Jul 292014
 

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. It’s summertime here in the Columbia River Gorge and when the weather is nice we get outside every chance we can. We’ve been doing stuff, mostly riding bikes, but we’ve covered most of the roads and trails we ride here on the blog or in the bike section of the watermanatwork.com website. The weather here has been very hot and dry, because of that, many of the local mountain bike trails have been closed due to fire danger so we will be riding a little higher up in the mountains for the remainder of the summer.

Speaking of the weather, it has been very windy, not unusual for an area famous for wind and it has been keeping the kayak fishing from happening. It’s tough watching beautiful summer days go by and we can’t go fishing on the Columbia River because it’s too windy. After a few weeks of non-stop wind, we also had some nasty thunderstorms blow through the area starting a number of wildfires.

Lightning over Hood River, Oregon

Finally, the wind died down for a couple days and we managed to get out on the Columbia River for a little kayak fishing. We headed up to the rivermouth of the Deschutes River looking for walleye and smallmouth bass. We trolled for walleye for awhile and didn’t have much luck. We didn’t see any of the other boats fishing for walleye catch anything either so we bailed on the walleye and started hunting for smallmouth bass. The water temperature in the Columbia is about 70°F, as warm as it gets, so the smallmouth bass are in the deeper water. We drifted downstream, bouncing a worm in 15-20 feet of water and managed to catch a few decent smallies.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

The Deschutes River is a popular spot in the summer. Heritage Landing, the Oregon State Park at the Deschutes rivermouth, is crowded with rafters on commercial rafting trips, fishermen launching boats to fish up the Deschutes River or out into the Columbia as well as bank fishermen and people swimming in the river. If you park in the parking lots near the boat ramp and landing beach, you will need a permit.

Heritage Landing launch area

The wind stayed calm so we headed back to the Deshutes the next day. It was even hotter than the day before. This time of year, protection from the sun is very important. Without protective clothing and sunscreen, you would be sunburned within an hour. Pretty much the same routine as the previous day; an unsuccessful attempt at the walleye, then off to find the smallmouth bass. Using the bottom bouncing worm technique, we managed a few more smallmouth bass. We also lost a few hooks from snags on the bottom.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

We have some video from these two fishing days so we’ll be editing that and getting it on the watermanatwork.com website as well as the WatermanAtWork YouTube channel shortly. Looks like a couple windy days coming up but we are hoping to get out for more kayak fishing. Summer doesn’t last forever around here.

Jul 172014
 

We’ve finished converting another kayak fishing video to a higher quality .MP4 format, this time it’s kayak fishing on San Diego Bay launching from the Shelter Island beach by the boat moorings. You can find the video on the Kayak Fishing on San Diego Bay – Shelter Island page on the watermanatwork.com website.

The weather wasn’t all that good; cloudy and cool with a little wind, but the fishing was pretty good. We caught a number of spotted bay bass and sand bass as well as a few bonito and barracuda.

Click HERE for Kayak Fishing on San Diego Bay at Shelter Island video

This video was shot in September 2006 using a remote “lipstick” camera and DV recording deck. It was just before GoPro cameras became popular. The resolution is 4:3 standard defintion, there is voiceover but no ambient sound or background music. As with all the new videos, there is closed captioning in English.

While you’re checking out the San Diego Bay fishing videos, be sure and check out the new Tidelands bay fishing video.

Jul 062014
 

Some friends came out to visit here in the Columbia River Gorge so we spent some time out and about to show them what summertime in the Gorge is all about. Fortunately, the weather was really nice so we were able to get out and do something every day. There is a lot to do around here, but we tried to do the stuff that was most fun!

