Columbia River Fishing Report

The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
Although creel census shows that the Willamette has been the better spring Chinook option, the Columbia is starting to fire off and should produce improving catches over the next several weeks.

The creel check shows that anglers made 2,547 trips and caught 26 adult spring Chinook (kept) and 24 winter steelhead (released). Based on preliminary VSI information (“Visual Stock Index”, where “snow bellies” are Willamette bound fish, and dark chinned Chinook are often upper Columbia River bound), lower river spring Chinook comprised 80% of the catch. In essence, Willamette bound fish are making up the vast majority of the Columbia catch at this time.

If you’ve already done the math, anglers are catching mainstem Columbia Chinook at a rate of about 1 keeper springer per 100 angler trips. Yea, it’s a lottery, but better odds for a highly prized spring Chinook than any lottery pay-out most people would get.

Reports from one guide fishing the lower reaches of the Columbia (downstream of Aldrich Point) were fair for mid-March. The guide reported only 6 boats fishing in the area he was in and although the two of them didn’t get any bites, they saw 3 fish landed, for a 50% success rate, which certainly isn’t bad for mid-March. They spent their time on anchor with plugs on the outgoing tide and stated that the fish they saw caught were all on plugs over the course of the tide. The creel census indicates that the bulk of the spring Chinook are being caught, from both the bank and boats, downstream of the Longview Bridge.

There have now been 5 adults spring Chinook pass Bonneville Dam as of March 15th. It has begun.

The Guide’s Forecast – Tides this weekend aren’t the most conducive for successful bank fishing. We look for the strong outgoing tides, of which they are only mediocre this weekend. None-the-less, the season is underway, mainstem Columbia Chinook are starting to show and more Willamette fish should be on their way.

Make no mistake, you’re still going to see less than impressive catch rates for a blossoming flotilla of boats in pursuit of our region’s most highly prized sport fish, but spring break is starting and nothing says spring Chinook (except for blooming dogwoods) than spring break, and on these beaches, you can easily adhere to social distancing guidelines between anglers.

There are some pretty great places to fish downstream of the Longview Bridge, but it’s also a long run from Portland, when you have the Willamette River in your back yard. It may make more sense to fish this area when more springers show up, closer to the supposed closure around April 4th.

Trolled herring will likely be one of the better options for boat anglers, targeting high tide if you can in these lower river areas. Don’t expect much action just yet upstream of the mouth of the Willamette, including Davis Bar, until we get into April. Sure, there will be people trying, but I think by now, most anglers have fished here enough to know what to expect. There will certainly be some lucky anglers this week however. It’s still not a bad strategy to fish plugs on anchor, it’s certainly a lot less labor intensive and likely as productive. There are great places to anchor fish throughout the lower Columbia this time of year, hopefully you have a few of your favorite hot spots lined out that you have confidence in.

Bank anglers should have a fair-at-best crack at a spring Chinook or wild steelhead along the beaches of the lower Columbia. Spin-n-glos are standard procedure here, but at the very least, liberally apply scent to your offerings. Anglers are come to rely on coon shrimp as an added bonus to their plunked gear. That’s certainly not a bad idea.

Although water velocities won’t be as intense as they are during a stronger tide series, fish will still be migrating close to the bank in these spring flows. Cooler temperatures will inspire them to stay close to shore versus the warmer temperatures during summer time, where Chinook will seek out deeper water. Pink, orange, green and purple should all put you in the game if you’re looking for the best colors of spin-n-glos for success.
 
The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
We've been posting reports nightly on YouTube. You can find the ones for Friday morning here:

Columbia River Fishing Report – To see the Columbia River report via YouTube, go HERE.

The Guide’s Forecast – To see the Guide’s Forecast for the Columbia River, go HERE.

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The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
Video report posted here -

The Guide's Forecast
 
The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
Columbia River Fishing Report – The Buoy 10 fishery continues to produce respectable catches. Double digit keeper days are still common for guides still working the area. The tides are ripe for a late start, which doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings at all.

