Sep 242014

We’ve been having pretty good success fishing for steelhead on the Columbia River this year; a couple big fish, probably the biggest steelhead I’ve ever caught. Most of these fish have been native steelhead, they are great fighters and fun to catch, but they are strictly catch and release. The good news is that for the past week or so, salmon have started showing up in pretty good numbers, both chinook and coho. It’s early in the salmon run, most of the fish are still silvery and in great fighting shape.

Yesterday, I opened the account on the 2014 salmon fishing season with a huge coho salmon. This fish, probably in the twenty five pound range, put up a fantastic fight, towing my kayak around for over a quarter mile. It was a hatchery salmon, so there is a lot of fresh salmon on the menu.

Big coho salmon caught kayak fishing in the Columbia River

The fishing conditions are getting a little tougher, lots of boats in a very small area of river. Recently, there have been more “guide” boats; big boats with six or eight people that really clog things up. Most of the guides, especially the local guys, are pretty considerate, but some of these “guides” are pretty much jerks. One guide showed up well after sunrise with a boat full of guys flinging cigarette butts over the side. He promptly started drifting his boat straight through the lineup of anchored boats that were bottom fishing and within ten minutes of arriving, he had snagged my line. When I asked him to give me a little more room, the “guide” led his clients in a chorus of profanity and verbal abuse. This jerkball spent the entire morning ruining everyone else’s day while only catching a couple small fish. Weak.

Anyway, we’ll be back out there tomorrow to try again. Got this coho battle on video and still working on the steelhead clip. Stay tuned.

Sep 222014

We’ve been out kayak fishing for steelhead and salmon and were pleasantly surprised to catch two of the biggest smallmouth bass we’d caught all year. We caught them in a spot we would not normally fish for smallmouth bass and they both hit cast lures that we were using to try for salmon and steelhead with. We got video of the two biggest smallmouth bass battles of the year and posted it to the website.

Click HERE for Smallmouth Bass fishing on the Columbia River video - Fall 2014

Click HERE to watch the video or click on the image above.

We are working on some great steelhead video footage but it looks like the weather is going to be good for kayak fishing so it may be a few more days before we get that on to the website. Hopefully, we’ll have more steelhead or maybe some salmon fishing video to add by then.

Sep 142014

Kayak fishing for salmon and steelhead continues on the Columbia River. The weather has been favorable for kayak fishing and the fish are here. Unfortunately, the good fishing and nice weather have really brought out the crowds. Fishing spots are packed with boats making for tough fishing. Some of these guys are real jerks; crossing lines, hitting other boats and ruining everyone’s day. Some guys really don’t know what they are doing. Running downriggers in 20′ of water as you plow through the flotilla snagging fishing lines and anchor ropes is not the way to catch fish. The past few days the fish don’t seem to be biting as well, fishermen are frustrated and testy, not fun at all.

While the herd mentality rules most of the fishing spots, there are ways to get around that kind of situation, especially in a kayak which is more maneuverable and can go into more shallow areas. There are different techniques that can be used to catch salmon and steelhead; understand the conditions and fish accordingly. We weren’t catching anything using the usual method of fishing prawns while anchored so we switched over to moving around to more shallower areas that the fish move over while casting lures that we know work for steelhead and salmon. We started getting hit right away. I was kind of suprised to hook into a big smallmouth bass while casting a plug that we usually use for salmon. This may be the biggest smallmouth bass I’ve ever caught in the Columbia River, at a place that I never fish for smallmouth bass!

Big smallmouth bass caught while fishing for salmon and steelhead

Fishing for salmon and steelhead is hot and cold; sometimes you get ‘em and sometimes you don’t. It can be frustrating to see huge fish jumping all around you and not get a single bite. Or the guy next to you catching one fish after another and you don’t get anything even though you are doing exactly the same thing. You have to realize that if you keep at it, sometimes you will be the guy catching the fish. That’s the way fishing for trophy fish is, either you get something big or you might get nothing.

