Author Archives: Kyle Jones

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Clearwater Steelhead

Is January the “Best” Month for Clearwater Steelhead?

January on Idaho’s Clearwater River is without a doubt the most overlooked month of the year when it comes to catching great numbers of B-Run Steelhead. Over the years we have consistently had our all our top days for the season during January.

Lots of fish in the system, consistent and often times warming water temperatures, holding fish, and generally lower pressure are a few of the reasons the month of January has been our most consistent fish catching month. Despite the sometimes challenging weather conditions January is typically much more mild on the Clearwater then the surrounding areas. We often see high’s in the lower 40’s and some years we see weather warmer than that. Combine warmer temperatures (than December) and generally better water conditions from low level snow melt, and we get a winning combination for fish catching.

If you are looking for a mid winter fishing trip, and are looking for some of the best fishing of the year, make sure to give us a call and lets get you out on one of our boats. Chances are after experiencing the Clearwater in January you will come back for more.

During this time of year we will often use multiple techniques to put you on fish. Plugging, side drifting, and bobber dogging all get the nod depending on what river conditions are doing and which method has been producing the best. Yes, the weather can be cold, and we understand that when the snow is falling fishing is not on the front of most folks minds, but we think the Clearwater is just the thing to cure that cabin fever, and make some lasting memories. So, bundle up, head out and jump in a boat, you wont regret it!

Check out the video below and make sure to give us a call to get in on this awesome fishery!


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2022 Spring and Summer Salmon Forecast is Out: We are cautiously optimistic.

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This past week Columbia River fisheries mangers released their preliminary forecast for Columbia River Spring Chinook, Snake River Spring/Summer Chinook, Columbia River Summer Chinook, and Sockeye. If initial predictions hold true, we should have more fish available in just about every fishery we fish then last year. Although the forecast isn’t great by any means, what it does mean is that we will have some great opportunities to fish for some of our favorite fish of the year.

Looking at the above image there are a few key areas I want to focus on. While these numbers obviously are not “great” by any means, they do indicate that some of our favorite fisheries will have fish to catch.

The first area of the chart above I want to look at is the prediction for the Snake River Spring/Summer portion of the run. These are the fish we pay the most attention to as they return to the Clearwater, Salmon, and Hells Canyon areas. I grew up fishing our home waters for these fish, and with numbers like these we should definitely see some sort of season, although as we have seen in the past, this isn’t always the case. Hopefully enough of these fish make it up river and we can finally have a season here at home.

The second place I want to focus on is the Columbia River Summer Chinook Forecast. While this forecast is down from last years forecast it is actually higher than last year actually run. These are the summer Chinook we chase in July and Early August. This is one of of favorite fisheries, as there is nothing quite like putting the boat in with shorts and sandals. July on the upper Columbia is just a great fishery that needs to anyone’s list.

Finally let’s look at the sockeye numbers. This is probably the thing I’m most excited about. Notice the improvements in the sockeye numbers from last year. We had a great although short sockeye season last year, and with number like these we should have a full sockeye season on the upper Columbia. The other point I want to make is that we saw more small sockeye last year then I have ever seen in the upper Columbia! These were jack sockeye that came back a year early, so in my opinion this forecast is actually low, and I expect to see a bunch more sockeye then predicted. Hopefully I’m right, but regardless we have a great sockeye season ahead of us on the upper Columbia.

If anyone is interested in fishing any of these fisheries with us make sure you get in touch with us early. Often times if you wait until the actual season dates are announced we are already booked. For season that we are sure if season structures, we will pencil you in for your dates, and when the season dates are announced we will call for payment.


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Clearwater Fall Steelhead Update

While we are currently in the last few days of our Columbia River Fall Chinook season, but we can’t help be excited for our upcoming steelhead season. Steelhead on Idaho’s Clearwater is our bread and butter, the reason we call Clearwater Country home, and our absolute favorite time of year.

October 1st is the unofficial kickoff for us on the Clearwater. Idaho’s Clearwater is catch and release only for steelhead through October 15th so the first few weeks of October will see us focusing Fall Chinook, Coho, and Catch and Release Steelhead. This two week period is one of our absolute favorites of the year and the catch rates can be incredible, and the crowds can be lite.

While much has been published this year about the plight of steelhead migrating up the Columbia, it’s not all doom and gloom. Counts of B Run Steelhead crossing Bonneville Dam have only been slightly lower than last year, and if you were paying attention last year we had a great season on the Clearwater.

