At about 8:00pm on a warm Friday evening, over a dinner of smoked and grilled spring Chinook at Smarty’s house, the plan was finalized. Smarty pitched the idea, and with springer fat dripping down our chins, how could anyone refuse? Five us would fish out of one boat the next day–weather, fish reports and conditions be damned. It was a one-day opener, our last shot at the best-eating fish on the planet. And in spite of–or perhaps because of–my weak showing last weekend, I was in.

After a couple hours of sleep, we left Bainbridge at 3:30am Saturday morning and met up with the rest of the crew on the lower Columbia. Me, Smarty, John, Neal, 10-year old Alex, two six-month-old yellow labs, a pile of gear and…one small, open boat. Add in whitecaps, 30 knot gusts, horizontal rain and the circus was definitely in town.That’s John and Smarty trying to fly under the rain on the upstream run. And, chattering teeth aside, we all had a blast.

Good fishing does that. We ended up with 10 solid hookups, several other confirmed grabs, and seven gorgeous upriver Columbia springers to the boat. We released two wild fish, leaving us with a boat limit and lots of celebration. That’s Smarty and me, below, during a brief lull between white squalls. Finished up at 8:00pm, gathered for fantastic burgers (at, of all places, the Shell station in Castlerock) and rolled north into the teeth of the weather. Pulled into the driveway here around midnight. Beat, but flying high on the redemptive power of springers in the box. Awesome.


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