Columbia River Salmon

Columbia River SalmonThe Pacif­ic Northwest’s Colum­bia Riv­er is one of the world’s great­est rivers known for gen­er­at­ing pow­er and pro­duc­ing sto­ried salmon. Once team­ing with salmon so thick “you could walk across the water on their backs,” the Colum­bia Riv­er doesn’t quite give up its prized fish so eas­i­ly these days.

Part­ly because of com­pe­ti­tion from sea lions, com­mer­cial fish­eries, and dam imped­i­ments, catch­ing one takes a bit more skill and time, or patience and insid­er tricks and tips.

Use a 360 flasher
Intro­duced a cou­ple years ago, the 360 flash­er is much dif­fer­ent than clas­sic flash­ers in that, as its name sug­gests, the lure rotates in a cir­cle. The pur­pose is to increase the area the bait or lure is pre­sent­ed while also being a stan­dard flash­er with dif­fer­ent col­or options that catch the avail­able light to attract fish. Use the 360 flash­ers while trolling only.

Columbia River SalmonStack those wobblers
A clas­sic lure for fall salmon, try using two or three on the line, instead of just one. A com­mon tech­nique for bank anglers, in-the-know boat fish­ers also use two or three dif­fer­ent col­ors or styles of “wob­blers” to increase your odds. Keep the dis­tance between the lures at least 2 feet and low­er the line slow­ly. Some boat anglers use floats dur­ing slow­er currents.

Below the Bon­neville Dam, focus your efforts on the tide turns in the river
The Colum­bia Riv­er is affect­ed by the great Pacif­ic Ocean. When the tides rise and fall, so does the riv­er all the way up to the Bon­neville Dam. The change in cur­rent agi­tates or informs the salmon, caus­ing them to become more aggres­sive. When the tide ris­es, the salmon ride the incom­ing water or slow­ing cur­rent to make their way upriv­er. When the tide falls, the fish either hun­ker down near the bot­tom or head back to sea. So get a tide chart and pay atten­tion to tide changes. When it does, the fish need to make deci­sions and the “slack” or “change” tide are often more pro­duc­tive fish­ing hours.

Columbia River SalmonAbove Bon­neville Dam, try dead drift­ing near the riv­er mouths
Above Bon­neville Dam, the tides don’t affect the riv­er but this is also where you’ll find the vast major­i­ty of fish­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. From Cas­cade Locks and above, the riv­er has been “tamed” to become a series of lakes, and the key is to fish the riv­er or creek mouths. Dur­ing the spring run, the fish pause near riv­er mouths to con­firm which is their home stream. Dur­ing the sum­mer and fall run, these areas are havens from the warm water cre­at­ed by the dam. Here, anglers use cured salmon eggs dead drift­ed near the bot­tom. But don’t take your eyes to far off the riv­er; the bites are sub­tle. But once hooked, the bent rod and scream­ing reel is a sure indi­ca­tion you are onto a salmon.

Use tuna fish in Brad’s Baits
Brad’s Super­baits are a region­al favorite from a Pacif­ic North­west com­pa­ny. Fill the mold­ed plas­tic “lures” with scent or bait; a local favorite is canned tuna. Strange­ly, salmon key in on this scent and strike hard. The baits are trolled behind reg­u­lar or 360 flash­ers. The most pro­duc­tive time to fish these is in the fall but they are also effec­tive for the sum­mer and spring runs.

Brooks Falls in Kat­mai Nation­al Park is a kayaker’s worst night­mare. Below the falls, on top of the falls, and all along the banks are dozens of hun­gry griz­zly bears. They’re feed­ing on spawn­ing salmon mak­ing this rapid at least a Class VI. Even tak­ing pho­tos from the bank would be dan­ger­ous. It’s one of those scenes that a Plan­et Earth film crew would sit for days to get the per­fect jaws-agape-as-a-salmon-leaps-into-fangs kind of footage. Now you can watch it from the com­fort of your liv­ing room.

Explore.org first estab­lished the stream­ing HD footage of these feed­ing griz­zlies for a two-week test peri­od in 2012. Web traf­fic showed a healthy appetite for watch­ing hun­gry bears. Mil­lions of peo­ple tuned in. The bears became an inter­na­tion­al­ly trend­ing Twit­ter top­ic, which made them the biggest griz­zly celebri­ties in the his­to­ry of the world.

Now they’re back. The 2012 suc­cess has lead explore.org to launch six more cam­eras that are oper­at­ed by remote con­trol from near­by Brooks Camp Alas­ka, a local bear view­ing sta­tion. There’s an under­wa­ter cam­era and an eye lev­el cam, and they both pro­vide access to what was once a very rare view­point of the feed­ing frenzy.

Watch­ing it though, your first thought might be “When are they going to catch one?” Some of the bears seem to enjoy the mas­sage of the rapids like they’re sit­ting on the jets of a Jacuzzi more than active­ly feed­ing on salmon. But that’s why watch­ing is so mesmerizing.

These bears are unedit­ed. We’re not shown all fang and claw. These cams pro­vide the less­er-seen por­tray­al of docile griz­zlies. Some of the bears seem like under­dogs. They’re woe­ful­ly inef­fec­tive in their claw swats for fish. Oth­ers choose expert posi­tions, and you can see them schem­ing in their attempts. It’s sur­pris­ing­ly enter­tain­ing. With all of the gawk-cen­tric, heav­i­ly edit­ed footage fea­tured in the media, films, and on the Inter­net, this live feed is a strange reminder of the rhythm and pace of the nat­ur­al world.

Mem­bers, click through for insid­er pric­ing on dai­ly deals!

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IN OTHER NEWS:

Dar­win Spies Gala­pa­gos: Did you know?

On Sep­tem­ber 15th (that’s today!), 1835, the famous Eng­lish nat­u­ral­ist Charles Dar­win first spied the Gala­pa­gos Arch­i­pel­ago. His ship, the HMS Bea­gle, was on a five-year voy­age to study the flo­ra, fau­na, and geol­o­gy of the islands and coast­lines of South Amer­i­ca. Darwin’s notes and obser­va­tions of the vari­ety of unique finch species on the Gala­pa­gos Islands led him to dis­cov­er his the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion that he out­lined in his sem­i­nal work, The Ori­gin of Species.