Aug 202016

It’s that time of year again; the chinook salmon are coming over the Bonneville Dam and it’s time to start salmon fishing. We’ve been taking the salmon gear out on the last couple fishing trips to make sure everything is working so we don’t lose any big fish because of equipment problems. We’ll be out on the river before sunrise among the power boats so we’ll be using the kayak light to try and not get run over.

Gearing up for salmon fishing season

The gear we use is pretty simple. We’ve learned from experience that time tested, simple setups continue to catch the most fish. Different spots and conditions determine what kind of fishing and which setup should be used. Kayak fishing for salmon is a little different than fishing from a power boat or casting from the bank so you must pay attention to the situation and use the setup that will work best for those conditions. We have a rig for casting plugs and spinners, a basic trolling rig and a couple bait rigs. The trolling rig has 20 lb. test braided line, the others are 20 lb. test monofilament. We use mostly plugs and spinners that local fishermen have been using for decades to catch fish.

From now until the fishing rod guides start icing up, we will be fishing for salmon every day the weather cooperates.

Aug 142016

We’ve been doing a lot of kayak fishing for smallmouth bass and have been lacking on the blog posts, so we’ll try and get up to date with a super duper, gigantic smallmouth bass fishing report. There haven’t been that many days when the wind has been calm enough for kayak fishing, otherwise the smallmouth bass fishing conditions have been great. We’ve done pretty well this summer as far as the smallmouth bass fishing goes, every time we’ve gone fishing, we’ve caught a bunch of bass, including some pretty decent sized ones. We keep trying new spots and have had great fishing.

We’ve had to drive a little to get to the place we’ve been fishing and it has been really hot, so an early start was mandatory. Most days, the wind comes up in the afternoon, that’s another good reason to hit it early. It’s pretty tough waking up at 4:00 AM, but knowing there is good fishing ahead makes it a little bit easier. The wind died down from the windy day before, but it was still unsettled in the morning when we paddled out.

Clearing weather at sunrise on the Columbia River

The smallmouth bass fishing was good. This is an ideal spot for casting up against shoreline rocks, but the shallow parts of the river are choked with seaweed. We caught most of the bass by trolling along the weed line or along underwater drop offs.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

We caught some small fish and a few bigger bass, a lot of the smallmouth bass were about this size

Columbia River smallmouth bass

We mentioned the afternoon wind. On one of the days, the wind came up very quickly in the late morning, chasing us off the river while the fish were biting.

Early morning wind on the Columbia River

For the next few days, it was really hot. Well over 90°F during the day. The clouds had been burned away and the early mornings were still and warm.

Sunrise on the Columbia River to start a hot day

The fishing was best in the early morning when it was relatively cool.

Early morning smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River

Trolling in deeper water yielded a couple nice fish. Less fish overall, but the bass were generally larger.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

No matter how big they are, smallmouth bass are great fighters and really fun to catch on light tackle. Kayak fishing is perfect for this.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River for smallmouth bass

Most of the bass were one or two pounders, but we did manage to catch a couple nice ones. I got this nice fish in the morning trolling a swimbait over an underwater ledge. It’s one of the biggest bass I caught all year. Usually, you would expect to catch bass of this size in the early spring, but with smallmouth bass fishing in general, you never know what you are going to get.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

The smallmouth bass fishing tapered off a bit towards the end of our trip, but we probably won’t be doing much more bass fishing this year because the steelhead and salmon should start arriving here soon. Word is that a few steelhead have been caught, but I only have seen a sockeye salmon caught and saw a couple hookups where the fish was not landed. Anyway, it’s hard to sit there and bobber fish for steelhead when there is great bass fishing in the same area because the odds of catching a steelhead are pretty slim, but the slow bass fishing and increasing odds of catching a salmon or steelhead means the bass fishing season is just about over.

Steelhead fishing on the Columbia River

We’ve been taking out the salmon gear and checking it out on the water to make sure everything is ready to go when the big fish get here. We are excited for salmon fishing season and hope this year is a good run. You never know what is going to happen around here, but it’s always something.

Jul 302016

Things have been a little slow on the kayak fishing front lately but the wind calmed down for a couple days and allowed us to have a couple great days kayak fishing on the Columbia River. Fishing from a kayak is a different approach to fishing and we are always looking for new places to fish. You can’t cover as much area as a power boat, but a kayak can get to places a boat can’t go. Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass at a great smallmouth bass fishing spot on a beautiful summer day is tough to beat.

The wind may have died down, but the temperature went up. The past couple days have been in the mid to high nineties. That’s real hot on a kayak with no shade so we got an early start to beat the midday heat. About 70°F with a light breeze just before sunrise, the most comfortable part of a very hot day.

