Saturday, January 14, 2017

King Salmon Fishing FAQa

Spring King Salmon Fishing: What's all the Hype About Anyway?

Cabin Fever after a Long Winter:  We need to get outside on the water!

King Salmon:  You live in the best place on the planet to catch Spring King Salmon - take advantage of it!

Spring King Salmon Fishing: What's all the Hype About Anyway?

Cabin Fever after a Long Winter:  We need to get outside on the water!

King Salmon:  You live in the best place on the planet to catch Spring King Salmon - take advantage of it!

Long Days!  Long days mean there are more hours in the day you need to find fun things to do and we can offer half day trip!

Delicious Fish:  Spring Chinook have the highest fat content of any Pacific Salmon Species - these rich omega 3 fatty acids are healthy promoting good cholesterol and are very delicious

Book Online While Rates are Still LOW!

Fequently Asked Questions:

When is the best time to go?

Anytime after March 20th and before June 30th is the best time to specifically target Columbia, Kalama and Cowlitz River Spring Chinook.

Where do we meet?

Common meeting locations include:
4005 Dike Rd Woodland, WA
Lower River Rd Vancouver, WA
Kalama River Rd Kalama,WA
Cowlitz Falls Day Use Park Randle,WA

How big do they get?

As you can see from this picture they vary in size from about 8-15lbs but can get as big as 20-30lbs.

What's the limit?

There is no annual bag limit but the daily limit is usually 1 fish on the main stem Columbia so they can let some fish move to the tributaries for additional sport fishing opportunities and spawning, and usually 2 on the tributaries.  These are daily limits and again their is no annual or weekly limit.

What do I have to bring?

1. Fishing license with Catch Record Card and Columbia River Endorsement
2. Dress to be outside for the day - rain gear or waders are recommended always
3. Polarized sunglasses are great if you have them!
5. Hat with visor is always good when you're outside on the water
6. Whatever you want to eat or drink for the day
7. Cooler to get your fish home

What if I have to go to the bathroom?

On the Columbia you can pee off the side of the boat or use a bucket - I know sounds wild huh?

On the Kalama you can squat in the bushes.

On the Cowlitz there is an actual restroom and lots of privacy along the edge of the fishing waters.

Do you clean the fish at the end of the day?

Yes, we always clean your fish at the end of the day.  Filleted ready to bbq, freeze or send to the smoker.

How much does it cost?

Half days are sometimes available for $150/person.

Full days are only $199 now and can go as high as $225-250/person depending on fishery.

How many people on the boat?

Drift boat trips are for 2-3 people on the Kalama River

Big sled trips on the Columbia are for up to 6 people maximum

Small sled trips on the Cowlitz are for up to 4 people maximum

Big sled trips on the Cowlitz are for up to 6 people maximum

We have lots of guides and boats available so we can take larger groups - but most prime dates for Spring are at least partially full - so let me know in advance if you need more than 1 boat so we can find you a good date.

Do I need a license?

YES.  All Columbia and Tributaries require a Washington State Fishing License and a Catch Record Card for Salmon and Steelhead and a Columbia River Endorsement.  If you're fishing on the Columbia the Oregon License with same cards and endorsements works great too.

Where should I stay the night before?

For the late March Early April fishery stay anywhere in Portland or Vancouver with north Vancouver being the easiest for travel the morning of your trip due to traffic.

For the Kalama North Vancouver is also a very easy place to stay.

For the Cowlitz River there is the Seasons Motel in Morton (a bit overpriced for what it is) and then there are several options in Packwood, WA.

Any campgrounds nearby?

For the Kalama there is Kamp Kalama.

For the Cowlitz there is the Cowlitz Falls Campground and the Taidnapum Campground is the 2nd closest.

Can I bring kids?

Please bring kids!  How else are we going to pass along this amazing culture to future generations?

What time do trips start?

Morning trips usually start just before sunrise.

Late morning trips around 10-11am.

Afternoon Trips around 3pm.

How much do I tip the guide?

The average is $20-50/person to the guide.

