Columbia River Salmon
Fishing – Chinook “King”

Columbia River Salmon Fishing is one of the best experiences a fisherman will ever have. Millions of salmon return each year to this beautiful river. This gives the fisherman the opportunity to catch salmon throughout the year.

Averaging 22lbs the Columbia River Chinook Salmon is the largest of the Salmon species in the Columbia. Fish in the 40lb – 50lb range are common and are frequently caught from boats or from the river bank.

Columbia River Chinook Salmon are also known as “Kings” and are the largest of the salmon species. They are excellent eating fish. They can be prepared many different ways. Chinook salmon are very nutritious, and their meat is considered to be heart healthy.

Hanford Reach Columbia River Salmon Video
Columbia River Salmon Fishing

3 Columbia River Salmon Fishing Seasons

Columbia River Spring Chinook

With the coolest water temperatures of the year the salmon move fast upriver towards their spawning grounds. Of the fish heading upstream the majority will go into the Snake river. This is the Snake rivers biggest run of Chinook salmon of the year.


Columbia River Salmon Fishing starts in the narrows around the Longview Washington area then fishermen follow the run upstream. At its peak you will see 30,000+ fish a day. Columbia River Salmon Fishing is also excellent around areas like Bonneville, The Dalles Dam, Johnday Dam and Mcnary Dam. The run then goes into the Snake River and many of the fisherman and guides will follow the fish upstream to the Clearwater River and further.


Winter and Spring Columbia River Salmon Fishing will keep you busy from March into early June. Remember, because of the endangered species act it is also the highest regulated Columbia River Salmon Fishing run of the year. Department of Fish and Wildlife keep a close eye out on making sure this run exceeds the upriver numbers needed. To keep a successful spawn and a future for Columbia River Salmon Fishing it’s common that the season will close unexpectedly with low returns or high catch rates.


Columbia River Salmon Fishing Guides know from year to year when to book trips accordingly. Guides often keep moving upstream to keep ahead of the fishing regulation closures.

Columbia River Summer Chinook

Mixed with late run spring salmon these fish are what we call “June hogs”. Many of these fish can be over 40lbs.


In the early season water flows are still good but with rising summer temps the river heats up fast. During this time Columbia River Salmon Fishing can be slower than other times of the year.


When water temperatures get over 60 degrees Salmon Fishing catch rates will be slow. Every fisherman with experience will know tactics and gear will help them catch these summer Chinook salmon. It’s not uncommon to be using tackle like Yakima baits mag lips and then the next day they will find that the water flow has slowed and be switching up to a smaller plug like a spin-n-glow lure.


Eventually under the summer heat water becomes the biggest issue in catching them. Switching to wobblers in stagnant water can pick up fish still looking to bite. Getting setup before sunlight and only fishing until noon will be your best chances of catching fish.


The season will start when the Department of Fish and Wildlife opens it which is around June 16th. The season will run through mid July.

Columbia River Fall Chinook

The prized fish of all sport fisherman. The Fall Chinook is the biggest, hardest fighting fish of all Salmon. With Alaska Salmon runs being at an all time low the Columbia River Salmon Fishing is the best fishery in the world.


The Columbia River fall salmon runs have flourished. Fish counts running over a million fish all headed upstream to the Hanford Reach to find a gravel bar to spawn on.


This fishery starts in August at Astoria Oregon then the fish move upstream in late August. Fisherman target them with many baits and techniques to where even a seasoned fisherman would be confused with all the combinations being used. All that seems to change every 30 miles. One thing to keep in mind is that experienced fisherman change tactics and baits based on the water flows and water temperatures.


Most of the fish will eventually end up in the Hanford Reach area. A small percentage go further up into the head waters of the Columbia and a small part of the run will go up the Snake River. Nothing compares though to the hundreds of thousands of fish that will lay around in the 40 mile stretch of the Tri Cities called the Hanford Reach.


With this run being available to fish into late October it is a great opportunity to try your skills out on the amazing fish.

Columbia Salmon - Here are just a few photos of happy Columbia River Guides.