Columbia River Mount Hood

Fishing Fuel!

Kevin Klein Kevin's Catch

Columbia River Mount Hood

Thinking of a trip to a different fishing ground? The Columbia River near Portland is close and comfy.

For April I’d like to add some fuel to your fishing fool addiction. Whether it’s south or north of the Canadian border, there’s plenty of opportunity to catch something silver, brown or…who knows?

Winter Chinook, or spring Chinook at this point, may still be available in parts of the states and for sure, should be a target in British Columbia. Our northern neighbors do call them “springs” for a reason. Out in the salt, these fish are usually pursued as you would blackmouth.

However, we can see larger migratory Chinook come through this time of year, which means fishing more spots that would normally be considered summer-oriented areas. On the B.C. side of the pond, areas like Sooke, Victoria, and Sidney can all produce fish. Downrigger trolling produces most springs these days. Pulling anchovies is the mainstay, although herring, spoons, and hootchies all work too.

Keep your offering closer to the bottom, although if you see a large mark higher on your sonar go get it. This may be one of those purple-backed tankers from the ocean. As said before, there can be some big fish in April. Not too many years ago we’d run into Chinook over 30 lbs. this time of year. Up your mainline to 30-lb. test and your leader to at least 25 lbs.

Kevin Klein With Blackmouth

Kevin with spring Blackmouth.

 

Always check your leader for abrasions when you can. It would be a heartbreaker to lose a monster king to a broken line. Test knots, sharpen hooks…do everything you can do to make sure your gear is good to go and won’t let you down as the weak link in the chain of Chinook success. Attention to detail will separate you from the average angler. They say ten percent of the fisher folk catch 90 percent of the fish. Shoot for the
top percentile.

Make sure to check Canadian and American regulations before you plan a trip. It’s easier to run from Washington to Canada these days. However, there are procedures you must follow. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a form that must be filled out online at wdfw.com to report your intent to fish Canadian waters. You no longer need to call the Canadian government if you wish to cross and not touch land, but you must not fish when you return to U.S. waters. Check out the B.C. fishing website at pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Columbia River spring Chinook are the best-tasting salmon on the planet. We should get some time to fish for them in April. Unless you have a trailerable boat suited for the big river, hiring a good guide is the way to go. The waters around Portland, Oregon make for a fun fishing trip. There are hotels on the river close enough to the hot spots so that you can be picked up right at the dock.

Kevin’s Pick
Beau Mac PotsFor this prawn season, pick up some Beau Mac prawn pots to increase your catch. Beau Mac makes traps in stackable and traditional versions. Both are made to last and keep prawns trapped during a long-lasting soak. Engineered with a biodegradable release system that lets prawns go if the pot is lost, they are also safe to use. They are available in various sizes and prices locally at Sportco/Outdoor Emporium as well as other tackle and sporting goods stores. Check out sportco.com for more info.

The most common method is trolling herring and a cannon ball weight close to the bottom. When a fish hits, you must wait for the rod to really bury down to the water and start yanking down hard. It’s tough to watch the rod twitching, knowing a nice fish is on the end of the line.

The Chinook needs to turn with that bait and get the hook buried in its maw before the fight is on. And on it shall be. Springers fight hard, run fast, and will test your skill and stamina. Once the net scoops down and the fish is in the boat, you’ve got a real prize. Invite the family over for a BBQ and blow their minds.

Bottom fish and lingcod should be kicking this month off the Washington coast. These fish are some great eating treats. Fish n’ chips or fish tacos, it’s all on the menu once you put some white-fleshed fish on the deck.

This is also a good time to shake the dust off the skipper’s skill set and get the rust off your vessel. Make sure all systems are go before heading out to the big blue. Even though you may not be running far offshore, anything can happen once you leave the dock.

April is a great time to look ahead and start rounding up gear for May. We should see some good prawning action in the first part of next month. Visit your local tackle store and gear up with traps, weights, buoys, line, and bait. Until next month, don’t ride the couch when you can be riding the waves…get up, get out, and go get some!

Kevin Klein

Written by

A lifelong resident of Washington, Kevin Klein has been on the rivers, lakes, and salt waters of the Pacific Northwest since conception. Kevin can be found promoting sport fishing and giving seminars on boating and fishing techniques. On any given day you may find Kevin and his wife Vicki, also an accomplished angler, plying the waters of the Northwest, spreading the word of the benefits of the boating and fishing lifestyle.

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