Methow River Fishing Report

Nestled in the Methow River Valley and known as the Jewel of the Cascades, this 80-mile Columbia tributary is known for its great beauty and abundant trout. By car, it can be reached within two hours from Ellensburg or about 3 ½ hours from Seattle. Five towns dot the valley landscape - Mazama, Winthrop Twisp, Carlton and Methow – each with a charm of their own.
The Methow and its tributaries, the Twisp River, Cedar Creek and Early Winters Creek begin in the high, Methow Pass area of the Cascades and continue to join with additional tributaries until their confluence with the Columbia River at Pateros. The Pacific Rim Trail follows the River’s upper reaches while other landmarks such as Star Peak and Mt. Bigelow, two of the state’s highest peaks, add to the river’s splendor.

The river can be waded or floated. Anglers tend to divide the river into three sections: Winthrop to Twisp; Twisp to Carlton; and, Carlton to Gold Creek. Each has differing flows although the lower section has rapids and tends to be turbulent.
Steelhead season changes annually but the trout season typically opens June 1st and closes September 30th.  The section below Winthrop is considered by many to be the most desirable. Dry fishing throughout the summer is excellent but fall/winter is the best time, especially for those interested in steelhead. Still something of an insider’s river, the clear watered Methow is often overlooked by anglers and is rarely congested.
Species include wild rainbow trout, wild cutthroat, native bull trout, steelhead (indigenous and hatched) and chinook salmon. While fish tend to average about 12 inches, there are recent reports of 18-25 inch trout being found southeast of Carlton.
Before booking a trip, check to see if the river is closed for spawning and if all fish need to be released. Depending on conditions, anglers may be permitted to keep hatchery steelhead.
A tributary of the Columbia river
Cascade Range
80 miles
Seasonal Conditions
SummerFloat or wading
FallPredominately wading
WinterClosed now – at times open for steelhead depending on migration
Fishing Trips
The Methow River located in the North Central part of Washington State is a unique fishery with quality trout during the summer and a strong Steelhead population in the fall. The Methow ... moreis a beautiful gem of a river, that we feel lucky to experience and fish on a regular basis.

The Trout Season

The Methow River is a quality trout fishery for Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Rainbow Trout. Because of snow melt, the Methow typically is not in fishing shape until the end of June or early July. It can be solid summer dry fly fishing when the grasshoppers and other terrestrials are at their peak. Many of the trout on the Methow River are in the 12 inch range, but there is opportunity for much larger trout.

It has been common in the past for the Methow to close in early fall due to the presence of steelhead. If you’re looking for prime-time trout fishing on the Methow, the middle of July towards the end of August is when to go.

The Steelhead Season

The steelhead season opening on the Methow River is depended on the number of wild and hatchery steelhead that pass over Wells Dam. In years past, the season usually starts during the first week of October and ends by March 31.


During the steelhead season we use different techniques, from swinging flies with a Spey, Switch or Single hand rod to nymphing. We typically float the Methow in fly fishing rafts for the steelhead season. This is a very productive way to fish the Methow even when it is low. With the raft, we’ll fish water that most people have difficulties accessing on foot.
Fishing Waters:
The Methow Valley located in North Central Washington is and continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the entire Pacific Northwest. With a myriad of outdoor activities to choose ... morefrom, the Methow Valley has served as a sportsmen's paradise for Washingtonians for decades now. Just one of the many activities practiced in the Methow Valley is fly-fishing for Summer Run Steelhead on the pristine, Methow River.

With classic riffle and bolder strewn run after classic run, the Methow River is truly a Steel-heading paradise. This magnificent river affords fly fishermen of every skill level the distinct opportunity to swinging flies, fish heavily weighted wet flies and nymphs or skate and wake dry flies for the most sought after game fish in the world, the Pacific Northwest Steelhead.

The Methow River originates high in the North Cascades Mountain Range and meanders through six major vegetation zones with precipitation ranging from 100 inches to 10 inches a year. The Methow dashes, darts cutting its way over eons of time across large river rock boulders as mountain snows thaw during the warming months of spring.