Guides and anglers focusing their efforts on the last part of outgoing tide and the first part of incoming between Buoys 12 and 10 have been doing very well. We have boated 38 keeper coho in the last three days that I fished down there (Monday through Wednesday) and guides reported another excellent day of catch at Buoy 10 today. I’ve been fishing spinner rigs with anchovy chunks at high speed to feed the need and it’s been quite good.

The late afternoon has also been producing abundant catches of coho above the bridge on the Washington side. We call this area the flats or the humps. Trolling spinners or spinner rigs with chunk baits remains productive if you plan on fishing later into the afternoon.

Although fish passage at Bonneville Dam is tapering, 3,000 to 5,000 Chinook are still rolling over the dam daily. That is a common scenario for this time of year. Fish are a little more concentrated and easier to find in the Bonneville reach, and anglers are taking advantage of that. It’s not uncommon to see better catch rates in this reach of the river this time of year and it appears to be going on now. Trollers working 360° flashers with spinners, spinfish or super baits are finding good action. One guide commented however that weekend water fluctuations has been making the bite highly volatile, especially on Sundays.

See our full Oregon and SW Washington summary here.
 
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The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
October 1 is bringing about another batch of opportunity for Columbia River salmon anglers. From estuary coho to mainstem Chinook, the Columbia is still in peak season. Early October can be a great time to pack the freezer with quality salmon.

Starting with the estuary, coho salmon catches have been good the last several days. We struggled a bit today (Thursday) although a poor strike to hook ratio was partially to blame. We only harvested five hatchery coho, 13 yesterday, and 11 on Tuesday. Heavy rains may have tempered the bite by today (Thursday). Some of the best fishing continues on the Washington side of the river both upstream and downstream of the bridge. The problem with fishing upstream of the bridge however is that harbor seals and sea lions are on the hunt and easily key in on the small fleet still fishing the area. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to land a fish once you hook it. Upstream of the bridge is far more challenging than downstream but be prepared to do battle with pinnipeds when fishing in this area.

Some of the best fishing I’ve experienced this season was on Wednesday, when I took my crew down to Buoy 14, 12 and 11 at around 2:15 in the afternoon. This was the last trickle of outgoing tide and the first part of incoming; this time of the tide has been producing consistently all season. In one short hour, we boated 11 of our 13 keepers, in a hellish swell and strong south wind, mind you. It made for some interesting maneuvering. There was clearly a pile of fish coming in on that tide yesterday afternoon. Although I struggled a bit on Wednesday, other anglers have been doing well below the bridge on the first part of outgoing tide on the Washington side. The day before yesterday, I did well on the upstream side of the bridge on the Washington side on the first part of outgoing tide. We were targeting water both upstream and downstream of the bridge at about 20 foot of depth. For some reason, the last part of incoming tide (around mid-morning) on the humps above the bridge on the Washington side has not been producing all that well. Anglers fishing the Oregon side have not reported great catches, anywhere along the green line, or red line for that matter. Effort has largely been focused on the Washington side.

I continue to use the spinner rigs, size 3.5 with small pink or silver hoochies, trolled behind a Pro Troll of course and tipped with a small chunk of anchovy. This has been my go-to all week and for guides smarter than I, all season. It’s working well!

I did try Tongue Point the other day, not necessarily during the best part of the tide, but the fish finder indicated a biological desert. We do have a good history for coho in this reach of river, on the same small tide exchanges we witnessed on Tuesday. There just did not seem to be any holding fish there.

As far as additional opportunity, anglers can now retain Chinook, hatchery or wild, along with coho and Chinook jacks in the Buoy 10 reach. Read all the details in the recent press release HERE and follow the hyperlink at the bottom of the press release to get the details on retaining jack salmon in this area.

Further upriver, Chinook and coho catches remain good for much of the river, although some guides have moved their operations back down to the estuary to take advantage of robust coho catches. Here is the reach by reach creel checks that ODF&W came up with from last week’s effort:

Rainier to St. Helens:

Weekly checking showed 23 adult coho and one jack coho kept, and 25 adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, one steelhead, and 10 adult coho released for 19 boats (47 anglers); and one adult coho kept for two bank anglers.

