Trolling Spinners for salmon on the Columbia

Beautiful Chinook salmon caught with the ‘Fire Squid” Salmon Trolling Spinner by Dirty Troll 

When it comes to fishing the Columbia River every angler knows trolling spinners is very effective methods for catching salmon. Of course trolling bait, cut plug herring, plugs wrapped in tuna, spoons, and hoochies, all have their place. Trolling spinners for salmon on the Columbia is by far one of our favorite methods. 

Don’t get me wrong, bait is still extremely effective, but when bait fails Trolling spinners are more likely to get fish in the boat 

Best Trolling Spinners 

When deciding on what trolling spinner to buy, we tend to focus on quality. As a fishing guide it’s important to use the highest quality products on the market or make your own. This will overall ensure the success of ones business. our favorite trolling spinner are made by a small manufacture that makes the Dirty Troll.  The Dirty Troll is unique in the world of trolling spinners in that they’re made of high-quality parts, like natural gemstone beads, brilliant spinner blades with various UV paints and quality metals like gold, silver, and copper. They also use high end aftermarket hooks for example VMCMatzuo and Gamakatsu.  To us this is a very important factor. We simply have no desire to waste time cutting the poor-quality hooks off the spinners to put the goods one on ourselves like we’ve done in the past.  In this case Dirty Troll does it for you with some of these hooks retailing for a $1 each. 

Fall Chinook caught with the “Death Star” Trolling Spinner by Dirty Troll. 

Trolling Spinner Element’s  

One of the key elements to trolling spinners for salmon on the Columbia is that you need a spinner that is light enough not to interfere with the movement of the flasher. We use the 9” Pro-Troll flashers for running our spinners and prefer spinners with the #3 or #3.5 Colorado blades. These blades really engage well in the water and can be run at slow trolling speeds which is great for targeting chinook.  

Over the years one of the things we have come to learn is that Chinook tend to bite when trolling at slower speeds. Coho on the other hand usually bite when trolling at faster speeds. This makes the Dirty Troll Colorado perfect for beefing up your spinner game and catching Columbia River Salmon.  

Choosing The Right Colors

 An important element of trolling spinners for salmon is choosing the correct colors. Selecting the the right colors can be the difference between catching limits or spending hours on the water and going home with empty cooler. One of the things we’ve found over the years is that Columbia River salmon are responsive to just a few colors. If you’re looking to the absolute best opportunity for success, we have found that fall chinook love reds, greens, pinks, or chartreuse.

 These four colors have proven effective over and over again for catching fall salmon and that we use religiously to make the magic happen. Another element of coloration that is important is contrast. High contrast lures tend to be more effective at catching fish than lures that are just one solid color.  

The last element of coloration has to do with Ultra Violet light spectrums. As humans we are unable to see light through the UV spectrum. Fish on the other hand can see through the ultra violet spectrum and in low light conditions this allows them to see their food as well as avoid predators.  

Apply Scent    

Given that fish have an exceptional sense of smell and most importantly use it to find food, scent is among one of the most vital factors to consider when trying to attract fish. When applying scent to your trolling spinner it’s always a best practice to select a scent that most closely matches food source of the fish species your targeting. We like herring, shrimp, krill, sardine and anchovy which have all proven to work well.  

Add Natural Bait  

Another effective option for catching fall salmon with spinners is to apply actual bait to your spinner. We do this sometimes then the bite dies off and we’re not getting any action. Place a chunk of herring on the end of the hook of your spinner or possibly a shrimp tail. This can provide a nice little change of pace and get the fish biting again. Remember for optimal results we recommend using bait that is a natural food source for the species of fish your trying to catch. However, we have also had decent results with other bait option such as tuna that has been spiced with a cocktail of stinky stuff prove quite effective, we prefer the natural stuff.   

Nice Chinook caught with the Dirty Troll Sparkler hoochie spinner

On the Troll 

When trolling spinners for fall Chinook on the Columbia you should get your gear down anywhere from 30’ to 50’ depending on which part of the river you’re fishing. Troll at about 3-5 mph keeping the gear low and slow! This ensures that you’re getting the spinners in front of the fish and so the magic can happen. Once you see your rod get bent over and over again, it’s hard to fish anything else. The only down side is that when we troll spinners on the Columbia, we tend to limit out pretty fast. Definitely a great way to get these fish in the boat.   

