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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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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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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


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Columbia River Walleye

Spring Fishing Opportunities

Columbia River Walleye, CJ Strike and Hells Canyon Sturgeon, American Falls Trout, and CJ Strike Crappie!

These are just a few of the options that we have right now to get you out on the water this spring with us. March is our official kickoff for our Columbia River Walleye season, and we couldn’t be more excited to chase these tasty and challenging fish. Walleye are one of the most sought after fish in the Columbia basin, and we cant wait to be out on the river chasing them.

March also means the giant white Sturgeon of the Snake River really start to wake up and feed.  We have already had some fantastic Sturgeon fishing the past month or so, and that will just continue to get better as the weather warms, and water temps make getting in the water for a glory shot even more enjoyable.  We are having great success on CJ Strike Reservoir located and hour south of Boise, ID as well as on the lower end of Hell’s Canyon near Lewiston, ID.  Both of these fisheries are a great way to get out on the water and enjoy one of the coolest fish that swims in our Idaho waters.  

March is also our kickoff for trophy trout on the Snake River near American Falls, as well as American Falls Reservoir.  March is one of the best times to spend a day in one of our drift boats fly fishing for the huge trout that call the Snake River home.  This is an amazing opportunity to try and break the 10 pound mark on some huge fish.  As March moves on and river levels rise with spring flows the power boat fishing on the river becomes the hottest bite around.  This is a fantastic fishery and its all catch and release with no bait through the Saturday of memorial day weekend.  The river fishery at American Falls is our bread and butter, and we would love the opportunity to show you why we love this place so much.  

Along with the Snake River at American Falls March also means its time to chase trophy rainbows on American Falls reservoir.  Last year Brett broke the catch and release state record with a 31.5 inch rainbow caught of the reservoir.  While this is a great fish its not even considered a monster on this system.  The huge Rainbows, Browns, and Rainbow/ Cutthroat Hybrids that prowl this huge reservoir are breathtaking, and we have the inside knowledge to put you on these amazing fish.  Along with awesome trophy opportunity we can also target the plentiful 18-24 inch rainbows that are amazing table fare.  the trout limit on the reservoir is 6 trout, although we only advocate harvesting rainbows and hybrids, as the natural reproducing browns and cutthroat are a true gems worth retuning to the river.   

Finally how can we forget the fantastic Crappie fishing at CJ Strike. In recent days the crappie are starting to break out of their huge winter schools and are now moving around much more. As of yesterday they are no yet on the banks in the spawning areas, but it might only be a matter of a week or so before we start casting to large schools of crappie. Nothing is more fun for the entire family than a day spent loading up on these tasty fish. Not only are they an absolute blast to catch, but they are also one of the best tasting fresh water fish around.


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Clearwater Steelhead Update

With a shot of cold weather settling in on Idaho’s Clearwater we decided to reschedule some of our trips over the next few days in an effort to make sure our customers have an enjoyable experience on the water. Single digit lows, and highs barely reaching the 20 degree mark make everything about steelhead fishing difficult, and puts unnecessary stress on our equipment. I know this first hand as a few years ago I launched the boat at three degrees, froze up a coolant line, and subsequently overheated my motor, causing the number one cylinder to blow into a bunch of little pieces. It was a 20k mistake, and stark reminder that sometimes it’s better to just stay home, then push back on Mother Nature.

The fishing on Idaho’s Clearwater has been a lot like steelhead fishing over the past few weeks. One day we will go out and land 6 or 7 and the next we might be struggling to put fish in the boat, but it’s the challenge that steelhead fishing presents that makes it so enjoyable.

Over the past month we have been spending most of our time and energy side drifting bait, and beads, as this is one of the most enjoyable ways to catch steelhead, and let’s our customers be the main participant, but as the latest cold front started to move in Barry and myself decided to stop pounding our heads against the wall and make an adjustment. We dug out the plug rods and decided to slowly pick apart the holes and see if we could force a few fish to bite. The results speak for themselves. The last 3 days the fishing has picked up significantly, and I attribute this to switching things up.

This week was just another reminder that often times switching things up can be a huge difference maker in the number of fish brought to the net. It also made a point clear that as Steelheaders we need to be confident in fishing multiple presentations to consistently put fish in the boat. So, going forward my advice is to keep an open mind, and never keep those plug rods too far out of reach.


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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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Columbia River Walleye Fishing Heating Up!

With the official start of summer just around the corner the walleye bite on the Columbia River is really starting to heat up. Water temps are now in the upper 50’s and walleye are feeding heavily as they feed on migrating juvenile salmon smolts heading to the ocean. We have been having success both pulling crankbaits, and fishing bottom walkers and worms. Our best bites the past few outings have been using crankbaits in color combinations that mimic downstream migrating salmon smolts. Any baits with chrome, blue, and purple hues to them have been getting consistently attacked by hungry walleye.

A major key to our success this year has been the use of inline planer boards. We like the yellow boards made by Offshore Tackle Company and we use them in conjunction with the tattle flag system. Trolling with planer boards lets us really expand the amount of water we cover, with our outside boards often 50 feet to the side of the boat we are covering over 100 feet of river from the outside board on the right side to the outside board on the left side. Another benefit to fishing boards is that it lets our baits fish out away from the influence of the boat. Fish that come in contact with our plugs on outside boards have no idea our boat is even in the area. Yet another advantage of fishing planer boards it the ability to run deep diving plugs on short set backs. Yesterday for example the fish really seemed to be keyed into a Bandit Walleye Deep, and by using a planer board to fish the lure to the side of the boat we were able to run them at 40 feet behind the board. This put our Bandits fishing at around 13 feet which was perfect for the active feeding walleye that were looking up from 15-19 feet of water.

The video included below is an example from some trout fishing earlier this year on how we set out our planer boards and the spread we get from using them.

Using planer Boards to Catch More Fish


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Columbia River Walleye Report

We started our 2020 walleye season last week on the Columbia River. To say that fishing started out hot was an understatement. Fishing was on fire! The beautiful spring weather has pre spawn Columbia River Walleye on the bite, and the box of fish we brought back to the landing last Thursday was one of the best we have seen in years. The fish this year are averaging a little bigger than the past few, and although we may be catching a few less the overall size is fantastic. If you are looking to break the magic 30 inch mark you need to do yourself a favor and give us a call.

All our fish were caught last week trolling crankbaits in 16-24 feet of water. Currently the large deep diving plugs such as the Bandit Walleye Deep, and the long extra deep Bay Rats are fishing well. We also did very well on Berkley Flicker minnows in the #11 size. For a detailed article on how we fish crankbaits early in the season click on the following link.

https://jonessportfishing.com/how-to-fish-for-columbia-river-walleye-crankbaits-when-where-why-and-how-to-take-your-walleye-game-to-the-next-level-part-1-winter-early-spring/

Fishing will continue to be very good for big fish over the next few weeks. The water temperature last Saturday was 41.5 degrees, so we still have a little ways to go before active spawning starts, at least in the mainstream Columbia. The Walleye spawn will kick off when water temps are between 45 and 50 degrees.

Our main focus will be on chasing Columbia River Walleye now through June, and into July. These are a great, excellent eating, and plentiful fish that are great for the entire family. If you are looking to learn this fishery booking a trip with us is a great way to shorten your learning curve, and we love helping people learn how to target these cool fish.