For the active outdoorsmen, the 4th of July weekend offers a nearly unlimited opportunity. There are literally (figuratively) a thousand different places to be fishing right now and we have plenty of great weather to enjoy it in. Let’s take a look at the plethora of opportunity available right now in our region.
Summer Chinook is always a headliner this time of year. The Columbia River ‘June Hog’ as some folks still call it, basically equates to a bigger, meaner, version of a Springer. Though they don’t currently return in the numbers that their spring arriving cousins do, they tend to fall prey to an anglers offering more easily since water conditions are generally better. They can be caught on pretty much anything you would normally use for a Springer. Trolled Herring or spinners, Wobblers, Kwikfish, and Maglips will all work.
Summer Steelhead are pouring into the lower Columbia (think below Kalama) and this stretch is littered with beaches that these little fighters travel along. Either by shore or boat, they will fall victim to a prawn spinner or U20 flatfish rather easily. What’s even better is that these shallow lanes are often occupied by Sockeye, and Summer Chinook as well. The tributaries are loading up with Steelhead too. Savvy anglers will downsize their offering to compensate for low, warm, clear water conditions.
Speaking of Sockeye Salmon, the little guys are inundating the Columbia right now as they head upriver. Counts at Bonneville have soared past well beyond expectations to this point. The only problem is that they can be a bit finicky when it comes to getting them to bite in the lower river, however Coonstripe Shrimp and small spinners will get them on occasion. Your best bet to get into large numbers of these tasty critters is to plan a trip to the upper river in mid to late summer. Some years the daily bag limit will go to 6 fish per angler at Brewster pool and the Hanford area.
Perhaps you’ve had your fill of the big river and want to hit the beach for some salt therapy. Bottom fishing for Rockfish and Lingcod remains good, and Cabezon retention opens July 1st. The ocean appears it will cooperate over the long weekend too. Always check with the Coast Guard before you head across the bar no matter what port you depart from. It’s also a good idea to allow time at the boat ramp for a voluntary safety check from the CG as well. This is a good way to help hedge your bet against trouble on the sea without finding out the hard way.
In addition to Cabezon opening July 1st, so does the Cape Falcon Salmon season. The Chinook prospects certainly look promising this year, but catch rates aren’t usually that high on Kings for sport anglers at sea. Most of these fish stay deep and can be tricky to locate but some are successful and occasionally adult Chinook will hit a shallow line targeting Coho. Though the same can’t be said about the promise of the Coho forecast, it should be noted that even last year when the run came in at a fraction of pre-season expectations we still saw pretty solid Coho fishing in the ocean and at Buoy 10.
TUNA!! Now that I have your attention, it’s time to go chase them out in the big blue. Albacore started biting back in mid June and the action has only picked up since then. As usual with the early part of the season, most fish are being taken on trolled plugs, but live bait should begin to produce in a few weeks.
If you plan on trying any of the fisheries off the North coast, make sure to bring 6/0 barbless hooks and Dacron leaders. The Sturgeon bite in Astoria is absolutely insane right now. Guides are often boating 40 or more gators in a day using Sand Shrimp and Anchovies. Though retention is closed, most of these fish are in or around the “keeper” range so be prepared for a sore back and arms. If you’ve never caught a sturgeon down here I can tell you they are fresh from the sea and fight like a fish twice their size.
All that and I didn’t even get to Trout, Kokanee, Bass, or Walleye. The opportunities this weekend are limitless so don’t miss out on the great outdoors that this amazing country of ours has to offer. Have a safe 4th and God bless America!