With numbers similar or slightly lower than last year we will definitely be fishing steelhead on Idaho’s Clearwater. While we may have to wait and see what our limits might end up being, the fact remains that we will be fishing, and really if you feel like you have to kill a steelhead to enjoy this fishery, then we really feel you are missing the point. These big Steelhead are absolutely incredible, and a picture will last a lot longer then a few fillets in the freezer.

Our favorite time of year is approaching, and we are booking fast, so if your interested in a Steelhead trip with us make sure to give us a call at 208-669-1569 and let’s get your trips planned.


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Hanford Reach Fall Chinook: Adjustments are the name of the game

It’s been a strange year to say the least on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. As I’m writing this we are in the midst of a pretty darn good Fall Chinook Run, and while fishing was absolutely on fire here early in the season, it has since cooled off, and been downright tough on some days.

We too have had our struggle days, and Barry and I have been very frustrated a few times this season. For the past few years the downhill trolling program has been absolutely on fire here, and we entered this season thinking that we would see more of the same, and while early in September was great, it didn’t take long for that bite to absolutely hit the skids. So, instead of just pounding away and hoping each morning would be better then the last we decided that there had to be a better way. We made some adjustments.

A little over a week ago we made the full on switch from downriver trolling 360 flashers to what is now considered an old school technique, we went backtrolling. We dusted off the plugs, shined our divers, grabbed the eggs, and went to work. We haven’t looked back since. For some reason this year backtrolling divers and eggs, and plugs has just been the best way for us to catch fish. Now that doesn’t mean other methods are not working, it just means that we have finally found consistent action after making the switch.

Backtrolling is how I cut my teeth on this fishery and it has been such a blessing to be able to fully commit to one of my absolute favorite methods for catching salmon. We are now more relaxed, our gear is in the “slots” longer, and we are catching more fish than we would if we had stayed the course. Now, I’m fully aware that the only thing consistent on the reach is that things change, and after writing this it may just be that we see an incredible downhill trolling bite, but for me, I have a little over a week left in this fishery before I head home for the Clearwater, and I’m going to spend my days relaxed and running my favorite plugs through some of the best water on the river. don’t be afraid to do the same.


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Upper Columbia Summer Of Salmon! Hot weather equals Hot Fishing!

Last week our Summer Chinook and Sockeye season opened on the Upper Columbia, and fishing was absolutely on fire! Opening day was one of the absolute best opening day’s we can remember! We had two boats out and early limits where the name of the game. while the rest of the season won’t be quite as on fire as the first two days we will see consistently great fishing for the rest of the month of July.

We are seeing great success trolling both super baits and 3.5 Colorado spinners behind 11 inch 360 style flashers. One of our keys is to really watch out speed and make sure our rods are thumping at about a 1 thump per second interval. It’s a little hard to explain, but this action really leads to more fish in the boat. For this reason we run cannon ball droppers and skip out on the downriggers. Also by running cannonball lead we are able to let all our customers drop lines and be part of the action.

We still have some open dates mid month, so don’t hesitate to give us a call and book your trip. These fish are amazing and we would love to share this experience with you. Enjoy the pictures below, the smiling faces and big fish tell the story. The Upper Columbia Summer of Salmon is an experience you need to be part of.


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Idaho Walleye Fishing

When thinking of Walleye fishing Idaho is probably not the first place that comes to mind. Most people would be quick to point to places in the Upper Midwest, places like the Dakotas, Minnesota, or Michigan, and any walleye fisherman worth their leadcore would definitely put the Columbia River high on the list, but although limited to only a handful of locations Idaho actually has some fantastic walleye fishing opportunities. The current state record came from Oakley Reservoir, and weighed in at 17.88 pounds. The current catch and release record hails from Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir and is 31.5 inches in length.

In addition to Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir and Oakley Reservoir walleye can also be found in Ririe Reservoir in Eastern Idaho, and Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho. All of these fisheries have the potential to produce some fantastic walleye fishing, but for anglers looking for consistent success Salmon Falls Creek and Oakley Reservoirs are the top destinations for Idaho walleye anglers.

