Thursday, November 6, 2014

Best time to Fish (Fishing Guide Perspective)

Disclaimer*  I know that at least one of you uses more advanced tools to look at weather forecasts and possibly river conditions.  In the crowd there are physicists, flight controllers and the like who - I am confident - have better tools to predict weather patterns.  With that said I will walk you through what we look at to decide whether or not a river is at a fishable level.

There are several factors we look at to determine whether or not to recommend rescheduling a fishing trip.  River discharge in cubic feet per second (CFS), water clarity (turbidity), amount of fish in the river, condition of fish in the river and river traffic.  And of course a guides 'gut' feeling (Guides intuition) which is influenced by the above factors.  We are paying guides for their ability to catch fish and if they feel that they cannot catch fish we probably don't want to go out with them.  On the other hand if the river has a higher than average CFS and there are lots of fish in the river and your guide knows he can catch fish then we go for it.

Cowlitz River Fall Silvers Run is from September through November
This was taken late October 2014

Water Flows Cubic ft/s CFS

River discharge is used a lot when I am talking to customers about whether or not we should fish.  
Here are some links that will be helpful for this discussion and for your future reference:

As stated above, the river discharge in CFS is not a good indication of good fishing.  You also have to consider water clarity, amount of fish in the river, condition of fish in the river and river traffic.  Fish have certain habits when migrating up rivers.  In general for the Pacific NW, fish enter the stream and they will move from hole to hole upriver until you catch them or they reach their spawning ground or a fish hatchery.  We can call these 'fishing holes' you've heard of those right?  In order for the fish to move from the ocean or bay into those holes - there needs to be enough water for the fish to swim upstream into those holes and then from hole to hole.  

When there is very low CFS the fish might make it into the first hole or two in the lower section of a river.  The fish will stay there until they are caught or the CFS goes up and they can continue up stream.  There is also a problem with low CFS in that we guide out of boats.  We guide out of many different types of boats with differing hull degrees and different material on the bottom of those boats.  Some boats can easily make it down a river running at 200 CFS while others need 2000 CFS.  Some drift boats have a UHMV bottom on their drift boats which makes it very easy to glide over exposed rocks in the river during extremely low conditions.  Jet sleds can have a higher or lower degree hull which can vary from front to back of the bottom of the boat and dictate what level the river needs to be at for this boat to not hit bottom.  

Rivers can also be 'flooded' taking over nearby roads and fields with large debris floating down them.  This can be unsafe for you and the guides and it's easy to make the decision to reschedule.  When the river is not flooded but running at an above average CFS there are several things happening which go into our decision to recommend rescheduling.  When the river is above a certain level - the fishing holes disappear!  That makes sense right?  The hole that the fish stay in - where catch them - is literally flooded out.  The fish then disperse and are not in any predictable place in the river.   

If you look at this picture of a cross section of a river - the fish are going to be in the area labeled 'fastest current.'  Again, not a fish biologist, but I have been taught that the fish like oxygen rich water because they use their gills to take oxygen out of the water and into their blood stream.  The fast the current in general the more oxygen in the water during normal flows.  When there are rapids or other features which mix the water with the air - that is bringing more oxygen into the water.  On our rivers there are fast spots that are not class I or II rapids but they are still parts of the river where the water will be more oxygen rich and fish will hang out.  The part of the river above labeled fastest current is likely where rapids or other obstacles would be just upstream to increase oxygen in this water.

So if the area labelled fastest current is our fishing hole and the water rises to a level where the distinction of that hole is diminished - then the stream is not at an optimal level for fishing as the fish are not in the fishing holes.  

Goldfish example. .  Imagine placing a goldfish into a regular drinking glass filled with water.  Then take the goldfish in the drinking glass and place it into a bucket of water, a bathtub or a swimming pool.  It's going to be much easier to catch the goldfish when it's only in the drinking glass and progressively harder as you increase the amount of water around the goldfish.

