Spring Chinook Tips & Hints with Pro Guide Josiah Darr.
Spring Chinook might be at the top of the list of most difficult fish to catch. Trolling for them in the Columbia and Willamette often feels like trying to find a moving needle in a haystack. While it can be difficult, it’s far from impossible and those who take the time to really hone their craft are consistently rewarded with what many fishermen consider the most prized salmon in the Northwest.
I am a firm believer that there are two main things that you need to have dialed in when targeting Springers. Your trolling speed and good bait.
Trolling speed in the Columbia and Willamette vary dramatically due to the difference in speeds of the river, but as a general rule for making down hill trolls, you need to go slower than the current in the Columbia and faster than the current in the Willamette to get the spin you want on your herring. Popping your boat in and out of gear in the Columbia and dragging drift socks can be all it takes to get the reduce your speed. In the Willamette, a few more RPM’s on the kicker from time to time has triggered plenty of extra bites for my clients.
When it comes to bait, I’m a firm believer in brined bait. At a bare minimum, at least a cup of rock salt mixed in with river water and letting the herring brine in the fridge overnight will toughen them up. That helps keeping their edges on the plug cut sharp, which will intern keep your bait spinning the way you want until Mr. Slimy runs across it.
I do believe scent is important, but herring naturally smell like food to a hungry springer so that’s not as critical to me as making sure the fish can see the bait. Yes, I’m on board with adding some of your favorite scents to your bait before you deploy it, but I’d much rather enhance the brightness of the bait than the scent.
Pro Cure’s Pure UV Liquid and Bait Brite are both mainstay additives for my herring brines. I love the way the Bait Brite shines up the scales on the herring and the UV Liquid gives them a very noticeable glow that can’t be ignored. When you’re trying to convince a weary Springer into biting your herring, making sure they can see it from as far away as possible in the giant Columbia or the murky Willamette is a good place to start.
JDarr Guided Fishing