Fishing Addicts Northwest News

Salmon Fishing Tutorial | Flasher & Prawn Spinner

Below is a tutorial presented by Cameron Black of Gone Catchin’ Guide Service about how to rig a flasher and prawn spinner setup. This can also be used in conjunction with herring or any other bait you’d like to present behind a flasher. This tutorial is brought to you by Fishing Addicts Northwest and filmed & edited by Lucas Holmgren.

Happy fishing! Hope everyone’s springer season is going well so far! – Cameron Black’s Guide service fishes Columbia river and tributaries for Salmon, Steelhead, Sturgeon & many more!

columbia springer

2014 Spring Chinook Kicks off Well!

Columbia River Spring Chinook! What a welcome sight to see a high prediction of upriver Spring Chinook for 2014! We’re smack dab in the early stages when pictures are showing up, reports are coming in and anglers are getting their gear wet in anticipation of the best tasting salmon to enter our waters!

This has no doubt been a year of odd water conditions. Super low water plagued our early winter steelhead fishery and then with the onset of rain, we’ve experienced many weeks of unfishable conditions. Between all of that there have been absolute slay-fests, dry spells, weak runs, great runs – it’s been an odd one. Now, with many anglers excited about Spring Chinook, we’re still dealing with difficult conditions. Most of March has seen a Columbia River full of high-off colored water. As the season progresses without a doubt the Willamette has been the best bet.

Early Willamette catches are pretty much the norm for early-season Spring Chinook. With that said we’ve been seeing a good number of fish being caught. The old stand-by – flasher & herring trolled has been the top producer.

spring chinook fishing

Fun family trip produces two bright spring chinook!

Jeff H of Vancouver, WA reports that the Shortbus color “Chartreuse Hunter” accounted for these two chunky, Willamette springers. A fun family trip proved to be productive trolling herring and flashers. These flashers have worked exceptionally well over the past few years and have already started off the season with a bang.

A few lower Columbia tributaries are already reporting catches of Spring Chinook – Cowlitz being one of them. Amidst the rising Springer counts remains the fact that the Lewis and Kalama are still experiencing down years. Neither will be open for retention of Spring Chinook – hatchery OR wild. Dam counts have yet to climb but rest assured, once they do, Drano, Wind and Klickitat fisheries will kick off.

We’ve yet to see how the year pans out but so far effort has not gone unrewarded. It’s typical to see lots of effort and little catches early – no doubt it was slow for a bit. Willamette has shown promising early results and it won’t be long before we see more consistent catches come from Columbia. Conditions will dictate what happens however. The popular I5 troll has been near vacant due to high-off color water. Plunking has already been productive for those that know it – this is largely due to the fact that high water forces Springers near the bank. Anchoring with Kwikfish (wrapped with sardines or tuna bellies are a great bet) near the bank in “traffic lanes” would be a great option.

Fishing Addicts Northwest wishes you a productive and enjoyable Spring Chinook season! We look forward to seeing your success and we’ll be out there working hard for them as well.

**Saturday March 29th update** – Mainstem Columbia catches are improving. Fairly even spread between Kwikfish and Herring/flasher bite – both seeing good success. Fish typically are being caught in the 7 – 21 foot depth range.


Those looking to get out and book a trip with an experienced Spring Chinook guide please get in contact with our Facebook page  or send an email to - we’ll let you know who WE trust to produce catches of these amazing fish!
chinook flashers lures baits
If you’re out trolling for Springers you need the best flashers in the business! Visit for a full selection and variety. Shortbus is offered at most fishing departments.

3 Rules for Handling Steelhead

I remember fishing this summer for Fall Chinook on the lower Columbia. As we held anchor in deeper water we watched the summer steelhead fishermen on the sandy banks, plunking for Steelhead. It was difficult however, to see someone kicking a native fish back into the water. I remember seeing one angler properly release a fish and literally felt the urge to clap. It was uncommon. It was sad. It reminded me that education has still got a long ways to go.

We’re talking Wild Steelhead. native washington coast steelhead

What is it about wild steelhead that makes them so appealing to anglers like me? Is it their resilient nature, their brawny strength, their graceful colors, epic runs, amazing acrobatics and stealthy migration? Maybe all of the above, either way there’s a special connection between fish and angler.

With a species that provides so much enjoyment and anticipation for anglers, comes responsibility. These big, ocean-going rainbow trout represent a beauty and balance that shows the spirit of the great Pacific Northwest. We’ve been blessed with water and habitat that is conducive to Steelhead and get to enjoy the chase of them near our back-porches!

Please take care. These fish are hardy, but they are not invincible.