We’ve had a few days where we didn’t get anything big, but then again we’ve had days that make it all worthwhile. This day, it was clear the bite was not that hot. Even though there were at least fifty boats on the scene, I only saw a couple fish boated and a shore fisherman catch one. I caught that big bass and had a number of hits, but no steelhead or salmon. I started to paddle in and decided to try one more cast. I got a huge hit and immediately knew it was a big fish. This fish towed my 13’6″ kayak in a couple big circles before I got it close enough to the kayak to see that it was a big steelhead.

Big Columbia River steelhead

After a lengthly battle, the fish tired out and I got it closer to the kayak. It was a beautiful native steelhead, easily the biggest steelhead I have ever caught.

Big native Columbia River steelhead

This fish was at least twenty pounds, maybe closer to twenty five, not exactly sure because, as a wild fish, I unhooked and released it without taking it out of the water. I did get video of this great steelhead battle so that will be coming up on the website soon. I took today off from fishing because I put a treble hook through my finger and it’s a little sore, but the upcoming week’s weather forecast looks good for kayak fishing so we are going to be out there every day.

Stay tuned for more kayak fishing action!

Sep 082014

A video of the 2014 Summer smallmouth bass kayak fishing season has been posted in the PacNW Kayak Fishing Video section of the website.

2014 Summer Smallmouth Bass Fishing video

There’s lots of kayak smallmouth bass fishing action from the best smallmouth bass fishing spots on the Columbia River from this past summer. Click HERE to watch the video.

Now we are off to work on the latest steelhead fishing video; more PacNW kayak fishing action!

Sep 062014

The elusive steelhead are here in local waters and we’ve been fishing for them without a whole lot of success. When fishing for big trophy fish like steelhead and salmon, sometimes you don’t catch anything, but when you do land one of these big, hard fighting fish, you’ll remember it for quite some time and it will keep you getting out there fishing for them.

After three days of hard luck and no fish, I finally hit the jackpot yesterday. I caught four big steelhead, every one of them was bigger than any of the few steelhead I’d caught before.

A nice Columbia River steelhead caught while kayak fishing

I kept one and released the other three. I did get video of three of the fish so that will be coming up soon on the website. Keep checking the blog for when the video is available as well as the daily fishing reports.

I’d have to say that the big fish season is now officially open. We’ll be heading out to go after more steelhead on the kayak as the conditions permit and on the days that it’s too windy, we will be headed to our favorite steelhead and salmon river to try our luck there. As the steelhead fishing tapers off, it will be time for salmon fishing. The Chinook are starting to show up locally so it won’t be too long before salmon season is in full swing.

Aug 272014

We hit the jackpot and got three calm days to do a little kayak fishing for steelhead on the Columbia River. Of all the fish in the Columbia River Gorge, I have found the steelhead to be the most challenging to catch. I’ve caught a couple nice steelhead, but not that many at all compared to other trophy fish like Coho and Chinook salmon. The call steelhead “the fish of a thousand casts” and I reckon that’s right on target for me. The fall Chinook and Coho aren’t here yet, haven’t had any success with walleye fishing and even the usually reliable smallmouth bass are hiding out for the dog days of summer so might as well try for the elusive steelhead.

As I mentioned, the conditions have been just about perfect for kayak fishing on the Columbia River. The calm weather is a double edged sword because the lack of currents slows the fish down, but they are there and they have nowhere else to go but upstream.

Kayak fishing for steelhead on the Columbia River

It’s no secret that the steelhead are here, so expect plenty of company where the fish are biting.

Steelhead fishing on the Columbia River

The places to launch a kayak from without a long paddle to the fishing spot are few and far between. This launch spot has been a local’s secret for years; it is very tough to get to, forget the kayak carts. If you can’t carry your kayak and all your gear down a steep, rocky cliff with loose rocks, in the dark, try somewhere else.

