Hells Canyon Sport Fishing is a local Lewiston, Idaho outfitter that specializes in guided Spring Chinook fishing trips on the Clearwater River. All our Spring Chinook fishing trips are guided from our large comfortable welded aluminum jet boats. By far the nicest fleet of guide boats on the river. Our Guide Team consists of 5 professional full time guides who have dedicated their lives to the love of fishing and the satisfaction of taking clients out on the river to provide an experience they will not soon forget. Bottom line is our guides love what we do, we are good at what we do, and we catch fish…period. Our Spring Chinook fishing guides work the waters of the Clearwater River from the mouth of the river at Lewiston, ID all the way up river to the upper reaches of the Clearwater River at Kooskia, ID. Our Hells Canyon Guides know these waters inside and out and we feel like the river can be broken down into 4 distinct sections..
The Spring Chinook run usually show up in the lower Columbia as early as Late February and early March. These fish tend to stage up there on the lower 100 miles of the Columbia until they “TRIGGER” to migrate upstream. Once the migration begins the upriver Spring Chinook can travel over 30 miles upstream each day. Springers destined to Idaho’s Clearwater River have quite a journey first crossing the 4 lower Columbia River Dams and then the 4 lower Snake River Dams before reaching their destination at the mouth of the Clearwater River at Lewiston, Idaho. On an average year the Clearwater River starts to see catchable numbers of Spring Chinook by the first week of May and Spring Chinook fishing usually kicks off in full force by the 15th of the month.
The lower mile of the river
This first section of the Clearwater River is where the Spring Chinook Fishing in Idaho begins. Anglers will concentrate on fishing “The Pond” in the very beginning which is the lowest section of the Clearwater River near Lewiston, Idaho. This part of the river is actually more of a reservoir situation than a free flowing river. 35 miles downstream from Lewiston is Lower Granite dam causing the river to” BACK UP” and slows the current considerably. The most common fishing technique in the pond is to anchor up and fish Sardine wrapped Quick Fish either flat line, with a lead dropper or off a down rigger in the deeper waters. Not as common but often effective are the anglers who slow troll cut plug herring and or wiggle wart plugs. The fish caught in this section of the river are “Passer through Fish” and are not known to particularly stage up in this section. The bite here is usually in the first 4 hours of the morning and then again in the evening with the movement of the Spring Chinook.
The lower 35 miles of the river
Once the Spring Chinook migrate upstream 1 mile on the Clearwater River they come out of the “POND” and for the first time since they left the Pacific Ocean they are now in a true free flowing river situation. And when this happens there is something that changes these fish. They are now no longer in such a hurry and these fish will tend to hole up in different parts of the river. Although the fish are still headed upstream to their spawning grounds it is almost like they feel like that are getting closer to home and this is when the fish come on to an “AGGRESSIVE BITE”. Certain areas in this 35 mile section are known to produce more than others. Hogg Island, Gibbs Eddy, Myrtle Beach, Cherry Lane, Cold Springs and Big Eddy are some of the more successful Spring Chinook Fishing areas on the river. Most often our guides will be found using those standard “River Salmon” techniques like back trolling Quick Fish, Jet Diver and Bait or Back bouncing Bait. The technique is always specific to the type of water we are fishing. For example... Back bouncing lends itself well to the Deeper Eddy holes and Back trolling Diver and Bait works best in the straighter runs of the river often below a current break or bend in the river.
State and Federal Fish Hatcheries
Although a good number of Spring Chinook will travel on up river past this section, this is the final destination for thousands of hatchery Spring Chinook. There are 2 different hatcheries here; one ran by the State of Idaho and the other by the Feds and the Nez Perce Tribe. Both hatcheries have returns of adult hatchery Spring Chinook. The Spring Chinook destined here that arrive to this section of the river in May/June will stage up in the many holding areas in the river near the hatchery. Pink House Hole, Black Rock, Salmon Alley, Slaughter House hole and the Mouth of the North Fork are some of the better spots in this section of the river. Back trolling Diver and Bait is by far the most widely used technique in this river section with Salmon or Steelhead roe being the bait of choice. Prawn shrimp are also ans excellent alternative bait when Roe is not an option. Spring Chinook Fishing in these waters can be about the most productive anywhere Spring Chinook are found. These fish have traveled many miles, but the cold 45 degree water has preserved the quality of these fish. The flesh of an “UP RIVER” Spring Chinook is considered to be some of the best eating Salmon found anywhere from Alaska to California.
