Columbia River Salmon Fishing Guide

Ready to fish for salmon on the Columbia River?

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The Best Columbia River Salmon Fishing Guide

Salmon Fishing

Salmon is undeniably the most sought-after fish on the Columbia River—and one of our favorites. The Chinook salmon are the largest and most common species in the river, and return in three runs: spring, summer, and fall. 

 Springers make the best-tasting salmon in the entire world! They run quite smaller than the other salmon runs, especially in recent years, and boat ramps are frequently congested, but a bite of a tasty filet grilled to perfection would have you considering your next trip. They average 15-25 pounds, and typically start to enter the river in March and run through May.



Trolling cut plug herring is a tested and proven method for getting into springers on the incoming tide. Other great baits to use are prawns and sardines. On the outgoing tide, anchor fishing might be a preferable method.

 Summer Chinook average 30-50 pounds, and usually arrive in June, which explains their coined name, “June Hogs”. We start our summer chinook fishing on the Columbia River just before Bonneville Dam around mid-June. The timeframe for this season is quite short, spanning two to three weeks, but the great weather makes it an enjoyable time to fish. 


When the summer chinook enter the Columbia River, they want to cover as much distance as possible in a day, so they tend to follow a route as they make their way upriver. If you can locate these routes, you’ll be in for an easy catch. But these ‘routes’ are prone to change, depending on a variety of factors like a change in current or temperature. This means you have to be flexible, rather than stick to a singular location. Trolling cut plug herring works well for summer chinook too, but if the river is running too hard, then anchor.


Fall Chinook account for the largest runs, running into hundreds of thousands of salmon, making it the best time in the year for salmon fishing. This season is popular because of the run size, and we get booked out fast, so it is advisable to book early. The chinook start to enter the river around August at the Buoy 10 fishery, which is popular for its high catch rates (though it needs some expertise to navigate, because of the frequently changing tide).


Trolling and anchor fishing are the techniques used the most, with Spinners and 360 flashers or plugs out behind the boat. When the fish start moving, we follow them up the Columbia River all the way to Bonneville Dam and beyond. The season extends into October, which is also when the Coho salmon are entering the river.

Coho salmon may not grow as big as their chinook counterparts, but they are very acrobatic and possess incredible fighting strength.


The Columbia River gets a fair run of coho from October to November every year. They range from 6-15 pounds, and can be found in exceptionally large numbers around the Bonneville Dam.


At Always Catchin’, we offer the best salmon fishing guide experience on the Columbia River. From Buoy 10 (in Astoria) all the way up to the John Day River, we know the right places to look and the best methods to use.


Whether you’re in it just to have some angling action, … you’re just out for an adventure,… you’re a family looking to have a fun-filled vacation… or you’re just more particular about the tasty filet you’ll get to devour (no judgments!)… We are fully capable of catering to your specific needs and desires.


Our boat is a 26ft. Alumaweld Formula Vee with a canvas top, which can seat up to 6 people comfortably. For larger groups, more boats can be added (call us for more information on group rates). We also provide all the bait and tackle needed for the trip—all you need to come along with is your fishing license which you can get here, some food and drinks, and we’re ready to go.


A trip with us includes:


  • 8 Hours of guided fishing at the best locations.
  • 26 ft. Alumaweld Formula Vee with a canvas top, so you’re protected if the weather turns sour.
  • Provision of fuel, tackle and bait for the whole trip.
  • Practical tips on how to fish the area.
  • Tailored packages to suit your needs.
  • Experienced guides who have been fishing for years on the Columbia River.
  • We even clean and filet your catch and provide Ziploc bags to take them home with!


Ready to have your Columbia salmon fishing adventure? Book your trip with us here and we’ll get back to you immediately, or give us a call at 541-375-0717.

Looking to gift a trip to a friend, family, or loved one? We offer gift certificates.

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