Sauvie Island to Portland:

Weekly checking showed 62 adult Chinook, 8 jack Chinook, 17 adult coho, and one jack coho kept, and two adult Chinook, three jack Chinook, one steelhead, and 13 adult coho released for 144 boats (348 anglers).

Troutdale:

Weekly checking showed 92 adult Chinook, 14 jack Chinook, 12 adult coho, and one jack coho kept, and 5 jack Chinook, four adult coho, and one jack coho released for 230 boats (477 anglers).

Gorge:

Weekly checking showed 140 adult Chinook, 36 jack Chinook, 16 adult coho, and two jack coho kept, and two adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, one adult coho, and one jack coho released for 95 boats (335 anglers); and one adult Chinook kept for 17 bank anglers.

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

Weekly checking showed 139 adult Chinook, 31 jack Chinook, 10 adult coho, and two jack coho kept, and 5 adult Chinook and two adult coho released for 112 boats (284 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Weekly checking showed 35 adult Chinook, 8 jack Chinook, and four adult coho kept, and two adult Chinook, one steelhead, and one adult coho released for 34 boats (77 anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm):

Weekly checking showed 11 adult Chinook, three jack Chinook, and 6 adult coho kept, and one adult Chinook released for 41 boats (88 anglers).

As you can statistically see, catch rates are fairly good from Rainier to The Dalles, with many reaches of river tallying better than a fish per boat. The Gorge however, is often one of the better producing reaches of river this time of year.

One guide reported the reach around Kalama produced fairly poorly on Thursday, he managed 3 salmon, lost one and had one other chance. He also stated that Sunday through Tuesday was really good around Kalama.

As far as sturgeon goes, it was predictably slow. Here is the creel report from the last two openers:

Weekly checking showed 7 legal sized kept, and 42 sublegal, 4 legal, and 17 oversized released for 89 boats (225 anglers); and two legal sized kept, and 9 sublegal and two oversized released for 125 bank anglers.

Not many folks have been recreating in the lower river with all the wind we’ve been having recently. The tides have been ideal for crabbing, but the weather has not. Undoubtedly, the crabbing is good but I’m sure the bulk of the crab remain in a fairly soft-shell state. That should be improving soon however.

Razor clam season opens on October 1st! It’s been a long time coming and the clamming should be excellent. HERE is the press release to get your excited!

Find our complete Oregon and SW Washington summary for the week right here.
 
The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
If you’ve heard me once, you’ve heard me a million times, we’re NOT getting 1.6 million coho back to the Columbia River. Otherwise, I’d be home for breakfast every day, even in October! Yes, it’s happening, salmon on the mainstem Columbia is starting to fade, at least downstream of Bonneville Dam.

Starting with Buoy 10, it’s been a bit of a see-saw event as of late. It seems the bite is often dictated by the weather, imagine that. Sporadic winds (GROSSLY MIS-PREDICTED by FishWeather and NOAA by-the-way) have hampered success rates in the estuary as of late. Thankfully, we had a reprieve on Wednesday, the weather was fantastic!

The week (Monday) started out good, with 12 adult coho and a single jack harvested, then just 2 adults and 2 jacks on Tuesday (the strike to hook ratio was horrific in the howling east/SE winds all day), and just 6 adults on Wednesday for me. The coho were in all their predictable locations: Above the bridge on the humps for the last part of incoming tide, along Desdemona Sands (WA side), from the bridge to the church in 24 to 30 foot of water on the first part of incoming tide, and to my surprise, only mediocre action at the last part of outgoing tide in the mid-afternoon between Buoys 14 and 11 (It was restricted to vessels less than 30 foot west of Buoy 11 on Wednesday). I didn’t stay for the beginning incoming push after 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, which has in recent history, been quite productive at Buoy 10.

