KLICKITAT - Salmon fishing knows no state boundaries. Consequently, a nifty gear tweak created by our bank-fishing brothers down on southern Oregon's Rogue River made its way to Buzz Ramsey's boat on the Columbia River last week.
Check out the photo above. That's two pieces of essential salmon gear - a Spin-N-Glo and a herring - connected by simple tubing, rigged on a three-hook Columbia River trolling setup.
8CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT how Buzz rigs his new Columbia River springer bait, courtesy of a step-by-step explanation by Bill Monroe of the Oregonian.
PORTLAND - Since finding a couple of weeks off this summer proved to be impossible for me this year, I decided to take two weeks off in the peak of springer season.
It was tough to wait until my weekend arrived, especially with good reports coming from the Columbia all week, but my vacation arrived and I started out bright and early Friday with a soldier just out of basic, his dad John LeCarno and my good Friend Tom VanderPlaat.
Within the first 100 yards of our first pass, Tom hooks up with his second springer of 2010. Then it's the soldier's turn, and Joel lands his first springer of 2010 in a light rain before heading back to a dry and warm Southern California.
Saturday arrived and I had the pleasure of fishing with my wife and son and two friends for work, Mike Fung and Shawn Seals. After fishing Friday and finding everyone in the Portland Metro area that owned a boat on the water, I figured it couldn't get anymore crowded for Saturday, so off we headed to the river.
At 4 a.m.
But I was wrong: there were more boats than ever! Oh well, it was a sight to see, even if fishing proved to be poor (which it didn't).
On our first pass, Missy hooked up and hopes were high. On our way to the top of the run, I attempted to count boats ... I quickly lost count just after 100, but I estimated right around a thousand boats in the lower run we were making (Caterpillar Island to Frenchman's Bar). On our second pass, Mike Fung and Shawn Seals hooked up with nice springers and on our third and last run of the day, my son Ayden and I found our fish.
Five fish with five bites, all before noon. Catching can't get too much better, even in such crowded conditions.
Green label herring, plug cut and spinning 20 inches off the bottom did the trick for all five fish.
Now off to actually start my fishing vacation.
ARLINGTON - Text message from my buddy Nate Fenton just came in: "12 hookups today, it's good!" Similar news from Wild Country blogger David Johnson, and Facebook friends like Mark Freeman of Triple S Guide Service, whose fish box is pictured above: "One pass, five keepers, it was only 7:45. TIME FOR BREAKFAST."
We're all over it Saturday morning, with live on-the-water reports from Springer Central.
SEATTLE - Northwest Wild Country co-host Mike Perusse's cell phone went off at about 7:15 a.m. yesterday. Gabe Miller from Sportco was checking in from the Columbia River. The report: see the above picture.
It was a tough day all around the big river on Saturday, but Gabe and Bill Swann of Swanny's Fishing started the morning off right, whacking this big, bright springer on the first pass of the morning.
Keep those cell phone photos coming, folks!
SOMEHWERE ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER - This is probably blasphemy, considering the James Overstreet photo art at the top of the page, but, well, it turns out that we have use for those darn cell-phone cameras after all.
Like, for instance, we can see when one of our NW Wild Country bloggers - in this case David Johnson of David Johnson's Guide Service - has whacked a spring Chinook on the Columbia River. The fish above is probably still quivering, thanks to the magic of digital telephonics.
Send in your cell FishPhone shots: I never thought I'd say this, but, I want to see your best cell-phone fish photos. Drop 'em on me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best shots get swagged up from the Prize Cave.
GOLD BEACH, Or. - It's hard to understand what overtakes one when the first report of spring-run salmon hits the rumor mill, internet, and the Rogue Outdoor Store. In my case, it caused me to drop all steelhead gear immediately and focus on jet boat safety checks, maintenance, and springer rigs.
These football-shaped Chinook are the prize of the West Coast. They're mean fighting machines that can scream out yards of line on an initial run. Spingers will test gear to the end of its limit. They run the river in brutal conditions that some can’t believe anyone would be involved with.
This is the beginning of Spinger Madness on Oregon's South Coast.
