Cowlitz Springers Coming Even In High Water

By Todd Daniels | 05/14/2014

It’s chopping up to be an average year for springers on the Cowlitz River, but anglers are having to work harder than normal to catch fish, at least right now and for the next few weeks. We have a smolt release going on and because of it we have super high water. The high water makes it more challenging to fish, but anglers who are positioning themselves in the right areas are still doing well.

Here on the Cowlitz when you are fishing springers you are fishing holes. It’s not like steelhead fishing where they are spread out in many places. Normally, we have 10-12 holes good holes to fish, but with the high water we only have four or five, which is pushing all the salmon in one area. It’s confining them. And, unfortunately, it’s anybody’s guess when conditions will change, but it’s going to be a few more weeks before the water goes down at all.


The key to fishing springers is finding the slowest moving water. You have to find your secret little spot and stick with it. Patience is the key to catching springers on the Cowlitz River. When your patience runs out find some more. Especially with high water they are going to move into your hole. They are coming into the holes to stop and rest, but with the high water they are hauling through the system. You can see them porpoising, which tells me they are on the move.

Depending on the hole, what has been working best for us has been bobber and egg fishing. Red Fire Cured eggs with a lot of krill (Fire Power) mixed in it is our No. 1 producer right now. We are using red because of the color of the water. We’ve caught fish on the pink, but the red is working much better. These are finicky fish and they are picky. They want red eggs.


I’m using a slip bobber system. Depending the hole, my bobber could be set five or six feet deep or 30 feet deep. You want to get your eggs down within two feet of the bottom and you’re money. I’m using 20-pound Izoreline as my main line and a 15-pound leader. I don’t use braid.

Bobber and eggs hasn’t been the only technique working well. A jet diver and a five-leader to plug cut herring has been working well, too. I’ve been using Natural Fire Brine on my herring and adding a half-bottle of blue Nectar and two teaspoons of Fire Power in it. I’ll let it soak for 24-36 hours in ice-cold water when brining them. Keep it in your fridge. That’s been killer for us.


The Nectar puts scent and a blue tint on it, which puts a flash on the water on sunny days. Luckily, it’s not overkill like you get with some of the dyes out there. Keep in mind, on this river we have four-foot visibility. You don’t want it to be too bright, but I want it to have just enough bling to make it pop.

One common mistake I’ve been noticing with anglers using herring this year is when guys are getting chewed on they are pulling the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Those springers will chew it for a minute before they take it. Be patient. Let them chew it!


Notes: The Cowlitz is a barbless river. No barbs may be used. Anglers are permitted two adult salmon per person, per day on the Cowlitz River.

Editor’s Note: Todd Daniels operates Tall Tales Guide Service. For more info on his Cowlitz River springer trips please visit