Willamette River Spring Chinook Fishing Tactics

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The Willamette River in Oregon is by far on the top fishing destinations in the Pacific Northwest. This river system offers up significant runs of salmon, steelhead, and even Sturgeon. Fishing guides and Anglers from around the region come to the Willamette to target the variety of species the river system has to offer.


April through May is game on for the highly sought after Spring Chinook. These are among the finest eating of the species and tend to be very aggressive fish.  Some of the most popular methods for catching these monsters are running shrimp or roe with divers and back bouncing.

 Running divers is one of the more relaxing forms of fishing. That is until you get a feisty chinook takes your bait, then its all action. Divers will pull the bait down low while you troll, getting your presentation at the appropriate depth is key. Once your eggs or shrimp comes meandering bye, it’s game time when a hungry springer strikes. Willamette spring chinook average 8 lbs. – 15 lbs., with the occasional larger fish pushing 20 lbs. and up. That means you’ll have your work cut out for you on the drop.

 When back bouncing you run the boat through a hole and let your set up hit bottom giving it an occasional tug so that the setup lightly up off the bottom similar to jigging only in slow motion. The key is to keep the lead on the bottom, this keeps your set up in the optimal spot to attract the fish and when they get up close enough that they see you’re offering Whammy! You’re in for a fight. Back bouncing is not for the faint of heart, you have to earn. Bouncing is a fairly active form of fishing and requires constant movement unlike trolling where your pole sites in the holder until you get a hit.


If you’d like to learn these techniques from a pro check out one of our top Willamette River Fishing Guides St. Laurent Guide service. They primarily use both these Willamette River fishing tactics to fill the boat for their clients. You can contact the owner, Daniel St. Laurent at 503-440-5188 for more information, he will be booking spring chinook trips on the Willamette at the begging of April in to about the first week of May.



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