columbia river springer

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

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

First springer trip!!

We finally made the official first springer trip and were quite successful! We ventured down to the Columbia for the last scheduled weekend that it was open in hopes to bring home some quality dinner. We started out on anchor with sardine wrapped plugs while the tide moved out.

We saw a couple fish on first thing in the morning but didn’t get our first fish until about 11 AM. It was biting for a few seconds and the rod was loaded, but in our boat, you don’t touch it until the reel is peeling line. It wasn’t peeling line but man it sure looked like it was on there good so we picked it up and….NOTHING! We didn’t get anything else on plugs that morning, but when the tide came back in and slacked out, we decided to pick up and troll herring behind flashers. We go one within 15 seconds of the rods being out and it was my step dad’s rod! He did great fighting it and it was extremely exciting to see him land his first springer!

We ran back up and got hit again! This time it was my co-worker and it was his first time out with us. He had a hot little fish that took several runs and dipped and tucked under the boat weaving from one side to the other! He thankfully landed it and we were feeling great with 2 upper river brights in the box!

 

I was glad that the two people that don’t get out with us were the ones to get the fish, but I really wanted one. It’s just always so much pressure to get the first one and then it’s all fun for the rest of the season.

So the next day we headed back down to the Columbia for some Easter morning fishing! We didn’t have any plugs wrapped to start the day so after we got 4 rods out, I spent the morning wrapping 20 more plugs to switch out. I wasn’t thrilled about that because I knew that if I was looking down with my hands full, I wasn’t going to be the one to see a rod get hit which meant I wasn’t going to be the one to get a fish. I watched 3 rods get hit while I was busy keeping them baited up. We got one hatchery and 2 wild fish and I was obviously irritated.

Jeff thankfully announced that the next fish is mine since everyone else already had their turn. Again, at high slack tide we pulled anchor and began to troll. Again, I was dealing with the plugs and was cutting off all of those beautiful wraps because we wouldn’t be using them again for at least a week. Sure enough, a rod goes off and my hands are full! We unfortunately lost that one which only added to my discouragement because I know (I say that) if I was fighting that one, I wouldn’t have lost it. We ran back and made another pass and sure enough, the same rod goes off but this time, we announced it was my turn!

I was kind of happy to have gotten this one, although it was smaller than all the others we got this weekend, it was definitely the best fighting. Stripped me out 130 feet upriver all on the surface. It was pretty awesome to watch it run on top of the water like that, but even more nerve wracking. Once we finally landed it I was happy to finally have the first one of the season out of the way!

Next weekend is my birthday weekend and the Columbia is still set to close so maybe a little drift boat action or back to the good ‘ol Cowlitz!

Springers are so emotional!

We didn’t get out to the Columbia again for the last day, but we did hit the smaller rivers and were pleasantly rewarded :)

I had a very rough work week last week and decided, again no homework for me! Not so much because I didn’t want it, but I just couldn’t focus and I paid for it when I took my midterm today. Back to the good part! We got up bright and early, found the sweet spot and pitched bait for hours. Jeff got one on about 9 AM and it was definitely a nice one. Took up upriver and kind of hung out in some really heavy, boulder water and sawed him off at his main line after about a minute of fighting.

He was devastated but had never been more motivated. We were drifting bait and I started getting a bite. I lowered my rod to give some slack and after about 4 good bites, I put the wood down. FISH ON! And I just so happened to be breaking in my new IMX 13ft center pin rod!

After 3 seconds the smile wipes from my face and I get into a comfortable spot to bring this guy in. It seems as though the longer I fish for springers, the more stressful they get. I get this knot in my throat and this nauseating feeling in my stomach. My heart races and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to hide the sheer panic in my face. Jeff usually has to tell me to breathe and relax and that just makes me lose focus on the fish, which makes it worse. When I finally get the fish landed, a huge wave of relief washes over me. I get pretty anxious about all fish, but nothing quite like these guys. Perhaps because there are so few and far between and we’re fishing primarily for the table fare, not the rush. Funny how that works….

Anyhow, all of this emotion happened in about 20 seconds and we see the fish hit the surface. It’s a jack…..Now, it’s just a bonus fish and it’s all in fun! I’m actually playing around and I realized that I was tricked because my rod is so sensitive! How cool is that?! We have the IMX 13ft center pin rod and that’s what Jeff fishes with for springers so I know my rod is more than capable of handling a 15lb springer, but how awesome that I can actually play and enjoy a fight from a jack!

We fished for several more hours and when I went in the car to take a quick nap, not even 10 minutes went by and Jeff had a nice 13lb’er. He was extremely happy that he made up for the missing fish this morning and we get to bring home dinner again :)

Now hopefully I can find a good balance again between work, fishing, and homework! Off to Drano Lake for the next couple of weekends! Springer lovin’!!!!