Leave a review on Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor!  That is worth a lot to me :)

Who will the guide be?

If you have a favorite guide let us know in advance so we can ensure you know what dates he/she is available.

Our guides so far for Spring are as follows:

Columbia:  Ryan and Chris
Kalama:  Aaron and Tommy
Cowlitz:  Casey, Ryan and Chris (maybe Aaron too!)

Do I need to bring waders?

If you're fishing the Kalama waders are a good idea if you have them, but not required.

If you're fishing the Columbia rain gear is better than waders.

If you're fishing the Cowlitz then either is fine.

Other Questions?  Call/txt/email anytime: 253-389-0359   Visit our website at to learn more about King Salmon Fishing in Portland, Oregon and the Pacific NW.

Portland Fishing Trips

Portland Fishing Trips for King Salmon Spring 2017

Portland Fishing Trips for King Salmon

If you're new the Pacific NW or to King Salmon Fishing in the NW we are happy to share with you our passion for the fisheries that the beautiful waters that surround you offer anglers like you and me year round.  Portland Fishing Trips are available year round on the Columbia River and it's tributaries for King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon.

The Columbia River runs right along the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington demarcation line and is the home of millions of fish.  The most popular portland fishing trip is hands down spring chinook salmon also called Portland King Salmon or Portland Springers.  

The 2017 Columbia River Spring Chinook Season will begin in March and run through about the 2nd week of April when the recreational fishery will shift to the tributaries around Portland, Oregon including the Wind River, Drano Lake, Willamette River, Cowlitz River and Kalama River.  

The 2017 Forecast for Spring Chinook which are destined to pass right by Portland, Oregon is over 100,000 King Salmon!  We will be targeting these fish from March 20th until around April 8th near Portland, Oregon before we shift our efforts to tributaries like the Kalama and Cowlitz Rivers.

Portland Fishing Charters are available on the Columbia River year round and while Spring is the hottest time to be right in downtown Portland, OR for king salmon fishing in the fall you're only a short drive to the Oregon Coast for the world Famous Buoy 10 King Salmon Fishery.  Columbia River King Salmon Fishing.

Book a Spring King Salmon Portland, OR Fishing Trip Online Here:

Questions?  Call/txt: 253-389-0359

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead Fishing

Steelhead:  Natural Range of Steelhead
Steelhead Fishing:  Where to Catch Steelhead
Steelhead Fishing:  Run Timing of Steelhead
Steelhead Fishing:  Hatchery and Native Steelhead

Natural Range of Steelhead:

Steelhead can be found throughout the North Pacific.  Asia and North America are where you want to go if you want to catch a Steelhead. As a result of dams, habitat degradation and over fishing the natural range of steelhead has been reduced resulting in a loss of Native Steelhead especially in the Pacific NW.

The natural range of Steelhead can be seen in the below image.

(source Wikipedia, 2017)

As you can see from this map of the north pacific ocean Steelhead have a range from Russia through southern Alaska and down the Western Coasts of Canada and the United States.

The largest concentrations of Steelhead being found in Russia and Washington State.  While we don't offer guided steelhead fishing trips in Russia (yet, hahaha), we do offer lots of opportunities to catch steelhead in Washington State and for Columbia River Steelhead near Portland and Astoria.

Catching steelhead today has less to do with the natural range of steelhead and more to do with ODFW and WDFW regulations around the seasons for steelhead.  Salmon and Steelhead seasons are set annually by state regulators in coordination with NOAA fisheries and local tribes.  NOAA regulates salmon and steelhead seasons for federally listed endangered or threatened species.  

Steelhead fishing is usually always open on rivers that have catchable numbers of hatchery steelhead during times that do not threaten native species of steelhead or salmon.  It is common to see steelhead seasons created by hatchery steelhead which are planted at times of the year that ensure the steelhead return to the rivers at times other than when native steelhead and salmon are returning to help minimize threats to native fish species.

The best steelhead fishing in the populated world is found within a short drive of both Portland and Seattle metro areas.  Portland based Steelhead Fishing Trips and Seattle based Steelhead Fishing Trips are definitely real true adventures that will result in you catching steelhead.

