Outdoors

April fishing update, an odd spring Chinook season so far

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April fishing update, an odd spring Chinook season so far

The 2016 Spring Chinook season is shaping up to be an odd one to say the least. Snow pack is much improved over last year but it seems that perhaps the poor ocean conditions of 2015 may have had an adverse effect on our Spring Chinook stocks at sea.  The Columbia has been closed for two weeks now and given the lackluster counts at Bonneville thus far, I would be surprised to see it reopen before June. 

To make matters worse, Oregon’s tried and true fail safe river known as the Willamette hasn’t exactly been on fire either.  Many top guides are struggling to find two or three fish a day with the occasional skunk happening at times too. 

In addition to ocean conditions being to blame, one can’t spend more than a few minutes at Clackamette Park or the falls without realizing what a huge problem Sea Lions are causing for Fisherman.  Between their presence in high numbers putting fish off the bite, or straight up stealing them off an otherwise successful angler’s line, the lower Willamette is an absolute bloodbath.  What to do about the situation with the Pinnipeds is a discussion for another forum but one can’t help but notice the appearance of these predators in northwest rivers over the last fifteen years or so has begun to make a huge impact on our Salmon runs.

Things are not all doom and gloom however.  The truth is that there are still fish to be caught, it just may take a little more time and patience than it has in previous years.  Bites are precious now more than ever so be sure to make each one count by keeping your hooks sharp and your gear in top working order. 

Summer and Fall Salmon Seasons have been set!  This includes my all-time favorite fishery, Buoy 10.  There will be a few changes this year down at the red can that aim to help extend the season all the way to Labor Day.  While the majority of Chinook strains remain very healthy, the Snake River, and Lower River Tule stocks are down.  This means managers have decided to designate Sundays and Mondays between August 1st and September 5th as “clipped Chinook only” days to help limit the number of wild fish taken.  If this season is anywhere near as good as last year, it shouldn’t hurt your ability to load your freezer and cupboards with plenty of Salmon, you may just be faced with the prospect of having to turn back one of those stud wild URB’s we run into up there from time to time.  Other than that, the bag limit will remain similar to past years with two Salmon only one of which may be a Chinook and Coho must be clipped. 

The trout stocking schedule is in full swing as well as Spring Bear (Hopefully you were luckier than I was and managed to draw a tag).  The full Schedule is on the ODFW page where you can also sign up to receive email updates on which lakes and reservoirs have been stocked.  Another activity that is fun for the whole family is the sport reward bounty program for Northern Pikeminnow, which begins May 1st.  Chicken livers or cheese balls fished in and around wing dams and along current seams where they congregate, will produce bites.

Did I mention Summer Steelhead? No.  But these feisty brats are entering the tribs in good numbers now even if the DFW’s aren’t stocking them in numbers like they used to.  The Sandy and Clackamas on the Oregon side as well as the Cowlitz, Kalama, and Lewis are starting to see catchable numbers show up.

Whatever you plan to do, make sure you take advantage of this great weather we are having and get outside with the family!

Pre-Register now for Outdoor GPS Day at the Park!

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NBCS NW

Pre-Register now for Outdoor GPS Day at the Park!

NBC Sports Northwest invites you to the 6th annual Outdoor GPS Day at the Park, with host Owin Hays and co-host Dave Calhoun on Saturday, July 21st at Blue Lake Park!

Pre-registration:
We encourage you to pre-register for the event to avoid long lines. One lucky pre-registrant will win a North River Rod from Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor! Pre-registration form is at the bottom of this page. 

Information: 
This year's event features a LIVE Special Edition of Outdoor GPS show, an expo with all Outdoor GPS sponsors and multiple non-profits, food provided by Otto's Sausage Kitchen and Bardo's Grill, Coke product beverages and so many incredible special guests! NBC Sports Northwest will be streaming the event live on the Outdoor GPS Facebook page!

Non-Profit Organizations:
Fallen Outdoors
Home with Heroes
Raise 'em Outdoors
Rods n' Reels
Oregon Tuna Classic
Y.O.U. Outdoors

Charitable Opportunities: 
We will do canned-food drive with Oregon Tuna Classic! 
Last year we had 600 lbs of canned food goods. Let's outperform last year!

Schedule of Events: 

10AM: Event check-in opens

10:30-11:15AM: Expert Seminar - TBD

11:15-12:15PM: Meet and Greet with Owin and Dave

11:30-12:15PM: Expert Seminar - TBD

1PM: Special Edition of OUTDOOR GPS - live! and RAFFLE PRIZES at the Finale 

2PM: Event concludes

Note: 
- The event is free for EVERYONE
- Kid Friendly
- Parking is $5 (cash/card) and is covered with your Metro Parks 
Pass if you have one. 
- Dogs are not allowed at the Park.

