Tillamook Summer Salmon Season About To Kick Off

By Pat Abel | 06/21/2012

There’s always good fishing available in the Tillamook area. What I like about this time of year, however, is that we have a phenomenal salmon fishery, yet it remains quiet. After springer season in Portland anglers give up for a while, but here in Tillamook we’ll see a stable run of fish from July through most of August.

The Nehalem Bay summer Chinook are big fish, too. I’m talking 20-30 pounds. This summer we are expecting good things. I work close with the Tillamook fish biologist and whenever the Columbia and Willamette have a big runs, so do we. Those fisheries tend to be a barometer of what fish will be coming back to us.



While some were disappointed with the springer run, it might have seemed slow due to high and cold water in the Portland area this spring. Those fish just came late. Fortunately, I’m expecting a good run down here this summer. It’s already been a great run and one of my best years and there’s more to come.

This fishery is defined by bait. These salmon are still actively feeding when they are in this region. They fish I cleaned today had candlefish, anchovy and sardines in them. We are using the herring to present them with the perfect bait. There’s no reason to troll anything else out here.

In July, I’ll be working the jetties inward on the incoming tide. I use 14 inches of leadline, 8-10 ounces of lead and an 8-9 foot leader. I’ll always troll plug cut herring with a Master Plug Cutter. I have everyone drop lines to the bottom, hit the bottom with the lead and then I have my guys reel one full crank up, which is a foot off the bottom. Then, I have them let me do the rest. It’s pretty simple as long as you have good bait.

In order to be successful I always tell my clients that it’s important to have good herring. And, what I mean by this is good, clean bait, full scales and clean eyes. To get that perfect bait consistently I use Pautzke natural, blue or chartreuse Fire Brine on all my herring. Personally, however, I always add another cup to cup and a half of rock salt to firm those herring up even more. I’m a strong believer in having really tough herring.

I don’t like a dark blue herring. I prefer a light blue. To achieve this I use a ½ bottle of blue Fire Brine per batch of herring. What I like about this is it gives me shiny bait, rather than dark blue bait. Those scales shine and give me more of flash when I’m trolling. I really like that. To add scent I also put two tablespoons of Fire Power in.

I’ll make up bait the day before. I take the bait out frozen and put it in the brine that way. This way it’s nice and cold and it keeps the bait firm when I plug cut them in the morning. Add, the salt and Fire Power, ½ a bottle of Fire Brine and let it sit overnight.

I use this same formula with all the colors. I always add extra salt and the Fire Power. But, don’t overdo it. The two tablespoons is enough. There’s no reason to add more than that. For the most part I use blue herring on cloudy days and chartreuse when the sun is out. At times I switch to natural and purple, but far less than the other colors.

Editor’s Note: This fishery comes with a two-Chinook bag limit. There’s no minimum size. For more info on Pat Abel and Pat Abel’s Guide Service please visit www.patabelsguideservice.com