Deep River Fall Salmon Fishery (Buoy 10)

It is common to open the Columbia River Buoy 10 fishery on August 1 and close it near labor day. The best fishing does not usually start on the opener, but picks up within a couple of weeks, depending on the weather.

Many knowledgeable fishermen who do not want to fight all the hassle associated with the lower section of this fishery at or near the Buoy 10. They move upriver near the Astoria – Megler bridge instead.

In the chart below, the cream colors near the bridge are where you would normally fish fore Chinook, while the light purple would be Coho.


The launch is shown as a green area at the upper end of the light blue travel lane
out into the bay.




The Alternative is to Launch at Deep River. You can launch here, run down river to the upper end of the fishery, eliminate the congestion on the shore and fish basically the same water as if you launched in Illwaco/Chinook and ran upriver. The wind here picks up about 1:30PM and there will be chop on the water when you head back if your lower launches. With a small or open boat you can get wet if you have to run back downstream to Illwaco.

This launch was formerly Eva’s Bait and tackle but has recently (early 2011) been purchased by WDFW, which has plans of a complete rebuild the summer of 2013.

It takes 30 minutes to run from this launch to the Astoria bridge. This launch is located off State Route 4 between Naselle and Cathlamet. If you are coming from Longview on Hiway 4, you would go thru Cathlamet, Skamokawa, up over a large hill, there is a community of Rosburg. The next river you cross will be Deep River, this is a low wide concrete bridge. This is 25 miles from Cathlamet. TAKE A LEFT (SOUTH) AT THE WEST END OF THE BRIDGE ONTO ONIEDA RD. This is a private single lane blacktop ramp, small loading dock, and a reasonable parking lot, but a large mowed field as an overflow lot. There is also in an adjacent field of about 5 acres room for dry camping. The one drawback here is at a low tide the channel as you enter the bay is also narrow. The pay/bait shack was on the top of a hill before you get to the ramp area.

This launch is popular with sturgeon fishermen as well as salmon fishermen and this time of the year you may have to wait to launch or load at the prime times. There is not enough dock area to tie up to for more than launching and loading purposes. You would have to load your boat back on the trailer if you were going to stay overnight. They do not allow power loading because the rock off the end of the ramp can be washed out. The ramp itself is blacktopped. There are Sanicans for restrooms here which are usually removed mid September. A fish cleaning station is also provided.

At low tide the channel is narrow. There is a deadhead log that has one end floating, but appear to not be submerged at high tide and are most always showing between markers 8 and 12. These usually are marked by the locals with crab pot buoys, or white gallon jugs. Another one is West and close to Rocky Point, between Portuguese Point in more open water, but if you hang wide at Rocky Point, you should be outside of it.

The piling markers for the Deep River channel seem to use their own numbers, and after you get in the bay some of these numbers may be repeated.

When you run out of the river and enter the bay you need to follow the piling markers CLOSE, but stay on the right hand side going out, water depth will be between 6′ and 9′ on a low tide. These markers are all within sight of each other (150yds) unless you get fog, which may be occasionally in the mornings. The 1st piling out will be #16, then #14, and then #12. From here you start into a right hand corner to #10. Between #10 and 8 is where it is sanded in. Swing in an arc closer toward the RH shore from #12 to loop around #10, then toward #8, staying to it’s right, you will be in the channel. Now from here you can follow the shore piling on down to Rocky Point. Do not hold tight to this marker here as it sits on a rock outcropping. Make another right hand corner beyond Rocky Point, head Southwest for about 400yd to within 100yd of the shore, if you go straight to Portuguese Point there is a shallow water on your left. You will now head South to Portuguese Point keeping the shore on your right, heading toward but keeping West of piling marker #14A.



GPS readings for the marker piling for the Deep River channel are as follows.







#12 46-18-13   123-42-62
  # 8    46-17-31  123-43-62
#14A 46-16-40 123-44-95




The point of land here on you right is Portuguese Point, a flat grassy area with the #14A on one side and #13 around the corner next to the shore. Not far around this point is Grays Point. The two are so close together some maps only show Grays Point. A different piling marker #12 is out away from the shore and downstream. Around here is where sturgeon fishing usually takes place. There is a 90′ hole off the point, most sturgeon are not caught in the hole but around the edges of it and on down to the #12 piling.

Once you round Grays Point, you can see the Astoria bridge in the distance at a SW direction. To run to the bridge, head to the north end of it, keeping the Washinton shore on your right. Make an arc and hold closer to the Washington shore as it shallows up to your left if you go straight for the bridge. Don’t expect to approach the center of the river or try to cross over to the Oregon side if you are using a prop boat.

