The spotlight in August is Buoy 10 at the Lower Columbia River mouth, one of the last big hoorahs for summer salmon fisheries in Washington, where millions of migrating Chinook and coho stage before migrating upstream.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife indicates the Columbia River coho forecast is 683,800 which is similar to last year (665,600 in 2021) and double the 10-year average. The return of hatchery coho to the Columbia River is expected to be the largest since 2014. The fall Chinook forecast is 485,500, up from the actual return of 481,300 in 2021.
The fishing season from Buoy 10 up to West Puget Island for Chinook retention is open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 7, with only hatchery Chinook allowed to be kept Aug. 1-24. The daily adult limit is two salmon with no more than one Chinook: release wild Chinook from Aug. 1-24 and wild coho the entire season. From Sept. 8 through Dec. 31, the daily adult limit is three salmon, all wild coho must be released and release Chinook from Sept. 8-30.
One of top fishing spots is the Desdemona Sands area located in the middle of the river above and just below the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Look for fish during the mid- to late-flood tide where fish swim along a series of paths flanked by shallow sand bars.
The Wing Walls just outside of Ilwaco are a group of rotten pilings from an old fishing cannery that generates good action in the early morning. Since boats troll closely to the sunken pilings they tend to grab plenty of fishing gear.
The buoy line outside the town of Astoria above the bridge where huge freightliners anchor up is another ideal fishing location. Many will also troll downstream below the bridge and just off the Port of Astoria Marina.
On the Washington side just above the Astoria-Megler Bridge are three long underwater channels along Highway 401 where salmon stage. Other spots are the Church Hole off Fort Columbia State Park, and from the Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon side west toward Hammond.
What to use
Fishing gear is a basic salmon rod and reel with a weighted diver or drop ball sinker of 8- to 12-ounces with a triangle-style flasher tied to a leader with a whole herring or anchovy or a cut-plug herring. Anglers should regularly check their bait as they’ll get “blown out” when dragged along the sandy bottom or from the extremely strong tides.
To make your bait last longer try an anchovy plastic bait holder on the bait’s head to protect it from getting ruined in the heavy current. Spinners attached to a plastic “hoochie” squid, or an artificial cut-plug herring lure also work well in this fishery. Lastly, be sure to add a herring, anise or anchovy liquid or gel scent to your lure or bait.