Water Clarity

The Green Color is Best

Notice the Color of the River in the Background as the Perfect Green
Larry with a perfect Cowlitz River Spring Chinook King Salmon

Water clarity is also an important factor in determining whether to reschedule a fishing trip.  We are not using nets to catch these fish.  We are using fishing jigs, cured salmon eggs (roe), prawn bait, spinners and other fishing tackle which are dependent on the fish seeing and accepting your offer.  So in addition to casting in the right place - which we can talk about later - the water has to be clear enough for the fish to see what you're presenting to them without being so clear that they are spooked by seeing you or your boat in the near distance.  

It's a tough proposition.  You're in the river in a boat or in the water with your waders.  You don't want the fish to see you - but you want them to see your lure or bait.  This is why you cast so far from the boat when spinner or bobber fishing and why you pull the line out on your reel so many times when you're anchor fishing.  You want to be as far away from the fish as possible and still be able to get your presentation right in front of or near their mouths.

Another factor in water clarity is the temperature of the water.  Solvents will dissolve more readily in a water solute than a cooler one.  So if the temperature is predicted to be very low or very high on the day of your scheduled trip this will also be taken into consideration.

When the water is very low and clear you would generally use a smaller darker colored presentation and when it is cloudier or has higher turbidity then you would use a larger brighter colored presentation for them to be able to see it better.  Of course you can only make something so small and dark or big and bright and have it be effective in catching a fish while you're nearby.

Abundance of Fish

March 15th through April 20th is next Prime Window for King Salmon

If every other condition is perfect and there are only 4 fish in the river - you could catch those 4 fish and have a great day on the water.  (some of you know where we have done this and we catch every fish that comes into the river each day ) However, this is rarely the case so we like to fish when there are more than 4 fish in the river.    

We fish several different rivers at different time of year for different species of fish.  We will use the fictitious 'Abundance River' as our example.  The Abundance River has 5 runs of fish.  Winter and Summer Steelhead, Spring and Fall Chinook and Coho Salmon.  The Winter Steelhead start coming into the river around November with increasing numbers entering up until the end of January then decreasing numbers entering into April.  In this example the best time to fish would be the end of January even though the season may be from November through April.  And depending on other conditions you could have your best day of fishing in December or March.  We would generally fish this river from mid December through mid March for a run with this timing.

Here is a chart showing the passage of Adult Chinook over the Bonneville Dam for 2014, 2013 and the 10 year average.  This shows how dramatically close you can time the run and choose the best days to fish if the only factor was the Abundance of fish in the river.  You would only want to fish for Spring Chinook on May 1st and Fall Chinook on September 18th or close to those dates.  As you can see there are good numbers of fish going over the Bonneville Dam between April 10th and May 15th and between August 25th and October 11th.  So we fish downstream of the Bonneville dam near Portland between March 15th and April 20th and further downstream from August 1st through September 30th. 

We would not want to target Chinook on the Columbia River below Bonneville dam between November and February based on this chart.  And if all other conditions such as CFS, Turbidity and River traffic were poor on September 18th - you can bet we would be out there fishing though someone may look at the river traffic or CFS and determine by that number alone that fishing should be rescheduled.

Condition of Fish

Spring Chinook are the Best!

When you're fishing in the Ocean for Salmon - they are in the best condition possible.  They are living and feeding and freshly preserved to perfection in the salter waters of the Pacific Ocean.  Fish enter the rivers to spawn and usually die.  Of course the experience of fishing on a large charter boat in the Ocean is much different to a 2 person drift boat trip on the Olympic Peninsula so we are trying to get you the biggest brightest fish possible upriver in that boat.  We do also offer the Columbia River trips where the fish are just in from the ocean fresh.

When the fish are coming into the river fast - when conditions for such are perfect - then you will catch fresh fish with sea lice still attached and they are in near perfect condition.  When conditions are poor and the fish have been stuck in one hole for a while due to lack of water - then their condition is poor.  After some fish spawn they lethargically start drifting back down stream and eventually die.  The river could be loaded with fish but they could be stuck in a hole and dying or have already spawned and be going downstream.

You want strong fresh upriver bound salmon and steelhead. . 

One of the best upriver fish to catch is actually a spring chinook.  They have the longest journey to travel to get back to their spawning grounds so they have extra delicious omega 3 fatty acids which they will burn on the way to their destination.  Many of the Columbia River Spring Chinook are headed to Canada or Idaho - a long way to go.  These fish are sometimes called 'Upriver Brights' and are probably the best quality fish you will catch in the Pacific NW.  They stay in the best condition the longest while in the river.

