Columbia River Spring Chinook! What a welcome sight to see a high prediction of upriver Spring Chinook for 2014! We're smack dab in the early stages when pictures are showing up, reports are coming in and anglers are getting their gear wet in anticipation of the best tasting salmon to enter our waters!
This has no doubt been a year of odd water conditions. Super low water plagued our early winter steelhead fishery and then with the onset of rain, we've experienced many weeks of unfishable conditions. Between all of that there have been absolute slay-fests, dry spells, weak runs, great runs - it's been an odd one. Now, with many anglers excited about Spring Chinook, we're still dealing with difficult conditions. Most of March has seen a Columbia River full of high-off colored water. As the season progresses without a doubt the Willamette has been the best bet.
Early Willamette catches are pretty much the norm for early-season Spring Chinook. With that said we've been seeing a good number of fish being caught. The old stand-by - flasher & herring trolled has been the top producer.
Jeff H of Vancouver, WA reports that the Shortbus color "Chartreuse Hunter" accounted for these two chunky, Willamette springers. A fun family trip proved to be productive trolling herring and flashers. These flashers have worked exceptionally well over the past few years and have already started off the season with a bang.
A few lower Columbia tributaries are already reporting catches of Spring Chinook - Cowlitz being one of them. Amidst the rising Springer counts remains the fact that the Lewis and Kalama are still experiencing down years. Neither will be open for retention of Spring Chinook - hatchery OR wild. Dam counts have yet to climb but rest assured, once they do, Drano, Wind and Klickitat fisheries will kick off.
We've yet to see how the year pans out but so far effort has not gone unrewarded. It's typical to see lots of effort and little catches early - no doubt it was slow for a bit. Willamette has shown promising early results and it won't be long before we see more consistent catches come from Columbia. Conditions will dictate what happens however. The popular I5 troll has been near vacant due to high-off color water. Plunking has already been productive for those that know it - this is largely due to the fact that high water forces Springers near the bank. Anchoring with Kwikfish (wrapped with sardines or tuna bellies are a great bet) near the bank in "traffic lanes" would be a great option.
Fishing Addicts Northwest wishes you a productive and enjoyable Spring Chinook season! We look forward to seeing your success and we'll be out there working hard for them as well.
Saturday March 29th update - Mainstem Columbia catches are improving. Fairly even spread between Kwikfish and Herring/flasher bite - both seeing good success. Fish typically are being caught in the 7 - 21 foot depth range.
Those looking to get out and book a trip with an experienced Spring Chinook guide please get in contact with our Facebook page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we'll let you know who WE trust to produce catches of these amazing fish!
If you're out trolling for Springers you need the best flashers in the business! Visit http://shortbusflashers.com for a full selection and variety. Shortbus is offered at most fishing departments.