The time of year has arrived when salmon fisherman anticipate fresh Spring Chinook. Heavy snow melt begins to drain into the Columbia River basin while the weather constantly threatens rain, snow, sleet, hail and sunshine. Fisherman clean their favorite gear and prepare their boats for what promises to be another banner year! We ask ourselves “when will they arrive” and “will the run meet the projected forecast”? “Will Sea Lions over feed and block passage through the ladder”? Year after year the excitement of hooking into a NW Springer seems to brew within our soul…
We like to start each year fishing early on the lower Columbia attempting to catch early pilot fish. Some years this has paid dividends. We have found that using heavily scented bait loaded with protein works well to entice the mother of all strikes! Unfortunately this year proved us wrong as we worked the lower section on two different occasions. The weather took its toll on us and thank the Lord for sleds with a hard top and heater!
April finally arrived when “we” salmon fisherman put our game face on as the peak of the season usually arrives around the 10th of the month before the projected closure. We loaded the RV for the four day fishery in order to try our luck fishing previous year “hot spots”. As usual, the weather presented us with a variety of challenges. We left home headed straight for a snow storm with my friends new boat. Nothing like driving through slush, mud, de-icer and other forms of road hazards…
In preperation for the weeks adventure, we arrived late Tuesday evening ready to go! 4 am comes early in order to navigate up river and set anchor in the “hot spot”. Of course we don’t show a picture here… Once the sun appeared as the early morning fog lifted, we knew a strike would happen any moment – it had to since we had ol’ faithful down flashing with lots of smelly stuff (secret salmon cocktail). The other factor to consider had to do with our lucky passenger Jon from Hermiston who joins us each year for our weekly “salmon fest.” Yep – you guessed it, about an hour on anchor and “slam” rod down with a Springer on the run!
Lyn grabs the rod, sets the hook and off the anchor we drift! From there it was nothing but fun as you can see… Nothing like a little circus with some rodeo action as usual on the first Springer of the year. Great job Lyn!
Nice fin Lyn….. just kidding! With the first fish on the boat, luck seemed to be heading our way. We anchored up, set the lines back in the water making sure to add our secret sauce.
A few minutes go by and what do you know??? “slam” the rod pounds down with line screaming on the run again! This time Jon picks up the rod, sets the hook and quietly whispers “fish on”! Off anchor we go again in pursuit of another fresh Springer attempting to rip the rod out of Jon’s hands.
Another nice fin Jon – kidding! Okay so we had two in the box, now it’s my turn. You know the drill – back on anchor, lines in the water making sure to dip our gear in secret sauce. Time to let the hardware do its job while the sun overhead reflects creating multiple strikes. Of course the fish have to be there in order for the day to produce results. After another hour or so sure enough, my rod takes the hit setting up on another Springer limiting the boat for the day.
Back to the dock we go for a nice afternoon and BBQ preparing for the next days adventure. Stopped off at the cleaning station for a little Fillet practice on some of the best tasting fish in the world.
Day two arrived early once again and wouldn’t you know it, I forgot the camera so no pictures to tell the story! In short, we had to work a little harder and wait patiently to obtain our limit by late afternoon however a great Springer day once again pursuing the outdoors with family and friends.
Day three proved to be quite the thrill for those who love adventure. The day started off early setting the anchor in the dark when I got cut off by some a– who drove in front of us dropping his anchor rope falling back into us forcing us out unless we wanted a collision. Life is too short so I backed off and prepared to anchor extra close to him if you know what I mean? During the set, my buddy was so upset (calm word for his true feelings) he ran his boat towards the guy who cut us off to give him a piece of his mind when all the sudden he drifted right into the sider of our boat creating a collision. Nothing like a little rodeo action in the dark with my other buddy on the bow working the anchor line…. sheesh! Once set, we were ready for our guests to arrive for another day of Columbia River Springer fishing.
We dropped off anchor to pick up guests at 8 am. Here’s where things started to go South. Once back on anchor we were too heavy and the dam started to spill. Those of you who know the area realize what happens when you’re anchored deep in heavy flow. Yep – the anchor broke loose and away we drifted down stream. Ended up we had to pull anchor and find a new place. The hogline watched as we drove past wondering where “PTO” was headed??? I drove up the inside to another hogline above the main line where I could set in the depth I was looking for.
We started fishing around 9:30 after playing the anchor game. Good news… my friend Mike brought his daughter Stacey along for a chance at a Springer. This was our lucky card as we had lady luck on board. Last year Stacey fished with us and caught a nice Springer when all the elements worked against us. Ends up Stacey and Eli were our hero that day. From 10 am till 4 pm we hooked Springer after Springer causing boats all around to wonder “what the heck is going on with the PTO boat”? Lady luck is all I can say mixed with a strong salmon cocktail no to mention ol’ faithful! Here are more pictures that tell the story best!
Down below us our friends and PTO staff occupied another boat where the action started off slow and ended up hot towards the afternoon. Amazing what the secret cocktail did once applied….
Nice try Jeff, that’s gotta go back! We’re fishing for Springers here – what are you trying to prove??? Nice fish though… Let’s see some real action!
Incredible how a day that started so crazy could end so blessed! This will be a trip to remember for years to come not to mention the dent on the side as a reminder of how dangerous fishing in current using an anchor system can be on the Columbia. Praise the Lord for friends, family and the opportunity to Pursue The Outdoors!