8READ THE REST OF PAUL LEFEBVRE'S ROGUE RIVER REPORT and about the great springer bite happening now on the Southern Oregon Coast.
KALAMA - Starting (finally!) to get a better trickle of positive reports from the lower Columbia. We've seen the odd onesy-twosy multi-fish day over the early season, but guides like Jim Stahl of J & J Guide Service and Mark Coleman of All Rivers Guide Service have started to post photos on their Guides Home Port pages on Gamefishin.com. In addition, I got an e-mail and photo from Buzz Ramsey of a bright springer caught last week on his first trip of the year (on a Mag Lip, of course), and dam counts at Bonneville have finally, mercifully, crawled out of the deep freeze.
8ANDY WALGAMOTT AT NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN IS ALL OVER IT with his latest Editor's Blog. Go check it out.
SEATTLE - So here we are, with a spiffy 470,000-plus-huge-effin'-GRANDE forecast number in our heads, patiently awaiting the explosive start of Springer Fever 2010.
As the Fish Passage Center so bluntly tells us, the guests of honor might've gotten the wrong invitation.
At the very least, they like to arrive fasionably late, it seems. As Andy Walgamott and the crew at Northwest Sportsman point out, the Columbia River's spring Chinook timing is getting later and later and later each year. How late? According to Walgy's calculations, we're stumbling along at roughly 6 percent of the 10-year average as of last week!
8CHECK OUT WALGAMOTT'S "EDITOR'S BLOG" for the straight scoop on the sluggish spring Chinook run.
8CHECK OUT SHANGLE'S LIST of early-season locations for Columbia River springers.
Needless to say, this will be a top of conversation this Saturday on NW Wild Country:
SEATTLE - All 500,000 of those spring Chinook forecasted for the Columbia River are going to share one trait when the hit the lower river: they'll be H-U-N-G-R-Y. Check out the video from the Pautzke Traveling Classroom on Nectar, Fire Power and Kokanee Fuel. We all know that Chinook are highly reactive to smell, and this trio of products could make the difference between a day of scratch fishing and a limit of springers.
SEATTLE - Pretty quiet today on the Columbia River spring Chinook front. And, in general, it's been pretty quiet all the way around. We're seeing some fleeting, onesy-twosy reports of fish being caught in the lower river and a handful here and there in various tributaries, but, they're scattered.
Here are a few of the latest reports from the Springer Zone:
SEATTLE - We're not wasting any time with prep-work for Springer Fever 2010, and you shouldn't be either. Over the next two months, we'll connect our faithful Wild Country listeners with the "Who's Who of Columbia River spring Chinook": guides, fisheries managers, tackle manufacturers, biologists, etc. If you're looking for information on the great springer fishery of 2010, THIS IS THE PLACE TO GET IT!
The following are our first Springer Fever '10 WildCasts. Check back here often as we post EXCLUSIVE web-only Q&As with the best spring Chinook sources in the Pacific Northwest.
CATHLAMET, Wash. - So, finally, we're back to some familiar lower Columbia River stomping grounds.
After three years of below-average (some would even say poor) production around Cathlamet, water conditions appear to be favorable for a leading-edge bite at some traditional lower-river favorites. Warmer-than-usual late-February water temperatures have a lot of us looking ahead to a strong early-March bite, so, let's take a look at some go-to spots for you springer rats who simply can't wait any longer.
8CHECK OUT SHANGLE'S LIST of early-season locations for Columbia River springers.
SEATTLE - Whatever it is they're brewing over at the Pyramid Alehouse across from Safeco Field, it's making for some mighty smooth flavah coming from the office located just upstairs of Haywire Hefeweizen Heaven.
That, of course, is where Andy Walgamott and the crew at Northwest Sportsman headquarters, and, after spending much of last week standing in front of Walgamott's "dummy board" for the March issue, I'm finally able to let the cat out of the bag: the "All Hail Spring Kings" issue of NWS is ridiculously, absurdly loaded with so much handy-dandy springer info, it makes the head swim.
