As spring approaches anglers who choose not to brave the cold conditions of winter are getting itchy to get out on the water and chase after one of the most desired salmon that swim. Not only for the chase of these elusive critters, but they are known by many as the best eating salmon that swim. Spring Chinook can be some of the toughest Salmon to come by though. It is not so much that they do not bite well, it is more the fact that you are dealing with the unstable water conditions that Spring will throw at you. Listed are the key factors that can play a roll in your success.
- Poor Run Size: Obviously, there must be fish to catch fish.
- Spring Runoff: Normally when you have average or above average snowpack in conjunction to spring rain you can see significant increases in flow and a decrease in visibility. This is a good thing for our fisheries. It just makes caching fish a little more challenging.
- Fluctuating water temperatures: Spring Chinook enter the Columbia and Willamette River over a 5-to-6-month span of time, this giving you water temperature that will vary from 40 to 70 degrees. This can force you to change tactics drastically during the season.
Early Spring: The first 2-3 months of the season is when you are dealing with higher cooler water and fewer fish. This can hinder you at times, but there are a few things that you can do to help you to improve your odds.
- Slow down your presentation. Find a section of the river that is either on the inside of a sweeping bend or look for current breaks. In the spring sometimes visibility can also be a little more of an issue. If you are trolling at speeds exceeding 3 MPH this can limit opportunity for your offering to be seen by fish. When anchoring find a good traveling lane on or around a current break. Fish can be lazy they do not always want to have to chase your bait down.
- Change up your offering. Generally, in the first few months you will find that bait is your friend; Herring, Anchovy, bait wrapped plug or Prawns will be the offering found on 99% of all boats. With cut bait it is always a great idea to run a little smaller herring, green or red label herring are ideal. Brine such as Pro-Cure Brine N Bite or Brine N Bite Complete will help to firm up your baits as well as add bite stimulants and shine to your herring or anchovy. It also never hurts to bring an extra flat or two of herring brined in Chartreuse and or Blue. Changing it up, does not hurt. With plugs a bait wrap is a fantastic idea; Fish Nip, Canned Tuna, Sardine, Cured Roe, Herring and Anchovy all can be used. With all these offerings one of the easiest and most sure-fire way to change things up is scents. Early season scents that have proven successful time and time again are Pure Anise, Bloody Tuna, Sardine, Herring and Anchovy Oil. When possible, you will see best results by injecting your herring and Anchovy. This will give you a slower more even disbursement of scent.
- Watch your depth. In many cases you will find Chinook easiest to target in 12-30’ of water, and right on the bottom. In some cases that depth range is not an option though. Some areas of the river have an average depth of 50-70’ deep. In areas such as this suspend your baits. Count your pulls or use a line counter reel to assure your baits are between 10 and 30’. Pay attention to the depth, if you show success at a certain depth use this and other tools to increase odds. Consistency is a good thing.
Late Spring: As warmer weather arrives; rivers are beginning to drop, and water temperatures are rising. This adds a different set of obstacles. Stick with some of these tips and you will see a greater rate of success.
- Lay off the cut bait; with warmer water for some reason, you will find herring, anchovy and triangle flashers to become less effective as the water temperatures begin to warm in the tributaries.
- Think more in the lines of a reaction type of offering. That is why the 360 Flashers have proven to be very successful in late Spring, Summer and Fall. With warmer water the Pro-Troll style of Flasher with a Brad’s Super Bait, Yakima Bait SpinFish or Spinner can be super effective. The good thing about these offerings is you still have the option of loading them up with bait and scent. Scent in most all cases is a must. As water temperatures start to increase, scents to keep in mind that have proven to be successful are garlic-based scents such as Salmon Slammer and Garlic Plus. Other great options are Bloody Tuna, Krill and Shrimp/Prawn. For the Super Bait and SpinFish I would recommend adding canned tuna in oil or Fish Nip and add the oil-based scents listed above. Do not be afraid to mix scents, or bait powders such as Monster Bite, Krill or Bloody Tuna Powder. Switch it up, do a few different batches till you find the combination that proves to be most successful for you.
Here is a recipe of a bait that I have found to work well to add to your Super Bait or SpinFish
2 Cans of Tuna in Oil (Empty oil out of 1 can)
1/4 teaspoon of Monster Bite
1 teaspoon of McCormick Garlic Powder
½ oz of Garlic Plus Bait Oil
½ oz of Bloody Tuna Bait Oil
When it comes to Spinners, the Super Gel’s in the same late season listed scents will work out well. Just try not to coat the spinner blade with Gel, this can dull your flash. Put on the tubing, beads or hook.
- Trolling Speed. When trolling 360 flashers let the action of your rod be your guide. Depending on where you are fishing and what direction you are trolling, with, against or diagonal to the current can dictate boat speed. Watch your rod tip, you ideally want your rod tip to be beating about every second.
Hopefully, some of these quick tips will help you find success this spring. Good luck!