Hot Action at Drano Lake!

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Hot Action at Drano Lake!

IMG_1513We had a fantastic bite this morning at Drano Lake in the Columbia River Gorge. We hooked 10 and landed 6 to fill a three person limit by 7am. Almost all our fish were caught today of Prawn Spinners with brass or Copper #3 Colorado blades. We did manage to hook two fish on a Brad’s cut plug in the 2.5 size.

We have opening in the Columbia Gorge now through next week, with an open boat of up to 4 people for tomorrow Saturday the 27th and 2 seats for Sunday the 28th.  We also have openings starting Thursday June 1st  IMG_1504

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Hanford Reach Fall Salmon Fishing Report 2016

We had a better day today on the Hanford Reach fishing for fall Chinook Salmon. Down stream trolling Brad’s Superbaits and pro troll flashers was our go to method. Fishing is really starting to hit it’s stride here and things will be rocking by next week. We have openings on the 3rd and 4th of October in Kyle’s boat. If interested in booking click on the Book Online Now button. On our homepage.  We also still have openings for fishing the Snake River for both Chinook and Steelhead. October and November are great months to put a bunch of fish in the boat.

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Upper Columbia Summer Chinook Trip Photos

I just wanted to take this chance to share with everyone some great photos some customers of my took the other day on one of our summer Chinook fishing trips.  We had a great time on the water and as the photos show this is a great experience!  Hope you enjoy


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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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Hanford Reach Fall Chinook

How to rig a Superbait and Leo Flasher

Its no secret that over the last few years Brad’s Superbaits, both the Original Series and the Cut Plug have become a very integral part of the Northwest salmon fishing scene.  This has come as no surprise to many of the anglers that have been fishing these lures on the Columbia River east of the Cascades since they were invented.  The reason Superbaits have become so popular is that they are extremely effective in almost any salmon fishing application.  I have used them with great success in every salmon troll fishery from Astoria to Brewster.  Over the past few years I have come to realize that anywhere a herring is effective a Superbait will also catch fish, and often out fish herring.  With unlimited color options and the ability to always be fishing (a Superbait never blows out or gets ripped off), combined with great action and proven in a wide range of water temperatures and run timings, if you are not fishing Superbaits you are missing the opportunity at more fish.

In the last year one of the most exciting developments in this style of fishing has been the introduction of the LEO Flasher by Money Maker Fishing.  The Leo Flasher is a game changer because one of its great features and selling points is that it functions as BOTH  an inline flasher, and as a rotating flasher eliminating the need to purchase flashers that only do one or the other.  The other great thing about this flasher is that it will perform the rotating flasher role at a slower speed than other leading flashers.  This translates into being able to use the flasher in more situations.  One area I found this to be true was the anchor fishery in the Clarkston area of the Snake River for Spring Chinook.  Here we did not have quite enough current to be able to keep our herring spinning utilizing a traditional inline flasher, but when I decided to try the LEO its ability to complete its rotation at a slow current speed imparted enough action on my herring that I was able to get the spin and action needed to catch fish.  As a full time fishing guide with guiding as my sole income to provide for my family I am always on the lookout for products that help me put fish in the boat on a day to day basis throughout the season.  Brad’s Superbaits and LEO Flashers are two products that help me to accomplish this goal, and you will see them in my boat everyday.

Below you will find a detailed description on how I rig my Superbaits and LEO Flashers for Trolling.

Mainline: 50# Power Pro braided line

Lead: 6-20 oz cannon ball sinkers connected on a slider with a 6 inch section of .035 spinner wire in between the slider and the lead.  The purpose of this is to help eliminate tangles between the flasher lead and the cannon ball, and also helps the user feel for the bottom when trying to fish in areas where we are keeping our gear just off the bottom.

Flasher Lead: 24 inches of 50# Berkley Big Game (use a different color than your leader to help identify which is which when a tangle does occur)

Leader: 36-44 Inches of  40# Berkley Big Game

Hooks: #2 Gamakatsu 2x strong treble hook followed by 2 #2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hooks tied an inch apart 4 inches behind the treble hook.  Set the treble hook so it rides inside the hook garage of the Superbait and the two singles riding just behind the Superbait.

To Watch a video on how we set up this system please check out How to Rig a Super Bait and Flasher Video!

I almost always stuff my Superbaits with Tuna.  For information on how I do up my tuna Concoctions click HERE.

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how to rig a superbait and flasher


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How to Prepare Canned Tuna for Salmon Fishing

Many salmon anglers have come to realize the effectiveness of canned tuna as a bait source for salmon fishing.  Canned tuna, especially packed in oil, has many uses as a salmon bait.  It is often wrapped in mesh to form tuna balls, wrapped onto plugs, stuffed in Super Baits, or added to eggs as a flavor enhancer, and because canned tuna is sold in every grocery store and is transported with no refrigeration needed it is an extremely versatile and cost effective bait.  While basic tuna taken directly from the can has, and continues to be, the most used variation of the bait there are a some things we can do to make our tuna fish even better.

Myself and many other anglers throughout the northwest have discovered that there are often extra things we can do to our tuna to make it fish even better than taking it directly out of the can.  The end result is what we often call Tuna Concoctions, or mixes of scents, cures, salts, and a few other key ingredients that takes that old boring canned tuna and turns it into a very dynamic bait that can be tailored to any salmon fishing situation presented.

The following steps are just a simple version that some would consider just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to development of tuna concoctions.  The information provided here is presented in a way that might open up your mind to many possible ways to improve you salmon fishing success with the use of canned tuna.

