Good action in the Willamette

On Wednesday I decided to return to my old stomping grounds, the Head of the Multnomah Channel. Normally I choose a location based on good reports but on this day I just wanted to do some relaxing fishing at a place that feels like home. My expectations weren’t high as the reports in this area were marginal at best. Well, the fishing was slow but by sheer luck we got three chances. The fish we hooked up were big, powerful, and energetic. The first springer hit my rod and started taking line immediately. It made a few long runs before I could bring it beside the boat. I could see the chrome flashes just under the surface when it made a head shake and spit my hooks. After a moment of reflection we reset our gear and started trolling again. One hour later my rod started to twitch. Dirk looked at it and said, “David, I think you have a smolt on”. Seconds later my rod bent down hard and line peeled off the reel. I told Dirk to take this one. He grabbed the rod and the fight was on. It was another hard charging salmon that made good runs. Once Dirk had the springer near the boat I alerted him that it had only one hook in its mouth. It looked precarious and a good head shake or two would have resulted in a lost fish. Dirk carefully raised the fish and I swept it into the net. It was a keeper and you can bet we celebrated this catch. Here’s how we hooked the first two fish:

  • Bait: Whole red label herring
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Flasher: Sweet Abby
  • Depth: 20 Feet on line counter
  • Scent: None
  • Trolling speed: 1.5 mph SOG

We had seen only one other fish caught for our first two and a half hours. My instincts were telling me to fish this area a little longer and then move up river. I decided to switch the starboard rod to a 360 flasher and a spinner. We ran laps under the power lines, near the green barges, on the flats at the red buoy, and through the head of the channel. Two more hours had passed and we hadn’t seen a net go up. A phone call came in from my good friend Shinya. As we were talking on speakerphone the starboard rod started bouncing violently. Oh yeah, a cellphone bite was just what we needed. I picked up the rod and started fighting the fish. The 360 flasher was slashing and rolling just under the surface as the fish ran away from the boat. Just as we were preparing to net the springer it thrashed hard on the surface and spit the hooks. That was our action for the day. Here’s how we hooked the third fish:

  • Lure: Pounded silver 3.5 spinner
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Flasher: Chrome Protroll
  • Depth: 20 Feet on line counter
  • Scent: None (yes, I’m not kidding)
  • Trolling speed: 2.0 mph SOG

The fish counter reported one fish for 19 boats when we checked in at the Cathedral Park boat ramp. It seems that the lower Channel has been hot this week. Sellwood, the Basin, St. Johns, and Oregon City haven’t produced much according to the fish counter. Hope to see you on the river this weekend. Tight Lines.

10 thoughts on “Good action in the Willamette

  1. Great report on your Wednesday foray in search of the illusive, wily Springer! Well done by you “Sports”!! Good to hear you got to tangle with some BIG fish, AND that the checker said the lower Channel was hot, that means we’ll be seeing those fish very soon!!


      1. Good to hear more fish are on the way!! There were quite a few trailers up at Clackamette Park today when I went by.
        Do you have a video of how to rig a whole Red Label herring?


    1. Here’s the definition. “Speed Over the Ground (SOG) is the speed of the vessel relative to the surface of the earth. Speed Through Water (STW) is the speed of the vessel relative to the water. Hope that makes sense.


  2. Three hooked is a great day! Nice fish. Always a treat to check in on your reports when I can’t get out on the river. I’m very new to springer fishing and your tips have helped immensely. Thank you.

    A question regarding your “Depth” recap stat. When you say 24′ on the line counter, do you mean 24′ of line out of the rod tip? Or do you mean that your bait or spinner is 24 feet below the surface?



    1. Nate, it’s 24 feet from reeling up my gear to the tip of my rod. If you’re at a 45 degree with your line in the water I would roughly estimate gear depth as follows: 24*.7 = 16.8. You’ll need to reduce this by the length from the tip of your rod to the water surface. Figure it’s roughly 14 feet or so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Got it. Thank you. That’s a handy calculation to know! My trigonometry is a bit rusty.


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