Klickitat River Steelhead
Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Klickitat River
The Klickitat is a very beautiful river that gets its water
from the glaciers of Mt. Adams. It has a very good return
of good size, wild steelhead and hatchery fish. It's a
tributary of the Columbia River. Fly fishing on the
Klickitat varies greatly all depending on the time of year
status of the runs.

Glacial water can be very tricky and different from most
non-glacial streams The river can be murky, dingy or off
color up until about the last of September or as late as
the first part of October. That's when the glacier will
freeze up and the off color water will cease to be a
problem. It depends on the local weather and the way
the glacier behaves. Some days you will have clear
water early and dingy water later in the day.

Most anglers fish with nymphs but swinging flies can also
produce. The river can be fished by wading or floating
different sections of the river. Its upper section, or
canyon section, is roadless but the lower section is
easily accessed. The upper section offers good
opportunities for those willing to hike. The lower section
is followed by state road #142, called the Klickitat River
Road, from the mouth at the mighty Columbia River to
the confluence of the Little Klickitat River, a distance of
about 16 miles.

On its way to the Columbia, the Klickitat River falls over
huge boulders and flows rapidly through narrow chutes.
Near the little community of Lyle, the Klickitat flows into a
narrow gorge where both salmon and steelhead fight
strong currents and many obstructions like log jams to
get to their upstream destination.

Fly fishing the Klickitat River can be a wild experience. Its
water is controlled only by mother nature and an
unpredictable glacier that lies below a volcano. When
the glacier isn't frozen, it's leaking dirty, gray stained
water. Its upper headwaters flow through the Yakima
Indian Reservation and the Goat Rocks Wilderness.
Locals claim its steelhead are harder fighters than other
steelhead because they have to be able to climb such a
high gradient river as well as get through a very narrow,
fast water gorge at its mouth..

June 1 - November 30
The water can be high and off color during the first part
of Summer. There is a summer steelhead run.
Early Fall is the best time for fly fishing the Klickitat River.
Type of Stream

Steelhead (wild and hatchery)


South Central Washington

Nearest Towns

June 1 - November 30

Good in the lower section, hiking
required in the upper section

Non-Resident License
State of Washington

National Weather Service Link

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Fishing Report Klickitat River
07/16/20 Summer steelhead are being
caught. Send us an email for a fly list: