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 - watermanatwork.com

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.

May 292016

We’ve been kayak fishing for early spring smallmouth bass and had pretty good success so far. It’s been windy the past week so we haven’t been able to get out smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River, but we’ve had the time to put together a highlight video of the early season fishing. Click on the photo below or CLICK HERE to go to the 2016 Early Spring Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Columbia River video on the watermanatwork.com website.

Click HERE for 2016 early spring smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River at www.watermanatwork.com

The video quality is better at the watermanatwork.com website, but if you want to watch it on YouTube, it’s posted there as well. Click on the video below.

It’s looking like the wind is going to calm down a bit for the next couple days, we are hoping to get out on the Columbia River and do some fishing. We also have a smallmouth bass road trip coming up to stay tuned for a report on that.

May 022016

We got a short couple days break in the notorious Gorge wind and we were able to get out for a little kayak fishing on the Columbia River. The wind is still blowing, but for a couple days it calmed down just before sunrise before cranking up again in the early afternoon. Smallmouth bass are not the kind of fish you have to be on the water at sunrise for, but the way the weather has been, you have to go when the wind is calm and that is only in the early morning.

Columbia River Gorge at sunrise

The Columbia River water level had dropped a few feet overnight so the river currents were quite a bit less powerful as they have been, but whenever there is a dramatic drop in the river water, the fish tend to be less likely to bite. We did not venture too far out into the main river channel because the strong east wind comes up quickly and strong. Paddling upstream on a big river like the Columbia against a strong wind is not fun so we stuck to the more sheltered areas.

Columbia River kayak fishing

The drop in the river water level may have scattered the bass, but they are still there. The key to smallmouth bass fishing is to keep searching until you find the fish. We did not catch any really big fish the past couple times out, but more and more of the one pounders that are the most abundant during the summer months.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

Looks like another spell of windy conditions so we are back on smallmouth bass standby for a few days.

Apr 212016

Early season smallmouth bass fishing can be hit and miss until the most of the fish start moving as the water gets warmer. You may only catch a couple bass, but the odds are they will be the bigger and more aggressive fish. While a trophy smallmouth can be caught any time during the year, the early season “pre-spawn” and “spawning” phases of a smallmouth bass’s life are the best time to catch a big one and can result in some great smallmouth bass fishing.

Yesterday, the forecast was for a relatively windy day so it was not even sure we’d be fishing. The wind was calm before sunrise, so we decided to take a chance and at least get a few hours of fishing in before the wind came up. The river is running high with strong currents in places so even a moderate amount of wind would make kayak fishing more difficult. With strong winds forecast for the next few days and the fishing getting better every day, it might be the last fishing for a few days, so we headed out and arrived on the river with a light east wind. Things started out slowly until I picked up a medium size bass but it was looking like we would have to cover some ground and hopefully, find the fish before the wind picked up. The fishing remained slow for the next hour or so as we tried out the spots that usually produce fish without much success. The wind picked up a little then suddenly went calm and it turned into a perfect day for kayak fishing. As the kayaking conditions improved, so did our luck in finding the bass. I got a big hit fishing a grub near a downed tree and hooked a nice sized fish that immediately took to the air.

Columbia River smallmouth bass fishing

It was a nice fish, might have been the biggest fish of the year so far. After releasing the fish, I cast the grub back in the same general vicinity and got another huge hit and had another fish on. I could tell that this fish was even bigger than the one I just caught, but this smallie headed for the bottom. I worked it to the surface and could see it was a big fish, but at that very instant, the bass threw the lure and got away! A couple more casts but the magic was gone, so I moved to another spot. I was still kind of thinking of the one that just got away when I got another big hit and I could tell that this was a really nice fish. The fish made several runs for the bottom and tried swimming into the nearby trees but I managed to get the fish to the surface and could see that this was a huge snallmouth bass. I think it tried to jump but it may have been too big. I tired it out, grabbed it and lifted it into the kayak.

Big Columbia River smallmouth bass

This smallmouth bass is easily the biggest fish of the year so far and could easily wind up being the biggest smallmouth of the year. This fish is probably in the 5-6 pound, 21 inch range. Once smallmouth bass get close to twenty inches long, they may only grow another inch or two, but they get “chunkier”; this bass was pretty chunky. Exactly what we are looking for when we get out there for early spring smallmouth bass fishing.

Big Columbia River smallmouth bass

We’ve got this great day of smallmouth bass fishing on video, so we will probably do an early spring smallmouth bass fishing video but we’ll probably go a couple more times and see if we can get more trophy bass. One of our GoPro cameras bit the dust so we have to deal with that but as soon as these windy days pass, we are back out there, for sure.

Apr 192016

The weather has been pretty nice and the wind has remained calm which has allowed us to get out early this spring to do some smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River. The water is still on the cold side and due to the spring rain and melting snow from the local mountains, the water level is very high, which is the exact opposite condition from last year’s extra dry winter. The bass fishing was relatively poor last spring so we are hoping the return of more normal water levels will result in better fishing. The high water levels mean that the flow of the river can be very fast and strong in spots and there are dangerous currents and whirlpools that kayak fishermen need to be aware of because you can get into trouble very quickly when the conditions are like this. The biggest factor this time of the year, as usual, is the wind.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River

The game plan is simple; keep looking until you find the fish. If you find where the bass are hanging out, stick around until they stop biting, then start looking again. This time of the season, you have to cover some river to find the fish. So far, we’ve had the best success and caught the biggest bass, fishing lead head grubs off the bottom. We’ve had a few hits on crankbaits, but keep going back to the plastics.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River

The bass fishing is picking up as the water gets warmer. The early moving fish are a little larger than normal size bass and are hard fighters.

Columbia River smallmouth bass

The water level in the Columbia River is going to start dropping as spring turns into summer and the wind is always a factor so you have to keep on top of the conditions to get the best fishing. Looks like a few windy days coming up so we will probably have to put the kayak fishing on hold for a while.

Apr 092016

The smallmouth bass were nowhere to be found last week, but we had much better luck this time around. It’s still pretty early in the season, so at this time of year, you may not catch many fish, might not catch any at all, but if you do find the fish, they are bigger than your average bass. The water in the Columbia River is warming up to the point where bass will start moving. The water level in the Columbia River is governed by the huge dams, the “pools” between dams is just like a big bathtub. When the water level change is sudden, the smallmouth bass don’t seem to bite as well, but it looks like the smallmouth fishing should be picking up for the spring.

Columbia River smallmouth bass kayak fishing

It was a beautiful early spring day in the Columbia River Gorge, calm wind, sunny and warm. Still plenty of snow in the nearby mountains and the river water is still cold.

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River

I fished for a few hours without much success, so while I was heading in I decided to try one last stop. It was worth it because I caught the first fish of the year, a decent size smallmouth plus bass number two and bass number three were bigger! Always nice to know the fish are still there.

Columbia River smallmouth bass fishing

We think the smallmouth bass fishing will start picking up, especially in the shallow sections of the river near drop-offs. It’s a good time to try for that trophy bass.