Kayak launch somewhere in Southwest Washington

Neil Young sang a song called “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve found that steelhead fishing can do a pretty good job of it as well. I hadn’t been fishing for steelhead on the Columbia River for a few years so my first day out was pretty much wasted trying to get my gear squared away. It didn’t help that I was using leftover bait from last season, the steelhead were not going for the old stuff. The second day I got going with some fresh bait and had a couple hits, but nothing solid. Judging by the fishermen around me, it was a slow day all around. Today, I was ready to roll and hit the river before sunrise. After only about a half hour of fishing, I had a huge strike on a bottom fishing rig. I knew right away that this was a big fish. After about ten minutes of a tremendous fight, I got the fish close enough to the kayak to see it was a big steelhead, easily twenty pounds or better. I was having visions of glory when all of a sudden the fish became unhooked and I watched my trophy steelhead swim off into the dark Columbia River. Heart-f’ckingbreak. After all the excitement I came away with nothing. No GoPro footage because it was still dark and no twenty pound steelhead on the stringer. All I got out of the deal was a great ten minute fishing experience and this straightened out Owner hook.

Straightened out hook courtesy of a Columbia River steelhead

How big was this fish that straightened out a size 1 Owner hook? How bummed can a fisherman be? We all know it’s part of fishing, but still…

Aug 132014

It has been really hot around here for a couple weeks making bike riding uncomfortable, at best, so cooler temperatures today and light rain were welcome and greatly appreciated. Of course we are going to take advantage of the conditions and hit the trails. We didn’t get much rain, just enough to put a damper on the trail dust. It was about twenty degrees cooler than the past week or so, that’s a big change in temperature. Anyway, the weather was perfect, the trails were in great condition, making for some great summer mountain biking and it’s always nice to be out riding the local trails.

Great singletrack mountain bike riding

Perfect conditions for mountain biking

Empty trails, perfect conditions

Let’s see what happens tomorrow…

Aug 122014

We finally had enough of the endless Columbia Gorge wind so we decided to pack up the truck and do a little kayak fishing in eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon is much different than the western half of the state. The Oregon coast and Cascade Mountains have thick forests and snowcapped mountains, the eastern part of the state has forests and mountains as well, but much of that part of the state is grassland and chaparral, pretty much a desert in the summer. Winter rain and snow turns the east part of the state green again, but for much of the warmer part of the year it is brown, dry and hot.

We headed out during an extended heat wave, a little unusual for this part of the country. It was in the high eighties here in the Columbia River Gorge and it would be close to 100° to the east. It only took about an hour of driving to arrive in the eastern Oregon heat. As we approached Boardman, Oregon at sunrise, the temperature was already in the mid eighties.

Sunrise over the Columbia River near Boardman, OR

We stopped at the Boardman Marina and RV Park to launch into the Columbia River to try for some walleye and smallmouth bass. The Boardman Marina is a great place to launch a kayak; there is a large grassy area next to the boat ramps so you can rig up and launch into the marina without taking up space on the boat ramps. There’s water and bathrooms nearby as well as a nice picnic area and playground if you bring the family along. There is also a campground with all the amenities, including WiFi, if you want to stay a day or two. We’ve heard the fishing around Boardman is pretty good but we fished for a few hours and didn’t have much luck so we decided to get back on the road and head further east.

Boardman, OR Marina launch site

We wound up pretty far off the beaten path around Irrigon, Oregon, where we found a really cool little camping spot right on the Columbia River. The camping was free, the only “amenities” here was a pit toilet, but it was well stocked with TP and even more importantly, there were even a few trees that provided a bit of shade from the blazing hot sun. After a day on the kayak being baked like a peanut, it was a welcome relief to take a swim in the river and kick back in the shade with a cold beer.

Camping on the Columbia River near Irrigon, OR

The fishing at this spot was pretty good. We caught a bunch of smallmouth bass, including a few bigger ones that put up a great fight. The salmon fishing was starting to warm up, we saw a guy fishing on the bank catch a nice salmon using salmon eggs, we wished we had brought a little bit of salmon gear to try our luck. We also saw a boat fisherman who was fishing cut herring for salmon hook up a giant sturgeon, had to be at least seventy pounds, it jumped out of the water right in front of my kayak and broke off the guy’s twenty pound test line. Salmon, sturgeon and smallmouth bass all ready to bite, this is a great fishing spot, ideal for kayak fishing.