If you live or are traveling to Portland there are abundant opportunities for you to catch steelhead near Portland.  Portland Steelhead Fishing Trips are available year round on many rivers within easy driving distance of Portland.  Some of the steelhead fisheries we offer include (listed by proximity to Portland):  Columbia River Steelhead Fishing, Lewis River Steelhead Fishing, Lower Columbia River Steelhead Fishing, Cowlitz River Steelhead Fishing, Kalama River Steelhead Fishing, Chehalis River Steelhead Fishing, Satsop River Steelhead Fishing, Wynoochee River Steelhead Fishing, Humptulips River Steelhead Fishing, Quinault River Steelhead Fishing and Queets River Steelhead Fishing.

The best place to catch steelhead near Portland will vary depending on the month and week of the year.  For example summer is a great time to fish for Summer Steelhead near Portland on the Lower Columbia River.  This is the closest and best steelhead fishing for Portland.

The Kalama River Steelhead seasons include both summer and winter steelhead options.  A great time to fish the Kalama River for steelhead is during the late winter/early spring when you can catch both Summer Steelhead, Winter Steelhead AND Spring King Salmon aka Spring Chinook.  The Kalama River is very close to Portland about 30 minutes from North Portland. Kalama Spring King Salmon Trips

The Lewis River is also very close to Portland and offers great summer and winter steelhead fishing opportunities.  The Lewis River is only about 20 minutes from North Portland.

The Cowlitz River Steelhead fishery is a BIG ONE.  One reason the Cowlitz River is so famous for steelhead is because it has huge salmon and steelhead hatcheries.  The Cowlitz River is a very easy drive from Portland and makes a classic fishing trip for any angler.  The Cowlitz River gets over a million steelhead smolts planted each year.  

The Chehalis River also gets a lot of steelhead smolts planted each year.  The Chehalis River has many tributaries and while it's not as big as the Columbia River it does contain some formidable numbers when it comes to catching winter steelhead.

The Satsop River is a popular winter steelhead destination because it is close to I-5.  It's a great river for steelhead depending on the hatchery steelhead smolt plants and river pressure.

Due to closures around north Puget Sound and the abundance of public access the Wynoochee River has become a very popular destination for steelhead fishing with ever increasing numbers of anglers found on this river since around 2000.  The Wynoochee River is about maxed out these days with high numbers of anglers the locals are venturing further NW to find more quiet places to enjoy steelhead fishing. . .

A quiet river near the Washington Coast, the Humptulips River is usually best known for it's king and coho salmon fall fishery.  Little attention has been given to the hatchery steelhead returns found on this river in both the summer and winter months.  At this point you're getting a little far from the Portland Metro area but you're in luck because the small resort town of Ocean Shores is nearby and provides lots of lodging availability when you go on a Humptulips River Steelhead Trip.

The Lower Quinault River is located within the boundaries of the Quinault Indian Reservation.  This means that fishing on this river is limited to Quinault Tribal Members and their guests or customers.  Quinault Tribal members upon applying for a business and guide license can host up to 3 guests per day on this remote river which boasts more steelhead than you're likely to find anywhere outside of Russia.  The upper Quinault River is open for all anglers to fish but is limited to native steelhead and stray hatchery steelhead.  

The Lower Queets River is similarly limited to Tribal Members and their guests.  However, the upper Queets has an abundance of hatchery steelhead for non-tribal anglers to enjoy.  The Queets is a wild river and can go from 1000cfs to 50,000+cfs overnight so you definitely want to watch river flows and go your first time with an experienced guide.

There is an abundance of steelhead fishing opportunities near Seattle, many of which are outline above.  The closest rivers for seattle steelhead fishing trips are the rivers which flow into Puget Sound, but have been heavily dampened by regulations aimed at protecting endangered wild steelhead.  As you can imagine with so many people living on and near native steelhead habitat in the Seattle Metro area the real losers are native fish and anglers who appreciate their beauty.