There has been a rare Chinook for Buoy 10 anglers. Pro guide Chris Vertopoulos (503-349-1377) landed one about 14 pounds on Tuesday and we lost one to a harbor seal on Wednesday. Well, we got the jaw back, black gums and all… They remain a RARE catch however, that’s my first Chinook in at least 10 days.

The Oregon side of the river has been rather unproductive for most of the month of October.

The Buoy 14 to Buoy 11/10 troll has been pretty telling in recent days, the schools of fish crossing the bar on a daily basis has been considerably more sparse in recent days, we’re winding down the season in the estuary about now. It’s not time to give up, be sure to read the forecast section below!

Thursday’s catch again totaled just 6 fish. Quality fish, but just 6 and one lost to a harbor seal. The best bite was for the first few hours of daybreak with the best bite taking place from the red roof to the trailer park (WA side) in about 25 foot of water. There were a few fish just upstream of the bridge close to high tide, but that bite didn’t last long. From there, we came across occasional schools of coho on the downstream troll (WA side) in 25 to 35 foot of water with the best action taking place downstream of the church on the second half of outgoing tide. We were only getting a few bites for some long passes in the afternoon.

Upriver, Chinook catches are beginning to slow. That’s expected, as the bulk of the run is long-gone. Passage at Bonneville is still good, but dwindling by the day. Bonneville catches have slowed in recent days, one guide reported just 2 fish to the boat on Monday, landing none of them. The middle reach of the river from Kalama to Washougal is also quickly tapering.

It’s still good in the reaches above The Dalles Dam, but bright fish are becoming harder to come by. That said, bucks are still cutting fairly orange, but that too will change by the week.

Here are the catch statistics from ODF&W for the mainstem Columbia from last week:

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD​

Buoy 10:

Weekly checking showed 6 Chinook and 338 coho kept, and three Chinook and 218 coho released for 171 boats (460 anglers); and 0.84 coho kept, and 0.61 coho released per angler for 189 bank anglers.

Tongue Point/Rocky Point to Longview:

Weekly checking showed no catch for one bank angler.

Rainier to St. Helens:

Weekly checking showed 25 adult Chinook, two jack Chinook, 53 adult coho and two jack coho kept, and one adult Chinook and 11 adult coho released for 71 boats (158 anglers); and no catch for four bank anglers.

Sauvie Island to Portland:

Weekly checking showed 6 adult Chinook and 14 adult coho kept, and one jack coho released for 50 boats (106 anglers); and no catch for three bank anglers.

Troutdale:

Weekly checking showed 10 adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, 11 adult coho, and one jack coho kept, and one adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, and 10 adult coho released for 92 boats (164 anglers).

Gorge:

Weekly checking showed 82 adult Chinook, 11 jack Chinook, 33 adult coho, and two jack coho kept, and four adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, and two adult coho released for 74 boats (228 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

Weekly checking showed 58 adult Chinook, 10 jack Chinook, 43 adult coho, and 9 jack coho kept, and two adult Chinook released for 60 boats (163 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Weekly checking showed 24 adult Chinook, 7 jack Chinook, and 24 adult coho kept, and one steelhead released for 32 boats (80 anglers).

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm):

Weekly checking showed two adult Chinook and one jack Chinook kept, and one steelhead released for 11 boats (21 anglers).

Crabbing has been fantastic in the estuary. The soft tide series this week scored easy limits for crabbers sticking out the foul weather. The fresher the bait, the quicker the limit. Most effort remains off of Social Security Beach, around Buoys 20 and 22, but Desdemona Sands has also been productive.


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The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
Columbia River Fishing Report – Fishing is winding down rapidly on the mainstem Columbia River. Estuary coho are starting to fade and upriver Chinook, at least bright ones, are becoming scarce.

