Spring Chinook Fishing 3/20/2020

Sellwood Bridge 3/19/2020

It’s still early in the Spring Chinook season and there have been a few fish caught this week in the Willamette, the Multnomah Channel, and the Columbia river. The catch has been hit-and-miss in most areas but the effort is increasing and the bite should be more consistent as we move into April. The turbidity is low, the river level is low, and the Willamette water temp is in the mid 40s. These are good conditions for this time of year. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you’ve got a chance of catching one of the most prized fish in our region. Many of you already know that “Springers” arrive in the Willamette and Columbia in the late winter/early spring. Unlike the Summer and Fall Chinook which move up the river quickly to spawn, “Springers” have a high fat content to sustain them for months before spawning in the fall. Last year we observed fresh Spring Chinook for sale at a local grocery store for almost $70 per pound. If you’ve ever tasted a fresh Springer you probably understand why so many fishermen are out trying to catch one. You shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re not catching right now because statistically it takes about 80 hours, on average to catch a Springer. In my last video, the gentleman named “Toby” got it right when he said, “You’ve got to put your time in”.

My fishing topic for this week is about preparing for peak season. The successful fishermen have tested their boats and tuned up their skills long before the peak season gets into full swing. The best thing you can do is take your boat out in late winter and run some laps in known fishing areas even though you don’t expect to catch salmon. In addition to figuring out what gear your boat might be missing or what repairs you need to do, you can actually get into a fishing rhythm. My typical winter includes several trips where I run laps through common fishing zones and create “Paths” on my GPS. I pay attention to changes in depths and discover snags along the way. This gives me a blueprint for how I want to fish when the season peaks. I also try to spend some time in unfamiliar areas and study how it’s being fished, the bait/lure being used, how much weight, and trolling speed. If fishing gets hot in the new area I’m ready to fish correctly.

After taking a few practice trips you may notice that you’re developing a good Fishing Rhythm. Your rigging will be quicker, trolling more efficient, you’ll spend more time in the strike zone, and feel relaxed and confident. A professional athlete wouldn’t start the first game of the season without getting into shape and scrimmaging. Fishing is no different. If you haven’t made some practice runs, there’s still time. Go out after work and fish for a few hours and who knows, you could very well catch a salmon because there are so few boats out there in the evening. Best of luck this weekend and for the rest of the season. Stay tuned for my next weekly blog.

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