Eventually, the Methow converges with the mother of all steelhead rivers, the Columbia River at the small town of Pateros, Washington. Salmon and steelhead returning to the Methow system must navigate over 500 miles upriver from the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean, while breaching 9 mainstream Columbia River dam passages. A phenomenal feat of nature in its own right.

In their lifetime, these magnificent Pacific Ocean going fish breach these man made obstacles twice. They pass over the dams on the way to the ocean and upon their return to the Methow River. Here salmon and some steelhead will perform their last living passage, the spawning ritual. Surrounded by farmland, timber and bushy, green meadows, the Methow River is truly a fly-fishing paradise, running clean and clear for much of the season. Remaining relatively wild, it is not uncommon to see numerous mule deer feeding along the river or road, eagles and osprey picking at a decaying salmon carcass or the occasional wild turkey sighting. Experience this wild life adventure while you cast flies for some of Washington States finest steelhead east of the Cascades Mountain Range.

The Methow River steelhead are a summer run species that enter the Columbia river between the months of June and July. Typically they make their way up river in force during the first couple weeks of September. This however, is dependant solely on the amount of water in both the Columbia and Methow River systems. With high water flow, fish tend to arrive early to the system. During periods of low water and a warm Columbia River watershed, steelhead movements will slow until water conditions improve. Once flows increase and water temperatures recede, steelhead resume their up stream travels.

Low returning Steelhead numbers in the mid nineties prompted an indefinite closure of all sport fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Methow River as well as many other Upper Columbia River tributaries. Since that time, the returning numbers of Steelhead has steadily risen in the Upper Columbia River, due in part to an intensive hatchery rearing program spearheaded by several local, state and private fisheries agencies.

In September of 2002, a “special emergency” opening for catch and release fishing was prompted on the Methow River. To say fishing was good is the understatement of the decade with anglers catching almost unheard of numbers of steelhead on a daily basis. Since then, the steelhead numbers have continued to grow, prompting special openings each year in October for steelhead on the Methow system. Each year we eagerly anticipate the opening of the Methow River, generally during the first few days of October.

The Worley Bugger guide team attacks the Methow in two differently modes. By October, flows are low in the Methow allowing a steelhead fly fishermen to access the river by foot. There is plenty of access points along the entire 35 miles stretch of river, where steelhead stage and a fly anglers can nymph, swing or skate a dry fly. Here you have the ability to travel up or down the road in warm, comfortable vehicle targeting key spots throughout the day.

For those that prefer to fish longer stretches of river or want to see more of the Methow, a float trip on a two man raft is also available to you as well. Here you can fish one full section of river putting the boat in the river at point "A" and float several full miles of river to point "B" while fishing every nook and cranny between.

Anyone who has fished the Methow before knows that at times the fish are in the lower river, sometimes holding in the upper portions, and many days they are in both the upper and lower portions of river.
Fishing Waters:
  • Expert guide
Come visit the lovely Methow Valley in Eastern Washington for your Summer trout or Fall Steelhead experience. The clean & clear Methow River is a lovely fishery with a population ... moreof beautiful Rainbow, Cutthroat and Cuttbow Trout along with aggressive wild and hatchery steelhead in the fall.


Daily trout trips - July - Sept

Daily Steelhead trips Mid October - November 15th

Your professional/instructional fly fishing guide will assist you in everything from learning how to fish the river and what techniques to use to get fish. With our custom self-bailing rafts you will be floating the way you should be safe and comfortable. Our agenda includes drifting from pool to pool. Some we will wade, others we fish from the rafts.

Trout: The summer time fly fishing along the Methow River is a consistent fishery with great action and less pressure than the Yakima. From the serious to the novice angler the Methow River fly fishing has something for everyone. Trout include rainbows up to "18 + and nice westsloap cutthroat and the elusive big cuttbows. Our biggest Cuttbow was 28 Inches!

Steelhead: Come check out this strong run of steelhead. We fish traditional surface and sub-surface swings along with nymph techniques depending on angler preference. Hatchery fish can be kept for the freezer. Each morning your guide will meet you riverside or at your hotel ready to hit the river.
Fishing Waters:
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