Luckily there are remote rivers as close as 1.5 hours from Seattle where Seattle Steelhead Fishing Trips can be very successful.  The Chehalis, Cowlitz, Satsop and Wynoochee are less than 2 hours from Seattle - read more about these rivers above.

Fishing for Steelhead in Washington State:

We've talked about where to catch steelhead in Washington State now let's talk more generally about actually fishing for Washington State Steelhead.

The easiest way to fish for steelhead in Washington State is with a licensed fishing guide.  All you have to do is show up with your fishing license and catch record card ready to catch steelhead.  Steelhead fishing guides provide you with a boat, fishing rods, gear, bait and tackle all precisely set up for you to catch steelhead.  

Book any Washington State Steelhead Trip Entirely Online - Winter Steelhead is best December through April: call/txt: 253-389-0359 email: 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Columbia River Fishing Guides

The mighty Columbia River is home to millions of returning salmon each year.  With runs for king salmon, coho salmon, sockeye salmon, chum salmon and steelhead and various strains of these fish all headed for different upriver destinations planning the timing of your columbia river fishing trip can seem a bit daunting.

Columbia river fishing guides have you covered.  Our columbia river fishing guides are all seasoned veterans of the river.  Many people think of native american fishers when it comes to salmon expertise and being one with nature.  However, you would be hard pressed to find any native american in Washington or Oregon who spends more hours each year on the river than any of our columbia river fishing guides.

Our columbia river fishing guides are often licensed to fish in both Washington and Oregon.  Washington State gives commercial guide licenses for salmon and steelhead and Oregon gives guide/outfitter licenses.  The reason we obtain Oregon licenses is because there is a moratorium in Washington State on Charter Licenses for salmon.  This means that if we want to take you fishing below the longview bridge on a columbia river fishing trip, we must obtain an Oregon guide/outfitter license which allows us to fish all the way to the mouth of the columbia river.

Columbia river fishing guides must obtain charter captain licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard.  They must provide proof of insurance to the state that licenses them.  

Most importantly by booking a trip with one of our Columbia River Fishing Guides all you have to do is show up dressed for the day with lunch and recreational fishing licences.

Your columbia river fishing guide will take you out on an adventure on the columbia river to fish for king salmon, chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and sturgeon.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Humptulips River Fishing

The Humptulips River is famous for huge king salmon and plentiful coho and chum salmon. The Humptulips River sees thousand of salmon return each fall beginning in good number in September with coho returning some years into January.  The sport fishing season for the Humptulips River usually begins September 1st.

Early in September you can expect to catch lots of King Salmon.  The 2016 season is set for a 2 king salmon per person limit for September. Early in the season the the Humptulips our Fishing Guides usually fish the lower stretches of the river because that is where the king salmon are early in the season.  As soon as there is a good amount of rain some coho salmon will start entering the river and some king salmon will also move to the middle stretches of the river.  Typically the first rains are short and do not sustain a mid or upper river fishery for more than a day or two.  Our Humptulips River Fishing Guides are very experienced with the influx of salmon, river levels and temperatures so know very well each day what the best stretch of river is for you to catch the most fish.

Usually by the first week of October you can expect to be fishing the middle section of the Humptulips River with your fishing guides.  Once it has rained steady enough that the fish are moving through the lower and middle sections of river you can expect to fish the upper float of the main Humptulips River for King and Coho Salmon.  The main float starts near the fish hatchery where you float through the 'chute' in the dark. It is quite an adventure to hear the sounds of the rushing water get louder and louder in the dark morning and then culminate as you float through the chute in the darkness.  Fishing the Humptulips is an adventure for many reason but this is one of the first you will experience each morning with your fishing guide.

There are several popular spots to fish along the river that most fishing guides and anglers know about.  What the majority of people do not know is how to successfully fish the Humptulips is all conditions in both low and high water for catching you limits of king and coho salmon.

Many guides have been fishing the Humptulips for years and more guides have been fising it only 2-3 years or are just starting out taking customers on guided fishing tours here.  We guarantee that when you fish with Waters West Guide Service you are fishing with the absolute MOST EXPERIENCED fishing guides on the entire river.