Columbia River just before sunrise

About an hour after sunrise, we noticed smoke off to the west. Looks like a small wildfire. It is pretty close to the interstate highway so they should be able to get control of it relatively quickly. The fact there is no wind to speak of will help the firefighters. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time we see fire smoke this year.

Wildfire smoke over the Columbia River

We were fishing for smallmouth bass and the fishing was very good

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

If we cast against the rocks in the shallower water, we would catch smaller bass. If we fished underwater structure in deeper water or tolled along the edge of underwater weeds we would not catch as many bass, but the fish would be bigger.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught while kayak fishing

The Columbia River is a very active place as far as wildlife goes. The river is controlled by huge dams and Columbia River basin has been changed dramatically, but the wildlife still finds a way to survive amid all the human development. Here is a family of ospreys living on an old river dock piling. There were three healthy chicks in this nest so the fishing must have been pretty good for mom and pop osprey. The young osprey are testing their wings.

Osprey nest on the Columbia River

On the way in from fishing, I talked to a fisherman who was wading and fishing for salmon. He told me he hooked a fish and lost it in the abundant seaweed. There were tribal gill nets nearby so it was a pretty good indication that some salmon or steelhead had come over the downstream Columbia River dam. Everything seems “early” this year so an early start to the salmon fishing season would be OK as well. We got the bobber fishing rig ready to go and planned on taking the cured prawns the next day to try for an early, early, early season salmon or steelhead.

It’s a good thing we took the bass fishing gear along with the salmon rig because after an hour of watching a bobber float along without a nibble, I was ready to go catch some fish. The salmon fishing wasn’t there(even the tribal fishermen picked up their gill nets), the the smallmouth bass fishing was as good as a fisherman could expect.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

We checked in with the osprey family, the chicks were really giving their wings a workout. These young birds would be taking their first flight later in the day. Pretty cool to see.

Young osprey ready for first flight

The ospreys have seen us in our kayaks for awhile now. Mother osprey is always on guard, but the eight week old chicks might be a little curious about the humans in the kayaks.

Young osprey on the Columbia River

The wildlife was interesting, but we were also interested in smallmouth bass fishing. For a couple days on the Columbia River, the kayak fishing for smallmouth bass was as good as it could be. We caught a few small fish, a lot of one or two pounders and a few really nice smallmouth bass.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught while kayak fishing

This is the best time of the year in the Columbia River Gorge and we will try and get the most out of it. The wind is howling again today and it could be a few days, at least, before we can get out on the Columbia River again. We will start checking the fish counts over the Bonneville Dam and probably be taking salmon/steelhead gear on any remaining smallmouth bass trips. Then it will be salmon fishing season. Then it will be winter, so if you want to go fishing, now would be a good time.

Jul 252016

The wind died down for about a day and a half so we hit the Columbia River to do a little kayak fishing for smallmouth bass. It’s been a few weeks of wind cancelled fishing so we were very happy to be out on the water and be fishing on a beautiful summer day. The forecast was for light winds in the early morning, picking up a little in the afternoon to no more than five to seven miles per hour. After nearly a month of 15-20 mph wind, it was worth a shot. The early mornings were perfect, nearly dead calm and 70°F.

Kayak fishing sunrise on the Columbia River

The early morning fishing was very good. Casting or trolling, there were plenty of good sized, hard fighting smallmouth bass ready to bite.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught kayak fishing

This was a new fishing spot for us. We’d been here before but never really looked for places to launch kayaks. The Columbia River is a very big river, but in most places, actually getting to the river is tough, if not impossible. Launching a kayak is even harder. You can’t get everywhere in a kayak but you can go to a lot of places boats can’t go. The Columbia River has limitless opportunities to hunt for smallmouth bass, as long as you can get to the river.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River

As you can tell by the photo above, the launches and landings here are a bit rugged, but there are rewards for getting off the beaten path. We took a break from fishing to pick some of the abundant wild blackberries growing along the banks of the Columbia River. The blackberries that grow along the river are really fat and juicy because they have water all the time. These berries are so good it’s hard to stop eating them, but I recommend you stick to a quarter pound or less per serving.

Wild blackberries from the Columbia River bank

The first day we went fishing was perfect; pretty much calm winds all day. The fishing tapered off in the afternoon, so we loaded up the kayaks, endured an hour and a half traffic jam on the interstate and got ready to go again the next day. Today started out nice, but contrary to the weather forecast, the wind picked up quickly mid morning and we high tailed it off the river after a great, but short, morning of fishing. By the time we landed, the sailboarders were out. We packed up and headed on out. As I mentioned earlier, some of these places are pretty far off the beaten path. Below is a photo of a road that leads off the beaten path.

