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Mid-Season Spring Chinook Report

A nice limit of Columbia River Spring Chinook

So the theme of this year is HIGH WATER! I think that would be an understatement, but personally, outside of having to reschedule a few trips for our clients fishing with us out of our Portland locations, I like the high water.

And there are a number of reasons why.

  1. The fishing has been good. I’ve got no complaints. The Willamette River has produced good days and so has the Columbia. There’s been a few slow days, but when we play the tides and stay disciplined, even the slow days yielded fish for our customers.
  2. Water temperatures are still below 50 degrees. I think this is the biggest deal going forward. Certainly the wet, cold weather has it’s drawbacks, but if you’re a Salmon fisherman, you’re licking your chops for the next month of fishing. Our runs are showing up later and later. As far as I’m concerned, the longer water temperatures stay low, the greater the opportunity we have to run into slugs of fish in May and even June. “June?”, yes June. During our last high water year, I caught my last 8 fish limit in the Willamette on June 22nd. I’d love to see fishing like that again in June and as far as I’m concerned, it can stay cold and wet as long as it would like, just so I can again see the opportunity.
  3. Not everyone knows how to fish high water. Ok, I’m being a little selfish, but it’s true. New generations of fishermen come along and haven’t seen these kinds of conditions before. There’s lots more room to spread out and the areas that are holding fish in a year like this, aren’t at all popular. We fished an area the other day on the Willamette, saw perhaps two boats and creamed fish after fish. I haven’t been able to fish that area in a number of years because it only fishes in high water. I have to admit, revisiting some of these areas is like hanging out with an old friend.

Crazy sky behind this fisherman holding a Columbia River Spring Chinook

The Willamette is bumping up for the moment, but I don’t expect it to be turbid for very long. In fact, there are enough fish right now that we’ve caught decent numbers as it’s risen the last few days. Not exactly what you’d expect, but more evidence that we’re on fish.

A beautiful day for this happy angler holding a Willamette River Spring Chinook.

Expect an extension above Bonneville. There will be some great fishing above the dams in May. I think that managers underestimated this run and there may be another shot below Bonneville after the run update. I realize there hasn’t been a ton of fish over Bonneville at this point, but we’ve also had very high water (400,000 cfs) and cold temperatures. The evidence is simply in the catch numbers that we experienced in the lower river. It was good and fish manger test netting also proved good. They’re coming, there just moving appropriately with the conditions.

Looking to head out? Contact us with any questions or to book your trip.