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Hooking Big Chinook Is Cherished Experience

Wed., Sept. 24, 1997

If you’ve never fished for the so-called “upriver bright” chinooks in the Hanford Reach of the Columbia but you intend to do so, be prepared before you launch your boat.

The salmon run will peak during the next two to three weeks, the time you should be on the river.

The upriver brights are not the silvery bright salmon you catch right out of the ocean. By the time the chinooks reach the Hanford Reach, they’re colored. Catch one now and you can see the spots on its side. Catch one in late October and you’ll see only dark, dirty colors and the males will have ugly hooked jaws.

Furthermore, after they’ve been in the Hanford Reach for a week or so, they’re no longer as tasty.

You should have a boat powered by one or two small outboard engines or one engine that has at least 9-1/2 horsepower. Twenty-five horses or more will get you to the fishing spots faster. If there is more than one person in a 14-foot boat, a 9-1/2-horsepower engine won’t get up a couple of rapids.

The two favorite launching spots are the White Bluffs two-boat ramp and the rocky Vernita Bridge area. There are a couple of good launching spots above the bridge.

If you launch at either the White Bluffs ramp or at Vernita Bridge, you’ll be in areas where there are salmon. You can troll and drift lures a few hundred yards from either spot. If you decide to do that, you can use a 12-foot boat without any problems.

You should be ready to launch your boat by daylight. Best fishing is 2 to 3 hours after dawn.

Keep in mind that you’ll have plenty of company. Anglers start lining up to launch their 12- to 20-foot boats at the White Bluffs ramp long before dawn.

You should have a medium action casting or trolling rod at least 8-feet long, It should be rated for lures up to three-quarters of an ounce. Some anglers like more powerful rods. Remember, you might hook a chinook that weighs 40 pounds and will take advantage of the 5- to 6-knot current.

You can use either a large spinning reel or a casting reel filled with at least 200 yards of 17- or 20-pound-test monofilament line. A chinook can take 100 yards off your reel while your fishing partner is still reeling in his line. Also, remember, you’ll sometimes have to follow a chinook you hook. I’ve had a few take me nearly a mile down the river.

You should have a good supply of floating and sinking lures that are known to take chinooks.

I’ve caught more big chinooks on Blue Fox spinners than any other lure. One memorable day I hooked six chinooks on a No. 6 silver Blue Fox with a green barrel. I had tied a thick tuft of green marabou to the treble hook.

Get several Nos. 5 and 6 Blue Fox spinners. My favorites are gold spinners with green, chartreuse, purple and red barrels. However, the silver spinners with green and red barrels sometimes are very effective. I always tie marabou or hair skirts on the treble hooks.

You’ll use the No. 5 spinners in slow-moving, shallow water and the bigger 6s in the fast-moving water. If you fish in fast-moving, deep water, you may have to add a few ounces of lead to get the spinner down to the bottom.

Wiggle Warts are the most-popular floating lures simply because they catch salmon. Buy either magnum or king Wiggle Warts in the following colors: green and gold, orange, orange with a black back, purple, silver, gold with a fluorescent red back and silver with a green back. Although the Wiggle Warts are the most popular, there are other good, similar lures available.

Jigging sometimes is effective. Settle for 4-inch-long Krocodiles in these colors: Yellow with green edges or yellow and orange with green dots.

You’ll note that I mention green several times. For some reason, green is exceptionally attractive to salmon. Red, purple and chartreuse are other good colors, but, in my opinion, not as effective as green.

Sharpen all hooks. Although they may feel sharp, all hooks you buy aren’t sharp enough to catch salmon consistently. The roof of a chinook’s mouth is rock hard. Your hooks must be sharp enough to penetrate the flesh.

The best way to fish the Silver Foxes is to let your boat drift with the current while your lure bounces off the bottom. You may have to crank up your motor and run upstream to free a lure from the bottom, but you must fish where the chinooks are - on the bottom.

Watch where other anglers are drift fishing and join the crowd.

Back-troll the Wiggle Warts or anchor and let your Wart wiggle. If you anchor, don’t get in a spot where you’ll interfere with other anglers.

Fish your Krocodiles in deep water, using a jigging motion either while your boat is anchored or while drifting.

Some fishermen use herring and smelt. Learn how to rig a herring or smelt on your hooks and try your luck.

If you hook a big, powerful chinook, you won’t forget it for a long time.

, DataTimes MEMO: You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

You can contact Fenton Roskelley by voice mail at 459-5577, extension 3814.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Fenton Roskelley The Spokesman-Review

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