Road to kayak fishing spot

The wind is supposed to be picking up in the next few days so more kayak fishing is questionable. We are hoping for a couple more good smallmouth bass fishing sessions before the salmon fishing begins in a couple weeks or so. There are already people fishing for salmon and steelhead, I don’t know if they do that all summer or hope to be the first with a fall run fish. Anyway, we will be getting the salmon/steelhead gear ready to go. We’re excited for salmon fishing season but a little apprehensive because it is getting so crowded. See how it goes, I reckon. We’ll probably have a summer smallmouth bass fishing video in a few weeks. The bass fishing has been really good but the fishing has been limited because of the wind.

Stay tuned because summer here ends with a bang.

Jul 012016

The John Day River Kayak fishing video has been uploaded to the website as well as YouTube. The John Day lives up to it’s reputation as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States with great smallmouth bass fishing action.

To watch the video on the website, click HERE or on the photo below

Click HERE for John Day River kayak fishing video

The videos on the website have the best quality but the videos are available on the WatermanAtWork YouTube channel or you can watch the video below

The videos on the website and on YouTube are closed captioned. Enjoy the video and we’ll have more videos coming soon!

Jun 272016

Summer has arrived and smallmouth bass fishing is in full swing, whenever it isn’t too windy. The wind died down for a day so we got in some kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River. The days are hot, into the low nineties, and without much wind, it gets real hot when you’re out on a kayak most of the day. This time out, the river water level was relatively high. More water was being released from the upstream Columbia River dam so the water level was visibly rising all day long. We got up early and launched before sunrise to beat the heat.

Sunrise on the Columbia River 6-26-16

The fishing was pretty good but not as good as it’s been. The rapidly changing water levels, hot weather, high pressure, bright moon at night; all reasons why the fish aren’t biting as well as expected. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fishing, but the amount of vegetation, or seaweed, which I call the collective group of river plants, is taking over the river. You get seaweed on your lure on nearly every cast. A seaweed covered lure is not going to attract any fish, maybe that’s why the fishing is kind of slow.

Columbia River smallmouth bass and clump of river plants

We managed to get a few fish here and there, including a couple nice bass.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

Looks like hot and windy days coming up so no telling when we can get out for more fishing. Might have to hit the road to escape the Columbia Gorge wind machine. The upcoming kayak fishing video is 90% complete and should be online in a day or two so keep checking in.

Jun 212016

It’s been windy lately and we haven’t been able to get out to do any smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River. This is one of the best places in the country to fish for smallmouth bass, but it is also one of the windiest places, so that cuts down on fishing days. When it is calm, it’s time to go fishing because those good fishing days do not happen every day. We got a couple days of light wind so it was time to rig up the kayaks and head out on the Columbia to see if the fish were biting.

It was a beautiful day, a little chilly in the morning, warming up to 80°F in the afternoon. Blue skies with snow capped Mt. Hood off in the distance.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River with Mt. Hood in the distance

As is typical for this time of year, the water level of the Columbia River is dropping. It is not uncommon for the water level between Columbia River dams to change a foot or two in less than twenty four hours. That’s a lot of water and it shows the tremendous impact the dams have on the Columbia River and everything in it. We fished two days in a row and the water level dropped about two feet overnight. If you’re fishing, a spot that was perfect for holding smallmouth bass yesterday may only be a foot deep today. Any fish there have moved somewhere else. We pulled some nice bass from this spot on the first day, the following day the water level had dropped and the fish moved out.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

Always the case with smallmouth bass fishing, finding the fish was the key. Also, swimbaits worked well this time, especially for the bigger fish. Caught a few on spinbaits. It is tough to use lead head jigs here because there is so much seaweed(technically, it’s not “seaweed” but that’s what I call it) in the river. Almost every cast is going to have seaweed on the lure as it is, no hope dragging something on the bottom. That’s where the fish live, so that’s how it goes. We did catch a bunch of smallmouth bass, most in the usual quarter to half pound size, but we did catch a few bigger ones. Smallmouth bass, no matter the size, always put up a great fight.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

We did manage to catch a couple big bass, maybe getting close to 20″ but not as chunky as the big early season fish. Swimbaits worked the best for these bigger bass and caught a bunch of smaller fish too. The bigger fish were in deeper water with more current, sometimes it was a challenge to get, and stay in a good spot to make a few casts. Always nice to catch a big fish.

Kayak fishing for big Columbia River smallmouth bass

The wind has returned so probably no fishing for the next few days, we’ll see how it goes. Work on the latest smallmouth bass kayak fishing video will continue since we can’t go fishing. Hopefully, the video will be done by the end of the week. We’ve got pretty good material for the next summer bass fishing video so we’ll get started on that. Stay tuned.

Jun 152016

After a week or so of record heat with some days over 100°F, this morning it was 40°F. It’s been raining on and off with fresh snow up in the mountains and it has been windy, so after a great week of kayak fishing, we are on a kayak fishing weather delay. Cold and rain won’t stop us from kayak fishing but 15-20 mph wind sure will. Guess we will have to catch up on the bike riding as well as try and crank out another kayak fishing video while we wait for the wind to calm down a little.

