Second-Season Springers

Good news! The return of spring chinook has exceeded the pre-season forecast and expectation.  

The Columbia has re-opened and is expected to stay open clear through June 22nd.   That’s great news!

We wish it was longer but for now that extension will do.

Why “second-season springers?” 

Most years, the effort for springers begins to drop sharply by now.  There will be a sizeable crowd in Oregon City but that’s about it.  Elsewhere on the Willamette boats are peppered throughout the river even though the catching can be very good some days. 

We’ve made no bones about it, we like June for spring chinook.  May even more! Look at our blog posts from last year — that confirms it.  

This year’s very different.  Water temperatures in the Willamette are in the low 50’s here on the 23rd of May and in the Columbia they’re a degree or two higher.  Last year at this time they were nearly 10 degrees warmer.  

Flows are good and there’s more to come when the snow starts melting.  

Ocean conditions have been good.  That, combined with run-off and cold water is money in the bank for salmon anglers a few years from now.  If ocean conditions hold-up expect very good springer fishing in 3 or 4 years.  

For now, we’re being rewarded with an unexpected surplus of springers.  

As much as we’d like to get in on the early action, because of the shows we have to wait until the second season.  In February and March we’re neck-deep in Sportsmen’s Shows and we leave April to dig out from the previous 6 months of work.  By May, it’s game-on as we ready the rods and look forward to our springer season at the mouth of the Willamette and Multnomah Channel.  This year we’ll be able to fish the Willamette and Columbia both…and we will. 

Right now, the water temperature’s perfect for herring, so that’s what we’ll fish.  At least on most of the rods.  

Fishing the Willamette we’ll take full advantage of the two-rod endorsement and have rods in all 6 rod holders fishing with three or more in the boat.  

A 32” leader, Fish Flash, herring and 8 ounces of lead will be our go-to until the water temps hit 57 then we’ll switch it all out to spinners.  At least one of the rods will have a Brad’s Super Bait on behind a Pro Troll with 12 ounces. 

20’ on the line counters has been pretty dependable but some days it’s 25’ and others it’s 30’.  Depending on how many rods we’re fishing we’ll test multiple depths.  

Scent’s important.

We hit our 3.5 spinners with garlic regularly and that pays-off for us. There are lots of choices and preferences when it comes to these products, use what you like.  For sure, salmon, and chinook in particular, have an extremely acute olfactory sense.  If for no other reason these scent products mask human odor but we think they do a lot more and actually attract fish to your gear.  Wherever you are along the scent-belief-spectrum using them probably won’t hurt your efforts. 

Here’s some helpful springer advice.  

All of our springers during “the second-season” came to us away from the crowds.  On one of the trips that fact was punctuated with, “Are you sure we’re in the right place…there’s nobody fishing here.” Moments later the rod folded. 

Last year, by most accounts, was below average.  For us, it was a great year.  With this year’s return performing considerably better than last year we’re looking forward to an epic May, June and July…yes, July on the Willamette and in Multnomah Channel.  

We’ve theorized that this fishery has always been there but by May and certainly June, most anglers have given up the ghost and ignore these fish.  There’s a small but dedicated fleet made up of kayak anglers, car-toppers, a few cruisers and a mix of welded aluminum brands that enjoy this second-season daily throughout the month of June.  By July that fleet has shrunk considerably but those diehards, of which we’re part of, continue their troll in earnest enjoying the weather and fish that snap at our spinners in the early hours of the day. 

For most, the springer season is winding down but for a few the second-season has just begun.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Good fishing.