6 Tips for the Spring Columbia River Salmon Season

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 01, 2024

Tips that cover spring Columbia River salmon season, including where to fish, what tackle to use, what to know about regulations, bank fishing access points

If you want to learn about the spring Columbia River salmon season, it’s best to start with the basics of when, where, and how. Chinook salmon are the largest Pacific salmon species that travel up the river to spawn in the tributaries of the Columbia River during the spring months. Since Chinook salmon make such good table fare, they are highly sought-after and highly regulated.

Check out six basic tips for Columbia River spring salmon fishing:

1. Chinook Salmon season typically starts in March. For information on season dates and regulations, check with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Season dates and regulations can change often.

2. Spring-run Chinook Salmon are often referred to as “springers.” Spring-run Chinook or “springers” often migrate closer to shore than summer- and fall-run salmon, which makes them easier to target from shore.

3. While many anglers target spring-run Chinook salmon on the Columbia River from a boat, you can also find bank access at a number of parks and beaches in Oregon. Look into bank access at Chinook Landing Marine Park, Prescott Beach County Park, Social Security Beach, and Kelley Point Park.

4. The best tackle and gear to use when targeting Chinook salmon from the bank or shoreline depends on the fishing technique, but a good general set-up would include a 9 to 10 foot surf rod rated for 15-30 pound line. Some of the most frequently used baits by bank anglers when targeting Chinook are salmon eggs and coon shrimp.

5. When it comes to the best places to fish for spring salmon on the Columbia River by boat, research spots near Bonneville Dam, Buoy 10, and Hanford Reach.

6. Backtrolling with diving plugs (technique where plugs are put out behind the boat into the current) and back-bouncing rigs (such as herring, sardines, and anchovies) along the bottom are two of the most popular techniques for Columbia River spring salmon fishing. When targeting Chinook, these lures and plugs are often soaked in tuna scent or wrapped with baitfish.

Now that you know a few basic tips that you can use for spring Columbia River salmon season, check the updated Chinook salmon regulations, and put these tips to the test.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.