If you know anything about the Columbia River Gorge or follow this blog, you know that it is windy much of the time. We got lucky and had a couple calm, sunny days so we packed up the SUP and kayak and headed down to the Columbia River. The weather was fantastic; sunny and hot, perfect for splashing around on the Columbia. Even on calm days, the currents in the Columbia River can be treacherous, so we headed to The Hook in Hood River, Oregon. The Hook is just west of the main event site in the Hood River waterfront area that is popular with beginner sailboarders and SUPers. There is a protected inlet that empties into the Columbia River, allowing people to ease their way into the big water. It is also a good place to launch a kayak. We started off the day launching the fishing kayak and trying for smallmouth bass along the waterfront rocks. Unfortunately, the fish were not biting. The calm winds made it an easy paddle upstream to the Hood River Bridge.

Kayaking up the Columbia River towards the Hood River Bridge

With the kayak in the water, we got the Vinaka inflatable SUP pumped up and on the water. It wasn’t long before the crew was paddling around The Hook and out into the Columbia River.

SUPing in the Columbia River Gorge

With perfect paddling conditions, getting out to Wells Island from The Hook was no problem.

SUP paddling out to Wells Island in the Columbia River

Even if it was the first time on an SUP, the conditions were perfect for learning how to get the hang of standup paddleboards.

Getting the hang of standup paddling on the Columbia River

After a long day on the water you get pretty hungry. Nothing a few burgers on the back porch won’t fix up.

Tasty burgers after a long day on the river

We had fun on the river, but we were hoping to catch a few fish so we headed east, over The Dalles Bridge into Washington and over to Horsethief Lake State Park. Usually, the fishing here is pretty good, not a lot of big fish but it’s usually good for smallmouth bass, perch and walleye in the summer, but today the fish just didn’t want to bite.

Fishing on Horsethief Lake in southwest Washington

Even though the fishing wasn’t very good, we spent another hot, sunny day playing around with the kayak and SUP.

SUP and kayaking on Horsethief Lake

After a couple days on the water, we headed out into the mountains to do a little exploring. As is usually the case, there are always a few surprises along the way!

A little problem on the Cascade Mountain backroads

We got up to one of our favorite Mt. Hood viewpoints, but as luck would have it, the mountain was mostly covered with clouds. Nina got a pretty good photo anyway.

Cloudy Mt. Hood

We got pretty far up Mt. Hood and found some “middle of the summer” snow still on the ground.

Summer snow on Mt. Hood

All the water around here comes from the melting snow up on Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Even in the summer, there are still a few waterfalls around.

A waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge

We finally found those trophy fish we were looking for. These giant rainbow trout would make any fisherman’s day.

Trophy rainbow trout

Unfortunately for the fishermen in the group, these trout were in the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. This is a large fish hatchery that raises chinook salmon, but they have pools with large rainbow trout and really big white sturgeon where you can get a real close look at these large fish.

Bonneville Fish Hatchery

The Bonneville Hatchery is a great place to visit while you are in the Columbia River Gorge. There is lots to see and the admission and parking are free. It was a great place to wind up our little vacation in the Gorge and are looking forward to the next visit.

Jun 232014
 

Finally, a short break in the windy conditions here in the Columbia River Gorge allowed us to get out for a couple days of kayak fishing on the Columbia River. It wasn’t dead calm, but compared to the daily 20mph winds we’ve been having, it was calm enough to safely get out on the big Columbia River.

We launched both days from Deschutes State Recreation Area, where the Deschutes River empties into the Columbia. It’s an easy place to launch a kayak from and a short paddle to the Columbia. The Deschutes River is a popular rafting, boating and fishing spot, it can be crowded at the launch area, especially on nice summer weekends. The Deschutes rivermouth is a also a very popular salmon fishing area, during salmon season expect full parking lots, busy boat launch areas and people camping on the side of the road around the area. During salmon fishing season, you can expect to see more than a hundred boats on the Columbia River at the Deschutes rivermouth.

Wanting to get the most out of the fishing days, we launched into the Deschutes River by sunrise.

Kayak launch beach at Deschutes River Recreation Area

On the first day of fishing, we headed out to Miller Island looking for smallmouth bass. Miller Island is a big island, headed east is paddling upstream and there are a lot of strong currents and eddies around the island, you have to pay attention to what you are doing at all times. There was a constant 5mph wind blowing with stronger gusts, making the paddling more difficult. The channel between Miller Island and the Washington shoreline has a lot of current and the water goes from more than one hundred feet deep in spots to only a couple feet in others, it’s a challenge to paddle. This north channel is where most of the smallmouth bass are, mostly along the rocky sections of the Washington shoreline. There are some places on Miller Island that hold bass, mostly near the west end of the island.