There are three Dirty Troll spinners we love that just can’t be beat.  The first and probably our most favorite is the Dirty Troll Full-Scale Assault “Pink Nightmare” spinner, the Dirty Troll Death Star and Sparkler spinners have proven effective as well. Also the Fire Squid spinneris another winner. Alof them excellent trolling spinners for catching these feisty Columbia River salmon.  These spinners are very effective and are one of the ways we are able to get the fish biting and keep our clients on the fish. The end result is satisfied customers and limits of fish in the boat.  

In Conclusion 

If you’re looking for an effective method of fishing for fall chinook on the Columbia River, we recommend trying the methods mentioned above while trolling spinners for fall Chinook. It’s a fun and effective way to catch fish and rarely disappoints when applied properly. If you’d like to experience trolling spinners for yourself on the Columbia River feel free to give us a call. We book Columbia River fishing trips year-round on the Columbia and would be more than happy to help you call 503-490-3099. 








Oregon Columbia River salmon and steelhead fishing to open early May


CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Recreational salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River will reopen for four days in May under rules adopted today by the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife.

The river has been closed to recreational salmon and steelhead fishing since March 26 in response to efforts by the states to slow the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve. Earlier this week, Washington announced it will reopen recreational fishing May 5, and today Oregon announced it will lift its ban on non-resident hunting and fishing, also effective May 5.

Fishery managers from the two states set the following regulations for salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River. They are as follows:


Tuesday, May 5, Thursday, May 7, Saturday, May 9, and Wednesday, May 13


From the Warrior Rock/Bachelor Island line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), and from Beacon Rock (bank only) to the Bonneville Dam deadline. Above Bonneville Dam, bank angling is allowed upstream to the Tower Island powerlines, while both boat and bank angling is open from Tower Island upstream to the Oregon/Washington border.

In order to help protect the Cowlitz and Lewis river stocks of spring Chinook, the area from the Warrior Rock line downstream, will remain closed for now; retention of hatchery steelhead and shad is scheduled to open from Tongue Point/Rocky Point upstream to the I-5 Bridge on May 16 under permanent regulations.


The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery salmonids (Chinook or steelhead) of which no more than one may be a Chinook. Shad may also be retained.


The states also approved retention of sockeye salmon beginning May 16 from the I-5 Bridge downstream to the Tongue/Rocky Point line, concurrent with permanent steelhead regulations. The daily adult bag limit remains at two salmonids (hatchery steelhead and sockeye only). All sockeye are considered adults and must be tagged as such.

The remainder of Oregon’s recreational fisheries remain open, subject to monitoring for voluntary compliance with Gov. Brown’s social distancing Stay Home, Save Lives directive. ODFW will continue to monitor ongoing fishing seasons and modify as necessary to remain within allowable take limits while achieving appropriate social-distancing.

Fishery managers said while fishing conditions are good and they are pleased to reopen the fishery and provide the additional opportunity for outdoor recreation, they urged recreationists to maintain vigilance and social-distancing.

“We’ve been monitoring existing fisheries, and the majority of anglers have been doing a good job of social distancing,” said Tucker Jones, manager of ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program. “I caution people to use good common sense and not try and crowd too many people in a boat or stand too close to each other on the bank. A conservative approach is warranted by all of us.”

ODFW reminds anglers to consider these social-distancing precautions:

  • Check for access before you go. Fishing is open but the boat ramp or park where you want to go might be closed. ODFW does not control access to land or facilities it doesn’t manage so check with the land manager or facility owner where you want to go about what’s open.
  • Stick close to home. Don’t travel far to hunt or fish. Most places are closed to overnight camping/lodging.
  • Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc. Buy your license online before you go.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid crowds. Go someplace else if your destination looks crowded.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.

For more information about seasons, licenses, gear restrictions, etc., see  Online Sport Fishing Regulations.




Columbia River spring Chinook season is right around the corner

Salmon: The spring Chinook season doesn’t officially get underway on the lower Columbia River until March, but anglers can fish for ocean-fresh early arrivals under current rules throughout the month of February. Hatchery steelhead are also available in several rivers below Bonneville Dam.

