GENERAL FISHING

Springer Limits!

We headed back out one more time before the Columbia closure and my birthday alos happens to be next week so I get to celebrate 2 birthday weekends!

The weather prediction was pretty rough including 20-30 MPH winds and rain all day. After last weekend, we realized that our rain jackets are not up to pare anymore and so we were kind of dreading sitting in the rain all day. We didn’t have time to refill the propane for the heater so we figured if it wasn’t good fishing and we were soaked, that we would call it a day early.

We started out trolling, using the same herring brine we always use except we bought a different brand herring since it was our only option. We saw a couple of fish caught and were just thinking it was right time, right place for them. Then, we started seeing the same boats hook up and we’re up to a dozen fish seen caught. Unless it’s a new fisher (or the Cowlitz), we don’t usually experience this. We’re very well prepared and are extremely cautious with smells and taking care of our gear. Either we have a black hex on us, or our bait is doodoo.

We saw a couple of fish caught on anchor as the tide pushed out closer to low slack and attempted to anchor in our usual spot. Most of the day, the weather was really great but all of a sudden, the winds started picking up especially in our anchor spot. We didn’t even attempt it as we knew it was entirely too windy so we scoped out the bottom down river behind a corner in hopes to avoid the wind. We picked a semi random spot where there weren’t any other boats but the contour looked promising and we were below all the other anchor boats.

I don’t get seasick but I got a little queasy wrapping plugs in the wind & current. It felt like reading a book in the car for some reason! I wrapped 4 to get out and another 3 to swap out so that I could take a little lunch break and get some food in my system. Right as I was about to doze off, Shawn’s rod goes off! We jump up and start getting the other rods out of the way and the fish was gone. We were pretty darn excited to finally get a bite and it being so fast, it made us feel pretty good about the spot we were in.

We got the rods back out and within minutes…….fish on! I ran to the back of the boat to grab my rod and unfortunately, it was native. Bye bye springer. We’ve hooked 6 springers so far this year and 4 of them were wild, 1 lost, and 1 hatchery. The wild run is clearly doing well this year!

Again, rods back out and minutes later Shawn’s rod goes off…Fish in the box!

Back out the rods go and I’m rewrapping some plugs to keep the bait fresh. Fish on again! Jeff lets me grab his rod because it’s my birthday weekend (so sweet of him) and it’s a hatchery fish! Two in the box!!!

Rods back out and I’m wrapping more plugs. Before we can even get both rods out and get another plug wrapped, Zach’s rod goes off! Fish number 3 in the box! Freshly wrapped plug on the last rod and I’m working on the replacement while Jeff’s rod goes off! We got a fish on every single rod placement (usually it’s 1 or 2 rods that keep getting hit) and we have our springer limit!

We didn’t even notice the weather was getting bad because there was just so much going on. We got out of there and were heading home by 3. Truly a fantastic day that took us by surprise!

The lower Columbia is now closed unless they give us an extension. We’ll likely be toying around at the Cowlitz until the dam counts are high enough to start our Drano Lake season. Next Saturday will also be my birthday weekend (lucky me). I’ll be the BIG 3-0 next Thursday so hopefully I get another birthday fish on Saturday. Sunday is some wedding fun and family birthday time.

I can’t get over how much happier I am now that I’m not studying. I didn’t get my CPA for a big career change; It was just a goal of mine and added stability in my life. there were many times that I questioned why I was still working on it when it sucked away so much joy from my life, but I always try to find the silver lining, especially when God was giving me so many signs to keep studying. Hopefully one day I find all the reasons why I went through what I did, but for now, I’m quite content knowing how much more I appreciate my life, friends, and family.

Fishing tip: We always use borax for our sardines but tried rock salt & tons of scent the last 2 trips. It really firmed them up and made them a breeze to wrap and they really soaked up the scents that we added. However, after only a short period of time in the water, the scent was gone. This worked great for us with our prawns & tune for super baits, but the salt seemed to really suck out too much of the moisture in the sardines. Back to borax it is! We add scent with Pro Cure bait injectors & letting pre-wrapped plugs sit in scent before sending them out on the hunt.

~Bry

A Springer For Dinner!

We haven’t been hearing very good reports on springer fishing the Columbia and while it’s still early, the closure is coming quickly and we want an opportunity to do well while it’s open. There’s always a chance for an extension, but that’s not a sure thing. We headed back down Saturday morning just the two of us and anchor fished all morning. We trolled all afternoon and enjoyed the great weather and each other’s’ company, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a single bite. We saw about 5 fish hooked up (including one that a sea lion stole) but at least that was better than the reports we’d gotten from the day before!

We have a friend that is kind of new to fresh water fishing but putting in a lot of effort to learn a few things. We took him and another friend out on Sunday in hopes to at least get 1 to finally enjoy a meal. We were a bit later than most people and we ended up is our second option for anchoring but figured we’d just have to make it work. It was terrible weather and all of our fancy Gore-Tex rain gear was seeping through. One guy with his PVC Helly Hanson gear with duct-tape’d holes seemed to be the driest on the boat. After 5ish hours of not seeing a things and switching up the plugs about a hundred times, we finally have a fish!

Jeff grabs it and unfortunately, it was wild. We’ve been out 5 times and caught just 2 fish at this point. Both are wild; the worst kind of springer you could get since we’re all solely after the table fare when it comes to this fish. At least we can have some confidence in the anchor spot and our gear, but we’re feeling a bit discouraged and definitely envious of all the boats with cover as we try to find things to keep our mind occupied and laughter as we slowly get more and more soaked.