No team of guides has put more hours in or caught as many fish as we have!  If you're looking for the best of the best in a Humptulips River Fishing Guide - you've found us!

Book Online 24/7 or call our friendly fishing trip advisor: 253-389-0359

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Buoy 10 King Salmon Fishing Charters

One of the Pacific NW's most popular sport fisheries is known simply as Buoy 10.  Buoy 10 is a nautical marker marking the entrance to the Pacific Ocean of the Columbia River.  This marker also serves as a fishing regulation boundary.  The Buoy 10 fishery usually encompasses a line through Buoy 10 and Tongue Point near the Astoria Megler Bridge.

We have two of the best full time Washington State Fishing Guides available to fish the peak month for King and Coho Salmon each year in August.  During years when there is a strong Coho Salmon run we will stay and continue fishing into mid-late September for Coho Salmon.

The small towns of Chinook, Astoria and Warrenton along the mouth of the Columbia come alive in August due to summer tourism and the return of millions of fall salmon.

Our guides meet at the West Mooring Basin in Astoria and the Hammond Marina in Warrenton.

The 2016 King Salmon Forecast for the Columbia River is just shy of 1 million fish and as a result of the strong anticipated return King Salmon is open through Labor Day pending actual returns.

The largest King Salmon we caught in August 2015 was probably 43 pounds with at least one king salmon over 20 pounds caught daily.

If you want to catch the biggest and freshest king salmon of the year without taking your chances in the Ocean or Alaska then Buoy 10 fishing near Astoria, Oregon is the best bet for you!

When are they going to announce a Sockeye Opening for the Upper Columbia & Brewster?

Short Answer:  Sometime between tomorrow and early next week.

Long Answer:

The Sockeye salmon we are catching and releasing now and hoping to keep in the coming days and weeks are bound for Lake Osoyoos in the Okanogan.

Last year we had a stellar return of Sockeye but only 37,624 of the fish made it back to lake Osoyoos and only about 10,000 reached their spawning grounds on the upper Okanogan River.  And that is from a huge return that entered the Columbia of 512,000 fish!  The high water temperatures in the Okanogan are to blame for the death of almost 170,000 Sockeye Salmon that passed Wells Dam but never made it home.

As a result of this dismal return the pre-season forecast for 2016 was very low around 101,000 sockeye.  As of July 5th there have been 312,422 sockeye over Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and 78,131 have made it over Wells Dam on the upper river.

The popular Brewster Pool fishing area is just south of the Wells Dam on the Columbia River.

As of last Thursday they have counted 5,000 Sockeye as returning to their spawning grounds and they want to see at least 60,000 before they open the upper Columbia River to Sockeye Sport Fishing.  As fisheries biologists tally up the Friday-Sunday fish counts that 5,000 number could be very close to reaching the 60,000 goal.

The fisheries biologists are hopeful that the Brewster Pool and upriver destinations will open for Sockeye before this coming weekend but at the latest it will be early next week.

If you have a sockeye trip scheduled for this week or weekend you are welcomed to come and fish for a 2 hatchery king salmon limit + 2 jacks and release lots and lots of native kings and sockeye salmon during your trip.

Since July 1st, everyone who has fished has had a terrific time with 20+ hookups per person per day.

You can book a half day or full day trip now through July for Kings and/or Sockeye.  Half day trips until Sockeye opens will be for King Salmon and after Sockeye opens half day trips are for Sockeye only and full day trips are for Kings and Sockeye.  All trips are scheduled for Brewster.

Stay tuned for updates - feel free to call/txt/email.  If you want to reschedule a Sockeye date you have booked for between now and early next week please email with alternate dates you can fish.  If you don't have a Sockeye trip booked yet please try to book one soon because most dates through the 20th are full but we may send another guide over to help with morning trips on the weekends starting next weekend to get everyone accommodated.

Thank you for your calls/emails/questions - more coming soon!

Jessica - 253-389-0359