance with state laws regulating fisheries.

Fishing Regulations for East Fork Lewis River Salmon 2023

Species Date Additional Rules

from mouth to the posted markers at the lower end of Big Eddy CRC (613)

All species

Selective gear rules, except barbed hooks are allowed.

Trout

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Other game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Sept. 16-Dec. 31

Min. size 12”. Daily limit 6 including no more than 2 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

from posted markers at the lower end of Big Eddy to 100’ upstream of Lucia Falls

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

from 100’ upstream of Lucia Falls to 400’ downstream of Moulton Falls CRC (613)

All species

Selective gear rules, except barbed hooks are allowed.

Trout

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Other game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Sept. 16-Dec. 31

Min. size 12”. Daily limit 6 including no more than 2 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

from 400’ downstream to 400’ upstream of Moulton Falls

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

from 400’ upstream of Moulton Falls to 400’ downstream of Horseshoe Falls CRC (613)

All species

Selective gear rules, except barbed hooks are allowed.

Trout

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Other game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-July 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Sept. 16-Mar. 15

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

Salmon

Sept. 16-Dec. 31

Min. size 12”. Daily limit 6 including no more than 2 adults. Release all salmon other than hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho.

Tributaries from mouth to 400’ below Horseshoe Falls CRC (613)

All species

Selective gear rules.

Trout

Sat. before Memorial Day-Oct. 31

Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Other game fish

Sat. before Memorial Day-Oct. 31

Statewide min. size/daily limit.

from 400’ below Horseshoe Falls upstream, including tributaries above Horseshoe Falls

All species

CLOSED WATERS.

If you are reading the above regulations prior to July 1st, they may be out of date (reflecting the prior year) and you should consult WDFW for the permanent regulations, this message will be removed once the current year regulations are reflected here

Emergency Fishing Regulations for East Fork Lewis River Salmon 2023

The above permanent regulations for the Lewis River are subject to change at any time and without being updated on this blog. One must consult the WDFW Emergency Regulations before any trips to ensure they are in full compliance with state laws regulating fisheries.

How to fish for Coho Salmon on the Lewis River

When it comes to coho salmon fishing, I’m a big fan of focussing on the big-three techniques: Float fishing, spinner fishing and twitching jigs.

We have plenty of resources to share on this topic, but you should always get your river fishing journey started by reading the best river fishing for salmon guide on the free web.

The Lewis River is often “big water” depending on dam releases and rain. It’s not untypical for flows to be upwards of 10k CFS during the month of November, but the average is around 4k.

Often times, plunking will be the technique of choice in these situations, but it’s less popular for coho salmon given how readily they will often take a more active technique.

It’s important to remember that coho will still prefer softer currents to hold in, but can be found in a variety of water types when traveling through.

A lot of folks like to cast bigger spinners, wicked lures and even plugs to cover lots of water when fishing these types of scenarios. Below are a few resources to help your coho salmon quest on the Lewis River:

Spinner fishing for salmon:

Wicked lures fishing for salmon:

When it comes to tossing larger spinners or wicked lures on a half oz bobber weight, I like a slightly beefier rod, but you also need it to be slow enough action and bendy enough to keep a spazzy coho hooked.

Here are a few amazon links for gear you might need (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You pay the same price regardless).

Give the below rod a look, it’s the one I used for these situations and I’ve found it a good mix of budget and performance for the techniques described above:

Pair it with a decent spinning reel like the below:

Spool it with some decent braided line.

These size 5 or 6 vibrax spinners are a popular choice for covering big water like the Lewis River for coho.

Here’s a link to the wicked lures, you should checkout as well.