The Columbia River is renowned for housing the largest salmon in the world. The Chinook salmon also know as the King salmon and is without a doubt the big boy of the species. With fish having been caught nearing the 100 lbs. range our chinook salmon fishing trips are hard to beat. These king salmon are fierce fighters and excellent food fish as in among the best tasting of the salmon species. We at Columbia River Fishing guides are proud to offer guided fishing trips for these amazing fish. King salmon make up one of the larger salmon population on the Columbia and consist of two primary runs.
Spring Chinook Fishing
Every year King salmon can be found throughout the entire Columbia River on their journey to the various areas Chinook salmon spawn year after year in the Columbia River system. The first run of Chinook salmon enter the Columbia River in the early spring. March, April, May, and June, These fish work their way up the river in pursuit of one of their favorite meals which consists of smelt and North American Shad that spawn in the Columbia during that time of the year as well.
King “Chinook” salmon leave the river as juvenile Chinook Salman referred to as natives or black mouth. After 3-4 years of feeding in the ocean and getting nice and fat, they return to the Columbia to spawn weighting in at an average of 10-50 lbs. These fish are pure energy, hard fighting and are heralded as the best eating of the species due to the high fat content. When the spring Chinook salmon bite is hot, this is a fast paced, high action fishing experience with many times filling the boat with limits within 20 minutes. From Buoy10 to the Bonneville Dam we chase spring chinook every day we can.
Unfortunately the spring chinook season at times can be hit and miss depending on the fish counts and the joint Department of Fish and Wildlife for both Oregon and Washington decisions to close certain sections of the river that can result due to low returns. We try to stay one step ahead of the by moving up the river to fish sections that are still open and fish counts are still high. If the chinook bite dies off we go after walleye or Sturgeon. Walleye are excellent eating fish and we catch a lot of them. They’re not as big as King salmon but at 2-5lbs. and no limits in regards to how many your can keep, they offer plenty of meat for the dinner table. When fishing for spring chinook we love to fish fresh bait during this is largely due to the fact that candle fish and herring are without a doubt the most effective bait during that time of the year. We also go after sturgeon but retention of sturgeon is very limited but when keeper sturgeon is open we might switch off of fishing salmon and go after keeper sturgeon which also offer plenty of meat for the freezer.
As the Spring Chinook season winds down the Fall Chinook season comes into play and we are right there for all the action.
Fall Chinook Salmon Fishing
As we enter the fall near the end of July and into August, September and even as late as October, the fall salmon fishing takes center stage on the Columbia. During this time of the year you can actually target both King and Silvers as well as Steelhead. However we primarily go after Chinook and Coho and very seldom can’t find a way to catch our limits. The great thing about Fall Chinook season is that these are the largest of the Chinook salmon species that make their hone in the Columbia River. It’s not uncommon to catch chinook in the 30 plus lbs. range with chinook weighting in at 20 lbs. being considered small.
During the fall chinook salmon season you can find us fishing around Astoria and the mouth of the Willamette river. We love to troll spinners for fall chinook. One of our favorites are the Pink Nightmare, Death Star and Fire Squid trolling spinners by Dirty Troll spinners. We like to run them between 30-60 ft. down depending on how deep the water is and we troll at slow speeds. Unlike coho, chinook tend to like an easy meal thus slower trolling speeds can be very effective at enticing fall chinook to the bite. When these fish hit, the fight is on. Rod bent in half, it’s hard not to get excited when fighting these fish.
After about 20-30 minutes however, if you haven’t landed the beast you know you’re into a big one and you’ll have to gut it out to get these big ones in the net. One thing for sure, Fall chinook are a thrill to catch and it’s hard to be disappointed when you hook up with one and experience the thrill of the fight. Once you land one of these fish we’ll make sure you’ll have plenty of photo’s to share with friends and family and experience most will never forget.
We fish for fall Chinook all the way into the Columbia River gorge where some of the best fall salmon fishing takes place. We like to run spinners and bait here behind a 9” flasher in the 15-30 foot depth range. These fish run a bit shallower and when the action happens, it’s all fireworks form there.
In between the occasional acrobatics Chinook like to run deep. Generally right under the boat. We have to be careful though as not to get the line tackled up in the propeller. Once she gives up the ghost we plunge in the net and it’s all high fives from there. One the for sure, we love helping our clients catch fish and they rarely regret a day on the water chasing these amazing fish.
If the Chinook bite dies off never fear, there are usually plenty of coho to go after. Fall coho are abundant from mid August all the way to November and at average of 6-15lbs. per fish there will be plenty of meat for the dinner table. Coho also known as Silvers are one of my personal favorite salmon to eat. Granted even though these fish aren’t as big in size they are not lacking for heart. I’ve seen coho leap 6 ft. straight out of the water and they are among the most acrobatic of the salmon species. So if theirs no Kings to be found we’ll get you on some silvers for some coho salmon fishing fun.
Granted even if you never catch a fish on the Columbia just the experience of feeling the wind in your hair as your jetting across sun glisten water is hard to beat. Lush green vegetation covers the land scape and the wildlife is always available to entertain. Whether it’s a walrus steeling your fish or watching an Orca on the hunt. The animal kingdom is here and the struggle of life and death is taking place every day. Join us at Columbia River Fishing Adventures for your Fall Chinook fishing adventure today. We can service anywhere from a couple anglers to full on corporate events. With two jet sleds with seating for 6 anglers we can run a baker’s dozen for two trips per day. If you have a bigger event we have affiliate guides that allow us to offer seats for even more. Call in advance and we’ll let you know exactly how many anglers we can accommodate for your desired fishing date. Call 503-490-3099 and reserve your seat for a King Salmon fishing trip today. Book Now!