fishing blog

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

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!!!

Finally…….A Reason to Celebrate

I PASSED!!!!! I officially passed all of my CPA exams and am free!

I honestly did not expect to pass so I had no special plans to celebrate. Jeff and I fished by ourselves on Saturday which is always a nice change. It’s a bit more chaotic with only us in the sled and that means that we don’t get very many pictures. We have always been a little bit bad at getting up to go fishing when it’s just us so we were naturally off to a late start. It was a surprise to see too many boats at the launch and we were one of the last, but we made it count! We ended up with 6 fish (4 native) and the most incredible weather.

Jeff actually got 4 of the 6 fish because of course, he’s a way better angler and he gets first water all day in the sled. He also decided to throw artificials while I was stuck on bait, because well, that’s what always works. He knew that all those other boats were throwing bait and the fish must be tired of seeing bait after bait after bait while these huge boats run back and forth. Sure enough, he got all 4 of his fish on artificials and I only got 2 on bait.

Sunday, we headed back and didn’t hook a thing for a couple of hours. We even got there on time and were ready with many different rigs to test out. There were only a couple of boats which is probably because of lower/clearer water conditions and we don’t think people did as well as us the previous day. We ended up making some changes and hooked 2 native fish on Sunday. Not quite the fantastic day that we had the day before, but it was the first time I’ve been able to fish with absolutely no guilt. I took a nap each day, slept in the car, fished all day, and got up before him. These are things that I haven’t done in years guilt free.

I can’t describe the feeling that I have. I remember what fishing used to be like before the guilt that came with the CPA exams and it’s all back now. The feeling of being able to disconnect from life. Not caring about what I need to do on my list or what I have to do that night. There is no agenda. And when I fish, I only care about enjoying that exact moment. Only those closest to me and those who have studied these exams know the extent of what it does to your life, your relationships, and your mental well-being. I know that I am young and have a lot of life left to live, but I truly hope this was one of the most stressful times in my life. I am at peace and so incredibly grateful to be able to enjoy life again. Every single minute is not to be taken for granted and being able to spend this time clear headed in our beautiful rivers does this to me. Thanks to all of you that supported me along the way and that told me you’ve been missing my blogs. Having this space to share how my fortunate opportunities right now in my life is very meaningful to me and I appreciate everyone along the way. <3

~Bry

I’m Back For Winter Steelhead!

Well, after several months of not blogging, I’m back…..at least for a little while!

I took what is supposed to be my last exam on Tuesday and life has been wonderful ever since. I do not get my score until mid-March and in an effort to “keep it real”, I feel very bad about how it went and I’ll likely be retaking it.

However, in another effort to live in the present, I am SOOOO glad to be back on here writing a blog!

This winter I have been out a few times and have put a few fish in the box! I don’t know if it’s just me, just the days I’ve fished, or if I’m completely off base, but we haven’t had a lot of stellar steelhead days and I haven’t heard of many from others. Normally, this is peak time and we’ve started seeing limits. I won’t lie, we had a phenomenal day on Sunday, but it was the first of the year that it was that we’ve encountered that many steelhead in one day. Hopefully it’s just me because I’ve been out of touch with the real world for a few months :)

We took Jeff’s coworker and his friend out. We’ve fished with both of them a couple of times but Shawn had never caught a steelhead before so we were really hoping to see him get his first. It started off with surprise snow and a little slow……so slow that we contemplated going somewhere else for the day but then Shawn missed a bite so we figured we’d stay a while and see if we can find another. Before I get going into the day, I’ll just share that I’m a bit superstitious and I wore a brand new hat that morning. I always bring a second in case I feel that something new is unlucky.

Jeff hooked up and put the first fish in the boat so now we’re getting excited and feeling good about what the day will bring. Less than an hour later, Jeff hooks up again! A feisty wild fish that was quickly released. Next up, Shawn! Finally! He is fighting his first steelhead and he successfully brings in a perfect hatchery hen.

Shawn did manage to get possibly the biggest steelhead I’ve ever seen though. I won’t pretend like it’s a state record, but I’ve never seen a 20lb steelhead in person and we’re guessing this is around there. It put up an incredible fight and Shawn fought it flawlessly in a really difficult spot and his second steelhead ever. He was a natural and I’m not sure that I would have been able to land this beast so HUGE kudos to him!

The rest of the day was so full of fish I can’t remember who got what and in what order. It was a great day of fishing to say the least. I was spending more time tying leaders than fishing so I swapped my hat for a trusted one and within 30 minutes, I was finally hooked up. I hooked 2 more (1 was native) before giving the new hat one more try.

I didn’t hook anymore fish once I switched back to the new hat but Jeff did. I think that I’ll retire that hat to the “grocery shopping” pile instead of fishing pile ;)

I had such a great time carelessly fishing and like usual, great company. In fact, Shawn probably hooked half of the fish hooked to the boat! I casted in more trees than he did and he fished all day. It was cold, snowed on and off all day, and the boat fished until dark. I have just 2 weeks left until my scores come out but I couldn’t have asked for a better day to start my break off. It truly was a day that goes into the history books.

AND…..I get to blog again for a while! Thanks to everyone for continuing to check my blog and for hounding me when I see you around the tackle shops and rivers about needing to blog. If it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have known how many people enjoy my blogs as much as I enjoy writing them :) <3