Andy "The Mad Russian" with a 15 pound spring Chinook he caught with Bill Swann Saturday on the Columbia River
The spring Chinook bite has yo-yo'd quite a bit this past week on the Columbia River, with boats popping two to three fish one day and then finding the river nearly barren the next. With such mild weather here this past month it's hard to imagine that's it's the last day of February and not late March and we're actually talking about king salmon already. With this many fish in the river right now the springer bite ought to really be rockin' in a couple of weeks. Knock on wood!
Bill Swann from Swanny's Guided Fishing (360-446-5177) has been heating up the tires of his Chinook-wagon at Davis Bar, Frenchman's Bar, and Caterpillar Island downstream from Multnomah Channel on the Big C. "The water's been so low that none of the snags have washed off the bars and there's gear-eating sticks poking up everywhere out of the sand. Today we couldn't drag the bottom as much as I normally like to do and we had to change to hitting the dropper lead every five feet, or so, to keep from losing even more gear," said Swann after donating three full trolling setups on Davis and Frenchman Bars. Bill and the other anglers that are on the river scouting now will have a distinct advantage when the run hits full stride between now and early April.
The only fish that hit the deck of Swanny's boat on Saturday, one of the recent "off" days, slammed a cut plug herring behind a medium Fish Flash. The herring mojo on this particular day was an Advanced Brine with a bottle of blue Pautzke Nectar added to the brine to spice things up. "I'm not sure whether it's the small amount of sulfites in the Nectar or the egg smell that gets'em going, but it just seems like every year I find myself using more and more of this stuff because the springers eat it up," added Bill.
He's been running a medium Fish Flash because of the relatively clear water this year and feels like a larger flasher might put the fish off the bite. Early water temperatures are dancing around 45 degrees, which along with 5 foot of visibility is setting up anglers with primo conditions as the spring Chinook season gets under way.
We'll be following Bill Swann and several other Columbia River guides here on The Outdoor Line website and on Saturday mornings on The Outdoor Line radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle throughout the highly touted spring Chinook run on the Columbia River.