The daily limit for salmon on the mainstem Columbia River is two adult hatchery Chinook, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each per day downstream from the Interstate 5 Bridge. The same is true in the lower Cowlitz, Kalama and Deep rivers, although the daily limit on the Lewis River remains at one adult hatchery chinook per day.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are scheduled to announce this year’s spring Chinook season later this month. This year’s spring Chinook fisheries are likely to have constraints similar to those in 2019.

The 2020 pre-season forecast for Columbia River spring Chinook is estimated to be 81,700 upriver adults (135,800 upriver and lower river combined), the lowest prediction since 1999. Forecasts for tributaries below Bonneville Dam – and in the Bonneville pool – show similar trends.

Steelhead: February can be a relatively slow month for winter steelheading on lower Columbia tributaries as it marks the transition between early- and late-timed hatchery stocks. Most area rivers with hatchery steelhead seasons that are open this month have three-fish daily limits, although there are some exceptions.

Anglers who already have some experience winter steelheading in this area may have noticed somewhat later return timing than what they’re used to in some spots, due to a recent transition in some hatchery programs that utilize local steelhead stocks.  The table below shows southwest Washington rivers that are stocked with winter steelhead and the number of smolts released in 2018.  Most of the fish that will return from these releases will arrive in the winter of 2019-20. The table also provides the range of months when fish will be returning, with peak returns generally occurring in the middle of this range.

Tributary 2018 Smolt Releases Return Strategy Expected Fishery Timing
Elochoman River 114,100 Early Nov. – Feb.
Cowlitz River 626,000 Late Feb. – Apr.
Coweeman River 12,200 Early Dec. – Feb.
Kalama River 119,500 Late Feb. – Apr.
Lewis River 104,700 Early Nov. – Feb
Salmon Creek (Clark Co.) 37,600 Late Feb. – Apr.
Washougal River 87,800 Early Dec. – Feb.
Rock Creek (Skamania Co.) 20,000 Early Dec. – Feb.

Anglers are reminded to check the Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet for specific rules since barbless hooks and selective gear are also required in some locations.

Sturgeon: Retention fishing for white sturgeon remains open seven days a week in three pools of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam and adjacent tributaries. The daily limit is one white sturgeon per day until further notice and an annual limit of two legal-size fish.

  • Bonneville Pool: Anglers may retain white sturgeon measuring 38-54 inches (fork length) between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam until the catch reaches the 500-fish guideline.
  • The Dalles Pool: Anglers may retain white sturgeon measuring 43-54 inches (fork length) between The Dalles Dam and John Day Dam until the catch reaches the 135-fish guideline.
  • John Day Pool: Anglers may retain white sturgeon measuring 43-54 inches (fork length) between John Day Dam and McNary Dam until the catch reaches the 105-fish guideline.

Anglers should be sure to check for emergency rules affecting these fisheries. Sturgeon retention remains closed below Bonneville Dam, but catch-and-release fishing is open there and in areas above the dam that are open to retention fishing.

Trout: February is going to be a great month to catch trout. With more sunny days in the forecast, hatchery workers have been stocking area lakes with thousands of rainbows from Battle Ground Lake to Fort Borst Park. Check the Catchable Trout Report for weekly updates.

Anglers are harvesting kokanee in both Merwin and Yale reservoirs.

Interested in fishing for trout, but aren’t sure how to get started? How about carp and warmwater fish? Send an email to Stacie Kelsey at the WDFW regional office, and she’ll send you an informational fishing packet for youth or adults. Packets include information on fishing in southwest Washington; gear tips; cookbooks and more.




Emergency Updates to Columbia River summer salmon fisheries




Action: Updates Columbia River salmon seasons listed in the 2018-19 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. Anglers must release all salmon.

Effective date: June 16.

Species affected: Salmon and steelhead.

Locations: Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.

Reason for action: Summer chinook and sockeye runs are projected to be significantly lower than in recent years. This emergency rule reflects co-manager agreements reached in April during the North of Falcon season-setting process.

Additional information:

Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:

  • June 16 through June 30: daily limit 2 hatchery steelhead. Release all salmon.
  • July 1 through July 31: daily limit 1 hatchery steelhead. Salmon and steelhead night fishing closure. Release all salmon.