Rules of handling fish:

  1. KEEP YOUR HAND OUT OF THE GILLS - This is huge! I see this in pictures, by the river…please don’t! Do not put your fingers inside of the gills or the gill plate. This is a very sensitive area and even though it’s an “easy” area to grab, it WILL kill a wild fish after release very quickly. This would be like someone picking you up by the lung – not fun. Only do this to fish you mean to kill. A fish for release should never have anything inside of it’s gills. Also take care that mud, sand or any other material does not wash into the gills.
  2. Hold that tail! Hold your fish horizontally, distributing their weight evenly between your hands (both hands!) You can apply a lot of pressure right above the tail without harming the fish, this should be where you hold the fish most firmly. Place your other hand along the underside of the fish (keeping hands out of gills) holding it firmly. Note the picture above for proper hand placement. Don’t hold a fish vertically in either direction.
  3. Keep it in the water – Getting a picture is great. I love to get photos of native Steelhead, however, do not compromise fish safety for a picture. Wear waders or get your feet a little wet and make sure that fish stays in the water for the majority of the time. If you lift them out of the water for a quick picture return them to the water immediately after. There have been many times where a good picture is just not feasible (a difficult, rocky bank or fishing alone) – in those cases, release the fish and put your camera away. You will have that memory forever and we’ll believe your story! In my opinion it’s more important to feel and enjoy the release of a wild fish than get a picture.

So what is the difference between a “native” and a “wild” fish? Basically the idea is this – natives are basically gene-specific to the river and have lived and reproduced there for generations. A “wild” fish is simply a steelhead that was reared in the wild, spawned from the gravel. Does this make a difference? No, it may for studies and specialists, but as anglers we are to release ALL Steelhead that have an adipose fin. If you live on a river that allows for the harvest of wild steelhead, I would urge you to release them.

Being a proper steward is a responsibility but it should also be the natural inclination of people that love the sport of angling. Thank you for doing your part to ensure more Steelhead get to their spawning gravel to make more big, native babies. Fish on!

kalama river steelhead

- Lucas


Introducing Daves Tangle Free!

On a yearly basis new products arrive on the fishing scene. Rarely does one make a splash like Dave’s Tangle Free. fishing weights lead-free

Lead has long been the standard for weight in terminal gear setups for Salmon & Steelhead. Drift fishermen, float fishermen, side-drifters, back-bouncers all utilize lead in their tackle boxes to accomplish one purpose – to get the bait/lure in front of the fishes face.

It’s really a simple concept – weight is used to target specific depths & water types.

So where does Dave’s Tangle Free fit in to this?

Dave’s Tangle Free is a brand new alternative to lead. It has burst on to the scene with a few claims to fame. Here are three benefits:

  1. Lead-Free : This alone sets Dave’s Tangle Free apart as a forward thinking, innovative company. States that have outlawed lead as a fishing weight will need high-quality alternatives to lead. Dave’s Tangle Free fills that need.
  2. Tangle-resistant : The swivel system in place on these weights allows for “wiggle-room” and movement when caught up. Also, the rubberized outer layer (the core is steel) does not “grab” rocks like lead would. These two factors make for a weight that pulls out of snags more often than lead. We at Fishing Addicts Northwest have seen the benefit of this. Many times when a weight seemed a lost cause snagged-up, they pulled out without breaking the line or losing the weight. This is ultimately a money saver in the end and a relief to the fisherman.
  3. Easy-to-Use : Besides the obvious benefits of being tangle resistant, the weights themselves come attached with a top “swivel” piece that is easily attachable to a snap-swivel or tie-able to any line. These weights have totally replaced my previous bobber weights as I prefer a three-way swivel with attachable weight when fishing a sliding float. Also, for those that would attach a “slinky” to a snap swivel, the Dave’s Tangle Free weight works great in place of that.

The feel of these weights on the bottom is different than “slinky’s” or traditional lead. This may be slightly off-putting at first for drift-fishermen but they will find quickly that the weights are super effective as well as stealthy. Back-bouncers have found huge benefit in the “tangle-resistant” qualities of these weights. The method of back-bouncing is prone to placing lead in precarious positions. With the rubberized outer core and versatile swivel, it’s simple: you will lose less weights.weights steelhead fishing

Does this mean you’ll never lose a Dave’s Tangle Free weight? No, logs & certain other obstacles can still claim a weight or two, but every single person that I’ve spoken with has retained more Dave’s Tangle Free weights than any other lead option hands down. They simply come back easier. I’ve even started making my lead-line heavier so that I can apply more pressure to it and many times the weights have pulled out of difficult positions.