Later when the DFW closes the Buoy 10 area, you will have to fish above Rocky Point on the Washington side to Tongue Point on the Oregon side. The middle of the main Columbia River above and below the bridge gets shallow, which changes yearly, so it is not really practical expect to cross over to fish the Oregon side main channel above Tongue Point from the Deep River side with a prop boat. It can be done at the right tide and if you know your way. Therefore it might be best at that time to launch on the Oregon shore at Tongue Point, or at Cathlamet and run downriver if you intend to fish that side of the Columbia.

The one good thing about this area is that if you use it to fish down below the bridge and on to the church hole, when the wind picks up in the afternoon, you can then slide back upriver toward your home launch without bucking the rough water. And, as you head back upriver the water conditions usually lessen. Then from Grays Point to Rocky Point you can drop in and fish for sturgeon if the season is still open.



For those of you who want a motel, there are a 3 in Naselle, but reservations might be prudent.

Naselle Village Inn Motel
827 State Hiway 4
Naselle, WA 98638-8539
Phone: 360-484-3111

Sleepy Hollow
1032 State Hiway 4
Naselle, WA 98638-8506
Phone: 360-484-3232    

Hunters Inn
1060 State Hiway 4
Naselle, WA 98638
Phone: 360-484-9215

There are, I believe 3 restaurants or cafe’s in Naselle & at least 1 Mini Market that has groceries, ice  & gas.

Great White Bait Co.
1055 State Route 4
Naselle, WA 98638
Phone: 360-484-3938



The Fishing Itself: There seems to be an imaginary line from the Washington side high spanned section of the bridge to Tongue Point, that part of the upriver salmon seem to follow and cross over the shallows to the main channel on the Oregon side. The other part of the fish follow the Oregon shore and the main shipping lanes. The few that stay near the Washington shore will probably be Deep River or Grays River fish.

The water temperature at Bonneville this time of the year usually will be 70 to 72 degrees, but on the incoming tide at Illwaco, the cooler (56 degree) ocean water will come in and back upriver on the high tide, cooling the river to near the 56 degrees at times. As the tide turns and starts running back out the temperature will raise to about 62-65 degrees. Once the fish get above this cooler water where there isn’t the cooler salt mix, this is really too warm for them to comfortably stay in, so the Chinook will more than likely then be found in the holes or at the mouths of the rivers dumping into the Columbia.

Most of this salmon fishing will be the same as the “Buoy 10 fishery”, trolling divers and five foot leaders to your favorite lure, bait or spinners, and run them from 20 to 45 feet on your line counters, or figure out how many pulls that is. The line-counter reels are a plus here. The use of a Fish Flash no-drag flasher has now become widespread. When using a Fish Flash or it’s equivalent behind a diver, you may need tie a short length of dacron line (12″) between the diver and the Fish Flash to allow it to get out of the diver’s turbulence so that the Flash will rotate properly.

However up here where the congestion is less, you will be able to use downriggers.

If you are fishing more than 1 rod, put different bait/lures on each rod, fish each rod at different pulls (depths). It just comes down to putting the lure down in the zone, or where the rod that is the hot rod is set at. Change the other rods near that hot rod’s depth once you dial into the zone. If you make 2-3 passes in an area and you’re not hitting fish, MOVE.

For Chinook, you would normally want to have the lure NEAR the bottom. If you try this with a diver, you run the chance of getting hung up and at least damaging the herring by dragging it on the bottom. Here is the place to also use the estuary set up of using a sliding dropper about 16″ to a 10oz, cannonball sinker. which allows the lure to be just above the bottom. Sometimes back-trolling the above gear & a whole herring thru deeper holes can be effective on an outgoing tide, as the Chinook tend to hole up until the next incoming tide.

An Apex plug in chrome, blue prism/chrome or a Coyote spoon in cop car, or glo in the dark green/white can also be very productive here using the diver. Also the new Brads Super Cut plugs are proving their worth here.

For those of you who have communication radios in board, the suggestion is to follow most of the PSA chapter’s method of communicating. VHF channel 68, CB channel 6 or 10

As you can see in the chart below, there is considerable sandbars (brown shaded areas) that pop up at a LOW water tide.



Shown below is the Astoria/Megler bridge/Tongue Pt area.   The WDOT rest area is located above the bridge.




When the Coho are in, they seem to stage at a high tide just above the north end of the bridge at the edge of the deep water. They can be caught near the north end of the bridge piling section. You may even see a hog-line of boats tied or anchored at this section of the bridge piling under the high span. And a considerable number of boats troll just downriver from that section, on the underwater edge where the bottom shallows up.

Misc.: Numerous motels, RV parks, gas and accommodations are available at Illwaco or just north into Seaview and the Long Beach peninsula. Others are West into the town of Chinook. Usually the RV and motel accommodations are booked solid for week-ends many months ahead during this season.

There are restaurants or cafes and motels in Ilwaco, Seaview, Chinook, Naselle and at of course a Mini Market or two. Then on the Oregon side between Astoria, Hammond and in between there are also these conveniences.



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