Smallmouth bass caught on the Columbia River near Irrigon, OR

We had a few beers and a quick dinner then it was early to bed after a long, hot day of kayak fishing. The next morning was clear skies and light wind with another blazing hot day in store. We launched before sunrise to try and beat the heat.

Sunrise on the Columbia River near Irrigon, OR

We caught a few more smallmouth bass before a bit of wind came up. The wind wasn’t that bad but it kept blowing us into patches of seaweed that grow all over the Columbia River during the warm summer months and it was starting to get really hot, so we decided to pack it in and have a look at another fishing spot well off the grid that a local Oregon State trooper told us about, so we hit the road to have a look.

Sure enough, after a bumpy ride down a washboard dirt road that was giving us Baja flashbacks, we wound up at the spot. It was ideal for kayak fishing; easy access to the Columbia with a natural island that had a protected bay so you could paddle and do a little fishing and swimming even if it was windy. Free riverfront camping, which we really like, a couple unimproved boat ramps and standard issue State of Oregon pit toilets.

Kayak fishing off the grid in eastern Oregon

We didn’t get a chance to do any fishing because the wind had come up and we were pretty much toasted from two long, hot days on the river, so we filed this spot away for the next adventure. We know there is good fishing around here so we will be returning soon to give the salmon fishing a try when the weather cools off a little.

We are working on the latest smallmouth bass fishing video which will have footage from this eastern Oregon trip so stay tuned.

Aug 052014

The weather here in the Columbia River Gorge has been sunny and hot, really hot. Nineties during the day and barely getting below seventy at night. If you want to go bike riding, it has to be early in the morning or late in the evening. Many of the lower elevation trails are closed because of fire danger and the trails that are ridable are dry and dusty.

Klickitat County singletrack

You are thankful for the shaded sections of the trails where you can get some relief from the blazing sun.

Shady singletrack on a hot summer day

Not much water under the bridges this time of year.

Trail bridge

Even the local wildlife are looking for shelter from the summer sun.

A deer seeking some shelter from the hot summer sun

Time to do a little maintenance on the mountain bike and we’ll be back out on the trails soon. Hopefully, the weather will be a bit cooler.

Aug 052014

We’ve had some pretty tough fishing conditions this summer here in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s been windy, which is not unusual or unexpected here in the Gorge, but there’s barely been a couple days of calm to get out on the Columbia River with the kayak. Even a moderate wind combined with the river currents make for difficult fishing conditions. The water level of the river has been fluctuating as well, which usually puts a damper on the fishing. Even the smallmouth bass fishing, which is usually pretty dependable, has been very slow.

The real story behind the tough conditions is the temperature. We have had a sustained period of very hot weather; it’s been in the nineties during the day and barely gets down to seventy at night. This hot weather has slowed the trout fishing in the higher elevation lakes and caused algae blooms in the lakes closer to sea level. Because the weather has been so hot, the glaciers on the local mountains have been melting. Glaciers are more than snow and ice, they are full of dust, dirt, ash and small rocks. When they melt, the local rivers are filled with this silt.

The Klicktiat River in mid summer

Normally at this time of year the water in these rivers is mostly clear with the visibility being at least a few feet. As shown in the photo below, the visibility of the water is barely a few inches.

Turbid water from glacier melting

With the conditions on the Columbia River not very good for kayak fishing, we were hoping to hit the Klickitat River and try for a summer steelhead, but with the visibility of the water being so poor, the chances of hooking into a steelhead are pretty slim.

We are hoping the weather cools just a little so the water will clear up. Can’t really complain too much about the hot summer weather because in a couple months we will be complaining about the nonstop rain. One thing for sure, the weather is always changing around here. We might get a couple calm days coming up so we will get out there when we can.