Hwy 395 Bridge at Pasco upstream to Priest Rapids Dam:

  • June 16 through August 15: Salmon and steelhead closed.

Information contact: Region 5, 360-696-6211; Region 3, 509-575-2740.


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Barbless hooks to become voluntary on much of Columbia River and tributaries

OLYMPIA – Anglers on a large portion of the Columbia River and many of its tributaries will no longer be required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead beginning June 1.

In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary for salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Due to Endangered Species Act permitting with NOAA, WDFW is unable to fully lift restrictions on barbed hooks in some areas at this time, including tributaries upstream of McNary Dam, including the Snake River.

Still, barbless hook requirements on salmon and steelhead fishing are being lifted across a broad swath of Washington waters, including the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam, and Columbia River tributaries from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam. Anglers fishing for sturgeon are still required to use barbless hooks.

The restriction on barbed hooks for salmon and steelhead will lift June 1 on the following waters:

A) Barbed hooks allowed for salmon and steelhead:

  1. Blue Creek (Lewis County), from the mouth to Spencer Road
  2. Cispus River (Lewis County)
  3. Columbia River, from a true north/south line through Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam
  4. Coweeman River and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  5. Cowlitz Falls Reservoir (Lake Scanewa) (Lewis County)
  6. Cowlitz River (Cowlitz County); Barbed hooks are also allowed for cutthroat trout in the Cowlitz River
  7. Drano Lake (Skamania County)
  8. Elochoman River (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Grays River, West Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  11. Kalama River (Cowlitz County)
  12. Klickitat River (Klickitat County)
  13. Lewis River (Clark County)
  14. Rock Creek (Skamania County)
  15. Tilton River (Lewis County)
  16. Toutle River (Cowlitz County)
  17. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County)
  18. Washougal River (Clark County)
  19. Washougal River, West (North) Fork (Clark/Skamania counties)
  20. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties)

B) Selective gear rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Abernathy Creek and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  2. Cedar Creek and tributaries (tributary of N.F. Lewis) (Clark County)
  3. Coal Creek (Cowlitz County)
  4. Delameter Creek (Cowlitz County)
  5. Germany Creek (Cowlitz County) and all tributaries.
  6. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  7. Grays River, East Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  8. Grays River, South Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River, West Fork tributaries (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Green River (Cowlitz County)
  11. Hamilton Creek (Skamania County)
  12. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From 1,000 feet above fishway at upper salmon hatchery to Summers Creek and from the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads to 6600 Road bridge immediately downstream of Jacks Creek.
  13. Lacamas Creek (Clark County): From mouth to footbridge at lower falls.
  14. Lacamas Creek, tributary of Cowlitz River (Lewis County)
  15. Lewis River, East Fork (Clark/Skamania counties): From mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls.
  16. Little Washougal River (Clark County)
  17. Mill Creek (Cowlitz County)
  18. Mill Creek (Lewis County): From the mouth to the hatchery road crossing culvert.
  19. Olequa Creek (Lewis/Cowlitz counties)
  20. Outlet Creek (Silver Lake) (Cowlitz County)
  21. Salmon Creek (Clark County): From the mouth to 182nd Avenue Bridge.
  22. Salmon Creek (Lewis County)
  23. Skamokawa Creek (Wahkiakum County)
  24. Stillwater Creek (Lewis County)
  25. Swift Reservoir (Skamania County): From the posted markers approximately 3/8 mile below Eagle Cliff Bridge to the bridge; from the Saturday before Memorial Day through July 15.
  26. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County): From the mouth to the posted deadline below the fish collection facility.
  27. Wind River (Skamania County): from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge.
  28. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties): From the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse upstream to Big Brother Falls (river mile 16).

C) Fly fishing only rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

1. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From Summers Creek to the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads.

This rule will be reflected in the new Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet on July 1, 2019. Anglers are reminded to check the pamphlet for additional regulations and to learn more about selective gear and fly fishing rules. Anglers can also download the Fish Washington mobile app to see up-to-date regulations around the state. Visit to learn more.