East end of Miller Island in the Columbia River

On the second fishing day, we stuck mostly to the shoreline along the Oregon side of the river. We tried drift fishing for walleye, but the current was pretty strong and combined with a constant 5mph wind and stronger gusts, it made that kind of fishing pretty tough and didn’t hook into any walleye. Other boats were trolling for walleye and they weren’t having any luck either, so you could say the walleye were just not biting. We did manage to catch a few smallmouth bass, all of them were pretty good size.

Smallmouth bass caught on the Columbia River

I also managed to hook into a small sturgeon that put up quite a fight on the light tackle I was using. Sturgeon is all catch and release these days so it was released unharmed back into the river.

White sturgeon caught on the Columbia River

The days are long this time of year and we spent two straight days paddling and fishing on the Columbia River; ten hours the first day and about eight hours on the second day, so today I am pretty tired and baked from the sun. It was a good couple days of fishing, who knows how long it will be until the conditions are right to hit it again. We have some video of the trip, we will be posting it on the WatermanAtWork.com website and the WatemanAtWork You Tube page shortly.

Jun 092014
 

The Columbia River Gorge is famous for it’s wind and it has been living up to that reputation lately. Great for kiteboarders and sailboarders, but bad news for kayak fishing. The Columbia River is also running petty high and the currents are strong in spots. High winds and strong currents mean very dangerous kayaking conditions, which is too bad because this is one of the best times of the year for smallmouth bass fishing.

With no signs of relief from the Gorge wind, we headed east to the John Day River. The wind forecast was right on the border of being too windy, but we decided to take a chance and make the fifty mile drive to the John Day. As we left Hood River, OR, the wind was blowing at least 10 mph with stronger gusts and small whitecaps on the Columbia River. As we crossed the Deschutes River, the wind had subsided considerably, giving us hope that the wind further to the east would turn out to be less than predicted. When we arrived at the John Day River, we were surprised and relieved to find the wind nearly dead calm; the wind turbines on the hilltops above the Columbia River were not moving and the river was calm and glassy.

We launched at LePage Park and paddled out into the calm John Day River and headed for the Columbia River, planning to fish where the John Day empties into the Columbia until the wind picked up, then head up the John Day where it is a little more sheltered from the usual west to northwest wind.

The mouth of the John Day River where it empties into the Columbia River

Fishing off the riprap between the I-84 and railroad bridges at the John Day rivermouth, we started to catch one smallmouth bass after another; nearly a fish on every cast. Most of the bass were on the smaller side, but even short smallmouth bass put up a pretty good fight. After an hour or so of nonstop hookups, we headed across to the east side of the river looking for the bigger fish. Pretty much the same story there; a lot of smaller fish with one pounders hitting the lures every so often.

It was a hot, sunny day, near 80° with hardly a cloud in the sky. As we paddled upriver, the landscape is hot and dry. Grazing cattle congregate down at the river’s edge where it is cooler and there is plenty of water to drink. Wild animals come down to the river to feed on the only green plants available in the dusty and dry John Day River valley. We saw a number of deer, this one let me paddle within six feet or so before running up the river bank.

Mule deer on the bank of the John Day River

With the wind remaining calm, we paddled back downstream to the John Day rivermouth to finish up our fishing day where we had caught the most fish. I switched from a leadhead grub to a spinnerbait which seemed to be more attractive to the larger bass. I was able to land a number of fish between one and two pounds. While reeling in some of the fish, you could see larger bass approach the hooked fish, perhaps attracted by the activity.

