How To Fish Columbia River Sockeye

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Brewster Sockeye

How To Fish Columbia River Sockeye

The month of July often finds us fishing the Upper Columbia River in the Brewster Pool for Sockeye Salmon. Columbia River Sockeye Salmon average between 19-24 inches. What they lack in size they more than make up on the dinner table. Columbia River Sockeye Salmon are some of the finest tasting fish that swim in the Columbia River, and at times they can also provide outstanding fishing action. When Sockeye action is good quick limits of delicious fish are the norm! While these fish may seem easier to catch than their larger Chinook cousins, there are some specific tackle rigging and fishing differences that separate the guys that catch some from the guys who “Smack Em.” This article is designed to give you the information and gear selection that we use in our professional guide business to put consistent catches of Sockeye in our boats day in and day out. There are as many different set up as there are anglers out there, and this is not an end all be all approach to fishing Columbia River Sockeye, but simply our method for putting our customers on fish. Keep in mind that we live by the “keep it simple” approach and find that by not over complicating our rigging and gear we are able to focus more on actually putting our boats in the best position possible to catch fish.

Set up

Rods: Gloomis E6X  1143-2C STR This is a great 9’6″ casting rod that also doubles as our preferred steelhead plug rod in the Sled.  The little bit longer length gives us a little more spread in our set up.

Reels: Shimano Tekota 300 LC

Line: 25# Mono

Our set up starts by running the 25# mono through a sinker slider followed by a small bead to act as a bumper between the slider and the knot.

We tie this off to a 6 ball bead-chain swivel.

Attach a duo lock snap to the bead-chain so that the open end is toward to terminal gear ( this makes breaking down, and storing rods easier)

For the dodger lead we use 40# mono with a barrel swivel on one end and a Duo Lock Snap on the other.  We like our dodger leads to be 36″ long.

For Dodgers we mostly use the 8″ Double D Dodger from Mack’s Lures or the 11″ Sling Blade dodger from Shasta Tackle,.  Attached to our dodgers we run 8-24 inches of 40# mono for our leader.  The reason for the very heavy mono leader is that we want to be able to impart as much action as possible to our lure from the dodger and the heavy line helps this.  Also these fish tend to twist and spin an awful lot and when you are into 30/ day its nice to know you don’t need to check your leaders for abrasion.  We just re bait and drop em back out.

On the business end of our leaders we run two different set ups.  The first includes a .8 inch Mack’s Smile blade, 2 4mm beads, and a #4 Gamakatsu 2x strong red treble hook.  The addition of the single treble hook increased out hook to land ratio from a dismal 30-40% to almost 85%.  Its been that effective.  The other leader set up we use is just the same leader to nothing more that a #4 treble hook.  On both of these setups we bait up with coon shrimp.  To learn how we cure our coon shrimp click here .  We find that some days the fish want the rig with the Smile Blade and other days they just want the plain coon shrimp, but no matter what the main key to this is our coon shrimp.

To watch a video on how we set up our gear Click Here

 

Fishing

When fishing this set up in the Brewster Pool we troll at a speed between .8 and 1.4 MPH on our GPS.  This is pretty much going as slow as we can go.  Keep in mind that when trolling with the current you will carry a little more speed since the current is helping to push you along.  One trick we use is to really watch that speed and vary how fast we are going by kicking the throttle in and out of gear.  This also imparts a slight jigging action to our terminal gear.

The depths we fish vary between 8-30 feet.  To figure out where the fish are we pay close attention to our sonar and stagger our depths until we find the fish.  We commonly fish our set up between 12 – 30 feet on our line counter reels.  One tip I would like to share is that when you find some fish stay on them.

As in many salmon fisheries Brewster can be a very busy place.  If you are expecting a quiet fishing experience with few other people around then this is not your type of fishery.  Please have patience and when things get crowded and busy just remember that we are all out there for the same reason.  This is a place that I love to fish and I know many others do a well, if we are able to keep a cooler head out there it makes it much more enjoyable for everyone.

Make sure your enter for your chance at winning one of our monthly free trip drawings!  We randomly select a person every month for a free fishing trip with us.  The only thing you need to do is sign up for our newsletter and you are entered!


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Coon Shrimp

How to Cure Coon Shrimp for Steelhead and Salmon Fishing

Coon shrimp and specifically cured and dyed coon shrimp are a staple in our bait cooler.  They are our bait of choice for both Sockeye Salmon and Summer Steelhead, and we often use them for  Spring, and Summer Chinook.  Many anglers are confused at how to go about processing their own coon shrimp, but luckily we have many over the counter ready to mix cures and brine’s that help make curing coon shrimp a consistent and easy process.  This is a very simple process, and if you have ever cured your own salmon roe you can cure coon shrimp.  Most of the available commercial egg cures will also do a fantastic job of curing coon shrimp.