Ingredients:

Tuna (packed in Oil)

Salt (non iodized)

Super Dipping Sauce ( My Favorite )

Measuring Spoons

Container with a lid

Can opener 

 

Step 1:

Open the can of tuna and drain off the oil.

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Step 2:

Add tuna to container (preferably one with a lid)

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Step 3:

Add salt to your tuna. The amount varies depending on time of year and where the fish are in the system.  As a general rule of thumb for Chinook it seems that the farther you get from the ocean and the warmer the water the more salt the fish crave, I often add anywhere from a tablespoon to a half a cup per can of tuna.

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Step 4:

Add scents and additives to this mixture.  A must have line of scents for me are Super Dipping Sauce scents by Money Maker Fishing.  I add a table spoon of each scent I want to use to per each can of tuna.  My all time favorite is the Garlic Super Dipping Sauce.

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Step 5:

Refrigerate overnight or place on ice.  Give this mixture time to set up and really let the scents and salts get into the tuna.  The next morning your tuna concoction will be ready to fish!

 

As you can see this is a very easy and quick process that will give your tuna an extra kick.  The sky is the limit as far as what can be added to this mixture.  Always be experimenting because you never know when you might stumble upon the cant miss recipe that fills your boat with limits.

Look for blogs in the near future that discuss how to wrap tuna on plugs, rig tuna balls, stuff / rig Super Baits, and other creative ways to fish this versatile bait.

Don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter and enter yourself for a chance to win a free fishing trip.  We draw a random winner from our email list every July and January.


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Columbia River Spring Chinook Report

As we enter the last streach of our Lower Columbia Columbia Spring Chinook season I wanted to give a quick update on our season.

Fishing overall has been good. We have had a few days in which we have had to work hard for bites, but overall the action has been more than satisfying.  We have focused our efforts in the Portland area near the the I5 bridge. Downstream trolling herring has been our go to technique and our best bite has been during the first few hours of daylight.

We look for the the next four days to be some of the best of the year as everyday there are more and more tasty Spring Chinook in the system. The Columbia is set to close the 9th of April. After the Columbia closes I will switch gears and spend a few weeks targeting the Willamette, before moving up to the John Day Dam area the last week of April to target the migration up the Columbia system.

I still have plenty of openings for both the Willamette River and the John Day Dam fisheries. On the Willamette we have a 2 chinook limit, and up at John Day I offer salmon and Sturgeon combination trips. As always full boat and single anglers are encouraged to give us a call and book dates.


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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

For up to date fishing reports make sure you check out our reports page.

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Hanford Reach Fall Chinook

Hanford Reach Fall Chinook

Often referred to as “The Reach,” this area of the Columbia River is the last “Free Flowing” section of the Columbia River and is home to some of the absolute best spawning habitat left in the main stem Columbia River.  This is where many of the fish we were targeting at Astoria are heading.  The Hanford Reach is where these fish will finally stop moving and hold up before they start to spawn.  We target “The Reach” starting the second week of September and fish here through the second week of October.  We often catch some of our biggest fish of the year here as the big males start to get aggressive in anticipation of spawning.  This is an action packed fishery targeting big Chinook in the desert of Eastern Washington.

We fish a number of different ways and have found that being diverse in our strategies has helped us to continually put good numbers of Fall Chinook in the boat for our customers.  We could be downstream trolling Super Baits in the morning and back trolling plugs and eggs in the afternoon.  The biggest key to success here is knowing where to fish depending on the flow coming out of Priest Rapids Dam.  This is also the most difficult thing about this fishery.  Where and how we fish can vary greatly depending on what flows are coming out of the Dam.  Our two favorite techniques here are trolling flashers and Super Baits, and back trolling bait wrapped plugs and eggs.  “The Reach” fishes like a real river with dynamic changes in holes and flows and anglers have to be willing to adapt to be successful.

We start most of our trips out of Vernita bridge, but if the fishing dictates we will drop down and fish out of Ringold.  We like the Vernita area as we feel it gives us the best access to a wide variety of water to consistently put our customers on fish.  We truly enjoy this fishery and we are excited to be able to share it with you.

Fishing the Hanford Reach is truly an amazing experience.  It is very normal for us to see lots of Mule Deer, including some really nice bucks, coyotes, waterfowl, and on occasion some of the Elk from the large herds that cross the nuclear site.

For a Google Map of our meeting locations click here.


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Astoria Oregon chinook samon

Astoria/ Buoy 10 fishing is on fire

The Astoria/Buoy 10 fishery has continued to fish amazing. Yesterday I ended up with just one customer in my boat due to some unforseen issues with his group, but we put a whack on the fish. We landed a total of 11 Chinook and 3 Coho.  It was a fabulous day especially considering we were only fishing 2 rods.

We had most of our success fishing fresh cut plug herring and whole anchovies trolled behind a red and chartreuse fish flash flasher with lead near the bottom. We started our morning above the bridge on the Washington side at around 6am. We immediately found ourselves in the middle of a wide open king bite that lasted about an hour. We then followed the fish down through the church hole and picked up a few more out toward Chinook. We fished the incoming tide starting way down at the bottom of the sands almost directly out from the entrance to Baker Bay. This is where we found our Coho. As the tide really started to flood in we found ourselves in another wide open king bite. We fished our way back up to the bridge and called it a day at around 2:30 pm.

If you have ever wanted to come down and this amazing fishery now is the time I have the following dates open: 8/23, 8/24,  2 seats on 8/25, 8/26, three seats on 8/28, 8/30, 8/31.

The fishing should be nothing short of fantastic the next two weeks.