Oct 302014

The rainy weather continues here in the Pacific Northwest, making the kayak fishing kind of tough. A little rain isn’t going to stop anybody from fishing, especially when you are going after what could be the last salmon of the season, but day after day of rain has messed up the rivers and the salmon stop biting when it’s muddy and the water levels are constantly changing. The wind was calm for a day and the rain lightened up enough to let us get out on the Columbia River to go after the salmon. The salmon are not biting as well on the main river here as they are further upriver, but the water conditions are not good enough to warrant a road trip east. The morning started out clear and calm with a beautiful sunrise.

Spectacular sunrise over the Columbia River

You may be familiar with the saying “Red skies in morning, sailors take warning”. Well, that was absolutely true on this day. Shortly after the spectacular sunrise, the sun disappeared into the dark gray clouds and it rained off and on until early afternoon.

Storms over the Columbia River

Even though the river water was off color from all the rain, the fishing was better than expected. Got three salmon on the line; one came unbuttoned at the kayak, one was too big to fit into my landing net and while I was trying to figure out how to get it into the kayak it got away and I managed to get one into the kayak and on the stringer.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

I don’t mind losing a fish now and then, it’s part of fishing, but losing what was probably the biggest salmon I’ve ever caught because it was too big to fit in the landing net, that’s a tough one. I still had one more salmon for the freezer and there’s still a chance for a few more.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River

Looks like heavy rain today and more rain and windy tomorrow, we are hoping that will be the end of the nasty weather for a few days. It’s almost November, only a couple more weeks of salmon fishing.

Oct 252014

We’ve been having quite a bit of rain, not unusual for this time of year, and it is putting a real damper on what’s left of the salmon fishing season. Many of the rivers are running high and muddy and when the rivers are in that condition, the salmon stop biting. We went out anyway because we are running out of kayak fishing days as the salmon season is winding down. We knew it wouldn’t be ideal salmon fishing conditions, but it turned out to be worse than we thought. The river looked like coffee; zero visibility with plenty of floating debris. The river was running much higher and faster than normal, making the kayak fishing very tough.

We trolled our proven salmon slaying lures for a couple hours without so much as a nibble. It was clear that trolling, which usually is a great way to get the salmon, was not going to work today. We brought salmon eggs in case trolling didn’t work, so we started fishing with eggs, even though it was hard to keep them from washing downstream, even when using a couple ounces of lead. We got hits on the eggs immediately, what was biting was not the salmon we were hoping for, but white sturgeon. The muddy water did not seem to bother the sturgeon at all, every time we dropped salmon eggs in the river, a sturgeon would gobble them up. We wound up catching a lot of sturgeon.

White sturgeon caught kayak fishing in southwest Washington

The fishing for salmon was terrible, but the fishing for sturgeon was great so I guess you can’t call the salmon fishing trip a complete failure. The weather was pretty wet and miserable, but we did catch a lot of sturgeon. On any other day, catching all the ten pound fish you want would be pretty good and sturgeon can put up a good fight, so you have to look at the positive side of things.

Kayak fishing for sturgeon in southwest Washington

It’s going to be a few days, at least, for the river water levels to drop and the water to clear up so we can get back on the salmon fishing. It’s been raining all last night and today, so that’s not helping things out. We are keeping out fingers crossed for a little less rain, a tall order in this part of the country this time of year.

Oct 222014

The salmon fishing on the Columbia River has been slowing down in the past week or so here in the Columbia River Gorge so we have to head upriver and follow the fish. The salmon run is ending so you either have to head east on the Columbia River or fish the rivers that empty into the Columbia. The tributaries that feed the Columbia River are mostly water from melted snow in the local mountains, I think this keeps the salmon more active than they would be in the Columbia River, which is still pretty warm. The weather is not very good this time of year, the rain and wind have a big impact on fishing conditions, not to mention the fact that getting out on the water before daybreak on a cold, windy and rainy morning is not all that much fun. It’s getting to the point where the next fishing trip may be the last kayak fishing trip of the season, so we try to brave the elements and get out there as long as the fish are biting.

