Tillamook Area Kings Still Biting

By Big Dave Manners | 11/27/2013

Here in the Tillamook area we’ve had a great salmon season and although it’s slowing down quickly, there’s steelhead already showing. This leaves room for the rare chance to catch quality steelhead and Chinook during the next month.

There’s a misconception that Chinook fishing in the Tillamook area is over. However, I don’t think it’s over, yet. I caught chrome bright fish today at the bottom end of the river and expect more of the same for the next few weeks.


It’s going to rain again here in a few days and I bet that pushes more fish in. Most people think that Chinook fishing ends in November, but these salmon prove us wrong every year. I remember a few years ago filming Hawg Quest on December 3 and catching 14 Chinook on camera that day. Those fish had sea lice on them.

Before we dig into how to catch these fish, first off, I’d say it was a great season. There was a lot of fish around earlier than normal. We did have very low water conditions for a lot of the season, however. We got a big shot of rain in the beginning of October, which pulled in a big shot of fish, but then it didn’t rain for a long time. Those fish stayed in the same holes longer than they normally would.


Fortunately, there are small shots of fresh Chinook coming in. It’s hard to say how long that will continue, but I always catch Chinook through December, and it will be that way through the end of the month, at least. There’s a lot of spawners around right now, too, which is more than I‘ve seen the last few years. Good news for the future.

Right now there’s still Chinook in the Tillamook tributaries. The bay has been slow the last few days, but there’s till a fair amount of salmon in the tributaries. Their size varies a lot. The days of the 50 pounders are gone, but this season I’ve had five or six that have gone 35 pounds and one fish that was 45 pounds, so there’s still good, quality fish around.


My rig isn’t like most. I combine fish, eggs and sand shrimp and while I go through a lengthy process to do so properly it keeps us catching fish everyday.

Big Dave’s Big Bait

I take the fish (herring, sardine, tuna) and cut it into squares. Then, I brine the fish in Blue (or Green) Fire Brine and soak it for 24 hours. After the soak I pull it out of the brine and pack it with rock salt. I’ll let it sit in the rock salt in an open container in the fridge for about a week. It’s now ready to fish.

When I put that on my hook, I put the hook point through the meat side first and thread it through. You want the skin side down on your hook shank. This keeps it in position better. After the fish I’ll use an egg loop and glob of eggs.

My cure is too crazy. Most guys don’t want to go through the process. I get a tub and start by dumping in Pautzke Red Nectar, then red Fire Cure and finally Natural Fire Brine. After mixing, I’ll drop the eggs in and allow them to soak in there for 24 hours. Then I take them out and lightly coat them with Red BorX O Fire.

I’m not done yet. I also put a sand shrimp on the rig. Normally, I put it on a 5/0 octopus hook and use 65-pound braided Power Pro to a 30-pound leader. We use three-ounce bobbers and 2.5 ounces of lead.


Sometimes, I’ll use plugs, too. For the month of December I drop down my plug sizes to K-11 and K-13s because there’s steelhead in the water and the Chinook and steelhead will grab those.


Editor’s Note: In the Tillamook tributaries anglers may keep 2 Chinook per day, wild or hatchery. The region closes January 1 for retention. For more information on Big Dave’s guided Tillamook area combo Chinook/steelhead trips please visit www.Bigdavesfishing.com.