Fish arch = fish on!

G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
On Wednesday, I managed to bag my second springer for 2016 on the lower Willamette. The weather forecast was for a thunderstorm in the afternoon, so I felt good about the trip before I ever left.

I started trolling whole herring right a dawn, and I observed a long-time fisherman I've seen trolling the area bag a fish right at sunrise. I made three passes through the mile-long trolling spot that has become my favorite over the past few years. On the second pass, my rod slammed hard and I had a fish on, but when I pulled the rod out of the holder, something didn't feel right because the fight went out of the fish in less than 30 seconds...and you guessed it, pike minnow. So I re-rigged the rod and finished out the 3 passes with no bites from kings.

I will say it's been nice being able to fish two rods in the Willamette this year. I noticed the water temp was about 54 F, not that it matters much. I think salmon will hit spinners even when the water is 49 F. So for the 4th pass, I rigged one rod with herring and the other with a pink Toman spinner, one of the ones with a red/white blade and a pink squid body. Last year I picked up a king on that same spinner about this time of year, but for the 4th and 5th trolling pass on Wednesday, no such luck. About 7 or 8 other boats were working the area as well, and I only saw herring on their rods.

For the 6th pass, I kept herring on one rod and switched to a chartreuse Toman spinner with the same squid body and a bright yellow/green blade. About two-thirds of the way through the trolling pattern, I was tight to the bottom with both presentations in about 15 feet of water when I saw a perfect fish arch on the finder that was right on the bottom. I said to myself, “Will he hit that green spinner?”, and 5 seconds later when my gear drifted over him it was “Bam!” fish on.

I let the fish munch on the spinner while I quickly reeled up the herring on the other rod. Then I gunned the motor and turned toward the middle of the river to keep the fish away from the pilings and to drive the hook in a little deeper. When I pulled the rod out of the holder, the fish made a few hard tugs, then went noodle on me. I had to reel down on it to keep a tight line, but the fish swam toward me and I thought I was going to lose it. For some reason, this fish didn't put up much of a fight. It wouldn't dive to the bottom, and it wouldn't peel off line from the reel. Nor did it make a run and leap out of the water. I didn't like having to reel so much to keep a tight line on it, because now the fish was within 15 feet of the kayak and it was still hot. I had to keep the motor in gear to try and pull away from the fish a little, but it wasn't helping much. The fish never would turn away and run, it just kept following me! That's when I figured out this fish's tactic was simply to shake its head like a maniac and try to throw the hook. It shook its head at the surface, dove a little, shook its head underwater, then returned to the surface and shook its head again.

Normally I don't let a fish come near the kayak for a least 5 minutes to make sure it has cooled down a bit, but here this fish was at the side of the yak in less than 2 minutes, shaking its head so hard I just knew it was going to throw the lure any second. So I decided to go for the net right away. No sense in letting a fish that won't run away or peel off line sit there right beside the boat and thrash.

Netting it was a little tricky, I had to put the motor in and out of gear a couple of times to get him in the right position, and ultimately left the motor out of gear to get the fish to swim into the net head first.

Relieved to bag the fish, I found it pretty cool that I got to see it on the fish finder just seconds before it hit the spinner. That doesn't happen very often, to be so ready for a fish like that.

It also seems amazing that just a simple color change (from pink to green) can make such a big difference so fast. The whole two-rod rule really makes it a lot easier to figure out what the salmon want while still being able to troll the super productive herring rig.

I'm guessing with the numbers of fish over the Falls now that this lower river bite will only be good for a couple more weeks. This year I plan to fish for springers above the Falls after the count rises above 5,000. Not sure where I'll do it, but it will be close to Portland, and I'll definitely be trolling spinners.

A lot of people have been telling me they have had a hard time with springers this year, so I'm feeling very fortunate that my 12 hours of trolling has produced two hatchery fish. Hopefully the bite will pick up soon and everyone will start nailing them.

Good luck!


IMG_0142.jpg
 
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Reactions: rogerdodger
T
TimberTodd
That's some shiny chrome in the Nucanoe, congrats!
 
rogerdodger
rogerdodger
outstanding, well done my friend, big fish caught from small boats! cheers, roger
 
D
DrTheopolis
It was too fat to give you the fight you were looking for. Tuckered out easy.

Nice.
 
E
eugene1
Killin' it!

Congrats on the chromer!
 
Hooked Up
Hooked Up
Congratulations! Nice fish. Went with MrGrump fish (Chris) on Saturday with almost no luck. 0 for 1, quick head shake and gone. Trolled herring, changing color of flashers tried a dodger, even used Brad's super bait. Note to self; don't forget the spinner!

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
 
G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
Thanks everyone. I'm heading out again in the morning to hit the lower river again. If I bag another fish, I'll add to this post with any new info.

GJWI
 
G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
I got up this morning at the usual 4:30 am and almost called the fishing trip off because I was so sleepy...but...

