Sturgeon Fishing the Lower Chehalis River 1
This article was written 2004, when sturgeon were still somewhat prevalent in this river. However with the commercial sector, both non-treaty and treaty, then with the directive for no catch and eat fishery, it is now just memories
Most of the sturgeon fishing in the Chehalis occurs in the Aberdeen to Friends Landing area below Montesano. However there can be fish caught in the river from Westport all the way to Centralia.
Boat launches on the river, starting downriver
working upstream are; Most of these launches are shown in the
corresponding salmon articles.
(1) In Westport, Grays Harbor, -- South on N Montesano St.; Left at the Hungry Whale Chevron gas station on Wilson Ave. to its end.
Parking is on the right by the Coast Guard station.
(2) 28th Street Boat Launch Chehalis River/Grays
In East Hoquiam, E on Simpson Ave. past Home Depot; R at 28th St; follow .5 mile to end at parking area; boat ramp.
Limited parking at the lot, but parking along the road is utilized. There is an overflow parking lot back down the road by the mill.
(3) 9th Street Landing and Rayonier Point ---Hoquiam Parks snd Recreation Dept
In Hoquiam, E on Simpson Ave.; L on 9th St., ramp at end.
- difficult to launch/ load a boat at low tide.
(4) Pakonen ramp -- Chehalis River, south Aberdeen.
From Aberdeen at US 101 cross Chehalis River, S .5 mile; turn left on first street, Boone St, by the yellow oars in south Aberdeen.
A short distance to parking area. Old double lane concrete ramp only usable at high tide, and with a small boat, minimal parking.
(5) Weyerhaeuser Boat Ramp - Chehalis River-- Cosmopolis
In Cosmopolis, east at 'F' St, at police station, go 2 blocks to end of St. One blacktop & 2 gravel ramps, lots of parking.
(6) Friends Landing -- Aberdeen Trout Unlimited -- Chehalis River, (donation box)
From Montesano, -- West 1 mile on US 12; L (south) on Devonshire Rd,
go 1.1 mile; South on Katon Rd 1.4 mile.
(7) South Montesano (WDFW) - Chehalis River
From Montesano, S on SR 107 .8 mile; L at "Public Fishing" sign, go past & thru the lumber parking lot
.2 mile to end of Rd. & under the bridge. 3 concrete ramps
; Starting at Westport, you can go out to mid-river between Ocean
Shores and Johns River. There is a flat here with the water averaging
20' deep, you can also find a slot that reaches 35'. This deeper slot is
one location to try. Others would be in the slot up to the right of Sand
Island Shoal. Another location would be in the 2 channels that run
up towards the Humptulips River. Then there is the main Chehalis shipping
channel up to Aberdeen. This area is more susceptible to wind and bad weather
for small boats than farther upriver.
Upriver farther, most of the fishing usually takes place from the Cosmopolis launch up to Preacher Slough. There are also some spots below the launch near the bend in the river. You will find sturgeon at the Cosmopolis launch area, as there are those who bank fish in front of the parking lot. Also at the bend just upriver from the launch under the power lines. Another spot is around the bend in a 40' hole just below Max slough on the left.
Fishing can be concentrated on the right hand side
here to up into the 60' hole at the next sharp LH bend. This upper bend is however
the main area that the Quinault Indians net for sturgeon.
This hole also has some debris in there that is known to attach anchors.
Fishing also occurs at the mouths and just above Blue Slough, then in the next, or Preacher Slough. In the winter when high run off occurs, you may consider slipping into the sloughs to avoid debris and logs coming downriver.
Above the 2 mentioned sloughs are lots of old pilings on the left below and along side of Higgins Island on the left. On the mainland shore at the upper end of the island there is railroad tracks with some houses behind. Above the most upriver house, there is a 30' hole that is sometimes fished. Above there the water shallows up to averaging 15' with a deeper slot on the RH shore where there are some salmon shanties. Sturgeon can be pulled along this shore in the same area as the salmon fishing. But the river is mostly shallow, 15' clear to Friends Landing. Across the river on the RH side from the Friends Landing launch there is a 30' hole that is sometimes fished.
Best fishing appears to be on the incoming to slack tide, because the outgoing tide is running considerably more, which requires more sinker weight & a better anchor. Plus there could be more debris coming down the river in the fall & spring on the outgoing tide.
The Chehalis River is open for sturgeon fishing
24 hours a day. For some reason, the best fishing on this river seems to be the
night fishing. You will be amazed at the boats on the river at night even in February.
Another point to consider is that if you fish the evening of one day, then thru
the night and come in off the watyer at daylight the next day, you have actually fished 2
days and are entitled to two limits.
One word of
caution, if the moon is not out, and it starts to rain, a hand-held spotlight
does not cut it to find your way back downriver. LOTS OF BLACKNESS OUT
Bank fishing can only be done where there is access. Some of
the favored spots are at the Cosmopolis boat launch area. Here you
can park with the vehicle heading toward the water and watch your rod.
Upstream from there is access via the railroad off of the
Aberdeen-Montesano Rd / Central Park Rd . Where this road crosses the
railroad tracks, park and walk the 300 yards SW to where the railroad follows the
edge of the river. Just as the railroad meets the river is a 40' hole.
There are houses behind the railroad with roads coming to them, but apparently
no access unless you become friendly with a landowner.
Farther upstream there is access at the Friends Landing area, there is a covered fishing shed just upstream from the launch as shown below. And another decent bank access just below the launch. This one puts you into a slight eddy, and nice fish have been pulled there.
Friends Landing launch, during a high tide, & after heavy rains as seen by the debris in the foreground here
Another access is at the parking lot of the South Montesano launch parking lot. There is a deep hole above the bridge and launch. With a good heavy casting rod a bank angler can reach out right on the inside corner for a good location.
; The normal bait of choice here will be sand shrimp. It seems that the
sturgeon have not developed a taste for smelt (even though there can be a small
smelt run here) as their cousins in the Columbia.
However there is also usually a run of sturgeon in the late spring of the year when the Ells migrate upriver to spawn. Of course ell would then be the prime bait.
The Quinault Indians net for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon here both in the spring and fall. That being the case, there seems to be less sturgeon at those times of the year.
|Here is a lost/abandoned Quinault Indian gillnet in the lower Chehalis|
Update ; The WDFW has closed catch and keep sturgeon for nontribal fishers starting in 2014 because of not enough spawning populations. To me, that means that they have allowed OVERHARVEST for a good many years prior. This is mainly due to a afterthought by WDFW when years ago on a yearly tribal negotiations, when at the end of the salmon talks, the Indians asked "What about By-Catch", WDFW's response was what do you mean? What if we catch sturgeon while fishing for salmon? The WDFW response apparently was "Keep Them". So this opened a LARGE can of alligators, in that as long as they were "Targeting Salmon or Steelhead" (even if salmon or steelhead were not present, then they could keep the sturgeon). This essentially allowed them to fish for sturgeon for a lot longer than anticipated because they could say they were targeting the other specie, further helping contributing to the depletion of the sturgeon population in this area.
Copyright © 2004 - 2018 LeeRoy Wisner All Rights Reserved
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Originated 10-12-04, last Updated 01-11-2018
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