With that in mind we have seen a move in recent years to eliminate lead in many states. Certainly this comes as no surprise due to the “state of California” perspective on it and the simple fact that we’re filling our river-bottoms with lead. This alone may be one of the largest reasons for why Dave’s Tangle Free is a great option for your tackle-box. The Smallmouth bass guys in the Columbia river are already picking up on them too, not to mention numerous other fishing applications in our area.

Dave’s Tangle Free brings a fresh perspective to the weight world. No doubt the benefits of these weights will continue to be seen & shared in years to come.

Ed Fast, a highly respected Portland-area Salmon & Steelhead guide had this to say about Dave’s weights:

“The slickest and trickiest weights you can buy! Dave gave me some back-bouncing weights to try and my clients and I loved them! I ordered a bunch more in all of the sizes I use and we only lost a few during my fall Chinook season. I also like them for my bobber rods.”
Ed mentioned to me how much lead he used to lose back-bouncing lead in upriver, bouldery situations, with the new lead he’s had considerably less lost weights and consequently; saved money on weight!
“When it’s available, I always try to use and promote local, quality, made in the U.S.A products. Dave’s weights meet all three of those criteria.
The fact that there is a functional, lead-free weight for some fishing situations is another thing I like about them.
And hey, they look really cool, too and let’s face it, that’s pretty important.”

Dave’s Tangle Free will be at the Portland Sportsman Show Feb 5 – 9, 2014. Come visit the booth, the Fishing Addicts will be visiting and hanging out with Dave!

Visit the website -

Bi-Mart is now stocking Dave’s Tangle Free! Keep an eye out in the Fishing Department.

You can follow them on Facebook -

salmon fishing weights

Not sure which weights to get? Check out the products page. The “Handi-Pack” retails at only $19.95 and features the perfect assortment of weights and sizes. We love these weights and we know you’ll find them to be an essential part of your tackle-box!

Stay Addicted! -Lucas

Anatomy of a Quality Salmon & Steelhead Spinner

What makes a Steelhead & Salmon spinner good? There are a hundred spinners out on the market today, many of them quality, some of them sub-par. Surely spinners are a standby of Steelhead fishing just as they are for trout, swung through small creeks enticing up aggressive rainbows and “cutties.”

Spinners must first do what their name implies – they must spin! One of the ultimate frustrations with a spinner is when it will not create that “whirring” spinner action immediately upon hitting the water. For this reason I stick with a few specific spinners for my own tackle box. Blades must be optimized for the type of water you fish, with the right weight so that it spins immediately upon water entry.

The ideal spinner “hovers” almost. I think specifically of the RVRFSHR Rvrwhirlers. I first started using these for Fall Coho in tidewater. Spinner fishing is very common for tidewater coho so I decided to test the Rvrwhirlers in combination with “pink worm trailers” as an added contrast/attractant. Silvers keyed in on the pink worm tail and the steady action of the Rvrwhirler blade. Results were chrome, hot, and tasty on the barbecue. I really developed a ton of faith in this lure over the fall.

coho spinner rvrfshr

After having a blast throwing these spinners for fresh silvers, I decided to take them out on a low clear water Summer Steelhead trip. Small stream spinner fishing can be really effective. I’ve fished small blue-foxes and other “trout spinners” for summer steelhead in low & clear water. Those small spinners can work great but can sometimes be overwhelmed by the flows and current of some of the larger rivers.

I waded out with a silver Rvrwhirler tied on to 10 LB Maxima Ultragreen leader. I casted slightly upstream into a slow pool with approx. 8-10 ft of depth. After the spinner hit the water I reeled slightly back and applied pressure. Immediately the spinner reacted and started its deadly flash. As the spinner spun and swung through the pool my rod doubled over and line shot upstream. I saw a nice healthy summer crash the surface of the water after annihilating the spinner. After a great game of tug-of-war I landed the summer, got a picture snapped and let him return to spawn. There’s nothing like the way they hammer a spinner!

rvrfshr spinners

A good steelhead and salmon spinner should do a number of things. They should have the right weight to ensure good casting and be heavy enough to get down to the “strike zone.” The blade should spin well and evenly. Most of all it should catch fish, the true test of a spinner is how the fish reacts to it.

