By John Albrich | 05/09/2014
Last year I caught all my springers in the Lower Clearwater River, well the area they call The Pond, on green Fire Brined herring. With springer season ready to bust loose literally tomorrow I’m curious if green will again be the go-to color this spring, or if the salmon will be looking for something else.
Ironically, there wasn’t much of a sample size last year with the green, particularly because I was one of the few guides that had it. Samples had literally just arrived for field-testing and no stores had it in stock yet. My success on it was excellent. My friends were fishing blue and other colors next to me last year and we were out-fishing them until I gave them a few green herring. Green was working for everyone who tried it up here.
Fortunately, this springer season green is available to the public and just about every store has it. As excited as I am for tomorrow’s fishing I’m anxious to put green to the test again. I’ll run natural herring, green herring and chartreuse and let the salmon tell me what they want. My hunch is they’ll take the green again this year because last year they wouldn’t leave it alone.
I honestly think because it’s a darker color and since the green has UV the salmon see it better in this off colored water. However, guys do well with the chartreuse (which is also UV) and the natural. And, I’m sure the blue and purple would work well, too. I’ve never fished the red and orange on herring this far upriver, so I can’t comment on whether they’d work. Meanwhile, I’m planning to try them soon. Let’s face it; the more options the better.
When it comes to springer fishing with herring it’s necessary to brine your herring, not only to firm the bait up, but because it will toughen them up in order to handle the heavier flows and extreme currents we face in the spring.
Brining has become fairly easy. In fact, all I do is use a Snap Ware container. I’ll dump two bottle of Fire Brine in the container, a heaping tablespoon of Fire Power and 1/8 of a cup of pure sea salt, because I like my real salty. I also add roughly 8-10 drops of pure anise oil and let sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours. If I have more time I’ll leave them in there until I’m ready to fish.
I prefer to use either a Green Label cut plug or a Red Label whole herring with a triple hook setup. I use Lazer Trokar 3/0 octopus hooks with a No. 4 Lazer Trokar treble for a stinger hook. I use 30-pound Maxima Ultragreen for my leaders. It’s a good, sturdy, abrasion resistant line.
It’s all dependent on river conditions, but when I run herring I often check baits every 10 minutes because we need to make sure they haven’t ripped apart and are spinning correctly. This swift current is hard on baits. The river you’re fishing might run as high as 40,000 cubic feet per second, whereas normal flows are 5,000 during steelhead season. However, how often you check your bait is a reflection of the system you are fishing.
Editor’s Note: John Albrich will be springer fishing with a group from Finland tomorrow on the Lower Clearwater River in Lewiston, Idaho.