River Traffic

Beware of the Bikini and Board Short clad bunch swimming in the fishing hole 

Photo credit:

River traffic can comprise of bank anglers, other boat fisherman and guides, recreational river users and commercial traffic.  Our biggest concerns are the first 3 in that order.  One of the advantages to fishing with a guide in a boat is that you will likely have more spots on the river which can be accessed by boat only which will be free of foot traffic.  There are times, however, when the fish are only in one hole on the river and all the boats and bank anglers are at the same spot.  

Weekends bring the biggest crowds for both bank anglers and other boat fisherman.  This is why we always recommend fishing during the week when there is less traffic.  The smaller the river the bigger this factor plays in deciding to recommend rescheduling.  There may only be 1-10 holes or slots to fish in a river and if there are 200 boats and 50 bank anglers then your chances of catching fish are very low.

Recreational river users would include inter tube floaters and kayakers in the summertime.  When the temperatures in the NW approach 80 degrees people naturally want to head to the nearest swimming hole or river and swim or go for a nice float.  On a hot busy August weekend there can be hundred of people floating down the 'Abundance River' and they could care less if they are floating over or swimming in your fishing hole.  Needless to say - fishing on a weekend in a small river when it's 90 degrees is out of the questions.  At best we can accomplish an early morning float - catch our limit and hope to be out of there before there is a bikini and board shorts clad group of teenagers swimming with the fish.

Guides Intuition

I am not a psychologist so I can only guess what factors go into whether or not a guide thinks that fishing will be good enough to take a paying customer.  Some guides don't want to take a paying customer unless all conditions are perfect.  CFS, Turbidity, Abundance of fish, Condition of fish and river traffic.  Some guides have experienced catching lots of fish in dirty water or at high CFS and are confident they can catch fish in less than perfect conditions.  Of course, we are also making these decisions 12-48 hours before a fishing trip and it can be hard to guess what the exact CFS and Turbidity are going to be between 5am and 2pm the day of your scheduled fishing trip.  

RECAP Examples

Example 1:  River is loaded with fish, it's peak season - the fish are bright and perfect for the grill.  The river is a little bit on the clear side but definitely fishable.  CFS is perfect for the boat you're scheduled for.  But. . it's going to be 90 degrees by noon and it's August.  So we know that there will be lots of recreational swimmers and the like around all of our fishing holes - and earlier than normal since the temperature will be so high so early in the day.  We would recommend waiting a week until temps cool down.

Example 2:  All river conditions are perfect.  CFS, Turbidity, River Traffic - all good.  You're booked for March 20th and the fish just have not come into the part of the river that we're fishing yet.  We would recommend rescheduling if there are absolutely no fish to be caught.  Of course they will be showing up any day - so your scheduled day could be the day - we will communicate the facts with you.  

Example 3:  It's scheduled to rain 3 inches between today and 2 days from now when your trip is scheduled for the Satsop River.  3 inches of rain in 2 days will drown out the fish in the holes and the water will be very dirty.  CFS and Turbidity are poor - even if the river is loaded with fish 3 inches of rain is a trip killer.  SPIN:  If the river is absolutely loaded with fish and it's the peak week of the run and it's going to rain 2 inches before your trip - we might suggest going anyways if your guide is confident we will catch fish.

Example 4:  Your scheduled to fish the Queets River on January 3rd.  This is an excellent date for Winter Steelhead but the water is at a high CFS and high turbidity.  The Wynoochee which is a dam controlled river will stay at a lower CFS with lower turbidity - it could be the perfect green color when the Queets is completely flooded out.  So we would suggest switching rivers in this case.

Experience is #1

We are very experienced fishing all of the river we guide on.  In addition to Casey's experience fishing and guiding, Jessica's experience weighing these above factor s day to day and educating customers - we strive to find the best fishing guides for the best fisheries during the peak seasons.

When you book a fishing trip with you are guaranteed that we have spent thousands of hours in learning and preparation for YOUR day on the water.  