Invasive Northern Pick may threaten Columbia River salmon species


Northern pike are some of the most troubling aquatic invasive species in the Northwest. So far, they haven’t made it past Washington’s Lake Roosevelt. Two dams stand in their way. And lots of people trying to stop them.

If the fish make it past Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River, they could greatly harm imperiled salmon downstream.

“In a lot of ways, the fight to save the Columbia River as we know it is going to be won and lost on Lake Roosevelt,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council.

American Indian tribes are joining with the state and public utility districts in what’s being billed as the largest coordinated event of its kind in the state. The groups are working for a week to catch northern pike on the lake.

“We are at a critical moment in time where northern pike have not spread into salmon habitat,” said Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a statement. “If northern pike move downstream, the State of Washington will consider this an environmental emergency.”

Northern pike are non-native to the Northwest. They were illegally introduced here in the 1990s and have made their way down the Pend Oreille River into Lake Roosevelt.

They are extremely aggressive and can wipe out fish populations in waters where they aren’t native. In Alaska and California, northern pike have reduced some fish runs so much it’s effectively crashed fisheries, Bush said.

“Northern pike prey on fish that we value, such as trout, salmon and steelhead,” Bush said.

One problem is that Lake Roosevelt is so big (151 miles long) that it makes it hard for biologists to find and kill the invasive fish. Right now, the fish have been spotted about 12 miles from Grand Coulee Dam. That’s 90 miles from where anadromous fish are in the Columbia River, Bush said.

“There have been some new areas found to be colonized within Lake Roosevelt. I think we’re near seeing some really devastating effects within Lake Roosevelt,” Bush said.

In other areas that have faced northern pike problems, fishery communities have “totally flipped in terms of what was present,” Bush said.

Before the fish made it to Lake Roosevelt, they’d invaded the Pend Oreille River. Using gill nets placed in northern pike spawning grounds, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians was able to suppress the northern pike population in that river’s Box Canyon Reservoir.

Officials are asking anglers to report any northern pike they catch and turn them in for a bounty of $10 a head. Reports help biologists know where the fish are in Lake Roosevelt.

Keeping northern pike from reaching salmon habitat could risk billions of dollars that’s been invested in salmon and steelhead recovery, officials said.

“We have been cooperatively working to slow or stop the spread of northern pike, but realize they are poised to continue downstream,” said Dr. Brent Nichols, division director of the Spokane Tribe’s Fisheries and Water Resource Division. “One of the tools in our toolbox is this all-hands-on-deck approach, working with other partners who care about the Columbia River ecosystem.”


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Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement no longer required beginning July 1st


OLYMPIA – Anglers who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin will no longer be required to purchase an endorsement to do so beginning July 1.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has collected an $8.75 annual fee – known as the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement – from anglers to fish for salmon and steelhead in the region since 2010. The department has used revenue from the endorsement to monitor and enforce fisheries in the Columbia River Basin.

WDFW’s legislative authority to implement the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement ends June 30. Anglers are still required under state law to obtain an endorsement to fish for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River until July 1. The department will not be issuing refunds as anglers have had opportunity to use the endorsement and it remains a state requirement through June 30.

A valid fishing license – a freshwater, combination, or Fish Washington license – is required at all times to fish the Columbia River. The agency is also working on modifying the Fish Washington license package, which includes the endorsement.

In order to have fisheries in waters such as the Columbia River where there are fish protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, WDFW is required to closely monitor those fisheries and enforce regulations.

The department is assessing how the loss of revenue from the endorsement will affect salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia basin once the endorsement expires, said Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director. That could mean changes to salmon and steelhead fisheries this fall and next spring.

“The endorsement provided needed funding for monitoring and enforcement activities,” Susewind said. “We’re evaluating our path forward with these fisheries, which not only provide good opportunities for anglers but also significant economic benefits to communities in the Columbia River Basin.”

WDFW had requested that the Legislature extend the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement through June 2023. However, the Legislature did not reauthorize the endorsement, allowing it to expire at the end of June.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.




Third weekend opening planned for Columbia River spring chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam


OLYMPIA – For the third weekend in a row, a section of the lower Columbia River will reopen for two days of recreational spring chinook salmon fishing beginning Saturday, state fishery managers announced today.

