Buoy 10 Update: Columbia Flooded with Coho and Chinook

By: Pat Abel

Things have been insane here at Buoy 10. Today we hooked more than 20 salmon, which has been the norm. There’s so many fish in this river it’s ridiculous. This place is way better than Alaska and anglers are coming in droves. They did an aerial survey the other day and found 6,000 boats and more than 36,000 anglers in one day.

Salmon have been pouring into the Columbia River since late July. There’s still a ton of Chinook coming in daily, but we aren’t allowed to keep them anymore. Meanwhile, we catch and release a lot of hatchery and wild Chinook while chasing Coho. There’s a lot of Coho coming in now and while we can’t keep wild ones hatchery are fair game. This is prime time for the B-Run Coho. Those are your bigger 12-16 pound Coho.


Down here action is dictated by tides. Right now there’s a ton of fish coming in on an incoming tide. We’ve had an outgoing tide in the morning, which has been slow, but as soon as that tide switches and the water starts coming back in the fishing is phenomenal. I’m getting them at all depths, anywhere from 20 to 30 on the line counter.

It’s important to find exactly where the salmon are in the water column. If I have five clients in the boat I’ll scatter the baits to look for the column the fish are running and once we hook up I’ll run everybody at that depth. What I’ve been finding on my Shimano line counter reels is that the fish have been mostly been 20 and 32 feet.


Whereas sometimes I’ll drop one off the back of the boat I’m not fishing many spinners. I’m getting more success on fresh bait, namely anchovies and herring. If you are going to come down here and fish you need to order your bait a day in advance. There’s so many people down here it will sell out.


Since August 3 I’ve been using Chartreuse Fire Brine when the sun is out. Now that the clouds and storms are around I’ve been using Blue Fire Brine. The blue always works better on cloudy days. I’d keep blue and chartreuse brined baits on the boat at all times. Light conditions change quickly here. This is a rule of thumb I’ve found for the past three years.

Our setup is simple. I run a Delta diver attached to a Fish Flash and a five-foot leader of Maxima 40-pound fluorocarbon. Sure that’s heavy, but these fish aren’t line shy and if you get into a hot Coho bite you don’t have time to change leaders so I keep fishing them. I run an Owner 4/0 hook up front on the bait and 5/0 hook in the back. I run Green Label herring and anchovies at the same time and keep tract of which bait is working better. It’s about 60 percent on anchovy and 40 percent on the herring.



Editor’s Note: No Chinook can be retained at Buoy 10. Beginning September 1 anglers are able to retain two Coho. However, it’s important to check regulations daily. They change often. Pat Abel operates Pat Abel Guide Service. For more info on his Buoy 10 salmon trips please visit www.patabelguideservice.com.