Are you planning to head to the Columbia River this spring for salmon fishing? Here are some tips to help you come out successful on your trip.

Fishing along the rivers of Oregon is a spectacular experience, but none more so than during the spring salmon season.

The Columbia River is renowned for its spring salmon fishing, also popularly known as spring Chinook, “Springers” or “Up River Brights.”

Ideal for a dose of stunning scenery and all the action of hooking the highly-prized spring Chinook, the Columbia River is where it’s at this spring.

If you’re looking for tips on how to snag yourself a beautiful spring Chinook, here’s all you need to know about salmon fishing on the Columbia River.

All You Need To Know About Salmon Fishing

Salmon fishing along the Columbia River in the springtime is highly popular, and along with that comes regulations to match.

This is for good reason, as a single salmon can fetch up to $50 per pound and a 20 pound salmon is a trophy prize. Therefore regulations must be put in place to control this sport at this time of year.

During the spring, Columbia River Chinook are the Mercedes Sports Car of the salmon species. They carry an additional fat content 9 times that of their fall counterparts allowing them to migrate further and sustain their lifecycle until spawning in the fall.

Despite the regulations, springtime offers some fine salmon fishing and is most certainly worth the wait!

Typically, spring Chinook fishing is ideal from mid-March until the beginning of April. A very compact window as the run comes in a narrow window where the Department of Fish and Game wants them to get above the dams.

While certain parts of the river are better than others throughout the season, the trick is to hire an experienced guide who knows the river and where the fish are biting. We can help!

Here a few tricks of the trade to help you hook one of these springtime beauties…

1. Wear Appropriate Clothing

Be warned — springtime on the Columbia River is still pretty chilly and wet.

Make sure your kit is up to scratch, being dry and warm will put in the right frame-of-mind to remain patient and make your catch. These fish are light biters and paying attention to your rod is very important.

Pack a good waterproof jacket and boots and layer up with warm clothing. Don’t forget a hat or scarf as the weather is quite unpredictable in these parts!

2. Hygiene of Your Tackle

When fishing with your guide, all your tackle will be furnished for you. Many want to use their own but most guides do not allow it. We are here to make you successful and the gear is designed for maximum results.

Spring Chinook Salmon enter into the Columbia River driven by two things:

  1. Their migrating instinct to return to their home waters after 3 years in the Pacific Ocean.
  2. Once in the river, they can smell their home water over 600 miles away so, hygiene is key.

You will find your guide baiting your hook and asking you not to touch it. Do not be surprised if he asked you to wash your hands at times during the trip as many do things unconsciously that may affect the tackle and your scent does not help.

3. Keep Things Slow and on the Bottom

The trick to salmon fishing is to take things slow.

Spring Chinook Salmon have entered into the Columbia from an ocean temperature of 48-54 degrees. The Columbia now is just a shy over 40 degrees. Carrying the fat content they do, they are not overly aggressive to feed.

Getting them to take a herring you need to place the bait right in front of their nose.

These salmon are not as an aggressive returner as you would think, with the colder water they are lethargic and like swimming the softer waters without the current and along the shoulder bottom of the river’s bed.

4. Rods and Reels

Your rods and reels will be provided to you by your guide. We will furnish you the highest quality designs in equipment available where many have been developed here in the northwest.

We tend to use a longer rod that has greater flex and strength in the shaft allowing the fish to take the bait and giving the fisherman the control to get the fish to the boat.

These fish are strong and will not be netted on the first attempt.  Listen to your guide’s advice while fishing.

5. Hook and Line

The two techniques that I use are fishing with a triangular flasher with bait and a newly developed style called ProTroll using bait, lures or spinners.

When using bait and flasher,  monoline works the best as we like the stretch it offers allowing the fish to take the bait without feeling the line pull.

Our leaders are made up of fluorocarbon to make the bait look like a wounded herring. The flasher is an attractant symbolizing other bait fish.

 Make Your Catch With It’s All Good Guide Service

If you’re looking to make the catch of a lifetime, It’s All Good Guide Service is your go-to guide service!

We offer guided fishing out of Portland, Astoria, and Garibaldi, offering the opportunity to catch some of the finest salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon.

Get in touch with us, and get hooked!