spring chinook

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

Taking a Break

I took another exam on 5/26 so I got to enjoy a nice weekend with a few extra days off and NO STUDYING! Sara Ichtertz and I have been trying to coordinate and plan a trip together for a few months and we finally were able to make it happen last weekend after the Bonneville Damn fish counts improved again. And a bonus, we got to see Kari on the water!!! <3

I don’t generally take more than 1 day off after an exam because I have so many more to move on to, but given the circumstances, I took 4 days off and enjoyed every single minute. We headed down to meet up with Sara Friday night and were on the water bright and early Saturday. Fishing was pretty slow (okay, really slow) and we went 1/2 but I still had an amazing day. It was really hot, Andrew grilled us his infamous Teryaki Chicken, and I spent the day getting to learn about an amazing woman who’s passion flows on paper fluently. She writes for NW Sportsman Magazine and has a blog, For the Love of the Tug”.

Drano Lake is my favorite place to fish partly because of the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, partly because I love springers, and partly because it’s one of the most difficult, temperamental fisheries I’ve experienced. A challenge is always good and is what I love about fishing. We’ve been going down there for years experiencing some amazing fishing, and some really bad fishing. It’s not a place that you just decide to head to and expect to do well. In fact, chances are, you’ll just watch the handful of boats that have experienced the challenges do really well and you’ll just pray all day that God sends you a sign as to what you’re doing wrong.

But………Once you figure out what you were doing wrong and learn how important it is to be prepared and ready to get innovative, it’s one of the most rewarding fisheries. Sara got to experience a little bit of both. With a really tough first day, she watched as we tried different methods, depths, scents, ways to rig, speed, & how our minds began to calculate. The next day, she watched as we entered the Toilet Bowl and got 3 in 4 passes, and a couple of times, couldn’t even get all of our rods fishing again before we’d get a bite. She watched again as things slowed down, we thought we were dying of heat, and stuck it out all day long!

We headed back out for one more day which we intended on leaving by 11 AM and we were blessed to get 2/3 that morning before we packed up for our last Drano trip of 2017 and headed home.

 

Sara somehow captured these emotions and moments on camera exactly how I see them in my head. I am beyond blessed to have been able to meet her and have the stars align on this trip. I really never can capture exactly what Drano feels like and all of my favorite moments where I just want to sit in silence and embrace my life in that moment, but she provided me with a way to relive that feeling and that is key to the success in my happiness. Working full time and studying for these exams is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and I’ve sacrificed a lot of fishing trips to sit in my office and study so it’s vital that I reflect on my happiest times.

 

I cannot thank her enough for coming all the way up from southern Oregon and leaving her life for 3 days to sit in a boat with 3 complete strangers. She is ambitious, driven, and I’ve definitely stored those qualities from her to apply in my life. She’s extremely talented and is doing wonderful things to our fishing industry and I’m fortunate to have gotten a chance to bond with such a radiating person.

There truly are too many feelings for me to put into this blog post and I’m back on my studying schedule, so I hope you find as much beauty in some of her pictures as I do <3

Last Hoorah Before My Next Exam

I’ll be at Sportco on 5/20 for the G Loomis rod trade in event so this was my last fishing trip before my next exam. I’ll be buckling down for the next 12 days!

This weekend we went back to my roots where I fish for springers with globs of eggs, shrimp, sardine, scents, drifting, float fishing, divers, you name it. This is my kind of fishing! Although trolling can be much more effective and you get to see a lot more people catch fish which is why we invest so much time doing that. After all, springer season is about meat in the freezer and doing what it takes to make that happen!

I was pretty pumped to get this little guy to the boat and was perfectly okay with missing a few others. I wasn’t perfectly okay with losing a really nice summer run, but we ended up going 4 for 8 and had plenty of meat in the freezer!

I’m back to the study grind as I cram for my next exam. Wish me luck and I’ll be back on the water memorial day weekend!!

<3