Smallmouth bass fishing on the John Day River

The John Day River is known as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States. It’s not unusual to catch hundreds of bass in a single day, that was the case today. I easily caught over a hundred bass, I’m not sure exactly how many because I lost count after the first hour or so. Most of them were smaller fish but I did catch maybe twenty or so bigger bass. With all the small bass showing up and the lack of much bigger fish may mean that the smallmouth bass may be spawning, usually those fish won’t bite unless you drag a lure across their spawning nest, or the water temperature has warmed up to the point where the larger bass have already headed for the deeper parts of the river to spend the summer.

Hopefully, we can get back on the Columbia River soon to see what is going with the smallmouth bass there. The Columbia is a different environment than the John Day; deeper and colder, so the fishing may be a little different. We may try for some spring Chinook salmon, they are harder to catch than the fall Chinooks, but if it’s too windy for smallmouth bass fishing on the main river, we may try some of the smaller rivers that are more wind sheltered for a chance at a spring Chinook.

May 302014
 

Springtime here in the Columbia River Gorge means that the weather is going to be constantly changing and it’s almost a daily certainty that it’s going to be windy. It has been windy for the past week or so and it looks like next week is going to be windy as well; fine for the kiteboarders and sailboarders, but sucks big time if you want to go kayak fishing. We got a one day break in the wind today, actually, we caught it in the five or six hours as the wind direction changed from the west to the east and managed to get a little fishing in.

The weather was nice, the wind was mostly on the calm side, but the river water level had changed again. As mentioned earlier, when there are dramatic changes in the river water level, the smallmouth bass have a tendency to stop biting and move around. So today, it was mostly looking for fish and not a whole lot of catching fish. I did manage to get this one at a spot I’d never caught a fish at before, thanks to the trusty yellow head grub.

Smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

In the early afternoon, the east wind starting picking up, making it more difficult to fish, but I lucked out and got this bass drifting by a rocky point.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

As far as the kayak fishing goes, it doesn’t look good for the next week. Most likely back on the mountain bike trails. Still working on those kayak fishing videos too.

May 252014
 

The bicycle riding has taken a bit of a backseat in the activitymobile because of the good smallmouth bass fishing, but as is so often the case here in the Columbia River Gorge, the wind has come up and we haven’t had a relatively calm day for a week or so and the upcoming five or six days is not looking too promising for kayak fishing either. Not much you can do about it, around here you take what nature gives you. The fishing conditions may not be very good, but the mountain biking is excellent right now; hardly any rain, everything is springtime green and there is a lot of wildlife out and about.

The “brand name” trails in the area are getting more crowded every season. Trails that were barely known, even to the locals, now are crowded with riders, especially on weekends. With nice weather for the Memorial Day weekend, the local trails were packed so we headed out into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. With 1.4 million acres of forest, Gifford Pinchot has a lot of trails and old logging roads that are rarely ridden.

We start out in a section of forest that was logged about five or ten years ago, judging by the size of the evergreen trees planted after the logging operations. This area is close to a Forest Service road so the trail is in pretty good condition. Trails in this area are usually made by the Forest Service, AmeriCorps, horseback riders or hiking groups. This is a little too far out for the mountain biking associations, most of which are from the Portland, OR metro area. It looks like some trailwork has been done recently, but there were no foot or hoof prints, nor any mountain bike tire tracks, so nobody has been on this trail for some time.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest trail

As we ride further into the forest and away from any Forest Service roads, the trails become smaller, sometimes they are so overgrown, you can barely see them. These trails are primarily used by herds of elk. Since this area was covered in snow not that long ago, the elk herds are still at lower elevations and will not be around here for another few weeks as the weather warms up.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest trail

In some places, the trail is almost completely overgrown. Riding in conditions like this is a little different than riding around on well used, groomed trails; you have to ride under control because often you cannot see what’s ahead of you because the trail is obscured by bushes. You could hit a rock or log and find yourself in a bad way a long way from civilization.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest trail

Being out here is a unique experience; there’s not many places left in the United States where you are more likely to encounter a wild animal than another human being.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Probably be doing a little more “off the grid” riding and hoping the wind subsides a bit so we can get another shot at those springtime, prespawn smallmouth bass. We are also working on more kayak fishing videos, so stay tuned.