Section 4: Orofino to the mouth of the South Fork River
The upper 30 miles above Orofino
This section of river is one of our personal favorites. Hells Canyon Sport Fishing is one of only a couple Idaho Powerboat outfitters licensed to fish this awesome section of the Clearwater River for Spring Chinook Salmon. This section is known to produce lots of Wild Spring Chinook and some of the larger fish caught each year are taken from this section of the river. This is another “Passing Through” section of the river. Most of the fish moving up through this section are headed to the upper head waters of the Clearwater like the Locsa R., Selway R. and South fork of the Clearwater. Although the techniques used by the Guides at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing are the same as we use in the lower river sections a lot of the water we fish is much smaller and often shallower. Our guide boats fishing this section often never see another boat fishing these waters all day and a lot of times only share these waters with the occasional bank fishermen. This section of river will provide good fishing until most all of the fish have passed through the system which is usually sometime in late June / Early July. As the river temps warm to 60 degrees in this latter part of the season scrap fish like Sqawfish and Pea Mouth tend to become a problem for those fishing roe. This is where knowing to switch it up by rigging with shrimp or herring will make the difference in a boat load of Salmon vs. nothing in the box and only frustration due to losing your bait all day long.
Hells Canyon Sport Fishing Crew Springer Video
Understanding the in’s and out’s any particular fishery never happens without time, dedication and experience. Our guides have spent years fishing, guiding and networking with each other on all our river fisheries. The Clearwater River is our home water and we feel like it is a piece of us. High water, dirty water, early season or late season we have been there…done that. We know when to make a move and know when to stick to our guns. We are in the business to “CATCH FISH” and not just take up space out on the river. We head to the river each day with a GAME PLAN and know how to make educated decisions when fish are not cooperating as well as planned. We have a motto…”Fish till it hurts!” but also realize that the key to the success in our guide business is that our clients want to fish with us again…and again. The guides at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing want to tailor your trip to the way you want it. Whether it is a hard core fishing day on the river or a more relaxed river trip with sightseeing, fishing and time spent with family and friends we can provide you with the type of fishing trip that will leave you wanting to return again for more!
The Spring Chinook that enter the Columbia River system are the most prize fish that swim in our waters. These fish migrate hundreds of miles and provide fishing opportunities in 3 different states. Countless numbers of anglers venture out to chase after these prize fish from the mouth of the Columbia in Washington and Oregon to the Clearwater and Salmon rivers in Idaho. The best fishing can be found on the Clearwater River in Idaho hundreds of miles from where these fish start their journey up the river and away from the crowds of the Portland area!
The team at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing has the best guides in the Pacific Northwest they are at the top of their game when on the river chasing these prize fish! The guides at Hells Canyon Sport Fishing pride the Clearwater River as one of the best kept secrets for catching Spring Chinook. So if you are looking for the experience of a lifetime without all the crowds of the lower Columbia River give us a call and lets us take you on a fishing trip you will never forget!
At Hells Canyon Sport Fishing we are proud to provide what we feel is a top notch guide service to our clients. A combination of experience, passion and talent all come together right here.
We know that giving an honest 100% and we know to never give up because sometimes by spending that last extra hour on the water can make the whole day. This is true and sometimes going a little above and beyond will make all being totally focused will put more fish in the boat at the end of the day. We want to catch more fish than the next guy!
We won’t blow smoke just to get you to book with us. We provide honest fishing reports and do not want you to book if we know fishing will be bad. We try to give you as much information as possible so you can decide if a trip with Hells Canyon Sport Fishing is right for you.
We want to see you catch fish just as much as you do. We do everything we can to put you on fish and put fish in the boat. Our guides won’t just hook fish and then let you reel them in. We want you to hook your own fish and we work hard to make that happen. A boat full of happy clients is our goal each and every day.
Our fish catching ability is well known, but our safety record is just as important to us. All our boats are equipped with life jackets, first aid kits and other safety equipment. All our guides are trained in CPR and first aid.
Our guides are all licensed in their areas by… The U.S. Coast guard, Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board, Oregon State Marine board, Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.
All our guide boats are Safe, Licensed, Bonded & Insured for a liability of 2 million $$$.
These are just some of the things we do every day to be the best that we can be. Be Honest; try harder than the next guy and Fish Till It Hurts!