Fishing Reports

Fishing reports for Washington, Oregon, Puget Sound and the Columbia River. Salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, walleye, bass, trout and kokanee.

Lower Columbia River Coho Shine On

A double catch of Coho Salmon on the Columbia River

I think many of us came away from the Buoy 10 Salmon fishing season on the lower Columbia River a little disappointed. Yes we caught a lot of fish, but expectations left little room to be impressed. I blogged about his earlier so if you’re looking for a Buoy 10 fishing recap, feel free to check it out here.

The positive from this year’s run was pretty obvious early on as the Coho showed up like we haven’t seen in years. Early evidence of their return was seen in our catches as early as the 12th of August and when you’re seeing them this early, you get a pretty good idea of what prime time might look like.

Limits of Coho walking out of East End Mooring Basin in Astoria

During the past week of hold over tides, fishermen would typically be killing the Chinook in the deep water around Tongue Point. Instead, huge numbers of Coho had staged on both the Oregon and Washington side of Desdemona Sands.

The area from the Trailer Park to the Church was incredible early in the week and then the area from the Bark Dust Pile to Hammond took off Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These appear to be Youngs Bay fish and there are lots of them. We were putting 3 fish limits for 5 anglers in the box by 11a and it hasn’t slowed down since I stepped away a couple days ago.

Look for the month of September to be special as the crowds have gone back home and the bulk of the Coho run will show up over the next month. Remember these are just the early returning “A Run” fish. The larger “B Run” fish wont return until the end of September and there will be some trophy caliber fish caught during this period.

A limit of Coho caught at Buoy 10 with Guide, Lance Fisher

Although many look to spinners once the Coho start showing up thick, bait in the form of herring or anchovy, performed better overall. When the spinners did get bit, the Hydro Vibes from Luhr Jensen did well , along with #4 and #5 Fire Tiger Vibrax Spinners. Look for the spinner bite to improve as the month proceeds, but don’t get caught with out a little bait on hand.

Although I ran lead for much of the season, I like the depth control that I get with divers at higher trolling speeds. My diver set ups are as follows: G. Loomis SAR 1084’s with Shimano 300 Tekota LC’s. 140 yards of Power Pro going to a locking snap swivel. I ran Delta Divers in Chartruesse and Pink followed by a 5-6 foot leader. For my bait rigs I ran a 3 hook rig using a combination of Finess Wide Gap and Octopus hooks from Gamakatsu.

Tight Lines,

Lance Fisher

Looking to get out? Feel free to contact me at my guided fishing homepage.

Cowlitz River Summer Steelhead

a beautiful cowlitz river native steelhead

Summer Steelhead fishing on the Cowlitz River has been great this year. Compared to the last couple of years, fishermen should be pleased. As with most years on the Cowlitz, however, low water conditions are making the catching a bit more difficult.

Most of the fish have been found between Mission and Blue Creek, and thanks to the reinstated recycling program there will be opportunity below Mission all the way down to I-5. The recycling program definitely adds an extra punch, and it’s good to see the this program happening for the time being.

A limit of Cowlitz River Summer Steelhead

The go-to set up on this river, like always, is free drifting eggs with light tackle. You want to keep your gear light for fishability and visibility sake. 8 lb. test Maxima or 8 to 10 lb. fluorocarbon leader is about right. With the light leaders, you will want to check for nicks and bad spots in your leader because don’t have a lot of margin for air with these extraordinarily hot fish. Tie your leader to tandem #4 Octopus hooks with a size 12 Beau Mac Cheater. Pink, red and peach will do the trick.

a cowlitz river summer steelhead about to be released

If you want to take a break from free drifting, you can always find one of the many deep channels to let the plugs out. 3.5 Mag Lips and Tad Pollys are my go-to summer plugs. Purple, black and Dr. Death are all good patterns during the warmer summer months. Fish your plugs 50-70 feet behind the boat to provide adequet distance from your kicker and enough line for your plugs to swim appropriately. If you’re really looking to slow down time, you can also fish plugs on anchor. In this case, fish the plugs out around 50 feet.

If you have any questions or need to get outfitted, stop by 3 Rivers Marine and Kent or Tom will get you all set up. If you’re looking to head out on the river, feel free to contact me through my guided fishing homepage.

Tyler Perry

Reel Pros Guide Service


Baker Lake Sockeye

Now is the time for beautiful views, flat water, and Sockeye Salmon. Baker Lake is a great fishery for everyone, from the beginner to the pros.

Not only is the lake convenient to access, but it also boasts 5 boat launches for fishermen to choose from. For more details, check out this info sheet about Baker Lake boat launches. The season opened on the 10th of July, and will provide anglers with good opportunity until its closure on September 7th. Baker Lake affords anglers a 3 fish limit, so this is a great place to load up the smoker. The fishing is dependent on fish entering the lake, so watching the fish counts online at the WDFW web site is a good idea. Any time after they reach 3,000 fish is a good time to be there.


This is a MORNING show; you MUST be on the water by daylight, because the fishing is only good for the first few hours of the day. Once the sun hits the water, the bite really slows down.  Most of the fishing is done on the north half of the lake. Try these waypoints to start: 48.43.903/121.37.625 48.43.721/121.37.329 48.43.356/121.37.301. The fish are mainly in the top 40 feet of water, but once the sun comes out they can be caught deeper. Downriggers are a great help, but not required. Just about any salmon or steelhead rod and reel will suffice, though these fish are known for their soft mouths. A long softer action rod and a reel with a smooth drag will help with your landing ratio.

The tackle is simple: 10-20 lb. mainline, a good high quality ball bearing swivel, herring dodger, and 24-12 inches of 20 lb. FLUOROCARBON leader with a pair of 2/0 red or pink hooks. The Fluorocarbon leader is a must; these fish have great eye sight. Though it is not necessarily needed, adding a few strands of crystal flash to the hooks can make the difference. Over the hooks, use a pink or clear squid and tip each hook with a small piece of prawn cured in pink/red Pautzke FireCure.


Start shallow, 12-18 feet, and work deeper as the morning progresses. For those without downriggers, a 4-6 oz sinker and 20-40 feet of line is about all you need. There is a fair amount of boat traffic, and letting out more than 50 feet of line will result in tangles with other boats. Set you tackle at least 30 feet behind the downrigger clip and troll SLOWLY at 0.9 MPH to 1.3 MPH. This may mean that you need a drift sock to drag, or it may require that you to take the boat in and out of gear to slow down. When you catch a fish, try and leave your other gear in and stay around the same area. These fish really like to travel in schools.


For the latest on Baker Lake and other local fishing opportunities, call 425.415.1575, or email Kent or Tom at the Three Rivers Marine Tackle counter. If you’re interested in a fishing trip, visit Sound Bite Sportfishing or call 425.870.0180.

Fish On!

Capt. Ryan Bigley