We fish the Portland metro area and east to the lower reaches of the Columbia River near Cathlamet. Every year, location and seasons are set depending on run forecast predictions, leaving us with changing regulations year to year. This is fishery consists of both wild and hatchery fish, and only hatchery fish are available for harvest. These feisty Chinook salmon are some of the most sought after fish in the world because of their high table quality, considered by some to be the finest eating salmon in the world. Spring Chinook range from 10-30 pounds and the occasional trophy pushes close to the 40 pound mark.
These fresh, purple and chrome beauties come into the rivers in early spring, travel great distances to reach their spawning grounds and don’t actually spawn until the fall. This journey requires huge fat reserves and is the reason why they are so full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
We catch these Spring Kings low in the river, fresh from the ocean, giving you a deep red marbled meat for the dinner table. The Willamette and Columbia Rivers are fish highways for the largest runs of Spring Chinook in the Pacific Northwest. They will impress you with blistering runs and have a knack for diving under the boat just when you think you have them.
This is primarily a troll fishery, we use cut plug herring with flashers to entice the bite. One of the hardest aspects is waiting to grab the rod at the first sign of a bite. It is best to wait until the rod loads up and almost peeling line from the reel. A big hook set is not needed, swinging for the fences often results in lost fish. These salmon have hard mouths covered with a thin layer of skin. When you set the hook hard you often rip the thin skin you have them hooked by. The new regulations of barbless hooks requires you to keep tension on them, leaving little room for error.
These aggressive, hungry biters are a thrill to catch and challenge even the most experienced angler.