Ingredients:

Pro-Cure Egg Cure (original double red hot stuff) Buy Here

Frozen Coon Shrimp ( make sure you buy good quality Shrimp)

Rock Salt

Freezer bag

Pro-Cure Slam-ola powder   Buy Here

Scents ( the sky is the limit here but my favorite are the line of Super Dipping Sauce.) Buy Here

how to cure coon shrimp

How to cure coon shrimp

Step 1: 

Fill your freezer bag with approximately 3 inches of Coon Shrimp

 

Step 2: 

Add enough cure to get a good covering of the Coon Shrimp ( 1/2 cup of cure is a good starting point)

 

Step 3:

Add 1 tea spoon of Slam-ola Powder

 

Step 4:

Refrigerate at a minimum overnight.  Your Shrimp can be fished as early as the next day, but you will get a better result by letting them cure for 3 days.

 

Step 5:

Add 1 cup rock salt.  I do this after 3 days of curing.  Adding the Rock Salt is optional, but it will toughen up you shrimp very well.  We often use Coon Shrimp for side drifting Steelhead in Hell’s Canyon and this step gives us a very durable bait.

 

Coon Shrimp

Coon Shrimp

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Snake River Sturgeon

Snake River Sturgeon and Bass Fishing Report 5/30/16

We had the great fortune yesterday to spend a wonderful day on the Snake River near Heller Bar chasing oversize catch and release sturgeon and small mouth bass.  Both the sturgeon and bass fishing can be fantastic this time of year and spending warm late spring days in the canyon is a real treat.  We landed a total of 4 sturgeon with one being a very nice 6 foot fish that gave everyone in the family a chance to try to pull him in.  We also put a whacking on the prolific bass in the area.  I think our total for the day was close to 50 fish landed.  Most of these bass are on the smaller side ranging from 6-12 inches, but the action is non stop.

The Sturgeon and Bass fishing will remain very good for the next few months and we will be out chasing them.  We also offer a chance at keeper sturgeon on the Columbia River in the Hanford Reach.  If you are looking for a fantastic dedicated sturgeon trip I really recommend fishing this area with us.

Don’t forget to sign up for our Free Newsletter!  We have decided to give away one free trip every month of the year to people signed up to receive our newsletter.  All you have to do to win is be in our system and read our newsletter!


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Astoria Fall Chinook

How to Tuna Wrap a Plug

It’s no secret that we use a lot of different canned tuna concoctions while targeting Chinook salmon through the year.  One of the biggest advantages we have is that we fish for Chinook from March – October every year starting with Spring Chinook, then Summer Chinook, and finally rounding out our salmon season with Fall Chinook.  This 7 month season give us the advantage in truly being able to dial in our baits to match the situations we are presented with.  Over the course of our 7 month salmon season we target fish with many different baits and lures, but there is one item that can always be found in our boat, canned tuna.  One of our favorite ways to use tuna is to wrap it onto plugs such as the Maglip by Yakima Bait.  The following video will show you just how we go about turning our tuna concoctions into a great bait wrap.

Also don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter and enter your self in for a chance to win a free guided fishing trip.  We draw a random name from our list in July and January!


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How to Brine Herring for Salmon Fishing

With Columbia River Spring Chinook fishing right around the corner I wanted to cover a topic of discussion that often comes up on my boat. Many people ask “How do you brine your bait for Spring Chinook”. Below I have outlined my simple process for turning my frozen herring into fish catching machines. Keep in mind that I use a very simple approach that gives me consistent success day in day out.
Ingredients:

Container
Rock Salt
Bottled Water
Herring
Various scents (optional)
Dye (optional)

How to Brine Herring

Step 1:
The first step is buying quality herring and prepping it for the brine. Make sure to buy quality herring! By quality I mean packages that are blood free, have clear eyes, and have most scales intact. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to brine up bait that is of sub-par quality. Always remember that it takes good bait to make good bait. Don’t fish crappy bait!
After removing the package from the freezer it is best to cut one side of the package open to let air in. This removes the vacuum seal and will ensure that as your herring are beginning to thaw the packaging does not pull any of the scales off.
Make sure at this point to let the herring thaw until they are able to be removed from the package without having to pull them off the Styrofoam tray.

How to Brine Herring

Step 2:
While your packages of Herring are continuing to thaw it is now time to make your brine. This is a very simple brine that contains only two ingredients, Rock Salt and bottled water. Combine one bottle (16.9 oz) of water to 1 cup rock salt. At this point you can now add any optional scents or dyes to the brine. For Spring Chinook I often will add a very small amount of Blue Bad AZZ bait dye from Pro Cure. For some reason at times these fish seem to really crave the slight blue tint.

How to Brine Herring

Step 3:
Carefully remove the herring from the package and add to your brine. Now put the brining herring into your cooler and keep on ice. This bait is best fished 8-48 hours from when first put in the brine, so brine your bait the afternoon before you are planning on fishing, but don’t worry if you start the process too late I have fished these baits after only sitting in the brine for a few hours and they fished fine, and got better as the day went on. Just always remember to keep your bait nice and cold while on the water!

How to Brine Herring

How to Brine Herring

How to Brine Herring

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