While Oakley is a great fishery its just a place that we haven’t really spent any time fishing. Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir on the other hand is our location of choice. As it turns out we also are the holders of an Idaho Outfitters license for Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir and we offer fully guided Walleye Fishing trips on one of Idaho’s best walleye fisheries.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, locally known as Salmon Dam is a unique high desert reservoir nestled into the deep canyon formed by Salmon Falls Creek. This is a unique walleye fishery in that this reservoir has very steep drop off banks that surround most of the impoundment. A lot of the shoreline here are sheer cliffs that plunge directly into the water. These unique features make Salmon Dam a different style of fishery than most walleye fisheries around the west. Popular walleye techniques such as worm harnesses behind a bottom bouncer, and trolling crankbaits can be super effective here especially on a few of the larger mud flats. In addition to trolling anglers pitching and vertically jigging jigs rigged with bait and soft plastics typically produce a bunch of walleye. Currently Salmon Dam is absolutely chocked full of smaller eater size walleye. These 12-15 inch fish will make up most of the catch here, and with a 6 fish limit they provide an awesome opportunity to take some tasty walleye home for dinner. Salmon Dam also holds some very decent walleye over 20 inches, but these larger fish are much more spread out. When targeting larger walleye you are almost fishing for a different fish. Its like the difference in chasing young whitetail bucks and old mature bucks, it just takes a different mindset. Large walleye can be found, but guys need to be willing to fish for just a few bites a day. Most of the reservoirs big walleye are caught in what we refer to as the “steep and deep” areas. These bigger walleye will use the steep cliffs and associated deep water as refuge when they are not feeding, then move just a short distance to their preferred feeding location in sometimes very shallow water. The other thing that makes big walleye tough here is that they are predominantly a nocturnal feeder using the darkness of night as cover while they hunt their prey in shallow water.

We absolutely love the uniqueness of this fishery and our family has history fishing here, often times at family gatherings the stories told around the campfire seem to drift to a lonely night on Salmon Dam searching for trophy walleye. We would love to show you why this place is special to us. If you are looking to learn more about this fishery, or just would like a different Southern Idaho experience nothing quite beats a day on Salmon Dam with one of our awesome guides.


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Opening Day! Eastern Idaho Trout Madness.

There are few days on our calendar that generate as much hype and excitement as opening day of bait and keep season on the Snake River near American Falls. The bait and keep season on this section of river always opens the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, and anglers across Southern Idaho look forward to this date with a cult like following. If you like to fish in solitude this is not the time or place to make your first trip to this river section, but for anglers willing to brave the crowds this is a special time of year. Boats will begin fishing as soon as the clock strikes 12 am, and the crowds and anglers will build through the morning. It is not uncommon to not be able to find a parking spot at the ramp if you launch much after first light.

Baits of choice for anglers on the opener very but the best and most seasoned anglers almost exclusively fish cut bait. In this section of river these trout are feeding on the abundant dead or dying fish that get sucked through the power plant on the dam. American Falls Reservoir is an unbelievably fertile system and the trout in the river below are definitely keyed into meat. For us sucker meat tops the list for cut bait choices, but other baits also work well, and for anglers without a supply of bait good old night crawlers are also a solid option.

The limit here is 6 trout but only 2 can be greater than 16 inches. We STRONGLY advocate that anglers fishing with bait catch keep their first two fish if hooked deep and quit fishing. Most of these fish will be hooked very deep on bait and have a tough time surviving being released. Another reason to keep only your two fish and get off the water is that almost all the fish in this area are greater than 16 inches, so although you can legally continue to fish for your limit it is best for the fishery to either quit fishing after 2 or switch to artificial lures and baits. Our typical scenario is that after we get our customers each 2 fish over 16 inches we switch things up and target the plentiful smallmouth bass. The limit on bass in this area is also 2 so by switching to bass fishing we are able to have a really cool combo bag to send our customers home with.

Although the first few days of the season can resemble a blue light special at K-Mart, the crowds start to greatly thin out after the first weekend of the season, and even on the busiest days our guides know the river like the back of their hand and can get you on fish away from the crowds. Opening day is like our new year, and is a day we look forward to. Although we are booked for the opening weekend often a year in advance, we have lots of open dates (especially mid week) including the first week of the season. This fishery will fish well through June until water temperatures warm up to the point the trout turn sluggish.

If you are interested in some of the most exciting fishing of the year don’t hesitate to give our office a call and get your trip booked now. We offer both full day and half day evening trips. Call 208-669-1569 and Dani can get you all set up.


