March 29, 2009 is a date that will be recalled quite easily, not only by myself, but by my son, Layton.
It was a typical early-morning boat launch during the early days of spring Chinook fishing. I had been watching the Bonneville Dam counts and we weren’t quite ready to pull the trigger on the Chinook yet, plus numerous reports were circulating about the success on the Willamette for sturgeon.
We launched at St. John’s Bridge and mixed in with a fleet of spring Chinook fishermen. We quickly found our quiet hole, while other fishermen were distracted with the promise of the revving salmon season. We had a few shakers to the boat early, but nothing to brag about.
After moving over about 30 yards or so, we seemed to hit the honey hole! Our friend Jeff Vessel, fisherman extraordinaire, quickly landed his first keeper, a respectable 46 inches.
Within a few minutes, Layton’s pole was buried and he brought in his first keeper at a sliver over 38 inches.
Less than an hour had pasted when I brought in my own 44-inch beauty.
We were into them! I have a friend (Ethan Slivkoff), whom I was bragging to over the phone all day, that was working close by. Ethan had a couple hours left at work, after which he swung by the dock where we then picked him up. While we were waiting for Ethan to finish with work, we boated and released three more keeper size, 38, 43 and 42. Layton brought in the 43-incher from start to finish. W
e fished for another 20 minutes or so, when Ethan landed his at 43 inches. Incredible!! What a day!! Seven keepers. I’ve never even heard of that, especially with only three lines in the water.
– John & Layton Thurlow
P.S. The Willamette Sturgeon secret weapon was squid and smelt, marinated in Pro-Cure Butt Juice.