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 is 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.
What is Included:
Drinks & Snacks
1 - 2 anglers
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 ... morewithin 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.
Centrally located just east of the Cascade Mountains, Ellensburg is surrounded by several great trout filled rivers, making it an ideal place to stay. Considered by many to be the ... morefinest fishery in the state, the 214-mile long Yakima, curves around the town’s southern border, adding to Ellensburg’s historic charm. Another top choice is the 80-mile Methow River, known both for its ample fish and exceptional beauty. Excellent fishing can be found on this river within a two-hour drive from town.
In close proximity to town, the 75-mile long Naches River is about a half-hour drive. Most of the Naches river basin is located in scenic national forest and wilderness areas, including the renowned Wenatchee National Forest. Often referred to as the “Miracle Mile” of small waters, The Rocky Ford Creek, about an hour from Ellensburg, is best known for its numerous and sizeable rainbow trout. Considered by anglers to be a challenging stream, it is also ranked as one of the best trout rivers in the entire Northwest.
While Ellensburg is not thought of as a town exclusively dedicated to anglers, it does have much to offer including 4 well stocked fly shops with knowledgeable owners. What it lacks in numbers (population 18,000) it makes up for with its historic buildings, a major University and a large choice of things to do.
If you are with family members or others that don’t care to fish, there are opportunities to go biking on and off road, white water rafting, horse back riding and hiking. Despite its small size, the town has an active arts community with galleries, museums and theaters. Finally, there are events like the Winterhop Brewfest, featuring local microbreweries, Buskers & Burg, a fall celebration with giant puppets, and a highly regarded, large-purse, Labor Day rodeo.
Summer is peak fishing time with a high concentration of anglers. The spring and fall seasons remain busy while only a few die-hard choose the winter months.
There are several options for traveling to Ellensburg.
Fly into Seattle (SeaTac Airport) and drive for approximately 1 ½ hours
Fly into Takima Air Terminal and drive for approximately 40 minutes
Fly into Spokane and drive for approximately 2 ½ hours
Fly into Bowers Field, a general aviation airport, minutes from Ellensburg
- Cancellations made 14 days before will be fully refunded.
- Cancellations made 7 days before will be refunded 50% of the amount paid.
- Cancellations made at a later date will not be refunded.