TIP: All colors are not created equal when it comes to spinners. Some “dull” varieties such as copper can be very effective in clear water. Blues, silvers purples, blacks, brass…those are few great options for Steelhead. As you explore “greener” or water with less visibility, it can be good to branch out a bit more into some other brighter colors.

steelhead spinners

Spinners are available at

Steelhead & Salmon Declines in Southwest Washington

The following is a short interview with Richard Dyrland, a hydrologist and river conservationist. He is an active participant in the conservation of our local streams & rivers. I met him during a plant of Chum Salmon into one of our Southwest Washington rivers – The Lewis to be specific. Upon meeting Richard, I was immediately struck by his down-to-earth manner and caring spirit towards our water systems and fish populations. Below are my questions and his answers. I hope they shed some light into the state of our fisheries.

  1. What prompted you to get involved in river conservation?I have been involved in conservation ever since I graduated from forestry school and worked for Weyerhauser Timber Company and was aware of peoples impact on watersheds. I went into the US Army and afterward went to graduate school in watershed management and hydrology.  I worked as a Regional Hydrologist in several western regions as well as on a federal government National Stream Team. Upon retiring
    I got involved with local stream restoration and had help from a network of people I had worked with before in watershed management across the USA.
  2. How long have you been involved?-  About 46 years.
  3. What is your outlook on the future of Columbia River Tributaries?Not very good —unless various conservation and fisheries group unite to get the word out that water and good land stewardship and conservation are critical to our future economic and social well-being.  We need to do a more effective job of making the public, including all age groups, more aware of the importance and consequences of responsible land stewardship, water & watershed management. The Pacific NW is on the threshold of major changes that will affect our short-term and long-term quality of life.  We need to take united effective action now.
  4. In your opinion, which is the biggest factor in native fish decline?  - State and Federal fish and watershed management policy and operational implementation are not working and there is a continued effort to continue the “illusion” that they will.  It is time to “think outside the box” and make real changes.  Hatchery management has actually changed little over the last 60 years.  Most adjustments are either cosmetic or marginal at best.  They are not getting sustained positive results while costs keep increasing.
             Wild fish restoration is not working and populations are crashing.  The system is similar to links in a chain.  Key components are ocean harvest, hatcheries, watershed conditions and habitat, nutrients, etc.  Hatchery programs are having a substantial negative effect on recovery of wild populations while having their own degradation of genetic viability. Habitat needs improvement but continued competition between hatchery and wild fish for that habitat is a major problem in many streams  —the fish are not returning and some habitat work is more cosmetic “feel good” based than science based.There is a lot of money being spent each year from federal and state sources —between $900,000 to 1 billion dollars or more when one tracks it down.
  5. Have fisheries declined in SW WA over the last 50 years? - It is a well documented fact that salmonid fish populations are “crashing” in the Pacific Northwest and at an increasing rate.  Recover is not working, yet denial of the fact that policies and strategies being used — are not working, is still the agenda that is being followed in state and federal management.
  6. What are the biggest obstacles to maintaining a healthy river? - Obsolete strategic management policies and ineffective tactical and operational on the ground implementation of technology coupled with a severe reluctance to using the science based sources available nationwide.  Overall, the money and science is actually there, but the “will to make the changes and do it” is not.  We have identified the enemy —and it is our own existing management culture!  It is ingrained several layers down from the top!
  7. What are some things that anglers and locals can do to help conserve our rivers? - Insist on state and federal management accountability and factual presentation of what is really happening with our fish  populations and watershed  conditions, more citizen participation through a coalition of all the various groups that can professionally lobby state a federal resource management agencies under one voice.for a major change in management policy and agency leadership & internal culture.  Implementation andenforcement of effective  storm-water runoff policies and water quality management in a “common sense” context so that the ongoing degradation of water and watershed conditions are stabilized and shift toward an improving trend.

Certainly opinions differ on what the primary causes of these declines have been. There is debate all along the coast on how to “fix” some of these fisheries. I found Richard’s thoughts to be very enlightening, especially considering his unique perspective and longtime experience in the field. We urge all fishermen & women to get involved in your fishing future. Preserve, protect and steward. Thank you!

-Lucas “Slippery-Hands” Holmgren


Columbia River Bonneville Dam Counts – OFF THE HOOK!

Boom! The traveling Fall Chinook Salmon runs are setting records at the dam! What a day for Bonneville!

bonneville dam fish counts

The graph above shows the incredible jump in Chinook passage over one day.  63,870 adult fall chinook were counted at Bonneville Dam on Monday, smashing the record of 48,710 set just last Saturday.

“As far as I can tell going back through the annual counts since 1938, the 63,870 adult chinook counted yesterday at Bonneville Dam may be a RECORD DAILY COUNT FOR ALL SALMONIDS, not just fall chinook,” said Joe Hymper, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in Vancouver.

“I think it’s a good time to be on the Columbia” – said every Chinook Salmon fisherman ever.

lucas holmgren salmon fishing

Stay Addicted! -