The next video will be kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the John Day River. There is a lot of bass fishing action that might motivate you to take a trip out to the John Day River during the prime smallmouth bass fishing months of July and August. When we get some calmer weather, we’ll be looking for new kayak fishing spots so stay tuned…

Jun 062016

We always look forward to a little kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the John Day River. It’s about an hour’s drive from the WatermanAtWork west coast production facility, so we try to hit it whenever we can. The John Day is one of the best places to fish for smallmouth bass in the entire country. If you are serious about smallmouth bass, the John Day is a place you should visit.

The weekend started out a little ragged. Coming home from a local fishing spot, there was a plume of black smoke coming from the Mosier, OR exit right next to the interstate and the Columbia River. Mosier is a small community of less than 500 people, this was not a normal event. It looked bad and it was.

Oil train derails and tanker cars on fire in Mosier, OR 6-4-16

Turns out a train pulling oil tanker cars had derailed and some of the tank cars caught on fire. Within hours, the I-84 interstate was closed and all of the local town and county roads were gridlocked with people trying to get around the fire and numerous road closures. As night fell, there was no guarantee that this mess would be taken care of to the point where we would be able to get out of town and out to John Day River the following morning.

We had to get an early start so we were relieved to find the interstate was reopened a couple hours earlier and the traffic had all been finally cleared out. As we passed Mosier on our way towards the John Day, we could see what a mess it was with oil leaking into the Columbia River a real possibility. It is going to take quite a while to get this mess cleaned up. As we left those problems in the rear view mirror, the sun was beginning to rise on what was going to be a sweltering hot weekend with temperatures predicted in the 100’s. We launched on a beautiful morning just before sunrise into the John Day River mouth near the Columbia River and didn’t take long to have the first John Day smallmouth bass in the kayak. As the temperature climbed to 101°, the wind stayed mostly calm and the bass fishing was non-stop action. The smallies were mostly in the usual half pound range with a few bigger bass in the 15-17″ range. The John Day smallmouth bass are great fighters, even the smaller ones. Probably caught at least fifty smallmouth bass, maybe more when I ran out of drinking water and had to come ashore to escape the blazing heat. Had a couple beers and a sandwich or two and was asleep shortly after the sun disappeared behind the hills to the west.

Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River near the John Day River mouth

We were up early so we could get out on the river before it got too hot and paddled upstream on the John Day to a little spot that always seems to be holding lots of bass, turns out it was a good place to start the fishing.

Sunrise on the John Day River

We caught smallmouth bass non-stop for the next couple hours. There’s not too many places you have to replace your lures because the fish chewed them to the point where they aren’t usable, that’s the John Day River for you. After losing count of how many bass we caught, we headed back down towards the rivermouth. It was getting really hot, there are a couple bridges over the river you can get under and get some relief from the heat and still catch fish. We caught more bass at the rivermouth before the fishing seemed to slow down, probably due to the relentless heat. I wanted to take one more pass by a spot that has been lucky in the past and it was lucky today as well, catching one of the nicest fish of the weekend on the last cast.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the John Day River -

Even if the fishing was good, it was too hot to remain out on the water. The temperature had reached 104°, too hot to be sitting on a kayak covered from head to toe, so we called it a weekend, loaded up the truck and headed home. The John Day River delivered again.

Jun 012016

Summer is just about here with the thermometer rising into the 80’s and beyond, the water level in the Columbia River is dropping and getting warmer every day. Record heat is forecast for this weekend, there will still be guys in full dry suits out there even as the temperature nears 100°F mark and the river water is in the mid 60’s kayak fishing for smallmouth bass.

The bass fishing has been unexpectedly slow for the past few days, kind of a mystery. Usually, the smaller fish start to bite with regularity about this time of year, but these days, you never know what the heck is going on. The Columbia River is amazing to see, but just about everything about it is managed by humans. Nature still runs the show, but man has altered the natural course of the Columbia River and all it’s tributaries. We only caught a few fish, mostly small to medium sized bass to show for two days of bass fishing. This was the biggest smallmouth I caught during those two days.

Columbia River smallmouth bass caught while kayak fishing

We talked to a few other people fishing for smallmouth bass, they all said they thought the fishing was slow. One thing everyone noticed was the incredible amount of vegetation, river plants, seaweed, whatever you want to call it, in the river. The Columbia River is choked with seaweed which makes fishing difficult, you get a wad of seaweed on nearly every cast. The river usually looks like this in August, when the warm water causes a plant growth explosion, but it’s only June. Makes you wonder about the big picture and what’s going on with the environment. Sooner or later, all these unusual things are going to add up to something.

Anyway, we may give it one more shot locally before we head out east on a little bass fishing road trip to a place where the smallmouth bass bite all the time. Stay tuned for more smallmouth bass fishing action.