Experts anticipated an above average run at Buoy 10 this year and that’s meeting expectations. I think this year is a normal Buoy 10 year. It’s not super good and it’s not slow like last year when we struggled largely due to water challenges. The run is lining up the way it’s supposed to. As of today I think we are on tract for what the forecasters expected. The kings are here, they are acting normal and coming in on the right tides. I would call this a normal Buoy 10 season and we are happy with that.
There’s a lot of salmon in the river. This is the peak of the run. Typical Buoy 10 season for kings ends at the end of September. Right now is a good as it gets for booking dates. Coho started arriving in numbers today, but this is prime time for kings. We are catching a lot of jacks (and we have to release those) and there’s a lot of tule salmon being caught (and we recommending releasing those as their table fare isn’t good, anyway) but the size of the upriver brights is really good. I’ve seen lots of 30-pound fish caught this year. We’ve actually caught a lot of 30s on our boat already.
The best fish finder here is boats. There are so many boats out there you can see when there’s a bite. It’s basic fishing out at Buoy 10. If you are around 100 boats and no one is getting a bite it’s time to move to new area. There’s a lot of people out here and everyone is trying to hit the best fishery we have on the West Coast. People expect the crowds, but there’s plenty of fish for everyone, which is kind of cool. People are nice even with the high pressure.
The most ideal tides are the softer tides because the fish come in on the on high tide and they don’t go back to the ocean so quickly and we can manage our speed better. When we have extreme tides it makes it rough out there and tough to fish. The best tides are the softer tides because they are easier to fish and the salmon can hold in the estuary a bit better.
Knowing where the tide is at any given time is important because it lets you know where you need to be. For example, if we are starting a day with a high slack that means we are going to have an outgoing all morning and we want to be above the bridge preparing for a downstream troll to hit those fish. With that being said if we are on the low end and we have an incoming tide I like to put myself in a position to interception those fish as they are coming in. When faced with these conditions I like to fish the Oregon side and hold against the current to try to find where the fish are based in relation to where we are in the tide.
We are trolling mainly Natural Fire Brine herring (and anchovies) with Blue and Chartreuse Fire Brine herring on our rods at all times. The largest fish we’ve caught this year have been on Blue Fire Brine. However, the most fish have been on natural. But, to be fair that’s because I fish mostly natural baits. To be honest I run blue all the time. I only use the chartreuse if the water seems off color, but natural and blue are two colors you can always run. The blue stands out different on sunny days and on cloudy days. It’s a different shine. The other day blue anchovies took three of our fish.
Here’s a blog I wrote yesterday on tips to have great bait for Buoy 10: willamettevalleyoutfitters.com/tips-prepare-good-bait-buoy-10/
Line isn’t extremely important. Every body uses something different. However, if trolling I prefer a braided mainline and fluorocarbon leaders. With that said I use 65-pound Power Pro and 30-pound Seagar STS. I run a three-hook system, but a lot of guys use two hooks. My hook to land ratio is pretty good with three hooks so I continue using it. I use Owner herring hooks for the three-hook system. I use a 4/0 for my top hook and my two trailing hooks are 3/0. Remember on this system they have to be barbless.
Regulations: The limit is one king per day. You are allowed two salmon a day. They can be two coho or one king and a coho. Only hatchery coho may be kept. However, wild or hatchery kings can be kept. Chinook season at Buoy 10 closes at the end of August. It’s important always to check regulations as they may change.