Last weekend I hit the Columbia for the extended Saturday with our friends Kari and Derrick while Jeff worked. We survived the largest hurricane known to Washington’s coast (not really, but that’s what it felt like) and managed to get just one bite that didn’t stick. We headed home early to celebrate mine and my stepdad’s birthday with our family! With all of the crazy things going on in my family right now, it was amazing to be able to spend the afternoon just hanging out with everyone with no agenda and everyone laughing!
Sunday, we were ready for some Cowlitz springer action for a trip that we’ve had planned for a few weeks with Kiley and Hillary! We headed up to Barrier Damn and much like last year, Jeff was first to get his limit in just a few casts. Kiley wasn’t far behind with one at first light while Hillary and I struggled to make our casts count and get in the fish zone. I’ve tried several different set ups and I just am not strong enough to make the distance needed be in the fish every cast L I LOVE barrier damn fishing, just not in the areas that require me to cast that far so I might be flying solo the rest of springer season while I watch Jeff limit out across the way.
Hillary finally got a hook up and waist deep in water with 3 people telling her different things to do, her mind must have been ready to explode! She was doing awesome until…..the handle on the reel broke! Snapped right in half! Thankfully the fish was almost in so we carefully walked her back as we tried not to slip in the deep water and get that fish to the net. Of course, it wasn’t as graceful as I make it sound, but there were no more broken fishing parts the rest of the fight, no one fell in, and the fish made it in the net!
Hillary’s been hitting the Columbia lately with Brandon Glass from Team Hook Up Guide Service (http://hookupguideservice.com/) who takes right after his dad’s (Jack Glass) incredible fishing talent!
We wanted to show her something a little different than what she was used to (small river steelheading and Big C trolling) so after the morning bite died down, we headed to Blue Creek for some side-drifting action!
She was amazed at the close quarters and population of fishermen, but jumped right in and held her own! Kiley lost about 20 steelhead (I’m kidding, it was one or two) but that was all we got for the day! I didn’t get my birthday fish, but we had a great weekend and went home with 2 springers!
For anyone not on my Facebook page, we had a little more eventful week and purchased our first home! So this weekend we’ll be busy painting but will be back to the river next weekend with our good friends Kelcey and Nick!!
One of my favorite fishing places……Drano Lake!
I can’t even begin to tell you how much effort Jeff has put into the Drano Lake fishery. Many trips where he left at midnight right after work when he worked at a restaurant; started with his drift boat then moved to his dad’s Whaler until he got his own boat; thousands of dollars spent on that fishery with a few fish to show for it. I think the most we’ve caught is 3 fish in a trip and we fished at least 2 days with a full boat and had to sit by watch boat after boat with fish on.
So far, this is Jeff’s year. We made our way back down there so we could get dialed back in for Jeff’s birthday weekend next weekend. Our buddies knew the counts weren’t as high as we’d like them and we could very well go home empty handed but the next weekend, if there were fish, we would find them. He’s spent the past year perfecting prawn cures, herring cures, and finding his favorite Maglips. Right after we launched, we heard only 5 fish were caught the day before. Yikes! That doesn’t sound very promising…..
We started in the main lake and got one right off the bat! YES!!!! A few of my close friends know that when we’re trolling, back trolling, pulling, anything with the rods in the holder, YOU DO NOT TOUCH THE ROD until you’re told to. This is serious and I can’t help but get feisty when this rule is broken and fish are lost. Well, a few of my friends also know that I’m known for snatching your fish if you’re not quick enough. If Jeff says get it and you take longer than 1.5 seconds to pick it up, it’s mine. I’ll be damned if we lose the fish because you were too slow. Although I’m working on this part, after elbowing Jeff’s mom and stealing a rod straight out of my mom’s hands, I’m trying to be less greedy. Well, Herb was just too slow! I ran from the back of the boat as soon as I saw that first hit, hopped over a few things, and snatched Herb’s fish. I hollered “you’re too slow Hermie!” and I crank down on the first fish of the day.
Okay, RUDE, I know! I just don’t know what gets into me! It’s like I need to sit on my hands or something! He was a great sport and helped everyone get this fish landed. He even high fived me after and let me do a happy dance. We were all just happy to see a fish this early. If this is all we go home with, at least it’s something! We saw another half dozen and then we got another! It’s 9 AM and we already have 2! This is record breaking for us out here! It quieted down and we headed into the bowl. We saw very few caught, but a few nonetheless. Nothing else for us the rest of the day until our last pass…..the rod with a brand new Shimano Tekota 300LC got whacked hard! Nothing…A second later, another but it was clear the fish still wasn’t on. We watched the rod get chewed up, but nothing promising and then, nothing. We reeled up, re-baited and decided it was not time to go. Back down she goes and as I’m letting just a couple more inches out after it’s down, I find out the drag is lose. Of course. A brand new reel and we didn’t check the drag! NOOOOO!!!!!! It’s one thing to just have a fish miss, but to find out it was our own fault?!
We made a few more rounds and left satisfied with our two fish hoping to hit the sack early.
The next day, we hit the main lake again and got another! So far, Herb, Myself, and Nyef all have fish and Jeff’s so selfless, he just wants to sit back and watch all his hard work pay off. We got one more that day and headed home early each with a fish to each for dinner.
This place is very special to Jeff and thankfully it’s one of my favorites too. It’s so beautiful, the people are beyond friendly, and I’ve never felt more “away” for just a weekend. The drive sucks and it’s expensive, but if it’s only a couple times a year, it’s like a mini vacation and well worth the cleared mind that it creates. Some don’t like the crowds or the monotonous fishing, but we love it and I’m glad! Back at it next weekend with Jeff’s family to celebrate his birthday and we’re all dialed in!
Are you ready for Springers?
I had the amazing opportunity to see Terry Wiest and Bill “Swanny” Swanson give 2 amazing seminars on spring chinook fishing in both the smaller rivers, and trolling in the Columbia. Here is a recap from this weekend and a few tips and tricks to help you gear up for the springers this year!
Why do we all love springers so much?
Spring chinook are chinook that enter the river system a few months earlier than it’s fall siblings. However, they still spawn around the same time in late fall/early winter. They are much more prepared to live in fresh water for several months before making it to their spawning grounds or hatcheries. These fish have a much higher fat content and enter the fresh water while the tempurature is still quite a bit cooler than in August and September. The cooler water doesn’t break down the fish’s genetic disposition and because of this, the prized springers have quite a bit more energy to fight on the end of your line and a much higher fat content for better table fare.