by Andy Schneider
Leaves are popping from buds, our days are getting noticeably longer and when the sun finally breaks free of the clouds there is a warm to it that tells us Spring has sprung and we are in store for warmer weather, our trademark green scenery and Spring Chinook in the rivers! As we emerge from the cooler and darker days of winter into brighter and longer days, our enthusiasm grows to spending as much time outside as possible. And what better way to spend time outside as our scenery goes through changes from dull browns to bright green, than to be pursing the tastiest Chinook species on earth! We are truly lucky to have such a quality specimen of Salmon swimming right through our backyards. No long drives are usually needed to partake in a short but sweet season of Spring Chinook on the Columbia. Getting out as much as possible, even in challenging weather, will insure that by season's end you will not have any regrets of the season passing you by.
Trolling for Spring Chinook is one of the most effective ways to purse these elusive query. While anchor fishing can be very productive, trolling will offer better odds, day in and day out. Here is one way (of many) to rig a plug cut Herring and Prawn when trolling for Spring Chinook on the Columbia, Willamette or Multnomah Channel.
Start with red, green or blue label Herring. You can brine them overnight, or fish them straight from the package fresh. No matter what way you prefer to fish your Herring treat it gently to insure as many scales as possible remain on the bait.
When fishing a plug cut Herring a fixed mooching rig works best. Two 4/0-barbless hooks rigged 3-inches apart on 48-inches of 25-pound fluorocarbon leader works best for plug cut green label Herring.
Start by venting your bait. Make a 1-inch slice up from the anal vent.
This step is optional, leave the Herring's guts in for added scent or take them out; the choice is yours.
Thread the trailing hook through the bait at it's lateral line.
Now thread the leading hook through the bait. Pierce the bait 5/8-of an inch deep on the long cut side. Thread the hook through the backbone, coming out of the top of the bait on the short cut side. Making a cross-backbone thread with your hook will angle your hook, leaving it slightly canted. This will insure that the bait will spin properly, but most importantly; the hook will rotate and quickly pierce a salmon's jaw when it bites.
Your bait should spin about two revolutions a second in a 3-inch diameter; with this rigging. While some may prefer a different spin, this one works pretty consistently.
Prawns are an often overlooked bait, which is unfortunate. They are much less expensive than Herring, last considerably longer in the water and have a higher hookup ratio to Herring as well. While Herring will always be most Spring Chinook Angler's first choice for bait, having at least one Prawn in the mix will offer finicky Spring Chinook an option other than the thousands of headless Herring they see on a daily basis.
Start with two 2/0-barbless hooks fix tied 1-inch apart on 48-inches of 25-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Cure your own Prawns, or buy dry or wet cured prawns from any sporting goods supplier. While some Prawn cures, may be slightly more effective than others, for the most part; cured Prawns are all pretty equal.
Start by threading your leading hook into the first 'knuckle' above the hood.
Thread the hook down the middle into the hood.
Pull out line from your "egg loop"
Cinch the egg loop around the body of the Prawn.
Use either a bait rubber band or a dental rubber band to secure the body of the Prawn to your hook. This will insure the bait stays intact and the hood doesn't lift when trolling.
There are countless more effective ways to rig baits, here are two simple and effective ways to try next time you are out enjoying some Spring weather!