Chinook are the largest species of salmon found in the US, and one of the most sought-after game fish along the Pacific Coast. One of the most effective ways to fish chinook salmon is trolling, and this technique isn’t limited to motorized watercraft. The tool of choice for Northwest angling aficionado Tyler Hicks are a couple of rods mounted along the gunwales of his pedal-driven Old Town Salty 120.
Where Trolling Anglers Meet Chinook Salmon
The Columbia River is an integral waterway for migrating salmon to reach their spawning grounds. They climb the mainstem of the river and disperse throughout its major tributaries.
Lower in the river basin, especially around dams that slow passage, anglers will find the highest concentrations of fish. When chinook salmon counts counts ramp up, the launch ramps do as well. This is when competition above and below the water surface intensifies with trolling anglers. These high counts are also when Hicks knows he has the best shot of hooking up with the salmon in the limited window.
“I intended on fishing Drano [Lake]. I got there at five a.m. this morning and there was literally not a place to park so I came down here as a fallback,” Hicks narrates as he rigs for trolling. The angler referencing his forced hand to pursue chinook salmon at the mouth of the Wind River along the southern border of Washington. “I always watch those dam counts,” Hicks later tells us. “When the spikes start getting two, three, four, five thousand fish a day, it’s time to get up here. I saw it spike from several hundred to almost six thousand in a couple days.”
A Simple Formula For Success Trolling The Columbia River
Where to be in the water column is important. Hicks notes the formula he uses on the river is pretty basic. The water depth was about 25 feet and he was moseying along with 25 feet of line out.
The equation paid off with a successful day trolling for chinook salmon. Hicks fought what he described as a wild, and netted a heavy hatchery fish as well.
Hicks had what any angler would call an amazing day trolling for chinook salmon, and pedaling rare glass on the Columbia. Though, like most of us on our home waters, he was content to just spend a day with the views of the massive river gorge. Wrestling a couple of kings from the seat of a kayak is ultimately the bonus.
“This is just one of the most stunning places on earth to go chinook fishing. Even on days I don’t catch fish up here I’m always blown away by the beauty of this place.”