We headed to one of the local rivers that empties into the Columbia that is one of our favorite salmon fishing spots. We’ve always done pretty well here and when we went out on an overcast and drizzly fall morning, our luck there continued. The river was not in ideal shape due to recent rain, but there were fish to be had, both chinook and coho salmon were biting. The chinook were taken by fishing salmon eggs and trolling the trusty wiggle warts and the coho were pretty much hitting the trolled plugs. Many of the chinook were darker fish but the coho were mostly silvery and fresh, so we spent most of the day trolling wiggle warts. I did pretty well, had a number of hits, some didn’t take and I lost a couple by fooling around with the video camera. I still managed to hook into a couple nice coho salmon that put up a great fight.

Kayak fishing for coho salmon

The coho salmon were still silvery and strong. The meat was bright orange and tasted great. The day started out cloudy and drizzling, but it cleared up in the afternoon and turned out to be a nice day so it was a good day on the river all around.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing in the Columbia River Gorge

The successful fishing trip gives us hope that there are still a few kayak fishing trips left in the salmon fishing season. The big factor now is if the weather will cooperate. It’s raining hard today and supposed to be windy and rainy tomorrow, but we will try again as soon as the conditions permit.

Oct 172014

Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news regarding the salmon fishing on the Columbia River. The good news is that there are still salmon being caught, the bad news is that there’s a lot less salmon being caught and many of the fish that are caught are worn out and dark. The area we’ve been fishing at lately; the Columbia River near the White Salmon rivermouth, had been fishing very well for steelhead, then coho and finally chinook salmon. This is the closest place salmon and steelhead are to where we live so we don’t have to drive very far and get up any earlier in the morning than we already do to be on the river before sunrise. The past few days the salmon fishing has slowed considerably. Most of the fish being caught are very dark, an indication that the fish is nearing the end of it’s life. The mouth of the White Salmon River is already littered with spawned out chinook salmon carcasses.

A few days ago, I had a pretty good day of fishing, catching the biggest chinook salmon of the season, as well as a smaller king salmon. Both these fish were silvery and fresh. Yesterday, I wasn’t having much success casting wiggle warts, which has worked very well for steelhead and salmon this year, so I joined the boat parade and started trolling. After an hour or two I was ready to give up when I got a hookup and managed to get a medium sized chinook salmon in the kayak.

Trolling for chinook salmon

This fish turned out to be a male chinook salmon. This fish was the darkest fish I’d caught all season. Not inedible, but this fish was close to the end of the line.

Late season chinook salmon caught kayak fishing on the Columbia River

The fishing was getting slow and rain was in the forecast, but I dragged myself out of bed to try one more time at the White Salmon rivermouth, figuring it might be the last trip of the season there and hoping for a last minute miracle. I tried trolling before sunrise and only got one halfhearted strike in an hour of trying. As it got light, I went back to casting the trusty wiggle warts without any success. The fishing was slow, it was raining and to top things off, there were a lot of fishermen. Trolling with the zig zagging flotilla of weekend warriors was out of the question and there were plenty of boats anchored with guys casting, not much room to fish unless you got right on top of somebody, which is popular here, but something I prefer not to do. I wasn’t having any luck and was ready to head in when I tried casting in a spot that few try because it is so close to shore. I got a strong hit, got the fish to the kayak and landed a nice silvery chinook salmon.

Chinook salmon caught while kayak fishing on a rainy day on the Columbia River

By the time I got the fish on the stringer and untangled the lure from my landing net, four boats had parked right on top of me. I decided to call it an early day and head in. As I was gutting the salmon, I realized that the fish I had caught the day before while trolling, as well as the majority of fish I had seen other fishermen catch while trolling, were dark fish. The fish I caught while casting plugs were all silvery and fresh. It seems the fish caught while casting were in better shape and more active, attacking a cast lure, while the fish caught on the troll might have hit the lure merely because it passed in front of their noses.

Anyway, we are probably going to head upriver to another spot and see if the salmon fishing there is a little better and the fish are in better shape. It means getting up earlier and driving more, but we are really getting down to the bone on the 2014 salmon season, there may only be a few days of kayak fishing for salmon left…

Oct 152014

The salmon fishing on the Columbia River is still pretty good but the nice autumn weather we’ve been having made an exit from the scene yesterday. There was light rain in the morning and much heavier rain in the early afternoon as a “Pineapple Express” rain event moved into the Pacific Northwest. After the morning rain, it was actually a pretty nice day, almost dead calm and fairly warm even if it was overcast all day. The rain that started in the afternoon was pretty significant and lasted well into the night.

