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Northwest Guides Talk Strategies for Upriver Fall Salmon Fisheries

Kyle Buschelman of Willamette Valley Outfitters

Sometimes it’s best to hear the facts from the experts. These guides are doing just that. 

While everyone’s focus is on Astoria’s Buoy 10 fishery in August, some are planning ahead for guiding their clients on their home waters in more familiar areas.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Zavadlov

Mike Zavadlov guides in the Forks, Washington area, mainly on the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Quillayute, and Hoh rivers, mainly targeting Kings by pulling plugs, while twitching jigs and tossing spinners for Coho. Zavadlov says,

“The Bogachiel shuts down September 1st, the Sol Duc and Quillayute on October 1st and the Hoh on October 10th just as the salmon really start to show up. So to say the least it is going to be a tough Salmon Season in Forks.”

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Photo courtesy Quinalt Sport Angling

Ashley Nicole Lewis guides on the Quinalt Reservation under Quinalt Sport Angling, offering prime opportunities on a low pressure fishery. A generous mixed bag limit of one chinook, three coho and three steelhead per angler without having to purchase a Washington State fishing license is difficult to top.

“I will be running raft trips the rest of the summer and early fall with the low water, switching to the sled after we get our fall rains. I’m the only guide on the Quinault/Queets with a 3 person raft. Shore lunches on the BBQ are included as well. Whether you want to fly fish, twitch, fish spinners, float fish eggs, bobber dog your heart out or my personal favorite, fish coho/kings in the crashing surf of the Pacific,” says Lewis.

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Photo courtesy of Ervig’s Outfitters

Mark Ervig guides the Cowlitz, Kalama, and Naselle rivers. If you want to try twitching for Coho, the region has some great fishing and plenty of opportunities to harvest hatchery fish. With the combination of 2014’s Golden Year for Silver Salmon and a few years of awful ocean conditions, predicting the returns for this year’s season could be a toss up.

“It’s hard to say how the runs will turn out. The Kalama hatchery predicts four to five thousand coho returning to the Kalama. Even with last years poor return, we had back to back 30 fish days,” says Ervig of Ervig’s Outfitters.

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Photo courtesy of Josiah Darr

Josiah Darr is best known for his knowledge of Tillamook tributaries along with the Nehalem and Nestucca rivers. Many of the Tillamook area fisheries tend to fish well through early December while surrounding areas tend to taper off much earlier in the season. Darr says that,

“Because I spend my time in the rivers and not the bay, the technique we’re fishing is super important depending on the water level. Some holes don’t backbounce well in low water and others bounce really well when it’s low. Knowing the technique to use at each area depending on the water is critical. Of course being where the fish are is more important than anything. You can’t catch them if they’re not there.”

Nick Popov

Nick Popov of Peel The Reel Guide Service focuses on the Nehalem through September, then heads south to the Salmon and Siletz rivers for tidewater bobber fishing. Popov also fishes later in the season on the Nestucca and Trask rivers in tidewater.

“When the rain comes I switch to the drift boat and drift the Wilson, Trask, Nestucca, and Kilchis until winter steelhead begin to show,” says Popov.

 Mikey's Fishing

Mike Fisenko plans to head up river closer to the pdx area for the upriver fish through the end of September, then move down to the Tillamook area for rest of the fall season.

“I’m predicting another good run this year, simular to the last several years. I’ll be fishing in deep water, 30-50 feet early on with Simon Wobblers, then later into September and October I’ll break out the pro trolls,” says Fisenko.

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Grant Scheele will begin guiding on the Alsea Bay in Waldport in September, moving to the Siletz in October and November. While he’s optimistic about this year’s return, Scheele has some concern for the future of those fisheries.

 “I think it is going to be an excellent season but we will see a downturn starting in 17′,” says Scheele.

Matt Halseth will be targeting Siletz salmon in tidewater, trolling first, then adapting to bobber fishing depending on where the bite is. Halseth’s strategy may shift over to the Santiam River depending on if there are good numbers of fall coho and late returning summer steelhead.

“I like a little variety, but my heart belongs to the Siletz,” says Halseth.

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Kyle Buschelman will mainly be fishing the Siuslaw River trolling herring, but also has plans to guide bighorn sheep during the fall with his business Willamette Valley Outfitters.

“I like to be on bottom and move a bit faster. Being flexible to find the bite. I will fish up high during the high tide, targeting fish in the deeper holes, then begin heading to the mouth as it nears low tide.”

Buschelman also guides the Siletz by drift boat, targeting salmon back bouncing, float fishing, diver and bait or plugs.

Mike Kelly Awesome Net Job
Photo courtesy of Mike Kelly’s Guide Service


Micheal Kelly plans on fishing 
Winchester Bay for the remainder of August, then up to the Siuslaw in September and October. 

“We start out in the ocean in July, then move to the mouth and all through the river up to Reedsport in August, with mid to late August being prime time for chinook, with coho showing up more often in September. I start to fish the Siuslaw in September, focusing early from Cushman up to the dairy hole. Fishing can be really good down below the 101 as well. In October fish will move up to the summer homes but the whole lower river fishes well all the way into November.”

Kelly mainly targets the estuaries with cut plug herring and spinners, using flashers during big tides.

Andy Martin with a massive fall chinook over 60 pounds

Andy Martin fishes further south in the Coos River and bay in September, followed by the Chetco, Elk and Sixes from October through December. Martin doesn’t guide in Astoria in August and instead runs his charter boat in Brookings all summer before switching gears to his jet boat on the Coos in September.

“The Coos is one of Oregon’s most overlooked premier salmon fisheries. 2.5 million juvenile king salmon are released into the Coos and Millicoma rivers each year and it has one of Oregon’s most prolific bay salmon fisheries.”

Well there you have it. If you have trouble getting onto fish after all of this, it might just be you.

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Northwest Guides Talk Strategies for Upriver Fall Salmon Fisheries