Engage with us on the Facebook Event Page 

Outdoor GPS Bottom Fishing Sweepstakes Winner

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NBCS NW

Outdoor GPS Bottom Fishing Sweepstakes Winner

Congrats to the Outdoor GPS Bottom Fishing Trip Sweepstakes winner Tom Berg of Damascus, OR.

 

Fisherman's Marine 43rd anniversary sale

Fisherman's Marine 43rd anniversary sale

The Fisherman's Marine 43rd anniversary sale continues through April 8th and, just like Owin Hayes, you’re going to want to take advantage of this huge sale.

Check outhttp://www.fishermans-marine.com/ for all of the best deals. 

Also, watch the video above to see Owin’s latest shopping spree at Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor in Oregon City.

Tech Tips with guide David Johnson

Tech Tips with guide David Johnson

Are you curious as to how the best in the biz prepare and rig their eggs for spring salmon? Check out our interview with guide, David Johnson above.

Also, David's rigging tips for spring chinook are up now on our website in the "Must-see Outdoor GPS" videos under the "OUTDOORS" tab! Everything you need to know about rigging plugs, prawns, sand shrimp, and eggs - all in one spot. 

Or, did you forget how David rigged those prawns up last week? All his tips are on our home page when you need to get a refresher!

Catch Outdoor GPS Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

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NBCS Northwest

Catch Outdoor GPS Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

Watch Owin Hays on Outdoor GPS LIVE every Thursday night starting at 7:00pm and every Saturday and Sunday morning at 8:00am on NBC Sports Northwest for up-to-date hunting, fishing and outdoor information! 

Host Owin Hays and 'FishTime' co-host Dave Calhoun bring you the latest on river levels and the best tips and advice live from the studio and live from the river.

You can also find exclusive "tech-tips" right here on our website under the "Outdoors" tab.  

For even more Outdoor GPS information check out our Facebook page.

Outdoor GPS Sportsmen's Show Sweepstakes

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https://www.thesportshows.com/shows/pacific-northwest/

Outdoor GPS Sportsmen's Show Sweepstakes

Enter the Outdoor GPS Sportsmen’s Show Sweepstakes for a chance to win Fisherman’s Marine Giftcards and Outdoor GPS hats.

Prizes are (5) $50 Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor Giftcards and 10 Outdoor GPS hats.

Contest runs Feb. 7th at 11AM to Sunday, Feb. 11th at 6PM. One entry per person.

Official Rules

Coming Soon: New Outdoor GPS Hats and Hoodies!

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Coming Soon: New Outdoor GPS Hats and Hoodies!

Coming soon: brand new Outdoor GPS gear including new hats and brand new hoodies courtsey of H&H Outfitters! Check out these samples and keep an eye on the Facebook.com/OutdoorGPS page for details on when they will be available.

In the meantime, be sure to catch Outdoor GPS on CSN on Thursday evenings and every Saturday and Sunday morning at 8am for the best live fishing and hunting show around. 

Super Baits for Fall Chinook 2.0

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Super Baits for Fall Chinook 2.0

Earlier this summer, I touched on some of the basics of trolling with Super Baits and Pro-Troll Flashers.  Since then, I’ve had a chance to learn more from those that are developing the technique as well as refine it for myself.  Let’s talk about a few of those items that we can hone our Super Bait game with.

Speed control is an important factor, but it’s not ‘speed over ground’ that matters.  In fact it’s not always about your speed against the current either.  Rather what‘s important is line angle, and the speed at which your flasher is turning.  What makes this technique effective is the action imparted to your lure of choice by the flasher.  Too slow, and the flasher won’t produce the solid thumping action that entices Salmon, too fast and it will spin out of control.  I like to keep that rod tip thumping at a rhythm of just over one beat per second but don’t hesitate to play around with your speed and see what the fish like that day.

Rod length should be 9’6” or greater, but a 10’6” rod with a strong backbone and soft tip and mid section really shines here.  A short ‘pool cue’ rod doesn’t have the give that is needed to allow the flasher to work properly.

In my last blog on this I mentioned that the length of the leader from the swivel to flasher should be around 24”.  This still definitely works, but some of the noted guides refining this tactic such as TJ Hester and Cameron Black have shown that these intermediate leaders can be as short as 16 or even 12 inches.  The reasoning is that the shorter bumper will produce a quicker ‘snap’ than a longer one will.  It seems that 20” makes for a good starting point and one can play with different lengths from there.