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Snake River Spring Sturgeon

We often get asked what our favorite thing to fish for is, and I bet if you asked all of our guides you would get a different answer from each of them. One thing though that we all agree on is that Sturgeon Fishing on the Snake River in the Spring is an awesome experience.

Spring is a time of revival. The river canyon is waking up from its winter sleep and life is all around. Green grass can be seen on the hillsides where in only a few short weeks summer will be set in and the canyon walls will be locked into their dry brown look again. Just like the grasses and the birds, the sturgeon are waking up too. These fish have spent most of the winter in deep holding water feeding on whatever merger resources they can find, and now with the warming water they are on the hunt for food. Along with a search for food is an urge to spawn, and many of our fish are traveling the river system to find their spawning grounds.

Spring is definitely a movement period for these fish, and every day is an adventure in finding fish. It’s amazing how much some of these fish can move day to day, and equally amazing how some seem to stay in certain holes, content to live their lives in one sweet spot.

During the spring we often see some of our best fishing of the year in our Hells Canyon Fishery, as for some reason this time of year tends to concentrate a large number of fish in the general vicinity of Heller Bar. Spring is also a great time of year for our Southern Idaho fishery’s, but it tends to just mark the beginning of an awesome season.

If you are looking for a sturgeon adventure in Hells Canyon or southern Idaho make sure to get with us. We are full time professional fishing guides and we strive to make your trip special. We provide all fishing gear and even cook you a hot lunch on the boat.


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Hot Columbia River Walleye Action!

Fishing this past week for walleye on the Columbia has been absolutely fantastic. The water temps ranged from 45-47 degrees which means that the spawn is in full force. This means most of the larger fish are up shallow spawning, and can be difficult to catch, but this also means that you have the opportunity to find the mother load of smaller eater sized males staged in deep water adjacent to spawning areas. These smaller males don’t hang with the big females, as they can be food for the big girls.

Our best producing technique has been trolling worm harness and spinner blades. During the spring we don’t think there is a better method for putting a bunch of walleye in the boat. For a complete breakdown on how we apply this technique click here

As the spring progresses and water temperatures climb up into the 50’s we will enter the post spawn season on the Columbia. During this time walleye will disperse back to the sections of river they call home, and will aggressively start to feed to replace lost energy from the spawn. During the post spawn period we will start to see some larger fish in our catches, as age classes begin to be more mixed on food sources.

All in all we are into a great season here on the Columbia, and if you are looking to get in on some of the best eating fish on the planet make sure to book a trip with us.


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It’s Columbia River Walleye Time

Last week we started our Columbia River Walleye season, and things are off to a great start. We absolutely love fishing for walleye in March on the Columbia River as it gives us the best chance of the year to catch an absolute giant walleye. It’s not uncommon to catch fish well over 10 pounds on the Columbia during the pre spawn period, and the magical teeners are a constant reality.

During this time of year we often rely on fishing large walleye plugs like the Bandit Walleye Deeps. We fish these plugs in 10-25 feet of water. During March we are often searching for the big bite, and last week that big bite came right off the bat on Tuesday. We were probably a half an hour into one of our favorite trolls when the back rod slammed down and the battle was on. A few minutes later we slid the net under what would be our biggest fish of the young season. Weighing in at an even 13 pounds this Columbia River walleye was, after a few pictures and high fives, slid back into the mighty river to dump her load of eggs and hopefully give someone else the chance to shake her tail.

While the weather and conditions didn’t prove themselves to be perfect for chasing huge walleye we still managed to get 5-8 bites per day. Keep in mind that we were trophy hunting, and when actively looking for big fish we often give up on the chance to put lots of smaller fish in the boat. The fish pictured above ended up being the largest of the week, but we caught several other fish pushing the 8-9 pound mark.

We are super excited for the upcoming season and as the spawn progresses we will shift our ficus to loading up lots of eater size walleye. We will still find a few big fish, but our focus will change to loading the cooler instead of finding a big Walter for the wall.

April, May, and June are fantastic months, and trolling worms on spinner rigs will become our go to presentation. We will still troll plugs when the conditions permit, and there will be some great plug bites when Columbia River Walleye are focused on feeding on the conveyor belt of salmon smolt heading from inland rivers to the ocean.

If your interested in a walleye trip with us make sure to give our office a call at 208-669-1569 and Dani will fill you in on the particulars and get a date lined up for you. See you on the water