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Yup - I said float fishing and side-drifting for springers in the mainstem Columbia River. Especially this season with so many coming back, and you covering so much more water and getting your bait in front of a LOT more fish!.

You may recall I posted about this experiment to try, a few years back, to free float a boat right down stream thru the best springer lanes and holds on the Columbia River (and some of the longer coastal tidewater sections). Try both known productive spots and the best uniform proper depth runs that aren't tied up by too many anchored boats. This huge river has a LOT of productive water that rarely gets fished!. Keep your 2 to 5 rods/baits at slightly different depths above bottom at first until you dial in on the bitin' fish - usually 14" to 36" up in water about 12' to 20' deep being a good starting place. I suggest trying sandshrimp/eggs combo, red full prawns, raw jumbo prawn tails with various bait oil scented pink yarn, smelt fillet below a cured prawn head, plug cut herring with some bright green yarn tied above it or on the lower hook, a large 2/0 chinook jig with 'fisher blue'/white/silver-Krystalflash color combo (these last two ideas also make for great bait change-ups on the Wind/Drano fish where you can float fish)! Occasionally fish will come thru higher off bottom out in 25' to 40' depths, so I would try the free boat float drift there with your baits varying from 8' to around 12' down in water that is not moving too fast and hard. Watch your fish finder to locate pods of springers at a particular depth to put your bait at. ...

So, for those who caught my previous posts in the past about this, how have you done with it? Ya, I know, I know ... "Crappy springer run '07". As you've read in several places, there will be a turn-around to a big run of Columbia springers this coming season, including the upper tributaries, and elsewhere thus a good year to experiment. In this scenario, as mentioned, you'll be using the boat as the float for your free drifting baits. River height and flow will likely dictate which tide to free drift and which one to anchor up with Kwikies. I suggest trying 2 of 5 rods (or 1 of 3, or whatever) adding occasional small gentle jigging actions on your baits -- springers don't just like short-drop back-bounce bait actions up at Bonnie and the Willy Falls!!! Leave the other rods spread out in hand or holders for a dead drift. Those fish WILL let you know what they want! It shouldn't take long to dial in on what's working best this year. Fish on! ...

Now here's another new one to try - new to me from a boat anyway, and I haven't seen anyone doing it out on the Columbia. Try side-drifting for winter and summer steelhead, along the huge CR's shoreline, right on bottom in appropriate 5' to 12' deep water with decent current. Rig up and do it just like you do on big tributary rivers, such as the Clackamas, NF Lewis, and Skagit by casting a long ways upstream toward shore. Good luck out there guys.

Steve Hanson (book info and pics)
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