The initial spring chinook fishing period from Bonneville Dam downriver to Warrior Rock closed at midnight Wednesday, April 10, then reopened for the weekends beginning April 13 and 20, based on catch and run estimates at that time.

High, turbid waters have created challenging fishing conditions for anglers, with difficult conditions likely to continue into early May. Fishery managers estimate that recreational harvest remains well below pre-season expectations. Fish counts at Bonneville Dam to date have also been below expectations.

“Water conditions have made fishing difficult in April, but we want to provide opportunity when we can,” said Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “These weekend openings offer that opportunity while allowing us to maintain a conservative approach to this important fishery.”

The fishery will reopen for spring chinook on April 27 and 28 on the Columbia River upstream from the Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock remains closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.

Anglers may retain two adult salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook. Only hatchery fish may be retained.

Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam remain open to salmon fishing through May 5.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when fishing for salmon and steelhead in these areas.



Another brief opening planned for Columbia River spring chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam

Photo courtesy of Portland Fishing Guide Buddy Dupell


OLYMPIA – A section of the lower Columbia River will again reopen for two days of recreational spring chinook salmon fishing beginning Saturday, April 20, state fishery managers announced today.

The initial spring chinook fishing period from Bonneville Dam downriver to Warrior Rock closed at midnight Wednesday, April 10, then reopened for two days on April 13 and 14 based on catch and run estimates at that time.

This weekend’s opening comes after fishery managers from Washington and Oregon evaluated additional information collected from the recreational fishery, said Bill Tweit, a special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Staff will continue to closely monitor the run as it progresses.

“With updated catch estimates still well below the expected harvest numbers, we feel comfortable reopening this section of river for another round of weekend fishing,” Tweit said. “Water levels are still high but are starting to stabilize, which may provide improved fishing opportunity.”

The fishery will reopen for spring chinook on April 20thand 21st on the Columbia River upstream from the Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock remains closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.

Anglers may retain one adult chinook and one adult steelhead, or two adult steelhead, per day. Only hatchery fish may be retained.

Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam remain open to salmon fishing through May 5th.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when fishing for salmon and steelhead in these areas.



Dam “Spill” Expected to Boost Columbia River Salmon and Benefit Orcas


More spring Chinook may return as adult salmon in a few years thanks to a new agreement negotiated by federal agencies, states, and tribes to test an innovative dam operation plan. Some estimates indicate that the new operation may produce an additional 10,000–60,000 adult spring Chinook per year.

While adult salmon returns will also be influenced by ocean conditions and river flows, the new “flexible spill” agreement just going into effect promises to be a “win-win” for fish, hydropower production, and orca.

Hydropower is the largest source of clean, low carbon energy in the Northwest. The new agreement aims to preserve the value of this clean energy resource while improving the status of Columbia basin salmon.

Washington entered into the “Flexible Spill Agreement” in December. The agreement will be in effect for the next two or three years (depending federal progress toward a longer-term Columbia-Snake River Biological Opinion). It increases spill (the amount of water going over a dam as opposed to through dam turbines) during the times of day when regional energy demand is lower, and ramps down spill to allow for more hydropower generation when demand is higher.

Taking advantage of this daily swing in demand — which is created in large part by the recent deployment of new clean energy sources like solar and wind — involves spilling at higher levels with higher Total Dissolved Gas (TDG) caps for up to 16 hours/day and lower 2014 BiOp levels for eight hours a day, when there is higher energy demand. The new levels of spill are intended to allow for higher survival for juvenile fish as they move through the dams and enter the ocean while keeping TDG levels low enough not to harm salmon or other aquatic species — an area of a recent study. The dams will spill up to 120% TDG in 2019 and up to 125% in 2020.

Washington (including WDFW) helped negotiate this agreement, which was signed by Washington, Oregon, three federal agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and the Nez Perce Tribe. The agreement is also supported by Idaho, Montana, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

The agreement should help salmon, protect Bonneville Power Administration revenues, and simplify river management for the Army Corps of Engineers. This strategy may set the stage for a longer-term dam operation strategy as well.

If they perform as expected, this change should provide meaningful near-term benefits for adult spring Chinook salmon numbers, and thereby increase food for southern resident killer whales.