This small stream is currently the only creek in Lewis County where stocking trucks regularly deliver loads of hatchery rainbow trout.
In fact, at last check, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was scheduled to generously stock the creek with 5,000 trout over the course of the prime season.
Stocking creeks and rivers with trout used to be common practice in Washington, but these types of stream fishing experiences are increasingly rare, so Rainey Creek is one to keep in mind if you like this kind of fishing as much as I do.
Rainey Creek is a tributary on the east end of massive Riffe Lake on the upper Cowlitz River system.
The section of creek below Highway 12 in the Glenoma area down to the reservoir is open seasonally, from the Saturday before Memorial Day through October.
That seasonally open section is where the creek will be stocked, starting around the opener and perhaps a few more times during the season.
The regulations there are conducive to catching hatchery trout, which are eager biters and a great fish for beginning anglers as well as people with more fishing experience.
Stocked parts of the stream will have good public access as well as a way for a stocking truck to get close enough to the water to send fish down the pipe and into the creek.
Drive the roads in that lower section and you’ll quickly find the spots.
Once you find your fishing holes, try fishing with natural baits such as garden worms or a half of a nightcrawler or a couple salmon eggs drifted slowly in the current or still-fished in pools and runs.
Casting lures such as Rooster Tails or fly fishing will also catch these rainbow trout.
In stocked streams, fish are planted in a main pool or run. That water will be heavily fished and may tend to get mostly emptied out fairly quickly.
It’s always worth a few casts and you still may pick up a fish or two even though it’s likely been hit pretty hard.
Yes, fish the deep water but also drop some casts into the faster water at the head of the pool and the shallower tailout below.
Once you’ve exhausted the main area, don’t give up quite yet.
Here’s a trick: I’ve often had luck in these types of streams by targeting some of the small holding areas within a hundred yards or so upstream and downstream from the stocking site.
Some trout seem to acclimate quickly to natural conditions and move into areas that offer more cover and natural foods. I’ve caught fish just a month or two after they were stocked with stomachs full of aquatic insects.
Don’t be afraid to fish in a bit of current for stocked rainbows, as that’s often where their wild kin (and their genes) will want to be.
Cast into pockets behind rocks, under fallen logs, along ledges and other hiding places, but expect to hit some snags casting into tight quarters.
These more active methods are not only fun, but they tend to release in lip hooks if you plan to release your trout for someone else to catch.
If you need to brush up on your skills, read our article with lots of simple trout fishing techniques.
There might be a rare brown trout making its way into the creek from Riffe Lake, where they aren’t common but are occasionally quite large.
Rainey Creek (a.k.a. Rainy Creek) is a fairly short drive from Lewis County, including Centralia and Chehalis, as well as neighboring areas in Thurston, Pierce and Cowlitz counties.
See our Riffe Lake Fishing article for ideas of where to stay at the reservoir, which is known especially for its excellent fishing for landlocked coho salmon and smallmouth bass (but also has a few trout).
Stopping to fish a couple spots on Rainey Creek makes a good combination trip if you’re also fishing nearby areas, which of course includes Riffe Lake but also others such as Mayfield Lake, Swofford Pond and the Cowlitz River.