Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing South Fork Toutle River
Washington
The South Fork Toutle River was damaged by the
eruption of Mt. Helens in 1980, but it has since
recovered very nicely. It has good runs of both winter
and summer steelhead. It gets most of its water from
melting snow on the western slopes of Mt. Helens.
Together with the North Fork, it forms the main stem of
the Toutle River. Fly fishing South Fork Toutle River has
greatly improved since the eruption of Mt. Helens.

Because of the state's fishing regulations, the river is
basically divided into two sections, above and below the
Forest Service Road #4100 bridge. Winter steelhead
fishing is open below the bridge to the mouth whereas
summer steelhead fishing is available throughout the
river. Access is very easy because a gravel road follows
the river its entire length.

The upper part of the river is fast flowing, shallow water
with tons of boulders. It provides excellent fishing for
those anglers who like to fish to individual fish they can
sight in the clear, low flows of Summer. The upper part is
closed during the winter to protect the spawn.

Below the bridge, fishing is open to catch and release
from December through March. The lower part of the
river looks more like typical steelhead water with deeper
runs and pools with slow to moderate speed water. It is
braided in many areas and shallow enough to wade
across in places.

You can walk the banks looking for good areas or float
the river using a pontoon type vessel. Drift boats are too
large and will get you in trouble, especially during low
water conditions. The summer steelhead are mostly
hatchery fish. There are a few wild summer fish.

Fly fishing the South Fork Toutle River is also effective
for other anadromous species. Coho salmon enter the
river in late August and remain until the first of
December. They are mostly hatchery raised fish. There's
also a small run of Chinook Salmon in the Spring and
Fall. There's also a few sea-run cutthroats. All salmon,
Winter run steelhead and Summer run wild steelhead
must be released.

Seasons:
Also see "Seasons" on the left side of the page
Spring:
Summer steelhead the first part of June
Summer:
From late June to the middle of July - summer steelhead.
Coho salmon enter the river in August
Fall:
September through November is summer steelhead time.
Coho are present through November.  
Winter:
December through March is prime winter steelhead time

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies
Type of Stream
Freestone

Species
Steelhead (native and hatchery)
Coho Salmon (hatchery and a few
native)
Chinook Salmon

Size
Small to Medium

Location
Southwest Washington

Nearest Towns
Toutle
Castle Rock

Season
Winter steelhead, Dec-March:
summer steelhead, June-mid July
and Sept.-Nov.

Access:
Very Good

Non-Resident License
State of Washington

Weather
National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Flies
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