Tuesday, November 20, 2018
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Riffe Lake Silvers at Mossyrock Dam

Silvers, Riffe Lake.

Silvers, Riffe Lake.

I was invited to tag along on a trip to the Mossyrock Dam (off HWY 12, just under 3 miles past Mossyrock) to fish Riffe Lake for silvers (aka landlocked coho) with Jay and Lucie yesterday. I arrived 15 minutes after Jay began fishing, he already had his limit of five fish on the bank.

Why were the fish on the bank instead of on a stringer in the water? Two reasons: one, there isn’t much reason to keep your fish cool in the water if you are only going to be there for 15 minutes, and two, there is an otter that hangs out in the area looking for an easy meal.

WDFW Sportfishing Rules summary, Riffe Lake: Statewide min. size/daily limit. Landlocked salmon rules apply. No min. size. Daily limit 5. When fishing with bait, all trout (except steelhead) are considered part of the daily limit whether kept or released.


A fellow angler hauls up a silver using a gold Kastmaster.

A lot of folks fish for silvers using bait (salad shrimp and a piece of corn or a worm) under a bobber, but since you have to keep every fish you catch using bait, we chose to toss a single hook Kastmaster in silver and blue, 1/2 ounce, bucktail removed.

The fellow fishing nearby chose a gold lure with a treble hook, he hauled up his own limit of silvers just as easily as we did.

I was one fish short of my own limit when an otter showed up and the fish scattered for a short while. Still, it only took 45 minutes for me to get my five. And when the sun is out you can’t ask for a more scenic setting, so the only thing I was complaining about was the fact that the day wasn’t long enough.

The only real downside to fishing for silvers at the Mossyrock Dam in the winter is the fact that you’ve got to do a little rock climbing to get to the water. Water levels are kept very low in the winter and you just can’t hit the water from the railing unless the water is up.

The fish were small in the school that was hanging out near the dam yesterday, but that just makes it easier to fit a mess of them in your cast iron skillet.

If you are at all squeamish about the idea of your fish holding a mass of worms in its belly, this fish isn’t for you. But as long as the worms are only in the gut and not in the flesh of the fish, they are perfectly safe to eat.


That’s me, pulling in my second fish on my seventh cast. Photo by Jay Pattee.

It’s a great place to take the kids, as long as the kids are old enough and agile enough to scramble down the rock wall. On a nice day when the wind is light (and it can get pretty windy on Riffe) and the fish are schooled up near the dam, you can be in and out of there is less than an hour, long before the kids get bored.

Skylar Towns, age 14, of Winlock, pulls up a landlocked silver.

Skylar Towns, age 14, of Winlock, pulls up a landlocked silver.



  1. Wow, Kim, this story sure brings back a lot of fun memories for me. I used to take a couple of my nephews up there about 25 years ago. We’d fish off the rocks on the Mossyrock side of the dam, and we always had a blast. We pulled some super nice silvers out of there.

    Another place I’d take them was the logging bridge over the Cowlitz at the north end of the lake. I seem to remember that Tacoma Power was just starting to build Taidnapam Park around that time, and of course they built the fishing bridge not too long after that. That new bridge sure made it safer for us to fish vs standing on the same old wooden bridge the logging trucks were driving over.

    These two particular nephews are in there late 20’s and late 30’s now, and that time I spent bonding with them has been a huge blessing in my life. These grown men can, and do, come talk with their Aunt Sheryl about anything. I hear the things their mother’s and wives don’t want to hear! 😉

  2. Some of my favorite memories are from our frequent visits to Swofford Pond when my kids were little. There’s nothing like the excitement of a kid reeling in a fish. My own grandson caught a trout the other day at Swofford, his dad took a video. “Reel it in! Reel it in!” my son encouraged. “It’s too BIG, dad,” 3-year-old Braxzon said in reply. That kids already a fisherman, already bragging up the size of his fish. 😉

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