Oct 222016

Since kayak fishing on the Columbia River for salmon and steelhead is no longer an option, we are trying to figure out how we are going to spend the last few kayak fishing weeks of the year. The weather is generally cooler and wetter every day, but as long as the wind isn’t too bad and there isn’t too much rain, there are some fishing opportunities before it’s too cold to fish.

There is only one local Columbia River tributary that is a possibility for more salmon fishing. The late season coho fishing is usually pretty good, but it has not been very good so far this season. All the rain we’ve been having has got the river running high and fast. The water is also pretty dirty from runoff, that does not help the fishing either. On top of that, it’s the only place left to fish for salmon so anybody that wants to go salmon fishing is going to be there. Fifty boats on the Columbia River is one thing, fifty boats on a river that is no wider than twenty yards(18m) wide, is something else altogether different. Throw in kayak fishermen, float tubers and bank fishermen and it doesn’t sound like a fun fishing day.

Fall kayak fishing in the Pacific Northwest

The water in the Columbia River is about 60°F, warm enough to do some smallmouth bass fishing. Usually, the salmon fishing winds up the fishing season, but things are different this year. If the weather cooperates, we may try out the fall bass fishing. Never done it before so I don’t really know what to expect. We might be able to get a couple more fishing trips in before the kayaks are packed up for the year.

Oct 132016

Even though the fishing was not very good the day before, with the salmon season just about over and bad weather on the way, we had to give it one more shot. It may have been the last day of kayak fishing for 2016.

With the fact it mind that it could be the last kayak fishing day of the season, it was no problem getting out on the water before daybreak. The conditions were as good as they could be for this time of year and the water had cleared up from the past rain. Once again, the fishing was not on fire out of the box. It took about a half hour before I got a hookup that came unbuttoned after a few seconds. About an hour later, another hit that didn’t stick. It was starting to feel a lot like the day before. Another half hour later, I was starting to have some doubts, but might be the last trip of the year, so kept on casting. A big hit and this time the fish was hooked. Got it all the way to the kayak and could see it was a big male hatchery Coho salmon.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

It was a good sized fish, but it was pretty dark. When salmon get near the end of their lives, they go from a silvery color to darker colors, hence the term “dark”. You could eat it, no problem, but it’s not as good as the fish in the freezer from earlier in the season, so I let this one go. At least I caught one salmon on the last day of the season and got it on video. It was a nice morning, I saw no reason to stop fishing. Good thing I kept casting because a short time later I got another hookup and fish on!

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

After a few minutes, I got the fish up to the kayak and could see it was another big male Coho salmon

Native Coho salmon kayak fishing on the Columbia River

This one was a native fish, so I was going to try and unhook it and get him back on his spawning way. Unhooking a large fish without injuring yourself or the fish is not that easy. I try to avoid using the landing net because it injures the fish. Definitely have to be careful. This dark male hopefully made it upstream to spawn.

Releasing a native coho salmon kayak fishing on the Columbia River

After another hour or so without a bite, I decided to call it a day, and most likely, a season. We have some very serious weather coming our way for the next week with lots of rain and high winds. When the storms have passed, the rivers are going to take a few days, at the very least, to clear up to the point where they are fishable. Another week of declining fish numbers and the outlook for a week from now is not that great. We might head out to our favorite late season spot, but it’s down to a couple last resort fishing spots and there will be a lot of fishermen looking for not a lot of fish. We usually pack up the kayak gear when the late season fishing tapers off and head up into the hills and do a couple “River Runs Through It” trips. Then the fishing rod guides start icing up and that’s it.

Looks like we will be getting an early start on the winter’s projects that don’t get done when the weather is nice and the fishing is good. It’s been a good season of kayak fishing here in the Pacific Northwest so there is plenty of video and photos to edit and get on the watermanatwork.com website. There are other video and photos as well as other stuff, so keep checking back.

Oct 112016

The Columbia River salmon fishing report from this morning is not very good. The water in Columbia tributaries is still running a little high and fast, pretty murky as well. The off color water reaches out into the main river until the depth reaches about twenty feet or so. The fish are still in the water, but I’ve never had much success fishing for salmon or steelhead when the water is muddy. Lots of vegetation floating around too.

The fishing conditions were pretty good but the fishing was not that hot. I had a couple hits that didn’t stick and that’s about it. Despite the good weather, there were only a few boats out.

We’ll try it again tomorrow, then it looks like at least another few days when we won’t be able to fish because of the weather. Hoping the fishing is at least a little better so I can catch at least one more salmon. It’s not looking good, but we’re hoping our luck holds out at least one more fishing day.