The fishing was pretty good. A little slow early in the morning, it really picked up in the late morning/early afternoon, then slowed again right before the afternoon rain started. I lost a couple fish that came unhooked and had a few more bumps before I landed a medium sized chinook salmon. I lost another fish or two and had a couple more half strikes before I landed a nice, big silvery chinook salmon, easily the biggest king salmon of the year for me.

Big chinook salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River on a rainy fall day

Today, I’m trying to get everything dried out and ready to go again tomorrow. The number of salmon coming over the nearby Bonneville Dam has dropped substantially so the 2014 salmon fishing season is going to start to wind down, time to get the last few days of kayak fishing in.

Oct 132014

Back out on the river today, a pretty nice day, nearly dead calm and sort of overcast so it wasn’t too cold. We had a dusting of snow on Mt. Hood over the weekend so you know that winter is right around the corner and we have got to get every day of fishing that is left.

Got out before sunrise and had a couple bumps before hooking into a big male chinook right as the sun came up. It was a great battle, but too dark for video. It was a native fish so I released it. As it gets later in the season, I might have to keep a couple wild salmon for the freezer. A couple minutes later, I got another chinook, this time a hatchery female, so I kept this one for the table.

Chinook salmon caught kayak fishing on the Columbia River

Looks like another calm day tomorrow, maybe with a bit of rain, but we will be hitting it dark and early.

The Steelhead Fishing on the Columbia River-Fall 2014 video is online, but I haven’t officially announced it yet because the video captions are not finished, but you can check it out anyway. I’ll finish the captions in a day or two.

Oct 072014

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River continues with pretty decent results and very nice weather for this time of year. The warm weather and warm water temperatures may actually be slowing the chinook salmon bite somewhat, but the coho salmon fishing remains pretty good. That doesn’t mean you will catch fish every day; two days ago I caught six salmon, yesterday, with nearly identical conditions, I didn’t even get a nibble. You have to keep getting out there, sooner or later, you’ll get lucky because the fish are definitely there. Whether you can get them to bite or not is an entirely different story.

Anyway, on the day I caught six fish, I caught two coho salmon before sunrise, which is the daily limit

Columbia River coho salmon

Since the fishing was so good, I kept fishing and caught four more salmon, including this nice Chinook. Lucky for this fish, I had my limit on the stringer and he was released back into the Columbia to fight another day.

Columbia River chinook salmon caught from the kayak

I also hooked up a nice native chinook salmon that put up a heck of a fight. As with all wild fish, it was released unharmed back into the river.

Wild Columbia River chinook salmon

The biggest coho was a pretty nice fish, not quite as big as the one I caught about a week ago, but it’s going to be hard to beat that big salmon.

Columbia River coho salmon

Back on it again tomorrow because it looks like we may have a “Pineapple Express” rain event here in a few days. It’s hard to say how that is going to affect the fishing, but we are not going to wait around to find out.

Oct 032014

Put in a couple serious days of fishing with some pretty decent results. We tried one of our favorite salmon rivers off the Columbia, but it was muddy as it could be, visibility about two inches. Not sure what’s going on there, but it sure put a damper on what usually is a great chinook salmon fishing spot. It wasn’t a total loss, I must have caught about twenty sturgeon; better to catch something than get skunked. Would have like to have some chinook on the hook, but the sturgeon were fun to catch and saved the day.

Back on the main river with clear water we had better luck. I caught two nice coho salmon. Both were native fish and put up a great fight. The wild fish are much better fighters than the hatchery salmon, for sure. Bad news is I had to release both of them and the worse news is that I caught both of them before sunrise so it was too dark for the crappy GoPro camera so I didn’t get any video either. Still fun catching the first couple fish of the day while everyone is still figuring out what to do.

For some reason, the sturgeon are really liking me and I caught a few more today. Sure, I’d rather have salmon, but this fish put on quite the aerial display

Jumping sturgeon on the Columbia River

Taking tomorrow off to take care of business then back on the water. The steelhead video is almost finished. I know I’ve been saying that for awhile, but this time I really mean it!

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.