By: Kyle Buschelman

While anglers have been trolling the Columbia River for a few months in search of springers we are at the start of the spring Chinook season in Oregon. These fish are starting to fill the Columbia and Willamette River and we’ve been having success finding them. Meanwhile, returns are projected a tad below the 10-year average, which means we are going to have to work harder to catch fish. Fortunately, fair numbers are starting to show and catch rates are improving.

Spring Chinook season always seems to be challenging. Therefore, as a guide I need to have tools to give me advantages. Several methods carve out a route to success. However, I prefer to invest in bait and troll herring. Generally, I prefer to troll for springers into Mid May. Most of my time is spent fishing the Lower Willamette near Portland and the Multnomah Channel.

When springer fishing having confidence is vital. My confidence comes in knowing the baits I troll give my clients an easier path to success. While the process I use is simple it gives me an advantage. In this blog I’m going to focus on how I achieve the perfect spring salmon bait. It’s nothing new, but worth a short refresher course.

My Springer Brine

Brining bait is no secret. Guides, hardcore anglers and weekend warriors do it. It’s a necessity. I brine herring with Chartreuse and Natural Pautzke’s Fire Brine and present both to the salmon daily. Chartreuse herring is most popular early in the season when we have dirtier water. When those conditions are present it’s important add UV Chartreuse Fire Dye to the Fire Brine. It makes that herring pop and if we can see the difference so can the salmon.

I spend a lot of time in The Bait Lab. In fact, most days I have three different brines into the herring. One Ziploc is filled with Chartreuse Fire Brine and Fire Dye and two are set-aside for Natural Fire Brine. On the other hand, one Ziploc will have Natural Fire Brine and Atlas Mike’s Anise Oil. Anise is a staple on my boats. Throughout the day I add scent onto herring before I put them in the water, but I always have a bag set aside for anise.

Scent is imperative in the springer world. Every boat has a few scents to employ. Nevertheless, anise, krill, garlic, herring and salmon are widely popular. While I still use Liquid Krill religiously, as krill has been a player here for a decade, everything else comes from Atlas Mike’s Glo Oil series. Because they are so oily they are excellent for using with bait.

Some anglers simply squirt scent on to the herring, others add it into their brine, but I opt to inject it with a syringe. I believe that when injected the scent lasts longer than if just dipping or squirting it on the bait. When it comes to injecting I don’t like to mix scents. In order to not contaminate one scent I set aside one syringe for garlic, another for anise, krill etc. Try injecting your scents and see if it helps you. It’s been a game changer for me.

Editor’s Note: Kyle Buschelman operates Willamette Valley Outfitters. For more info on his guided springer trips please visit www.willamettevalleyoutfitters.com.