We have been home from the Oregon coast now for about 10 days and in that time we have spent some great days fishing for Fall Chinook on the Clearwater and Snake Rivers out of Lewiston, Idaho. Although we love to fish in Astoria it just doesn’t quite measure up to our local fisheries and sleeping in our own beds. The confluence as we call it is one of our favorite fisheries and we can’t be more excited to be catching fall Chinook at home in Idaho.
The confluence is a unique fishery as the cold clear waters of Idaho’s Clearwater meet the slightly stained warm waters of the Snake River. The Clearwater this time of year is often running at around 50 degrees when it meets the hot 70 degree water of the Snake. These are the conditions that allow this fishery to thrive. Migrating salmon and steelhead bound for the Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater rivers seek this cold water refuge. While the Clearwater fish tend to shoot straight up the Clearwater, the Snake and Salmon River fish hold up, hang out, and wait for water temperatures on the Snake to cool down before continuing their migration, and it’s these holding fish that provide us with fantastic fishing.
For salmon the confluence is primarily a troll fishery although there is a strong following of bobber and shrimp fisherman that do very well for steelhead, and also catch a few salmon while targeting steelhead. We absolutely love to troll and this fishery is a trollers dream. Our go to set ups are almost identical to the other troll fisheries we fish throughout the Columbia River Basin. We fish 360 style flashers with superbaits or spinners as our lures of choice, and all of this is easily accomplished without the use of downriggers.
When targeting salmon in the confluence we tend to try and keep our gear within about 5 feet of the bottom. Utilizing lead cannon ball weights and line counter reels. Our go to depths the past few outing have been to run 12 ounces of lead at 30 and 35 feet on our line counters, and 8 ounces at 50 feet. Water depth ranges in in the confluence from 25- 40 or so feet and the above numbers do a great job of having us in the zone at all times.
Another thing to keep in mind when fishing at the Confluence is that trolling speed is your friend. These Chinook seem to like a fast troll, and we want to see a deep thump on the rod telling us that our flashers are working well. If your not getting that deep thump, then speed up. Also speed can be used to raise and lower your gear when trying to fish over shallower humps. If you need your set up to raise up just simply go faster and get your gear up and over the hump. Often times these speed changes are really what get these salmon to bite.
Like we stated before this is one of our favorite fisheries and the flat calm waters of the Snake and Clearwater Confluence are a great place to hone your salmon skills. So, grab some canned tuna, a handful of 3.5 Colorado Spinners, and your favorite superbaits and get out on the water.