Any trip that you book with us will be with a guide who is confident fishing in less than perfect conditions and we will always communicate with you in advance if the odds are stacked against you and give you the option to reschedule your fishing trip or move to a different river with better conditions.

Our goal is to match as many customers up with as many guides as possible - while ensuring the customer has the best possible time on the water and catches fish and the guide is confident and happy fishing there as well.

Check out our online availability for Fishing Trips - Book a Trip Entirely Online

Jessica is always available with any question big or small during your trip booking/decision making process.  Call or text 253.389.0359 or email

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Columbia River 2014 Salmon Wrap Up

What an amazing Summer it was on the Columbia River.  Many of us are often nostalgic for a history we have never seen or experienced.  A time and place where loading friends and family into a small fishing boat and heading out on the Ocean, Lake or River produced more fish than you really knew what to do with at the end of the day.  From the record Spring Chinook and Sockeye Salmon on the east side of the cascades to the most amazing Buoy 10 Salmon season we've ever seen.

Sockeye Salmon July 2014 Near Wanapum Dam

We don't always fish for Sockeye Salmon but when they won't get off our line while we're fishing for upriver Spring Chinook. . you take what you can get I guess.  For those who were brave enough to drive alternate routes around the Pateros wildfires found easy 6 fish limits of bright Columbia River Sockeye.  As Eastern Washington is a popular vacation area for many of us Coastal Inhabitants - the opportunity to add a half day salmon fishing trip to your daily list of activities made for a lot of happy campers.

There was a lot of hype for both the Spring and Summer/Fall Run of Chinook for the Columbia River in 2014.  Most of the numbers for fish reaching barriers are in - check out the Columbia River Fish Counts for yourself.  Wow - 1.15 Million Chinook over Bonneville Dam with hundred of Chinook still crossing daily at the end of October and thousands of Coho crossing.  We helped clients catch a fair number of Spring Chinook on the Columbia near Portland in late March and early April.

Spring Chinook near Portland March 2014
"Springer Fever" is what fisherman get late winter in lieu of Cabin Fever.  We start ordering fishing leaders, flashers and herring in anticipation of the first King Salmon of the year.  They start trickling into the Columbia River in February when the first catch reports start spreading.  Then by the end of March there are significant numbers available to catch from about Tongue Point upriver to around Camas.  The Spring Chinook fishery is enjoyable as there is good action and most of the fishing is done while trolling.  You also get the added bonus of Mount Hood being the backdrop for your trip.  

Be sure to subscribe to our blog to get pre-season updates for the Portland/Vancouver Spring Chinook Fishery.  You can book a full boat for Spring Chinook now and buy the boat for only $999 which pencils out to only $166.50/person.  You can book a Spring Chinook Charter Online Here.

The 2014 Buoy 10 Season was also amazing.  The forecast was for 1.6 million Chinook and 980,000 Coho.  It looks like the Chinook forecast will run a little short as we are still just shy of 1 million Chinook including jacks for 2014 so far.  The Coho totals may also appear to be coming in significantly lower than the 980,000 predicted.  We did not feel any significant shortages during the August/September Buoy 10 Season.  We crushed the Kings in August and the fishing for Coho in September was really the best we've ever seen.  If only this season lasted year round the world would be a better place.  At least our world would be.  The catch reports from fish and wildlife below are much lower than what we were seeing:

Aug. 1: 43 boats with 107 anglers caught 13 chinook and 15 hatchery coho.Aug. 2: 46 boats with 118 anglers caught 31 chinook and 25 hatchery coho. Aerial flight survey showed 225 boats on the water at Buoy-10.

Aug. 3: 46 boats with 126 anglers caught 33 chinook and eight hatchery coho.

Aug. 4: 53 boats with 138 anglers caught 31 chinook and five hatchery coho
; one charter boat with five anglers caught no fish.

Aug. 5: No sampling conducted.

Aug. 6: 30 boats with 75 anglers caught 22 chinook.

Aug. 7: 48 boats with 119 anglers caught 20 chinook and 16 hatchery coho.

Aug. 8: Five boats with 11 anglers caught two chinook and eight hatchery coho.

Aug, 9: 90 boats with 254 anglers caught 33 chinook and 90 hatchery coho.