See the "Springer Resources" graphic above? That's a sneaky peek at the cool map that Walgy put together highlighting all the little nook-and-cranny springer hot spots that you hear whispered about throughout the season. It's part of a 27-page springer barrage that, frankly, will be off the newsstands of your local magazine outlet in a heartbeat. Get your copy E-A-R-L-Y, my friends.
8CHECK OUT WALGAMOTT'S "EDITOR'S BLOG" for his spin on the Columbia springer seasons, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for yet another map (this one a handy little number that highlights in graphic form the seasons as they were set at yesterday's Compact meeting). Walgamott will join us on the air tomorrow, March 20, as we blow the doors off the first week of the 2010 spring Chinook season:
VANCOUVER - The message sent to the sport anglers of Washington and Oregon today by the Columbia River Compact: Learn how to fish upriver.
The much-anticipated 2010 Columbia River spring Chinook season will come and go in a flash for Portland/Vancouver-based anglers, thanks to a season structure that allows 42 days of fishing below I-5 – most of it well before the traditional peak of the run – and 22 days between I-205 and I-5. The upriver seasons, though, are the most wide-open they’ve been in decades, with a 7-days-per-week from mid-March through May.
The spring seasons, as approved this afternoon, are:
I-5 to I-205
Bonneville to McNary
The approved season structure was lauded by the Washington and Oregon Department’s of Fish & Wildlife as providing “plenty of fishing opportunity throughout the river”, while awarding “a full range of fishing opportunities above and below Bonneville Dam in March and April”, but lower Columbia veterans and fishing industry watchdogs feel otherwise.
“It’s going to be very difficult for us to explain to the angling public why there’s a half million fish in the river and their fishing options are so constrained,” says Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, pointing out the 470,000-fish upriver forecast.
8CHECK OUT ANDY WALGAMOTT'S EDITOR'S BLOG over at Northwest Sportsman's website. Also, get it while it's hot: The March issue of NWS is LOOOOOADED with great springer stuff.
8SEE THE ODFW/WDFW's OFFICIAL RELEASE detailing the 2010 spring Chinook and sturgeon seasons.
More on this later tonight.
SEATTLE - Seems as though the rest of the world has taken notice of the Columbia River lately. As we await the results of today's Columbia River Compact meeting, and the first whispers of the 2010 spring Chinook season structure, I thought it'd be interesting to find out what everybody outside the I-5 corridor is saying about us. Here's what I hear:
8THE WALL STREET JOURNAL'S recent story on "Fish Boom Makes Splash"
8THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE'S view of the "towering rise of salmon and steelhead in the state right above us"
8THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN'S all-star reporting of the allocation of lower-river springers
8J.D. RICHEY'S BLOG ENTRY on the 2010 spring Chinook projections
PORTLAND - I've been meaning to post this since yesterday, but, finally, here it is: photographic proof that Springer Fever, 2010 has begun.
As Jack Glass of Hook Up Guide Service told us Saturday on the air, there have already been a handful of spring Chinook reported in the past five days. The above photo is from Ifish.net member Blue Water 23, who whacked a 16-pound spring Chinook Monday morning trolling herring. That's Monday's Oregonian, to serve as proof.
8CHECK OUT THE IFish THREAD ON THIS FISH and start stocking up on herring. It's gonna be one of THOSE kinds of years, kids.
SEATTLE - The first words out of Stuart Ellis' mouth Saturday morning spoke volumes about the angst behind releasing the official 2010 forecast for Columbia River spring Chinook : "There was a little bit of sweating going on in the room."
Ellis, the chairman of the US v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee - the group charged with forecasting the 2010 springer run - followed up with a chuckle, indicating that he was only partly serious about the sweating. His message was clear, though: The gravity of a number that approaches a half million - the 470,000 upriver springers forecasted for the Columbia - was not lost on him.
"If it comes to pass, it’ll be the largest run of spring Chinook to ever enter the Columbia River since the construction of Bonneville Dam," Ellis told us last Saturday in an exclusive interview on Northwest Wild Country.
8LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF OUR EXCLUSIVE 20-MINUTE Q&A with Stuart Ellis, chairman of the US v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee.
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