For packing your Super Baits its seems that Tuna is the undisputed champion.  But keep on hand some additives such as Sardine, Anise, Krill, or other scents that can set you apart from the fleet and trigger a bite.  Garlic is popular for the upper Columbia, but tends not to work as well in the lower river.

When it comes to locating fish, covering ground is the name of the game.  Since Salmon are on the move through the lower river any stretch of the Columbia can produce at a given time.  Find a water depth that you feel will have Salmon in it given the tide and time of day then fish it.  It also never hurts to have several buddies along with in order to stagger your lines and find the depth that is producing.   When in doubt, troll the channel. 

Having good electronics will pay big dividends when tracking down your quarry.   This will help you dial in not only how deep you should fishing but more importantly whether or not there are fish in the area.  As thick as the fish seem to be this time of year one often doesn’t have to travel far between schools of fish.  As a result it isn’t out of the question to simply choose a starting point and make one continuous pass for the duration of the day.  That said if you have a stretch where you’re getting bit consistently then it goes dead, it stands to reason that the smart move is to run back up and make another pass through the water that produced. 

I want to thank everyone that has read and shared my blog over the past two-plus years, along with Kevin and the team at CSNNW.  The time has come for me to move on to other pursuits.  It has been a lot of fun to share whatever knowledge I may have soaked up from people in the industry such as Jack and Brandon Glass, Rob Brown, and countless other outdoor writers and fisherman who I share this passion with.  Good luck, be safe, and tight lines everyone.

Mid-August Buoy 10 update: Go with whatever you have confidence in

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Paul Fisher hoists a 31 pound Upriver Bright Chinook caught at Hammond

Mid-August Buoy 10 update: Go with whatever you have confidence in

What a ride it’s been the first two weeks of the Buoy 10 season.  Depending on whom you ask, the bite has been either gangbusters, or the sky is falling and the Columbia fall Salmon run has totally collapsed.  As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 

The downside to last year’s spectacular opening weekend is that all of the sudden the masses seem to think they can expect that on an annual basis.  Reality is, that may have been a once or twice in a lifetime occurrence, and even on a good year the bite will be inconsistent for the first half of August.  Thus far, getting on a good bite has simply been a matter of being at the right place at the right time.  Red hot but short-lived flurries of action have been the story this year.

One of the indicators I look at when tracking the Astoria fishery is to keep an eye on reports from Westport, WA.  Those are Columbia River fish making their way down the coastline that get intercepted at the last major port in Washington before turning the corner at Ilwaco. Once the fishing gets good there, Buoy 10 is about a week away from good consistent fishing.  At last glance, the creel survey at Westport was yielding close to 1 King per rod, which should translate to a solid bite at the red can in the coming week or so.

This week the tides are transitioning from a classic ‘holdover’ series to big tide sets by next weekend.  Though these aren’t typically thought of as traditional Chinook tides, sometimes it helps to have a bunch of water pumping fish into the river to spark a bite.  This could also trigger the first meaningful slug of Coho into the river which would help liven things up a bit.

The first few days of the week will feature a morning incoming tide.  This is a good time to work the lower sections of the river, trying to intercept fresh arrivals from the ocean.  I would start out either around Social Security Beach, or ‘A Jetty’ near Ilwaco then work my way up with the tide on the red line or at the checkerboard.  The one trend I have noticed in a season that has lacked trends is above the bridge on the Oregon side near the ship anchorage has been productive around high tide, so keep that in mind.

There hasn’t been much consistency in regards to what is catching fish, either.  Herring, Anchovies, Spinners, they’re all catching fish when the bite happens.  Frankly, right now what works is whatever you have confidence in.  The same goes whether you prefer divers or lead.  Pay attention to those electronics and locate the fish.  If you’re in a crowd not getting bit, you might as well leave the crowd and search for virgin waters.  Sometimes these fish don’t swim where they are supposed to and you have to go find them in unusual areas.

The coming week will say a lot about what to make of this season.  The 3rd week of August is a good indicator as to the overall size of the fall run so time will tell.   This is also the time of the season when the masses show up, so if you don’t want to wait at the ramp for an hour, either get there ridiculously early (4:00 AM) or sleep in and go mid-morning.  Otherwise, have patience with each other and keep in mind that we’re all here to have a good time.  Good luck and be safe out there!