The late season Buoy 10 coho program wasn’t what most of us had anticipated with a 1.6 million adult return forecast. Nonetheless, action was good enough to keep people intrigued and certainly good enough to justify not guiding in Tillamook this year. For much of the late season, 12 to 25 opportunities a day was not uncommon. Most recently, 12 to 15 opportunities for four or five anglers was more realistic. The last day I guided down there, Sunday October 17th, we had close to 20 opportunities, yielding 6 hatchery coho and one chum salmon if you can believe that. We released that brute, but that was a first for me. We also had a hold of a Chinook at high tide near the bridge on the Washington side, but it slipped away. The bites were more staggered throughout the day, but for a brief period by the bridge at high tide, action was fast. In the morning, good opportunity was coming after the current started rushing in pretty good, about an hour after the first good rip came through, about 3 hours after low-slack. Prior to Sunday, we had back to back days where we only landed three hatchery fish.

One guide friend of mine put in a full day effort, with an east wind hampering that effort, and landed 4 hatchery fish, missing numerous others that day. There’s been some weather in the estuary this month, I’m kinda glad to be wrapped up there for the season.

Crabbing in the estuary is excellent right now.

Upriver, creel statistics are telling the story. The fishery is fading. Traditionally, bright fish are hard to come by after mid-October and most anglers have simply had enough.

Here are the catch statistics based on the ODF&W’s weekly Creel census:

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD

Buoy 10:


Weekly checking showed two Chinook and 273 coho kept, and three Chinook and 149 coho released for 120 boats (363 anglers); and no catch for 71 bank anglers.

Tongue Point/Rocky Point to Longview:

Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

Rainier to St. Helens:

Weekly checking showed 18 adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, 39 adult coho, and one jack coho kept, and 9 adult coho released for 74 boats (165 anglers).

Sauvie Island to Portland:

Weekly checking showed three adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, 6 adult coho, and one jack coho kept, and three adult coho released for 23 boats (48 anglers).

Troutdale:

Weekly checking showed 9 adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, and 16 adult coho kept, and two adult Chinook and three adult coho released for 82 boats (143 anglers).

Gorge:

Weekly checking showed 28 adult Chinook, 5 jack Chinook, 20 adult coho, and two jack coho kept, and four adult Chinook, one jack Chinook, 9 adult coho, and two jack coho released for 42 boats (113 anglers).

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

Weekly checking showed 80 adult Chinook, 20 jack Chinook, 202 adult coho, and 30 jack coho kept, and 11 adult Chinook and one adult coho released for 95 boats (272 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Weekly checking showed no catch for one boats (one angler).

John Day Pool (Columbia River above John Day Dam and John Day Arm):

Weekly checking showed 7 adult Chinook and 14 adult coho kept, and 5 adult Chinook and three adult coho released for 14 boats (34 anglers).

As you can see, the Bonneville Dam reach remains the most productive downstream of the facility, while the mouth of the Klickitat River is producing good catches of coho and some Chinook. This will continue to be the pattern for the foreseeable future although below Bonneville catches will start to fade fast. With the impressive number of coho past Bonneville this year, the Klickitat fishery should remain strong well into November.

Dam passage is fading faster than the fishery.

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The Guides Forecast
The Guides Forecast
by Bob Rees

With mainstem salmon fishing largely over for the year, anglers will put on their crabbing gear, in search of holiday crustaceans. coho salmon fishing at the mouth of the klickitat river remains a fairly good option, weather dependent however, which is looking quite volatile this week.

Creel reports are becoming pretty sparse.Here's the information that was gathered from last week:

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD

The salmonid creel program on the lower Columbia has ended for the year and will resume February of 2022.

Bonneville Pool (Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam):

Weekly checking showed three adult Chinook, 25 adult coho, and 8 jack coho kept, and one adult coho released for 35 boats (73 anglers).

The Dalles Pool (The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam):

Weekly checking showed no catch for one boat (two anglers).

As you can clearly see, the Klickitat fishery remains the last man standing.

Crabbing in the estuary becomes quite popular this time of year, when the weather allows. Tides have been quite favorable for lower river sport crabbers, the wind and weather however have been less than ideal. The crabbing however when folks have been getting out, has been very good. That won't be changing anytime soon.

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