 

The tide slacks out and it’s time to start trolling. We get all switched over and make our first pass. Right at the tail end of it, we finally are getting a bite! As our buddy goes to grab the rod, it topples over and into the water. His cat like reflexes thankfully saved the day as he reached down in the water and grabs it thankfully with a fish still on the end of the line! We all start reeling the other rods up only to find out that 3 out of 4 rods are tangled up in this disaster. With all that gear and weight, the fish came in pretty quickly despite its size and in the net it goes! We couldn’t be more grateful to see a missing adipose fin and we’re finally going to eat a fresh springer dinner!

It all happened really quickly so we’re trying to figure out if we should be dancing, bonking the fish, getting things untangled, or something else. We’re just kind of standing around, moving things, staring at the fish. We finally get things sorted out and make another pass. Our plan was only to make 2 passes since it was fairly late in the day and we all had plans at home.

Our adrenaline is high from the fish and I’m getting greedy and want to make an additional pass. This is rare from me lately since I always have studying on my mind and am usually the first one to want to leave when fishing is slow. Jeff says “I’m so glad you’re not studying anymore. 2 months ago, you would have been wanting to leave hours ago.” I hope this is a statement that I remember for a long time because it resonates with me today. The fact that I spend 2 years missing out on my passions, friends, & family because of this goal that I had and now I am free to do what I want. I can feel the passion coming back and it’s guilt free. Jeff stood by and supported me during this time even when I become someone that he didn’t really like. He hoped and prayed that the would get his best friend back when the exams were passed and thankfully she’s coming back. Two years is a long time to spend being someone that you don’t like and not having much control over your life (unless you decide to quit), so it doesn’t change overnight but the past month has been bliss. I surprise myself with my ability to juggle things, be productive, and love people. I’m happy for simple things again, like being on the water even if I’m soaking wet and freezing.

Anyhow, we made one more short pass and headed back. We all felt that it was well worth the miserable weather and can’t wait to enjoy dinner!!! This is what all the hard work that goes into springer season is about!

Springer Season Officially Started

We swapped out the anchor and moved on to the big river to see if we could find a springer or two. We started out trolling and didn’t see anything caught so at slack tide we switched to anchor fishing. It was pretty nasty weather so sitting is always difficult to do for a long time. It’s that point where we are so incredibly jealous of the boats with covers haha.

My rod got hit but didn’t stick and about an hour later, we were talking about our friend Jerry’s rod and how well his plug was working. You know, when that one plug is working so hard the rod holder starts absorbing the shake? Then, whack! Fish on his rod! Unfortunately, it was a native fish and was sent back on its way. Truly, unfortunate because the amount of work and money that gets put into these fish is purely for the table fare. We do eat some of salmon & steelhead, but springers are what we look forward to eating every year.

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I was supposed to have dinner with my best friend and Jeff just couldn’t leave the river knowing we were going home without springer for dinner so we ended up being 2 HOURS LATE. She surprised me when I met her with 4 of my other amazing friends, a table full of balloons, flowers, cards, & presents. They all waited hours for me to get back from fishing to surprise me with a celebration for passing my CPA exams. I decided that since I don’t have to study anymore, I could rally and go fishing again Sunday so we called it an early night and headed back out Sunday for round two really hoping to go home with dinner. We seemed to be just a few feet away all day and ended up going home with no fish.

I thought I was just very tired from being out the night before but turns out I ended up with a nasty cold. I only get sick once a year so hopefully this is it, but I was hoping to escape the germs this year! Assuming I’m not still sick, we’ll head back out this weekend and the following Sunday for more Columbia fun and cross our fingers that they extend the fishery.

But for now, we’re officially in springer season and couldn’t be more excited for our favorite fisheries!!

~Bry

In Between Seasons

This is probably one of my least favorite “fishing seasons”. The time between where there aren’t many steelhead around anymore, you’re kind of tired of steelhead, REALLY excited for springers, but there aren’t many of those around either. You end up needing to choose between investing time in maybe catching a couple of steelhead or instead, catching 1 of your favorite fish.

The Cowlitz has been Jeff’s kryptonite for a couple of years. It’s a different type of fishery and it’s not his strongest fishery lol. But, it’s one of the only rivers that we fish that is still open and has fish. In fact, their run is supposed to just be getting started. So, we headed there with the plan of fishing for both steelhead and springers to see what we get. We ended up with just 1 steelhead which was better than our normal skunking, but that effort definitely could have been spent on the Columbia potentially getting 1 springer instead.

We’re not the biggest fan of fishing the same mile long stretch of river which seems to be where most of the fish on the Cowlitz are caught, so we spent a good part of the day fishing around and trying to ditch the crowds. Not that the Cowlitz isn’t big enough to handle it all, it just gets old running the same water all day long, especially when we suck there and aren’t hooking fish all day lol.

We did get shorter rods and are switching to sidedrifting this year for the Cowlitz only. I love bait. I will almost always choose bait over an artificial lure with the exception of a worm. Jeff is a bit more open minded than me, but still, he also is a big bait fan. The Cowlitz fish seem to want a bead or piece of yarn lol. It’s not my favorite place for steelhead to say the least.

Anyhow, we’re both ready for springers so we’ll continue this in between fishing until we start hitting the Columbia and then DRANO!!!