Anglers might remember when this major Cowlitz River tributary (entering at Mayfield Lake) was stocked with hatchery trout.
The river hasn’t been on WDFW’s stocking calendar recently, but it still sports wild trout and also is a pretty decent producer of coho salmon in the fall.
The coho are trucked to the Tilton from the Cowlitz River below the reservoirs and allowed to spread out in the river system.
Coho fishing often starts in September but tends to peak in October here, with catches possible into November.
Coho returns are wildly cyclical. The coho harvests in the Tilton River number in the hundreds during a lower-run year but can top 1,000 or more when the coho runs are rocking in the Cowlitz and Columbia river systems.
Only hatchery coho may be retained (no other salmon). Also, there are marked release sites where fishing is prohibited.
This is historically a good trout stream and will still produce some wild fish including west slope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout, but most of those are wild these days and wild trout must be released unharmed here.
It’s possible that some fin-clipped hatchery trout may work their way up into the lower reaches from Mayfield Lake, which is heavily planted with rainbows, but your angling odds for those are likely to be best in the reservoir itself.