In my limited trips to BC, I’ve noticed that techniques commonly used to fish Oregon’s Willamette and Columbia rivers for Chinook are often looked over by Fraser anglers. On the Columbia and Willamette rivers, there are three primary methods used to fish for Spring Chinook. They are: Back trolling/Back bouncing; Anchor fishing and Forward trolling. I am going to focus on Back trolling/Back bouncing and Anchor fishing in this write up because this is what I have experience with.
Back Trolling and Back Bouncing are essentially the same technique. The only difference is that which is used to get your bait down to the bottom. Back Trolling uses a diver and you want to be close to, but not on the bottom. Back bouncing uses lead and you are maintaining contact with the bottom. Normally you will be fishing with bait or a Kwikfish/Flatfish type plug as your terminal offering.
To rig for back trolling is quite simple and the attached diagram hopefully will clarify any questions you have. A 3 way swivel is attached at the end of your main line. Off of this three-way swivel you have a 6″ dropper that leads to your diver. Off of the last remaining swivel eye you attach a 4′-6′ leader that has your terminal offering attached. If you are going to fish a twirling bait, like a spinner or prawn, a bead chain placed on the leader will reduce line twist. The key to making back trolling or back bouncing effective, is to work your boat against the current at a speed that brings you down stream very slowly, directly in the fish traveling lane. Here’s a link to a Luhr Jensen article on back trolling:. Luhr Jensen tries to push their Jet diver, but Hot-n-Tot or Mudbug plugs will also work.
The back bounce is similar to the back troll but a bit more complex. The rig is essentially the same, but lead is substituted for the diver. Once you are set up above the drift, bow upstream, fisherman and rod facing down stream, lower your gear to the bottom.
As soon as you make contact with the bottom wait 3-5 seconds and lift your rod tip to about the 2 o’clock position. When you reach 2 o’clock release your thumb from the spool and release line until you make contact with the bottom again. Repeat the process until your line reaches about a 45-degree down angle off the back of the boat. When there, engage your drag. By lifting the rod to 2 o’clock every 3-5 seconds, you should now be able to bounce through the drift and slowly lower the boat downstream. If you aren’t feeling your lead make contact with the bottom on the bounce, you may need to let more line out while bouncing. Also if the bottom is getting shallow, you may have to reel in line to maintain your bounce. When bouncing you may need to experiment with the length of dropper from the swivel to your lead to find the traveling depth of the fish. Once you find the traveling depth and lane, your offering will constantly be in fish’s faces. Good bait presented with this method is hard for springs to resist.
Fishing at anchor utilizes the same setup as a back bouncing rig; however you anchor over a fish traveling lane. You bounce out your offering to about a 60-degree down angle and let the fish come to you. This is where Kwikfish shine down here in Oregon. Since half the battle of anchor fishing is choosing where to anchor. We normally look for inside bends of the river with gravel bars that gently slope. We fish in anywhere from 8′ to 30′ of water depending on the location and current flow. But magic #’s to look for here are 11′, 18′ and 22′. At anchor dropper length experimentation is also a good idea. Until you find what’s working.
When fishing a Kwikfish place your rod in the holder with the drag set loosely (a clicker really helps in letting you know you have a bite if you’re not looking). When your fish takes the lure you want the rod tip pegged down and line peeling steadily off of your reel, before you pick your rod up. Then, lift your rod, place your thumb on the spool and drive the hooks home. This takes the utmost of patience but increases your hooking percentage. I haven’t met anyone yet that has the patience to fish a Kwikfish with a rod in his or her hand. Everyone I’ve seen attempt this has set the hook at the beginning of a takedown. For this reason back bouncing a Kwikie requires nerves of steel and isn’t for the feint of heart, if you want to try it go ahead. I’m just warning you now it’s a formula for many missed fish. Normally down here we wrap our Kwikfish with sardine or herring fillets. I realize this isn’t legal in B.C., however you can wrap other items such as peeled crawfish tails. For more information on bait wrapping there is a good how to by Bob Ball on his website . As a substitute for a wrap, I recommend you try placing a 1″x2″ piece of adhesive backed Velcro on the bottom of the Kwikfish by the belly hook eye. This will allow you to place scent or bait butter on the lure that will milk over time.