Aug. 10: 97 boats with 283 anglers caught 26 chinook and 173 hatchery coho.

Aug. 11: 87 boats with 216 anglers caught 34 chinook and 115 hatchery coho.

Aug. 12: 45 boats with 112 anglers caught 10 chinook and 19 hatchery coho.

Aug. 13: No sampling conducted.

Aug. 14: 98 boats with 259 anglers caught 52 chinook and nine hatchery coho.

Aug. 15: 85 boats with 252 anglers caught 79 chinook and 30 hatchery coho.

Aug. 16: 120 boats with 370 anglers caught 139 chinook and 59 hatchery coho.

Aug. 17: 136 boats with 371 anglers caught 99 chinook and 62 hatchery coho; 
two charter boats with 22 anglers caught no fish.

Aug. 18: No sampling conducted.

Aug. 19: 112 boats with 355 anglers caught 122 chinook and 68 hatchery coho.

Aug. 20: 59 boats with 156 anglers caught 45 chinook and 35 hatchery coho.

Aug. 21: 43 boats with 111 anglers caught 16 chinook and 16 hatchery coho.

Aug. 22: 44 boats with 131 anglers caught 41 chinook and 53 hatchery coho.

Aug. 23: 134 boats with 361 anglers caught 85 chinook and 120 hatchery coho.

Aug. 24: 87 boats with 235 anglers caught 71 chinook and 105 hatchery coho.

Aug. 25: 43 boats with 126 anglers caught nine chinook and 52 hatchery coho.

I am not sure what was happening on those charter boats that showed up to the dock with no fish but we were close to or at limits every day from August 2nd through mid-September when we had to go home to the Grays Harbor Area Rivers.

Coho Limits in September
If you're looking for a small group charter for August or September 2015 we promise you'll have a great time and will catch as many or more fish than most other boats.  You can book an August 2014 Buoy 10 Fishing Charter Here.  We will be moored at the West Mooring Basin in Astoria and will fish between the Astoria Megler Bridge and Buoy 10 - all within the Columbia River Estuary.  

Lots of Big Kings Caught in August 2014 at Buoy 10

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Historical Decline of Columbia River Fall Salmon

Salmon belong to a family of fish called Salmonidae. This family appeared between 30 and 50 million years ago with modern salmon appearing in the fossil record about six million years ago. All species of salmon are anadromous, which means adults migrate from the ocean to freshwater streams to deposit their eggs. After variable periods of rearing in freshwater, juvenile salmon migrate to the ocean to grow and mature, when the lifecycle repeats itself with the next generation. Except as noted, all salmon are semelparous, meaning that they die after spawning once.
Four main species of salmon return to the Columbia River:
Salmon once occupied nearly 13,000 miles of Columbia River Basin streams and rivers. According to conservative estimates, the Columbia River Basin, both above and below Bonneville Dam, once produced between 10 and 16 million salmon annually. Historically, salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin consisted of 16% fall chinook, 12% spring chinook, 30% summer chinook, 11% coho, 23% sockeye, 8% steelhead, and less than 1% chum. These runs generally extended from March through October, though steelhead runs extended through the winter. Below is a video showing how the area accessible to salmon has been reduced over the 120 years between 1890 and 2011.

Wild Salmon Life Cycle

After 1 to 7 years in the ocean, the adult salmon that have survived countless hazards from predators, ocean conditions, and commercial harvest return to the Columbia River and head for their home streams.
Arriving at her home stream, a female builds a nest, or redd, in fine, clean gravel.
As a female deposits her thousands of eggs, a male releases milt, fertilizing them. Both male and female salmon die soon after spawning, except steelhead and cutthroat, which may survive another year or more to spawn again.
Yolk-sac fry, or alevins
enlarge +
Jeffrey Rich photo
Tiny yolk-sac fry, or alevins, hatch after 2 to 8 months.  They stay in the gravel for another 1 to 3 months until the food from the yolk sac is used up.  They need cold, pure water to breathe and wash away their wastes.
The fry emerge from the gravel and begin to feed on their own.  Many are lost to predators, competition, or failure to adapt to stream conditions.  Some types of salmon begin their migration downstream soon after emergence, while others stay in freshwater for a year or more.
During migration the fry are vulnerable to predators, such as birds or northern pikeminnow, walleye, and bass, which thrive in the reservoirs.  Seven to 15 percent die passing each dam.
By the time they reach the estuary, the fry have become smolts, and their bodies are adapting to saltwater. Here they linger to feed and grow before entering the ocean.  Predators, unfavorable conditions, and failure to adapt will deplete their numbers further.
Once adapted to the ocean, the smolts will spend one to seven years in the ocean, migrating thousands of miles and growing into adults before returning to their home streams to repeat the cycle.
- See more at:

