Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Springers on the Cowlitz  River"

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It was a rainy April day, I was gazing through the job shack window thinking of Spring Chinook
or "Springers".  I could imagine that just beyond the fog and drizzle ran the milky spring waters of the Cowlitz River, calling me to its edge. My mind keeps flashing visions of my favorite haunts, Barrier Dam, Blue Creek, Hog's Island and the well named Car Body Hole. A 15 pound brut busting the surface over and over again, my reel sings a fisherman's tune zees, zees, snap. The the phone rings and the dream is over. A voice on the other end sounds garbled and frantic; their running right now! You've to get down here tonight and bring more bait and beer. It was Marty who left yesterday for a Springer trip to the Cowlitz. He must have been reading my mind.
  Racing home I wondered if I even locked the job trailer and turned out the lights, who wants those old blueprints and stale coffee anyhow? Fly rod, gear rod, tackle boxes, flies what should I grab first? Ok Doug, calm down take a breath its only fishing, only the Cowlitz, only those darn Spring Chinook.  I drive up to the house, unlock the door and its game on. Now I'm flying, feet barely touching the living room floor. You see last year was still burning in my memory, 11 fish caught in four trips and the smallest chromer was 9 pounds. I caught them on purple crystal buggers flies, chrome blue hot shots, brass spoons and my Dad's home made 'Wally Spinners".
   The truck is loaded, hot coffee setting in the console and its I-5 and 125 miles to the camp at Hogs Island. I arrive just as the campfire has died down for the night and all you can hear is the river swirl and gurgle around a few old snags. Then a splash and another, oh their running alright. No sleep for me tonight. As I lay there the sounds of fish jumping and flopping echos threw my truck, next thing I know I'm tying flies by flashlight. I hear the first jet boat scream up the river piercing the darkness and signaling the start of the day.
  No one in camp has rolled out of bed yet so I think I'll wonder down to the tail out and toss a Pink Crystal Critter just for good luck. Third cast into the dark and my line goes completely slack, what the heck? I reel in my fly line as fast as possible when right at my feet the water explodes, scaring the crap out of me. Now I've fallen backwards and my waders are beginning to slowly fill with cold water but there's a Springer at my feet going nuts. Luckily I'm in 18" of water but the only things above water are my head, my rod and my feet. Some how the the fish stays on and begins to run for open water and I have a chance get up and some what compose myself.
   From behind me I can hear laughter and see flashlights waving back and forth. I must have made one loud commotion and woke up everyone in the camp. Marty was the first one down to the water, with net in hand. After ten minutes it was all over, a bright 12 pound female netted and lying on the beach. I could now enjoy the catch and collect thoughts realizing my waders were full of Cowlitz water and my clothes were soaked. In all my rush to get my gear together I had forgotten to pack clothes. Rods, reels, lures, flies and even Marty's beer and bait but no clothes.
  After borrowing a dry change of clothes I was able to fish the weekend and save some measure of pride. I managed two more Springers in the cooler neither as big nor as eventful. So next time you think of heading to the Cowlitz River  just do it and pack some clothing first and everything else second. You might consider an inflatable vest or collar type PFD when fishing on the water, after that trip I strongly suggest you do. Enjoy every minute of fishing you can, be safe and warm out there.

Doug Porter >:"":>