Fingers Crossed for a Spring Chinook

by | Apr 7, 2021 | Spring Chinook Salmon | 2 comments

Spring-Chinook-SalmonI’m 99% catch and release but when it comes to a Jenny Lake lake trout, a Wisconsin walleye or a grouper in Baja, I make an exception.  Please understand, these species are undisputedly delicious.  Last night here in Oregon, my friend Mike LaSota convinced me that “Spring Chinook Salmon” taste even better than the above.  However, in order to catch one, we must grab the bait casters and deep troll a half dyed herring behind a flasher on a bait caster.


I thought really hard.  Is it possible any fish could taste better than my longtime favorites?  Was a day veering to the dark side worth it?  Then it came to me – Mike has never let me down before.  So we got up early today and headed out on a new adventure.


LaSota-fishingIt was a cool damp morning, a typical spring day in Portland, Oregon.  The clouds were thick and dawn took its time.  We arrived at the Willamette River and launched Mikes boat by 6:30 AM and headed downstream.


I can handle a bait caster well enough from years of ice fishing for big lake trout.  I can rig a bait too.  But techniques vary based on location and species so I kicked back and watched Mike rig his magic.


Willamette-RiverOnce rigged, we dropped the baits over and began a slow troll.  Its not like trolling a lure for landlock salmon or any fish for that matter.  Here you hold the rod and feel for the bottom.  When you feel it lift your rod tip or reel in line.  If you don’t you’ll snag up.  Then when you don’t feel bottom, you let line out.  What I’m getting at is you try to run your half herring along the bottom at all times.  That’s where the salmon are.


salmon-trollingWe strategically trolled anticipating a bite.  At least I did.  As the hours rolled by Mike let on to me – hardly any salmon had been counted climbing the ladders yet.  Further defeating my confidence, then Mike told me he had yet to catch a salmon this year.




At 9 AM I wished I packed a six pack.  Weren’t six packs made for trolling?  I’m kidding and it was too early anyway.  Instead I crushed a few chicken thighs Mike cooked up last night.  Then it happened.  Despite 20 other boats doing exactly what we were doing and catching nothing, Mikes extra rod went off.  We thought for sure it was a snag but it was not!


Mike reached for the loose rod and running salmon while I reeled in.  Then I went for the net that was jammed between boat seats.  It was chaos but somehow it all unfolded nicely.  The Chinook made a few runs then charged the boat near the surface.  In one quick scoop, thinking about fish deliciousness, I made the capture.  We had Mikes first Chinook of the year and he was on his way to our dinner table!


jeff-currier-chinook-salmonWhen you catch a fish despite unlikely conditions there’s a boom of sureness.  For me there was so much that I pulled out my Winston with a fast sinking Scientific Anglers Sonar.  I pieced together my two fly streamer rig with a heavy white Clouser and a Kreelex dropper.  As Mike slow trolled I made casts.


broken-motorAfter and hour of my efforts without a fish I took a good look around.  Mike had not had a bite since the one salmon we caught.  And amongst 20 other boats, we only saw one fish caught.  I asked Mike what he thought the chances were for me catching a salmon on the fly and he sincerely said, “0%”,  tossing me a challenge that even I didn’t like.  About that moment it was time to move however Mikes main outboard wouldn’t start.


fishingMike messed around with his motor but to no avail.  We were five miles downstream of his boat dock.  I wouldn’t have guessed it but Mike said we could get back with his trolling motor in an hour.  Needing to get the big one fixed for our week, that’s what we did.


Lucky for us we made Mikes dock by 2 PM.  There’s a marine shop nearby and this afternoon they fixed the busted motor.  Mike picked it up and its already ready to go again tomorrow.


spring-chinookNow its dinner time and my first bite of spring Chinook is scrumptious.  As suspected, Mike was right about them.  The fact behind the melt-in-your-mouth taste is due to the fat content in their body.  Because they must survive in freshwater all the way till fall, they arrive from the sea with extra layers of fat energy reserves and it creates the delightful taste.  I’ll go with that and being it is so delicious we’ll try for another tomorrow!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Gregory Darling

    Hey Jeff, Is Mike’s dog a Lagotto Romagnolo? Best, Greg

  2. Jeff

    Hi Greg, Mike says nope. Its a mutt – sort of a Labradoodle

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!