by John Childs
Sunrise in Astoria's West Mooring Basin
Tides are one of the most important factors for fishing Buoy 10, and creating a game plan on when you should be in certain places is of vital importance. Have you ever noticed the guides shooting up and down the river? Well there's a reason for that, and it usually involves knowing a certain part of the river should fish on different stages of the tide.
Each new tides series brings in a wash of fish, as they ride the tidal push into estuary. The fish will ride the tides and will often end up above the Astoria Bridge towards the end of the tidal push. Then they will sometimes ride the tide back down towards the ocean on the outgoing tide. It's following this "push" of fish that's the basis for fishing the tides at Buoy 10. One key though, is the often talked about "soft tides." These tides don't have the big pushes like the large tides do, and the fish will often ride the tide in, but then won't ride it back down the system. They will often stay above the bridge on these softer tides, and this is when you can sometimes get away with fishing an entire tide series in one or two locations, and be on fish the entire time. Conversely, on the large tidal pushes, you often have to run from top to bottom to consistently stay on the bite.
A simple way to look at tides is as the water reaches towards low tide, you'll want to be farther down the system, fishing from Buoy 22 all the way to 10, and then as the tide begins coming back in, follow the fish up into the estuary, and as the tide peaks and the begins to run back out, you follow the fish back down river. A nice spinner caught Buoy 10 King!
At the latter half of an outgoing tide, I'll often start around the Checkerboard, which is the lower marker slightly downstream from the Green Can across from Hammond. This marker designates the bottom of Desdemona Sands, and can be a great place to troll the bottom of the outgoing tide, and the beginning of the incoming tide. Once the incoming tide gets rolling, it's always a great idea to push into the tide, and I often start by trolling into the incoming tide from Buoy 22 all the way up to 14. On big tides, you'll actually be back-trolling, and on the smaller tides you make passes where you troll forward until you decide to run back up and make another pass into the tide.
As the tide gets moving, you'll often notice a flurry of bites and then it dies off. This is the time to move back towards Hammond. I might start at Buoy 20, and as the bite seems to taper off, move back to Buoy 22, then back to Hammond, then the Saw Dust Pile. You can keep moving back with the fish on the tide like this, ending up by the ships in the Astoria Harbor. I often follow the fish back as the tide comes in until we are about half way through the tide, usually ending my moving back routine around the Saw Dust pile, when I head over to the checkerboard again, and start trolling with the tide, making passes from below the checkerboard towards the Astoria Bridge on the Washington side. This is one of my favorite parts of the tide, and is often where I land the majority of my silvers. I'll fish this through the end of the incoming tide, trying to coincide arriving above the bridge around high slack. High slack above the bridge is often the highlight of the day, fishing anywhere from the sands above the bridge, to Shipwreck on the Washington side. Then as the tide reverses, I make a few passes above the bridge, and as the bites begin to wane, I start trolling back downstream, making passes from the Bridge down to the church, and then repeating until I'm ½ way through the tide, when I'm usually back down along the checkerboard, where everything starts over. Happiness at the end of a successful day!
Finally, a note on the new closure in front of Youngs Bay. Make sure you follow the regulations staying in the shallow water to the North of the Green Can line this year from the Saw Dust Pile upstream to the Astoria Bridge. This was a major change in the regulations, as they closed all this prime water that's traditionally been the fishing spot of many small boaters. Just make sure you're outside their new boundaries!