Big runs of Columbia River chinook, coho highlight 2014 salmon forecasts

OLYMPIA - Salmon fishing in the ocean and the Columbia River this summer could be great thanks to an abundant run of hatchery coho and a potentially historic return of chinook, according to state fishery managers.
Opportunities for anglers also look good in Puget Sound, where another strong run of coho salmon is expected this year.
The forecasts - developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes - for chinook, coho, sockeye and chum salmon were released at a public meeting in Olympia today, marking the starting point for developing 2014 salmon-fishing seasons.
Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for WDFW, said protecting and restoring weak wild salmon populations will continue to be the top priority as fishery managers develop salmon seasons.
"It's early in the process, but these forecasts point to an exciting summer of salmon fishing," Warren said. "We look forward to working with our tribal co-managers and constituents to establish fishing opportunities on abundant runs of hatchery salmon while ensuring we meet our conservation goals for wild fish populations."
This year's forecasts include a return of more than 1.6 million Columbia River fall chinook salmon - which would be the largest since record-keeping began in 1938. A return of nearly 1 million Columbia River coho salmon is expected back this summer as well.
"This certainly could be a banner year for summer salmon fisheries, particularly off the Washington coast and in the Columbia River," Warren said.
As in past years, salmon-fishing prospects in 2014 vary by area:
  • Columbia River: Of the 1.6 million fall chinook expected to return to the Columbia River this season, nearly 86 percent of those fish are "bright" stocks. Those fish, most of which are destined for areas above Bonneville Dam, are the foundation of the in-river recreational salmon fishery.

    If that run comes in as forecast, the total number of brights would exceed last year's entire Columbia River run of 1.2 million chinook salmon. Additionally, the ocean abundance of Columbia River coho is forecast to be about 964,000 fish, three times as many fish as last year's actual abundance.
  • Washington's ocean waters: The strong return of Columbia River salmon should also boost fisheries in the ocean this year.

    About 225,000 lower river hatchery chinook are expected back this season, 35,000 more fish than last year's return. Those salmon, known as "tules," are the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

    The abundant coho salmon return projected for the Columbia River will contribute to fisheries off the coast of Washington as well, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fishery manager for WDFW.

    "This is the first time in more than a decade we have had exceptionally strong forecasts for chinook and coho in the same year," Milward said. "That's good news for anglers because those abundant runs could result in higher catch quotas for both species this summer in the ocean."
  • Puget Sound: Summer/fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total nearly 283,000 fish, slightly higher than last year's forecast. Most chinook fisheries in Puget Sound, where hatchery chinook make up the bulk of the returning fish, will be similar to last year, said Ryan Lothrop, recreational fishery manager for WDFW.

    A strong run of coho salmon is expected back to Puget Sound as well. Nearly 873,000 coho are forecast to return to the Sound's streams, similar to last year's projection. Lothrop said bright spots for coho include the Nisqually, Skokomish, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish rivers, as well as Lake Washington and the marine waters of mid- and south Puget Sound.

    Another bright spot is Baker Lake, where an abundant sockeye return of 35,000 salmon is expected back this year. Fishery managers will once again consider sockeye fisheries in Baker Lake and the Skagit River, Lothrop said.

    Another possibility is bonus bag limits for sockeye during summer salmon fisheries in marine areas around the San Juan Islands and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. "About 23 million sockeye salmon are forecast to return to Canada's Fraser River this year, and a portion of those fish will make their way through those marine areas," Lothrop said.

