Astoria, Oregon, is a popular destination for coastal tourism, and home to the largest salmon fishery in the lower 48. Here are eight things to know to get in on the action:
1. August 1st marks the opener for the fishery, which extends from the Buoy10 marker at the mouth of the Columbia River, to the line between Tongue Point in Oregon and Rocky Point in Washington.
2. If you’re planning to book a guide, your best bet is to do so as early as possible. Many guides have booked most of the dates on their calendars by now, but don’t rule out the underdogs. If you can’t find a seat on board with the ideal guide, there’s plenty of young guides trying to make a name for themselves that will offer group rates to fill their boat. There will be over 1 million salmon passing through the mouth of the Columbia, and everyone will have a fair shot at a fish.
3. Make an effort to book with a guide that meshes with your own personality. Do your research ahead of time, and make sure you’re booking with someone that you can walk away from the trip feeling like you’ve gained a friend as much as you’ve paid for a service. If the fishing is slow, or there’s a lull in the bite at some point during the day, you’ll at least be glad that you’re in good company.
4. If you’re traveling solo, or bringing a friend, you may have to get in where you fit in. Talk to guides that might have a seat or two open and are hosting a party that might be willing to squeeze you in. Hanging a few extra lines in the water will increase the chances of some action and keep things interesting. It’s always worth taking a chance on meeting some of their other clients and making some new fishing buddies in the process. Keep an open mind and remember that everyone on board is there to have a good time.
5. This year’s season allows for retention of two adult salmon per day, only one of which can be a chinook. Wild chinook are legal to harvest 7 days a week, an improvement from last year’s regulations that required wild chinook to be released on Sundays and Mondays. After Labor Day (Sept. 4, 2017), anglers must release all chinook, but can still retain up to two hatchery fin-clipped coho. Catch rates are predicted to be around 22,100 chinook and 15,000 coho for the season.
6. Pack a lunch, bring some drinks, and prepare a cooler for the ride home with your catch. If you want to keep your ice cold longer, and can’t afford one of those fancy, new-aged, high-dollar coolers, simply fill a few jugs of water and freeze them solid. The solid block will extend the life of your bagged ice and keep it from melting as quickly.
7. If you’re traveling by plane and want to preserve your catch, vacuum pack it, then place it in the bottom of the cooler with dry ice in a paper bag on top of it. This will keep your catch frozen for up to 12 hours.