The tastiest of all salmon…spring Chinook…are making their way up rivers all up and down the West Coast and April-July is the time to get out after ’em. While there are many ways you can target these prime kings, one of the most popular techniques on rivers like the Rogue and Klamath is to fish on anchor with spinners.
One of the top salmon guides in Northern California, John Klar, shows you how to do it…
“Fishing for springers is a lot like plunking,” says Klar. “Where you drop your anchor is pretty crucial.”
Springers are generally hell bent on moving upstream at light speed, so they hug the margins of the river, where there’s less current. To be successful, you’re going to want to identify these travel lanes and drop your pick right in the middle of one.
The Sweet Spot
“My ideal spot would be at the head end of a deep riffle,” says Klar. “I like to have the boat parked in an area that’s about 3.5 feet deep on the inside and 5-6 feet of water on the outside. On that inside rod, it’s perfect if you have to run 3 ounces of lead and 6 ounces on the outside…that would be pretty sweet.”
Klar uses a lot of spinners for his springer fishing in the size 4-6 range. Generally he uses solid brass or green/chartreuse, but may sometimes mix in some silver or copper as well.
“I really think it’s more about where the spinner sits than what color it is,” he says.
The rig is pretty basic: Start with 30-60 pound braid down to a dropper. Run a 10- to 12-inch section of 15-lb. mono to your sinker and 2 to 3 feet of 80-lb. mono to your spinner.
“As long as you’ve got current, you can fish a longer leader,” says Klar. “But sometimes on the inside rod when there’s slow current, I’ll have to shorten my leader to keep the spinner from falling to the bottom.”
You’ll notice that Klar recommends a pretty stinking heavy leader. That 80-pound he’s talking about keeps the leader straight and also catches some current, which gives the lure some “lift.”
There’s not a whole lot to the technique…back the rigs out, pop ’em into the holders and wait for a titanic takedown. Klar says you don’t need the spinners too far back behind the boat, so go heavier on the lead than light.
Being handy with the grill may perhaps be the greatest skill a springer captain can posses!
When to Go
Springer run timing varies from river to river (and year-to-year). Generally, you’re looking at March through July in most areas, though the first fish or two on the Columbia River always seem to come in February.
When you’re above the influence of the tides, fishing is often better in the early morning on most creeks. When you’re fishing down low, however, tides play a critical role. I wish there was a hard and fast rule here, but it’s different on every stream. Some places, high slack is prime time while it’s the out-go in other areas.
Learn from the Pro
To get a super crash course on springer fishing on the Klamath, book a trip with Kar. He can be reached at 707-725-9120 or on the web: www.johnklar.com
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