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Merwin Reservoir in Washington

Trip Overview

We started out at the Speelyai Bay boat launch and proceeded east towards Creesap Bay campground. The water was a little rough with the wind and speed boats, but still very pleasant.

After a brief snack at the campground, we headed further east up the reservoir where it meets the Lewis River until we got to the warning buoys for the dam. Our daughter noticed an arm of water and we paddled up it another 30 minutes or so until we saw the rapids of a stream.

Looking down into the now-shallow water, we noticed dozens of bright red salmon swimming beneath us, and as we got closer to the rapids we realized they were spawning. We watched them jump the rapids for nearly an hour. In some places the water looked red from all the fish in it. Another person watching the fish said that these were Kokanee salmon (also called land-locked sockeye) and that the last 2 weeks of September was their normal, short spawning season.


Speelyai bay has bathrooms, a swimming beach and boat launch, and is open year round. Creesap Bay campground is only open part of the year, and it's not clear from Pacific Power's website if the park and boat launch are closed at the same time of year as the campground. Their website is:


No fees for non-powered boats. There is a camping fee for overnight, but not for day use.


Take I-5 exit 21 from Woodland, WA towards Cougar (SR503 east). The Speelyai park and boat launch is about 21 miles from I-5 and is clearly marked on the right; Creesap is 27 miles from I-5 (take the hiway 305 south fork and follow it to the signs for Creesap Bay).


"Northwest Flatwater Paddling," by Toby Berry
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip