Well rain, snow melt, rain and snow melt is what we have so far and looks like it will continue, at least to start off spring. What does that mean for anglers? Well it can be a blessing or a curse. Sort of depends on your thoughts of the glass half full or glass half empty analogy. It's definitely made for tough steelhead conditions for the later part of the season. Every week we seem to be saying the same thing. Target soft water edges, clean water lines and easy traveling lanes for fish, as the high water really does push them into specific traveling areas. The big bait idea is still on the forefront of the mind. Plugs, spinners, worms, rags, large corkies etc should all have their place in your arsenal, especially for all this high water. That being said, this next weekend looks to be settling in nicely for some decent water conditions for a good portion of the north coast streams. The valley rivers look like they will be quite a bit higher, more than likely to snow melt issues. So watch the water and weather forecasts for updates to your target river this weekend.
If you have gotten the springer bug, like a lot of us, then the Columbia is going to be your groove this weekend. The Willamette is still running extremely high, as is the Columbia, although the Willamette has been very dirty compared to the Columbia. We need a few consecutive days of dry weather to get the Willamette to calm down, so to speak. But once it does, you should see a pretty decent influx of fresh springers. The deep water troll in downtown Portland should be a great bet, as those fish are not in a huge rush to get upstream. Fish Flash, Shortbus flashers, and Delta tackle flashers all work well; it's about picking your favorite color combo, more than anything else. Herring is going to be far and away the most popular bait, with cured prawns and spinners being other great options. Bring a variety as you never know what color combo or bait will be the ticket that day.
The Columbia is high folks. Very high. Always be careful out there, especially paying attention to what debris may be coming down river at you. This is especially important to the anchor folks, as with the current water speed being what it is. Debris will be coming at you fast. That being said, anchoring is going to be a very popular choice with the excessive water we have right now. Shallow water, anywhere from 6-25 feet of water is going to be your target area. These fish will be taking the path of least resistance and that usually means following the shoreline. Maglips, Kwikfish, Fat fish, Flatfish and Wiggle Warts will all produce in these water conditions. Checking your gear religiously will keep you ahead of your peers as all kinds of debris will be filtering down river, just waiting to foul up your gear. Make sure you are definitely adding plenty of scent, or bait to your plugs as smell will travel a lot farther than vibration or noise will. Help these fish find your gear. The early ones are usually pretty dumb when presented the right offering.
For the guys who can't fathom sitting on the hook and are going to be trolling, definitely try and slow your presentation down. Whether it's using heavier lead to stay close to the boat, or its finding those spots out of the main current that the fish will use to their advantage to "take a break". Do what you need to, to slow it down and hit em in the face with your gear. Again, presented properly. These fish will readily eat your offering.
It's been a slow start to the smallmouth season on the Columbia and Willamette. The water is just still to cold to get the little green fish snapping. As soon as we get a spell of dry and warm weather look for the bite to steadily improve.
Locally Kokanee are still on the bite and provide great sport for the anglers wanting to get on the water, but don't want to fight the current conditions of the big rivers. Wedding rings and wiggle hoochies tipped with corn were the go-to last week. Slow down your troll a bit if the bite is tough. Anglers reported varying your speed helped the bite when it got tough this week.
Always check the regulations before heading out.
Good luck, tight lines and most of all be safe.