May 172014
 

The editing and conversion of videos continues at the WatermanAtWork.com studios. We are slowly but surely changing over from short, low quality MPEG and WMV videos to longer, higher quality MP4 videos. It’s a time consuming process and we’ve got a lot of video, but we are getting it done.

The latest video uploaded is Kayak Fishing on San Diego Bay at Tidelands Park. In the video we are kayak fishing at Tidelands Park on San Diego Bay and managed to hook into some spotted bass, halibut and yellowfin croaker.

Click HERE for Kayak Fishing on San Diego Bay at Tidelands video

This video was shot in May and October 2006 using a remote “lipstick” camera and DV recording deck. It was just before GoPro cameras became popular. The resolution is 4:3 standard defintion, there is voiceover but no ambient sound or background music. As with all the new videos, there is closed captioning in English.

We have one more San Diego Bay kayak fishing video in the works and a early season smallmouth bass kayak fishing video that should be ready in a day or two, so stay tuned.

May 142014
 

It’s been a hot few days on the Columbia River and the smallmouth bass fishing has been pretty good for this time of the year. There was one session a few days ago where we got blown off the river by wind that came up very suddenly, causing treacherous wind waves and cross chop that made getting back to the launch pretty difficult. Other than that, it’s been calm or light winds and very hot; in the low 80′s, which is pretty warm for springtime here in the PacNW. The fishing has been typical for early spring smallmouth bass fishing; not that many fish, but the fish caught were big. Got at least two twenty inchers and one that may have been twenty, so that’s three trophy bass for the 2014 season that is just getting started.

Today was hot and mostly dead calm with a light northeast breeze kicking up for a couple hours at mid-day. The bad news today is that the river level has dropped a couple feet. This is pretty typical in the summer when they let water over the downstream hydroelectric dams to make electricity and to provide water for irrigation. When there are big water level changes on the river, the bass have a tendency to move and stop biting. That seemed to be the case today, we did a lot of paddling and covered a lot of river but only caught one smallmouth bass and had a few half hearted nibbles to show for the effort.

Smallmouth bass fishing

The weather is supposed to stay sunny and hot, but unfortunately the wind is going to be picking up, 15mph with stronger gusts is a bit too strong for kayak fishing and the dropping river water level is not going to be a big help either so it looks like a nice run of smallmouth bass fishing has come to a close for awhile. Hopefully, the strong winds will not stick around for long and we can get back to the smallmouth bass fishing.

May 112014
 

We’ve had a few windy and wet days here in the PacNW that has been putting a damper on the smallmouth bass fishing. Starting today, looks like we are going to have a few days of ideal fishing weather so we are going to be out on the Columbia River fishing every day we can.

Today started out with a brisk west wind, not the “calm winds with 3mph gusts from the east” the weather forecasts had called for. We paddled out anyway but didn’t go too far from the launch until we could get an idea of what the wind was going to do. For the first couple hours, it was borderline conditions, the wind was pushing the kayaks too fast for decent fishing. It got to the point where if the wind would have picked up just a bit more, we were heading back.

It’s a good thing we decided to stick it out because I hooked into a real nice fish. After a long fight made even tougher because of the windy conditions, I landed a big smallmouth bass. This bass may be the biggest smallmouth I’ve ever caught in the Columbia River; well over twenty inches and real chunky.

big Columbia River smallmouth bass

Shortly after catching this big bass, the wind gradually died down until it was just about dead calm. I managed to catch another smaller bass, maybe sixteen or seventeen inches, a really nice fish. It turned out to be even more memorable of a day not only because I caught the biggest smallmouth ever, but I caught the smallest smallmouth ever as well!

Smallest smallmouth bass ever!

I shot some video today, including that big smallmouth and will shoot more in the next few days. I don’t know if I’ll have the time to get the video edited and posted online until the end of this week, but I’ll try to post photos of any more fish caught as well as daily fishing reports. If you want to catch that trophy smallmouth bass on the Columbia River, now is the time!