    However, a sockeye fishery in Lake Washington is unlikely this year, Lothrop said. The sockeye forecast is about 167,000, well below the minimum return of 350,000 sockeye needed to consider opening a recreational fishery in the lake.
State, tribal and federal fishery managers will meet March 8-13 in Sacramento with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to develop options for this year's commercial and recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
Additional public meetings have been scheduled through March to discuss regional fishery issues. Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting process moves into the "North of Falcon" and PFMC meetings, which will determine the final 2014 salmon seasons.
The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 5-10 meeting in Vancouver, Wash. The 2014 salmon fisheries package for Washington's inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC's April meeting.
A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW's website at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Measuring Weight for Released Wild Steelhead

With the Wynoochee River dropping to a fishable level we've been able to get out and finally catch some nice fish.  This time of year we aim for our 2 hatchery fish limit, and in the process catch many wild steelhead.  We carefully make sure that the adipose fin is clipped prior to removing a fish in the net from the water.   

When there is a fin - we carefully get out of the boat and into the water for a quick picture and safe release.  

When catching a trophy native steelhead, such as this one, you want to know how big it is.  This particular fish measured 21.5 inches in girth.

So the question is, how do you calculate the weight of a fish by taking a measurement in inches?  We have 2 different methods to present here.  The easy one is the "length minus 20 rule."  This works best for steelhead between 25 and 35 inches in length.  You simply subtract 20 from the length to get the weight.  For example is your steelhead is 30 inches long, (30inches-20)=10lbs, by this method your fish would be 10lbs.

However, if your fish is over 25 inches or appears extra heavy in the middle, you should use the chart below.  Fortunately for us - we get to use this chart alot!!

*Also note that for large steelhead the girth is usually close to 1/2 the length.

Using this chart, the above pictured fish is approximately 26lbs.  (21.5inch girth*2)=43inch length


Hope this helps measure some big steelhead for you in the near future!
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Wynoochee River 2014 Winter Season

The Winter Steelhead Season on the Wynoochee River has been a staple of our annual offerings for many years.  The river produces some very large hatchery winter steelhead and gets the largest number of hatchery smolts out of all the individual river systems open for fishing. Over 170,000 hatchery steelhead and we always do our best to get as many of those to the boat as possible for all of you.

First time customers are always pleasantly surprised when they brave the cold and rain and catch their first Winter Steelhead.  You can see how nice and big these hatchery fish are from Ken's 2013 fish below.

Unfortunately we've spent more time this year looking at the below graph than actually fishing!  The average flow for the Wynoochee River this time of year is between 1500 and 2500 cfs at Black Creek.  You can see from the image below we were well below our normal low right around 800-900cfs most of January and February until it shot up - overnight - to over 5000cfs on February 12th.  We didn't even get 1 day in between for an optimal fishery.

You can track this data yourself from our website:   Wynoochee River Page

On the left hand side there are links to both the actual current flows and the predicted flows shown below.

Right now from the above data it would appear that we should be back on the river fishing by Saturday!  We are very excited to get out and George, who is booked for this Saturday and has been rescheduled 3 times so far this season, would appreciate it if the forecast remains the same!

We hope to see you out there this weekend and maybe Mother Nature will bless the remaining 6 weeks of our season with moderate weather!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spring Chinook 2014

With the first Spring Chinook of the season making their way over Bonneville Dam, we are really starting to get excited for the 2014 Spring King Fishery!

Numbers vary from report to report but basically we're expecting about 100,000 MORE fish this year!!  Our staples are of course the Columbia and Cowlitz and both should be very productive this year.

Total: Cowlitz Kalama Lewis Willamette Upriver Total
2013 209000 5500 700 1600 141400 59800
2014 308000 7800 500 1100 239900 58700

The Lower River opens March 1st and the season is set to run now through April 7th.  We will switch over to the Cowlitz and go back to the Columbia when it re-opens if fishing is better there than on the Cowlitz.

We will be fishing the Columbia starting March 16th and invite everyone to come down, enjoy a reduced room rate at the Red Lion Vancouver and fish a day or two!

Use the link below to share our Blog on Facebook and Google+  - Great way to get buddies to commit to a fishing trip.

See you all soon!

Casey - 253-389-0359