The coho salmon fishing season on the Columbia River should be good

Even with the Chinook fishery reopening Friday at Buoy 10, anglers can still look forward to Coho.

Coho fishing should be very good if the ocean catches off the mouth of the Columbia River are any indication. Saltwater trips get fast limits of coho salmon.

Retention of chinook ended September 4 from Buoy 10 to Tongue Point, but in-season evaluation and stock composition allowed for an additional opportunity to retain chinook through December 31 for the ongoing coho fishery.

The forecast for adult Chinook falls this year is 554,000. Nearly 600,000 adult coho are also expected to run.

For anglers still intent on catching Chinook, the Lower Columbia has been producing well. Hog lines from Chinook Landing and Gleason’s boat were getting some very nice fish.

The Chinook portion of the Buoy 10 fishery has been a bit slow, but the river has not had to be closed this year, reported Ryan Lothrop, WDFW’s Columbia River Fisheries Director.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve opened a Chinook over Labor Day,” Lothrop said.

He feels the seasons set this year, which included two short shutouts, have worked very well, even if the sting has been inconsistent at times.

“We’re seeing on-track efforts going to be about the same as they were last year, but catch rates have kind of bounced back,” he said. “It started out better than expected, but then it slowed down. Then the first day after the shutdown was very hot. Then it kind of went back down.” What again.”

He was not surprised that catch rates were slightly lower than last year.

“Last year, we set this record in the tule race at the pool at Bonneville,” he said.

He explains that expecting to set two records in a row is unrealistic. He also points out that the low catch rate has helped the department keep the season open for Chinook.

Lothrop also said that when the Buoy 10 fishery closed, most anglers and guides stayed near Astoria. There were options above Tongue Point, plus good action in the salt, so anglers didn’t need to leave the area.

Reports of excellent coho fishing in the ocean have guides and anglers anticipating the time when they will begin moving upriver in large numbers.

Our Oregon fishing guide, Bob Reese, has been targeting saltwater, and he’s been really impressed with the number of coho that are biting there, and they’re running really nice size.

“They haven’t flooded the river yet, but it’s just a matter of days,” Reese said. “We went out of the mouth because the weather was beautiful and the fishing was very good.”

He said the boat limit can come as quickly as an hour of fishing when the bite is hot.

“In two days, on two different days, we landed five coho at the same time,” he said. “This isn’t just a drug addict, he’s down.”

Reese said he had never achieved that before.

He said he’s had good success fishing a piece of spinnerbait, a 3.5-inch spinner blade fished on a pink jig, with a piece of anchovy for extra oomph. He fished this behind a 360 degree flasher.

“This is the only thing that has remained consistent day after day,” he adds.

He also found some success trolling a Spinfish, a bait-rigged plug, behind a Flasher 360 as well, but the spinner of the lure was fishing so well that he rarely changed his presentation.

Although the coho trees are not yet flush, there are already some places where the tributaries are becoming good for coho. The Lewis River has already seen some good catches, and Lothrop reports that the mouth of the Lewis River has been good for chinook and coho.

He said a spinnerbait will work with coho even once they move into the river.

For Chinook anglers, the Vancouver area has been very good lately, with most of the fish falling into the hands of established anglers on hog lines. Chinook are moving over the dam in good numbers as well, and fishing has also picked up on Drano Lake, at the mouth of the White Salmon River, and at the mouth of Hood River.

As of September 7, more than 250,000 Chinook have crossed Bonneville Dam. Nearly 41,000 coho also crossed the dam.

Coho are beginning to congregate near the mouths of tributaries, with the Cowlitz and Lewis Rivers on the Washington side seeing action, and anglers are also finding them congregating near the mouth of the Sandy River.

Anglers are reminded that there are different regulations for each section of the Columbia River. For a complete list of fall salmon regulations by region, visit the WDFW website.

For all fall season salmon fisheries, each legal angler on board may continue to deploy fishing gear until the daily adult salmon bag limit for all anglers on board is reached. Anglers must use barbless hooks for all salmon fishing in Colombia.

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