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

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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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