On the drive from Tigard to the Lower Willamette it was raining the whole way, but it wasn't a downpour so I wasn't too discouraged. When I got to the boat ramp just before sunrise, the rain magically stopped completely. Though the rest of the morning was overcast, not another drop of rain fell... a very good omen.

I was the third or fourth boat to launch, and there ended up being about 6 boats over the course of the morning trolling in the same area. Most of them had flashers on their lines, but I didn't feel like the turbidity was too high, and it seemed water visibility was at least 5 feet, so I fished without flashers as usual.

For today, my objective was to troll a spinner on one rod and a herring on the second rod the whole time. I ended up making a total of 10 passes down the one mile stretch of river that has become my favorite spot.

I decided to switch spinner colors on every single pass, starting with the chartreuse squid spinner that had worked last week. 2nd pass was pink squid spinner, 3rd pass was red beads with a rainbow blade, wash/rinse/repeat. I could not buy a bite on the herring at all. No one else was getting bites either. I ended up trying 5 different spinners during the trolling.

I was starting to get discouraged after the 9th pass with no luck. It was 10:30 am, and I really like to get home by 1 pm to beat the downtown traffic. I decided I would fish until 11:30 or noon.

On the 10th pass, I still had herring on one rod, and a pink Thoman thumper (squid) with a red/white blade on the other rod. I was watching an osprey zip around the treetops, and was just in that goof off mode where my mind was not on fishing at all when the rod with the pink spinner started peeling off drag.

For a moment I thought I was hung up on the bottom because so much drag was coming off. But after a few more seconds the line stopped running out, and the rod relaxed a bit, then bowed, a little more line peeled off, then it relaxed again, then bowed...you know the routine.

I reeled up the herring on the other rod and gunned the motor while turning toward the middle of the river. This fish wasn't having any of it! It would not budge, and I had to drag it away from the shallow 15 foot water it preferred. We had a good tug of war, and the fish made a few good runs before I got control of it in the middle of the river. It wasn't long before I got to see it. The fish was 31” of chrome, and I thought it was a wild fish at first because its healed scar was raised a little more than usual and I thought it might be an adipose fin that was laying down.

I took my time fighting it close to the kayak so I could get a better look at it before making sure it was okay to net it. When the fish tired out and rolled onto her back, she showed me her white belly, and I gently pulled her back over and could see the healed scar...relief! Netting it was a cinch on the first try. I looked at my watch and it was 11 am.

I thought about making one more pass, but decided against it. My goal of taking home two springers in one trip hasn't materialized this year, but this makes 3 fish in 3 trips, so I can 't complain. I told my buddy at work yesterday I was due to get skunked, and he said, “Nope. You got it dialed in and you gotta ride this as long as you can.”

It's been a great ride!
Cheers,

GJWI IMG_20160427_111836.jpg IMG_0176.jpg
 
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E
eugene1
Wow, very nice.

I say keep getting out there as much as you can!
 
Hooked Up
Hooked Up
You're killing me! 3 trips 3 fish, well done!

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
 
bass
bass
Great stories GJWI!!

Cool that you are banging out fish. Most everything I read are folks lamenting about the lack of fish in the Willamette. You are definitely doing something better/smarter than most folks out there.
 
D
donjuanfishon
where did you launch from?
 
G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
Thanks again guys. I hope to head out again next week. Looks like 4,000+ fish are over the Falls now. I'm wondering when people really start targeting them above the Falls.
 
G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
donjuanfishon said:
where did you launch from?

PM me and I'll tell you exactly where I'm fishing.
 
G
Gettin' Jiggy Wid It
The streak continues. Wednesdays must be magic this spring. Pardon the terrible picture, but this king fought so hard and wore me out that I was not much in the mood for photos. But I did want to get a quick snapshot of the green Toman Thumper that he swallowed so deep. The water temp is 57F now, and the springers are munching on hardware big time.

This fish actually bit when I had the rod in my hand while I was reeling up a bit to adjust the lure depth. It felt like a tap tap tap...and I thought it was pike minnow at first. Then it bolted straight for a piling, and it either bounced off the wood or turned at the last second when I hit the gas and moved toward the center of the river. It broke the water surface and I saw it was a king...then it went on multiple drag peeling runs and before it really dove hard a couple of times and laid down on the bottom. I had to muscle it back up to the surface.

When I thought I had the fish tired out, I pointed the kayak bow upriver and began reeling him in, but when he got about 15 feet from the yak he bolted downriver and peeled of 20 feet of line, broke the surface, danced on his tail for a good distance, then slammed back down hard, all the while peeling off drag. I really thought I was gonna lose him on that run. But when I got finally him to the boat, I saw the hook broke all the way through his jaw...and it was tough to get it out, even for a barbless.

This all happened at 11 am, after fishing through some nasty wind and a bit of rain, so it was a great ending to the day.

GJWIIMG_20160504_111125.jpg
 
E
eugene1
Great fish!

Spinner bite is awesome when it's on.
 
jamisonace
jamisonace
I resemble this comment.

DrTheopolis said:
It was too fat to give you the fight you were looking for. Tuckered out easy.

Nice.
 

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