Columbia River Spring Salmon Fishing Trip
The wind whipped across the boat, causing me to bury into my jacket even further. If it wasn’t for the smattering of the rain, I would be able to keep a brave face on for my fellow fishermen, but the stinging of the ice-cold spring rain was a bridge too far. So I retreated into the shell of my jacket.
I just wanted to survive another day on the Mighty Columbia River.
We had embarked on catching the notorious spring Chinook on the Columbia River. The bipolar spring weather of the Pacific Northwest now reminded us that we were visitors here and only partially welcome ones at that.
Spring Chinook is often overlooked by many, but to the loss of those unaware of their excellent taste and warrior spirit. There are few fish that fight harder and reward the angler with a better meal than a spring Chinook pulled off the bottom of the Columbia River.
The fish is the very essence of the area. A testable substance in the blood of all those that grew up near the river as far back as the last ice age. Empires have risen and disappeared through the ages, but the Spring Chinook has withstood the test of time.
All the while nourishing the bellies of the residents of Washington and Oregon with delicious orange protein and providing stories of 50lbs fish for their grandchildren. Though today they typically average anywhere between 10 to 20lbs, there is always a chance one of the fish of old is there, ready to be hooked.
That is precisely why Columbia River fishing guides eagerly await the opening day each spring. As dawn peaks down the Columbia River, shedding light on the Washington and Oregon border, they brave the spring weaterrace in search of fish for their clients.
The Columbia is always crowded with intrepid anglers. Despite plenty of fish to go around, there is always an air of angst and competition between the boats. However, you would never know it due to the friendly exchanges. Perhaps seeing other people catch the magnificent silver chinook is encouraging.
We could be next.
We dropped our rig over the side of the boat. It was a fairly standard approach to finding a hungry Chinook this year. We terminated our line at a large sinker that was quickly followed by a flasher that brought fish into our bait arrested on a hook.
As the reel clicked and the counter began to tally up the distance that the simple rig traveled to the bottom, our guide prepared the boat for the slow troll on the river’s icy waters. As we watched the fish finder, arcs began to appear close to the river bottom.
Chinook were feeding below us. They had congregated in small spots of the river that both collected food and gave them a break from the icy surge of current that they were forced to swim into.
“Once we find them, it will be on until the sun gets up. After that, they will head deep”, Buddy, our guide, told us. We had spent a significant amount of time looking at guides for our trip, but Buddy seemed to be where the demands of competence and companionship crossed. Fishing with him was turning out to be like an adventurous boondoggle with an old friend.
It was awesome.
It wasn’t long before the rod’s bobbing turned into furious action. We knew a fish was on, and the day was about to begin. The counter ticked rampantly as I took the rod out of its secured holder. The Chinook on the other end meant business as the drag let out a familiar scream that every angler knows all too well.
Buddy dipped the net to catch the silver creature from down below. The Chinook’s magnificent silver body flopped around in the net, causing it to twist and lock the salmon into place. I breathed a sigh of relief as Buddy pulled the enraptured silver creature into the boat.
I thought he would never get it untangled, but as with all things Buddy, he made the impossible look effortless. Soon I was holding the 23lbs behemoth in my arms, knowing that this would be a day that I would talk about for the rest of my life.
For more than a moment, I didn’t think about the rain. I didn’t think about the wind. The only room I had in my life that morning was catching the fish of dreams. We repeated that first catch many times, but nothing was like seeing the silver flash of my first Chinook breach the surface.
My only complaint is that I could only catch my first salmon once. The adrenaline and euphoria that came with it were impossible to replicate, though the next fish did their best. Through each season I have gone back with Buddy, I have tried to feel that emotion again, nothing is like the first time your line pulls tight, and you see that flash of silver breach the surface.
As they say, the tug is the drug.
Fishing with Columbia River Fishing Adventures
This is a story that you haven’t written yet. It is fictional, but only because you haven’t had the chance to come fish with us. We live this story every day during our spring Chinook season. You could too, we are only a phone call away!
Our season dates for lower river spring Chinook are 1 March through April 7, and we can keep up to six salmon, with one being a Chinook over 12 inches. During this season, we can also catch and retain shad without concern for number or daily limit.
From April 1 to May 6, we can fish from the Tower Island power lines up to the Washington/Oregon border with the same limits.
As always, we also offer fishing trips for salmon, walleye, and sturgeon at different times of the year. We are proud to help facilitate the making of memories and sincerely hope to be the next Columbia River fishing guide that you choose.