CHINOOK SALMON FISHING IN OREGON
Salmon Ė The Columbia River has some of the biggest runs of salmon in the
world. One of the comments made by Lewis and Clark was that you could walk
across the Columbia River on the backs of salmon. Now, those numbers are
well behind us but we will get thousands and thousands of salmon coming up
river every year. The Columbia River gets 3 different runs of king salmon
(Chinook salmon) a year.
The first run of kings come up river in March and April we call these springers. These are the best eating salmon that the Columbia River provides. The Springers will average 10-15 pounds with some going over 20 pounds.
The second run of kings we get up the river are the summer salmon or June Hogs, as they are known here. The summer salmon were at one time the biggest run of salmon on the Columbia River. At one time, the Columbia got close to 20 million salmon that migrated up river to where they were born. Our summer salmon is also the strain of salmon that started the run on the popular Kenai River in Alaska. Yes, that run of fish came from the Columbia River. Now, we donít get the numbers like we used to get but with this run of salmon, we still have the opportunity of hooking into a world class fish.
The third run of kings we get are the fall salmon which we see from August through October. There are actually 2 strains of fall fish. One is the fall fish that are making their way up the different tributaries of the Columbia and we call thee Tooleys. Then we have another strain of fall fish that are heading to the Snake River and we call these Up River Brights. The Up River Brights are the ones that we target. Thee are like the Spingers but larger in size and will put up a very good fight when we get hooked up.
Peak time for salmon:
- Last week of August through September
- Also: April, October and November
With so many good options, it is hard to know where to start fishing for these great fish. Since I fish almost every day, I know where the salmon are located and what they are hitting. If the challenge of fighting a trophy salmon is on your "to-do" list, give me a call and we'll schedule a convenient time when the salmon are really jumping.
Spring Chinook offer a variety of great opportunities. These fish start coming in March and the peak run is usually in April. They are easily located and there are several rivers from which to choose for these hungry fish. They will average 12-15 lbs. but can easily run up to 25 lbs. Fishing for spring salmon is a fun trip.
"UpRiver Brights" are a late-August through September migration of Chinook salmon heading upriver to spawn. They are plentiful and excellent eating. The average size will be about 25 lbs. but they can run as high as 50 lbs. There is always plenty of action when these fish are running.
At one time the summer salmon on the Columbia River was the biggest run of the year. Buz Ramsey told me that the commercial fishery alone took over a million salmon. However, because of the many dams that caused the warmer temperatures and silted in the spawning gravel bars, the run was closed for 29 years, until just a few years ago. This is the run that Lewis and Clark wrote about that they could walk across the Columbia River on the backs of salmon. These days, when the Spring Chinook hit the river, it is a salmon frenzy.
Fall Chinook work their way into the coastal rivers in October and November and they are on a feeding frenzy! We normally troll for these big "hogs" until the rivers come up in October and then we fish from a drift boat. This is the best time of year for really huge salmon where fish up over 40 lbs. are not uncommon.
The fall salmon season is the most consistent salmon fishery we have here on the Columbia River. This run has the most fish, and when the water temperature is right, they sure are good biters. I begin booking salmon trips starting in August, and we will be catching salmon into October. We start fishing the Columbia River at the mouth of the Cowlitz River. Then around the first part of September, we follow the fish up to the mouth of the Sandy River, then around the latter part of September, we follow the fish up below Bonneville Dam. This is a good fishery and an easy fishery. Everyone can fish this with us.
A lot of times, salmon are fished for by trolling and that can be harder for the novice. But, in the fall, we are usually always on anchor and that makes it easy. We are always the right depth for the fish and when your rod suddenly lays down flat you know you have a fish. We just set up in strategic spots that we know salmon will be running through and where they will be most likely to bite.
If you are looking to do some fishing with us, please give my wife or I a call in the evenings and we will get you booked for a day or two of fishing here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest up in the Columbia River Gorge. We do a lot of corporate trips also. From employee awards to clients that you want to entertain, we can take care of that and we also have a lot of references if needed.