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Category Archives: Columbia River Salmon Guides

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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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Buoy 10 update, only a few days left to go!

Today marks the start of our final week chasing Fall Chinook and Coho in the Columbia River estuary for 2020. This has been an awesome season so far, and it has been a pleasure to spend some great days on the water with such great people. Our customers are the absolute best and our business would not be growing without their support.

While we have seen some amazing fishing, this season has also had plenty of challenges. We have had some days where we struggled to get fish only to have our day saved in the 9th inning, and other days that we just couldn’t quite come up with the magic formula. Some years this fishery is difficult and this is one of those years, but despite having to work extra hard for fish this year the payday is seeing a 30 pound black and chrome specimen hit the deck.

With the tides setting up great it’s looking like we will have the opportunity to end our season with a bang. The next few days we get soft tides, and great fishing should follow.

While this season is winding down others are just starting to ramp up! We are beyond excited to get back to our side of the mountains and chase fall chinook and steelhead in our favorite fisheries. September will find us both on the Hanford Reach and at the Confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. We consider both of these locations to be home waters, and we are so looking forward to this season.

Once fall is officially here and the nighttime temps get crisp, you will know October has arrived. October will find us fishing for fall Chinook and steelhead on two of our favorite rivers. The Clearwater and Snake Rivers in October are two rivers everyone should have a chance to fish. We will be targeting the 1-2 punch while side drifting small baits on light rods for both acrobatic steelhead and hard pulling Fall Chinook.

We still have openings during both September and October, and with access to some of the best guides in the inland northwest we can find a way to get you on the water almost every day.


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Buoy 10 is off to a Great Start

Our first day of the 2020 buoy 10 season was a huge success. We started off the day on the Oregon side of the River near Hammond. There was a good bite going but it only lasted about a pass, then we managed to just pick up one here and there, and had all our Chinook by 10 am.

Today our hot combinations were both anchovies, and 3.5 Colorado style spinner. We almost exclusively fish with rotating 360 style flashers. This is just a combination that we have a ton of confidence in, and we just like to roll our program.

This is setting up to be a great, although short season down here, and we are excited to se what happens over the next 13 day. Please stay with us on the journey and hopefully we can provide some insight to this incredible fishery. Look for a video from us soon that goes over our setup, and get the full rundown on what gear is working best for us.

Also don’t forget that even though we are full for this years Buoy 10 season, we do still have openings for our Snake/Clearwater Fall Chinook, and our Snake and Clearwater Steelhead season will be upon us before we know it.

Please let us know in the comments below, or shoot us a message on our social media pages with any questions you might have. We always love to help people be become more effective anglers.


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Hanford Reach Fall Chinook

How to Rig Brad’s Kokanee Cut Plugs to catch more Salmon

On this weeks Tip Tuesday we are going over how we rig up our Kokanee Cut Plugs to catch more salmon. Over the past three years we have experimented with a number of different hook configurations to try an get the best performing hook setup. What we have settled on two different set ups that seem to give about an equal hook to land ratio. The first is a single #4 treble rigged behind eight 4mm beads, and the second is two #1/0 Owner Cutting point octopus hooks. The two hook set up is also rigged behind eight or so 4mm beads. The purpose of the beads is to set the hook just behind the cut plug, an to let the lure spin freely on the line enabling it to spin faster that it would if it had to spin the hooks an the lure. Check out the video below to get all the details on how we rig these awesome little lures. Also make sure to check out our other tip videos on how to make you a better salmon fisherman.