Fishing reports for Washington, Oregon, Puget Sound and the Columbia River. Salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, walleye, bass, trout and kokanee.
Our local Winter Steelhead season is off to a great start, and there are plenty of two-toned chromers throughout the Snohomish River system. 3RM prostaffer John Thomas of Rotten Chum Guide Service has found good numbers of Steelhead in the Skykomish River near Sultan and Monroe. John just upgraded to a 23’ Alumaweld Super Vee Pro which is perfect for where he guides, the Skykomish, Snohomish and Cowlitz Rivers.
The Super Vee is a great choice for anyone looking for an open boat for local rivers. Dubbed, “The Choice of Professionals,” the Super Vee series was developed by Alumaweld specifically to meet the needs of West Coast fishing guides. It is designed to offer the serious angler a vessel that floats high and is perfectly balanced, tracks well for efficient side drifting, and has the storage and fishing space to make for a great day on the water!
John recommends that anglers looking for Steelhead spend their time side drifting or bobber dogging from the Wallace Flats all the way down to Lewis Street in Monroe. Skykomish Steelhead typically won’t stack up in huge numbers at any given spot in the lower river, so it’s important to cover every spot that looks like holding water. Put in your time and you will be rewarded.
Stop by 3RM for the latest fishing report.
Astoria Coho in October?
Ask the staff at Three Rivers and you’ll get a resounding “yes”! Believe what you will, but the bite is still on for bright, shiny coho. The sheer numbers of fish willingly biting is nothing short of awesome, especially considering the less than crowded conditions.
Three Rivers Marine customer Barnes Cooper and crew fished early this week and experienced some sunny weather, and an even hotter bite!
Their action was best on the flood tide fishing on the troll. Barnes was dragging a mix of herring and anchovies at the bottom of the sands below the Astoria Bridge. “The bite was tough on spinners”, but throughout the day they experienced multiple doubles, and the crowd that is typical for that area was nonexistent.
Fall is here….
As the Seahawks get ready to play their first regular season game, the Mariners actually playing quality baseball in September and the morning dew on my truck, it can only mean one thing…..fall salmon fishing is here! Whether you’re hitting the local rivers or taking a trip to the coast, let’s break down my personal favorite technique to catch fall Chinook…the float and egg.
If you spend anytime in my drift boat in late September and October you will notice a few things…eggs and floats, and more eggs and more floats, get the picture? Ask anyone who fishes with me and they will tell you, I have very minimal tackle in my boat. When it comes to targeting Chinook in the rivers this simplicity becomes even more prevalent. While there are many ways to catch Chinook in the river, no better technique can be implemented than the float/egg combo.
Below is my tried and true setup for slaying the fall Chinook.
The Rod & Reel
Walk through the doors of Three Rivers and you will have plenty of options in this category. My opinion when it comes to purchasing a rod is to buy a quality rod and an even better reel. I like a 10’6 med to med/heavy rod and a bait casting style of reel. If you are a spinning rod type of person those will work but I feel you have better line control with the bait caster. The reason I prefer the 10’6 rod is it allows me to keep as much line off the water as possible, giving your suspended bait the most natural presentation. Both GLoomis and Fethastyx make exceptional rods for this style of fishing. Moving on to reels, I’m a bit opinionated on this and feel the Shimano Curado is by far and away the most superior reel on the market. I have several that are going on ten years and still performing flawlessly. Again, Kent or Tom at Three Rivers will be happy to show you all that’s new in the rod and/or reel world. No matter what reel you purchase, make sure it has a quality drag, I prefer something nearing 20lbs of drag. A fresh, hard fighting Chinook right out of the ocean will surely put the test to even the most expensive reels.
Lines, Leaders, Hooks & Floats
When it comes to choosing a line for float fishing a braided type of line is a must. The reason being that the braided lines float, making it much easier to mend your line off the water and with zero stretch it has superior hook setting power. I prefer Power Pro in either 30lb or 40lb test. The secret to success, in my opinion, is being prepared. Having said that, tying your leaders long before your trip is key. If you’re tying them in your boat at the launch you are already behind. As with all tackle, there are many great hooks on the market. With most rivers going to barbless hooks, I have found the most success with Gamakatsu Big River hooks. These hooks have a sickle style design and I feel that I lose less fish when using them. Again, there is always more than one way to skin a cat and many ways to tie your leaders. I prefer either a single 2/0 Big River or a 3/0-1/0 tandem rig tied on 25lb Maxima Ultra Green. Floats? There are many to choose from but keep in mind that you are almost guaranteed to lose some of them. Unless money is not an issue, keep it cheap. A good 3/4oz float combined with a 5/8oz inline sinker, with two or three #7 split shots is all you need. All this can be put in a small box, taking up very little room in your drift boat. Having your leaders on a foam roll makes it quick to re-tie and get back in the game.
Eggs, eggs and more eggs! There is no shortage of store bought and/or cures on the market. I prefer to cure my own and having said that there are many recipes on the Internet to choose from. I’m a firm believer in having premium bait but like all fishermen we have our secrets and my recipe is my secret. If you are looking for a great over the counter cure, Pautski’s Fire Cure is a quality one. The fall salmon fisheries are a perfect way to supply yourself with fresh eggs. Take care and bleed your fish right away, keeping your eggs from coming in contact with the river water. I always have gallon zip lock bags in my boat to store and cure my eggs at the end of the day. The “glove club?” You’ve most likely seen them in all colors. I prefer gloves (in black) for not only keeping my bait human scent free but keeping my fingers from remaining pink for days after fishing. I’m an advocate for being prepared, just like pre-tying your leaders, having your bait cut into quarter sized chunks is paramount to a successful day on the river.
Lets wrap this up..
Like I mentioned earlier, keeping things simple is my mantra. Here’s the low down on the super easiest float and egg setup that I have come up with. Starting with your mainline, tie a bobber stop on, followed by a bead. Next, slide your 3/4oz float on, below that I like to slide another bead on to protect my knot. After that I use a 5/8oz inline sinker, then a two or three foot long 25lb leader tied with either a single 2/0 or 3/0-1/0 setup. I sometimes run two or three #7 split shots spaced evenly on my leader, but depending on the hole your fishing you may try no split shots. Experimenting is half the fun of fishing and thinking outside the box can sometimes payoff big time! Now here’s the best part, you’ve spent the money and have everything you need for a day on the river. I only know of one tackle store on the west coast that offers not only the best in tackle but the very best in personal service. Need a map? Directions to the launch? Maybe Scott Weedman’s secret bait cure?…NOT!! Look no further than Three Rivers Marine & Tackle. Kent and Tom, both veterans of the fishing world will no doubt hook you up. Tight lines and good luck this season.
Owner Island Guide Services
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.
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.
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.
Looking to get out? Feel free to contact me at my guided fishing homepage.
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.
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.
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.
Reel Pros Guide Service
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.
Capt. Ryan Bigley