The Puyallup River begins it's journey from high on the glaciers of Mount Rainier. It cascades down through the thick forests and many canyons of Mount Rainier National Park until it reaches the gentle grade of the Puyallup valley near the town of Orting. From here it travels down the valley between man made levee's before it is joined by the Carbon River.It then flows through the cities of Sumner, Puyallup, and Tacoma before emptying into Puget Sound.
The returns of Winter Steelhead are down quite a bit from the glory years of the fifties, sixties and seventies, but every now and again the Puyallup has very large returns. Such was the case in the winter of 1984 -1985 when the Puyallup had a return in excess of 12,000 winter steelhead caught by sportsfisherman. That year it ranked second, only to be exceeded by the Cowlitz River, which is consistently the states top producer of Steelhead. Although it is not a very picturesque river it is one that I fish regularly, primarily due to it's closeness to my home. Even though the hatchery returns have been less than spectacular, I have still had good success on the large natives that return to the Puyallup, heading for their spawning grounds in South Prairie Creek.
The Puyallup Tribe has a net fishery on this river from early December until around the middle of January. They take their share of the hatchery fish here, but do not make much of an impact on the native run. Prime time on this river for hatchery fish is December through January. The natives return from mid January through the end of the season, peaking in late February or early March.