The Northwest's Premier Outfitter offering guided fishing trips on Idaho's Clearwater and Snake Rivers, American Falls Reservoir, CJ Strike Reservoir, Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir, and the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.
Sitting here typing this email the Clearwater is definitely blown out, but it gives me a chance to give everyone an update on the awesome fishing we have been experiencing. Over the past month we have been having one of the best Spring Chinook salmon seasons of recent memory. We are filling our boats with both fish and happy customers on a daily basis, and it just so good to be experiencing this fantastic season here at home.
The best part about it all is that this Clearwater Spring Chinook season is far from over. With the awesome number of fish, and high water we are almost definitely looking at another two weeks of salmon fishing here on the Clearwater before we head out for the summer and make our yearly salmon camp on the Upper Columbia.
We are looking to get back out on the Clearwater this Wednesday, and fishing is going to be incredibly good. The best part is we have boats open almost daily for the next two weeks, so if you are interested in getting in on our Spring Chinook season make sure to give our office a call today and let’s get you booked.
Sitting here today at my dining room table I have to say I’m glad I’m not out on the river. We are in the middle of a late February cold snap and the temperature here at my Deary, Idaho home was a balmy -1 degrees yesterday morning. Today things have warmed up a little, and by the weekend we should be seeing some much more normal temperatures. Saturday the 26th of February will most likely be my last day on the Clearwater for our 2021/2022 season. While we look to close one season, we are looking forward to lots of trips chasing Walleye, Trout, Crappie, Perch, Salmon, and Sturgeon both in Southern Idaho and the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. I also wanted to take a moment to look at some MAJOR changes coming to our steelhead season on the Clearwater starting this fall.
For the past 30 plus years the Steelhead season on Idaho’s Clearwater River has pretty much remained the same. We have had a very simple to understand season structure where the river was catch and release for steelhead through October 14th with catch and keep season opening on October 15th and running through the entire rest of the season. Starting Fall 2022 everything changes!
For the Fall of 2022 Clearwater anglers will have drastically different regulations then they have been accustomed to. Keep season for Steelhead will now open September 10th and Run through October 14th, then from October 15th through November 10th the Clearwater will be catch and release only for Steelhead. This is a drastic change in how we operate our Fall. October 15th – November 10th has traditionally been our busiest time of year. We are prepared to make the adjustment, and these changes will actually offer some really exciting opportunities!
Clearwater anglers will now have the opportunity to fish for and keep Steelhead early in the year when their table quality is at its peak, and in addition we will be able to very effectively target both Fall Chinook and Steelhead during the same trip. In all honesty for a lot of years it never made sense to me why we could keep steelhead on the Snake, but if we moved into the Clearwater they were off limits.
Like everything in this industry we are constantly having to make adjustments, and we will adjust and hopefully thrive with these new regulations. Will this be frustrating? Will we get tired of answering questions and doing Fish and Game’s job of educating our customer and the public about this regulation change? The answer to these questions is a resounding yes, and all I can hope for is that in three years when regulations are re-visited, that we don’t enter a cycle where a few interest groups are able to convince fisheries managers that regulations should be changed again. This change in steelhead season will have absolutely 0 impact on harvest numbers, and will in fact allow Clearwater anglers the ability to harvest more steelhead bound for other Idaho and other Snake and Salmon River destinations.
Our plan moving forward for 2022 is to bring more of our Fall Chinook business home to the Clearwater where we will be able to target both Fall Chinook and Steelhead. Our Fall Chinook limit will once again be 3 adults and unlimited jacks, combine that with a Steelhead limit of 2 hatchery adults, and the possible addition of 2 Coho and it becomes very obvious that early Fall on Idaho’s Clearwater will be the place to be. I am excited to be able to fish all Fall from home. I always fish better when home every night, and the Elk and Deer in our home units better be ready as my archery season, that I had given up to fish the Hanford Reach, will be fully active again. All in all we are used to constantly changing runs, regulations, and angler preferences, this regulation change will be no different and we will be here excited to show our customers how awesome Idaho’s Clearwater is in early Fall. We hope you will be as excited as we are and willing to embrace some new opportunities!
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.
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.
The past few days we have switched back into Walleye mode on the Columbia River and the fishing did not disappoint! We are still seeing great catches of Walleye and expect the fishing to remain good through the month of June! We have available dates for Columbia River Walleye Fishing available now so give us a call and let’s get you out catching the best white flesh fish available!
We also have some more great news on the Clearwater Chinook front. June 22nd the Clearwater will reopen to the harvest of adult Chinook ( all Clearwater river dates are done as employees of Reel Time Fishing.). We should see some fantastic fishing for that Thursday- Sunday period, so get with us now to secure your dates!!
Also starting July 1st we will be starting our Upper Columbia Summer Salmon season! This has turned into one of our favorite times of year. 2 adult limit, warm weather, and the possibility of a great sockeye run make July an exciting month!
Fishing has been fantastic on Idaho’s Clearwater River. We have been averaging 8-15 fish per day. Today we ended up with 15 big Steelhead to the net. Check out the video below for some of our footage from today.
All Clearwater trips are done as employees of Reel Time Fishing. We have openings next week.
Sockeye fishing in the Brewster area of the Columbia River has been absolutely fantastic. We have had limits everyday within a few hours. This fishery will stay good as long as the weather stays hot, which should at least be through the end of this month. Give me a call if you want in on the action. I have openings!
Brewster pool Sockeye fishing is on fire! I had two great customers out yesterday and we landed their limit of 12 tasty sockeye in less than two hours. We landed numerous doubles and even had a quadruple. This is one of the most action packed fisheries in the entire Columbia River system and the fishing is just getting started. We will continue to have fantastic Sockeye and Summer Chinook Fishing over the next month. I have openings through out the next 3 weeks. This fishery is nothing short of amazing. With a total limit of 8 salmon (6 sockeye and 2 hatchery summer Chinook) the potential to fill multiple coolers is a real possibility. Limits of Sockeye are the norm and we also usually catch plenty of big summer Chinook.
Our keys to success are trolling 8 inch chrome dodgers with short 12 inch leaders to either a Mack’s Lure Smile Blade and a coon shrimp or a Smile Blade and 2″ pink hoochie tipped with a small coon shrimp. We troll without down riggers and target water from 12-30 feet deep depending on time of day and what depth the fish are holding at for the day.