By Andy Walgamott, on February 4th, 2014
A photograph of a chrome Chinook has been posted on a popular regional fishing forum that holds an annual first springer contest.
A caption with the photo of two men holding a copy of The Oregonian and posted at 10:21 a.m. this morning reads “Its done 16.25 lbr 1st pass! Thanks for the net job by Megabyte!!!!”
Our contributor Andy Schneider got ahold of the pair for the following report:
Sean Brophy was the lucky angler to hook the first confirmed spring Chinook of the 2014 season on a plug-cut herring, straight from the package. Brophy was using 8 ounces of lead and a Shortbus Flasher in 14 feet of water when he hooked into the fish.
“We launched out of Scappoose Bay this morning into 28-degree air temperature and 42.3 water temperature,” says fishing partner Gary Ryan. “On our first pass, no kidding, Sean hooked up with a mint-bright, ocean-fresh fish with scales dripping off it. Unbelievable! Blew my mind!”
POSE WITH TODAY’S SPRINGER. (IMAGE USED WITH PERMISSION)
SEAN BROPHY AND FISHING PARTNER GARY RYAN POSE WITH TODAY’S SPRINGER. (IMAGE USED WITH PERMISSION)
While the exact location of where the first springer was hooked is being withheld for the moment, Scappoose Bay might be a good starting point for someone looking to score a February fish.
“It was 9:30, an hour after high slack, when we hooked the miracle fish,” notes Ryan, who provided the bait and netted the Chinook for Brophy. “The water visibility was only 2 feet so we had to have trolled the herring right in front of its face.”
While the crew ran to shore to photograph the fish with a copy of today’s Oregonian for Ifish’s contest, they are actually back on the water trying for number two.
“We are not marking a lot of fish, but we are marking some. We’re just hoping for another miracle,” says a pumped Ryan.
With only three other boats trolling the waters, the crew doesn’t have much competition, or have to worry about others being too close during the netting.
“When we saw that the fish didn’t have a fin and only had one barbless hook in it, we were getting a little panicked and I knew if I screwed up the net job, I would be swimming,” says Ryan.
Last year’s first confirmed springer was hooked Feb. 3 by angler Dustin Stansbury while 2012′s first was landed Jan. 31 by a commercial sturgeon fisherman, 2011′s on Jan. 26 also by a commercial fisherman, and 2010′s on Feb. 1 by Jesse Eveland fishing with guide Larry Kesch.
Fishing for the year’s first migratory salmon is currently open on the Columbia below the I-5 bridge and in the Willamette River and its Multnomah Channel. Only hatchery fish can be retained, and barbless hooks are required.
Catch stats we obtained from ODFW show that while this month is by no stretch of the imagination March or even April, fair numbers of fish are caught early:
With a run of 308,000 due back to the Columbia system, the February issue of Northwest Sportsman magazine features two stories on how and where to fish for springers.
While the Bonneville Dam count shows four Chinook so far in 2014 (singles were counted Jan. 1, 5, 11 and 12), anecdotal reports had them pinned as very late fall kings