Located in southwest Washington, the town of Klickitat sits on the banks of the Klickitat River. The river is a tributary to the Columbia River and enters the Columbia near the town of Lyle. As a tributary to the Columbia, the Klickitat is home to salmon and steelhead runs and has a population of Columbia River sturgeon. The Klickitat also has walleye, bass, panfish, catfish and trout. The river is designated as wild and scenic and many of the canyons and gorges require a boat for angler access. The canyon waters can be technical and dangerous and should only be attempted by expert oarsmen.
The Klickitat receives runs of both chinook and coho salmon. The spring chinook run occurs in June and the fall run occurs from late August to early October. The fall run also includes the coho salmon. The salmon run is most productive during September when the chinook and coho are in the river system. The Klickitat is known for producing large salmon with fish over 30 pounds being fairly common during the fall run. The salmon can be caught by drifting eggs and running fast sinking plugs and large streamer flies on rapid sink lines.
The summer steelhead runs are the major attraction for Klickitat anglers. The run begins in early June and the fishing can last as long as November. Steelhead are targeted by spin- and fly-fishermen and can be caught on foot in the lower river, or by using a raft or driftboat in the canyon areas. Fishing from a boat allows anglers to access more of the river while avoiding the crowds. Spin-fishermen have success on egg patters, plugs, spoons, spinners, live grasshoppers and worms. Fly-fishermen can catch steelhead by drifting eggs or swinging streamers and traditional wet flies through the big runs. Fishing streamers and spinners are popular with anglers because the rig will catch resident trout as well as steelhead. The steelhead population consists of a combination of wild and hatchery fish. All wild steelhead must be safely released, but hatchery fish can be kept.
Although most Klickitat anglers focus on the salmon and steelhead runs, the river is also productive for trout, walleye, bass, sturgeon, panfish and catfish. The sturgeon, bass, panfish, walleye and catfish are targeted in the lower river near the confluence with the Columbia, while the trout can be found throughout the middle and upper river.
The regulations on the Klickitat are always subject to change and anglers must check the current regulations before fishing. All wild steelhead must be released, but current regulations allow anglers to keep two hatchery chinook, two hatchery steelhead or one hatchery chinook and one hatchery steelhead. Anglers must also possess a valid state fishing license on the Klickitat River.