Thinking About Springers
If you're like me, you're counting the days and weeks to Springer season.
For those of you that don't know, Springers are spring-run salmon. It is some of the best you'll taste, but well worth the battle against cool Northwest weather.
Fisheries managers have not set this year's Springer seasons, though fishing is open on the lower Columbia down past I-5 through March. That will change on February 23rd when they meet for the annual season determination meeting.
According to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department, the 2017 preseason forecast includes over 160,000 upriver brights. This is below the "10-year average" that forecasters use to determine the length of the upcoming season, but we should still get a decent season. Look for barbless restrictions to continue as tighter restrictions seem to be an annual trend.
Perhaps my favorite spot for Springers is the mouth of the Klickitat. There is nothing more satisfying than hugging the shelf and nailing that first chrome before 9 am. The great thing about launching out of Lyle is the convenience of trying there or just taking a short run upriver. At the worst, packing up and heading to Drano is still an option as well for those willing to drive back in the dark if need be.
For bank fishing though, the best big river spots down there are next to the old aluminum factory at John Day Dam. There are some nice back currents for resting fish and wild berries for the kids to pick. Just be mindful of the increasing amount of wooden structures and ropes that are often unsecured.
That tip is also helpful for bank fishing at Drano Lake. In years past, one could traverse a number of spots closer to the hatchery which are now dotted with wooden structures and dangling ropes. Nowadays, it might be more productive to try near the bridge drifting shrimp or eggs.