Oct 102016

As is usually the case here in the Columbia River Gorge, almost everything changes all the time, especially the weather. The days are getting shorter, it’s getting colder, and of course we’ve got rain. At least it’s not snowing(yet). We’ve had a run of windy weather, so no kayak fishing. It looks like the next three days will be good so we will most likely be out on the Columbia River back after the salmon. If the fishing is not good, we may have to try another spot, although there is really nowhere you could say is “on fire”. The fishing is not getting any better, so this season it’s “sooner rather than later” and we are anxious to get back out there.

Stay tuned.

Oct 052016

It was on and off rain yesterday, today was all rain with a few breaks. The wind stayed calm and it wasn’t too cold, so it wasn’t bad, just completely wet. Stumbling over wet rocks in the dark adds a little more excitement to the already pretty exciting business of kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River.

Just after getting on the water and anchoring, I had a nice solid hit. With the salmon fishing on a quick downturn, the hits were few and far between, so you have to make them stick. After a good battle, I had a nice Chinook in the net. Not a bad start, but right after that, the fishing action slowed down and the rain picked up. I had a couple weak bumps and hooked what looked to be a decent Chinook salmon that came unbuttoned after a couple jumps. About thirty wet minutes later, I got another hookup. I could tell it was a bit smaller than the first fish, but as I got it closer to the kayak, I could tell it was a nice, silvery Coho salmon.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

Got the Coho into the landing net and on the stringer. Kind of happy to get a limit, but even happier to get the daily salmon limit and get out of the rain.

Chinook and Coho salmon caught kayak fishing on the Columbia River

You can see in the photo that the bigger Chinook is darker than the Coho salmon. Not as dark as the salmon I caught yesterday, but the Chinook run is a little earlier than the Coho run so the Coho salmon are in a little better shape at this stage of the annual salmon run. The Chinook are all going to be dark at this stage, we would be hoping for more Coho to show up. The Coho run is also pretty sad, so I think today we just got lucky.

With the non-stop rain, all the fishing gear is wet. Tomorrow looks like a borderline wind day, the freezer is just about full of salmon, so we are going to take a day off to dry out and rest up. We’ll try it again day after tomorrow.

Oct 042016

The weather forecast was looking sketchy, but it turned out to be a pretty decent day of kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River. It rained on and off all morning, but the wind stayed calm and turned out to be good fishing conditions. As expected, the fishing was slow, but not quite hopeless. I had a few bumps and a couple solid hits that didn’t stick. I had another fish hooked up but lost it after a minute or two. I did manage to get one nice Chinook salmon in the boat and put another fish in the freezer.

Kayak fishing for Chinook salmon on the Columbia River

As you can see in the photo, this fish is pretty dark. Getting dark fish out of the main river at this spot means the salmon fishing season here is just about over. Rain is in the forecast for the next few days, maybe that will get the fish moving into the Columbia River tributaries. Either way, all signs are that the salmon fishing season is not going to last much longer. We hope to get out there for the next couple days and see what we can do.

Sep 282016

This morning we were out kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River hoping for a little better luck than we’ve had for the past few fishing days. Salmon fishing is great, but it isn’t around for long and the fishing is definitely slowing down early this season. The fish counts kicked up a bit in the past couple days, but the salmon fishing season is still on life support. Even though the chances of catching fish get slimmer every day, there’s still a chance. And when the salmon fishing season is over, it’s winter.

I was hopeful that the streak of no fish would come to an end as the first casts were made just before sunrise. A few boats pulled up pretty close and for about a half hour, there was no fishing action of any kind, except for the casting part. It was not the start I was hoping for until I cast away from the mini pack of boats and started to reel back in when I got a solid strike. The fish mostly dove for the bottom, but when it got near the kayak, it started jumping around. It was still hard to see in the early morning light, but I was able to tell was a nice clipped Chinook salmon. It took a couple tries to get it into the net, but finally got it. The dry streak was over, pretty stoked.

I got the fish on the stringer and as I was stowing the landing net, I noticed a couple more boats and a couple of the original flotilla were moving closer. I cast between a couple boats and could not believe I had another hookup! Two fish on with two casts, unbelievable! After another great battle and more landing net acrobatics, another really nice Chinook salmon was in the boat. I could not believe my luck. Pulled the anchor and headed for shore at 7:00 AM.

Chinook salmon caught kayak fishing on the Columbia River

That’s the second two fish limit of the season. Usually, I would hope for a few more fish by this time, but in a sub par season, you take what you can get. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. All you can do is get out there whenever you can to increase your odds.

Looks like a decent stretch of wind coming up, tomorrow might be 50-50, but when the fishing is not that good, being anchored on a windy Columbia River in a pack of boats is less attractive. Have to do an early morning wind check and see how it looks. Still a morning only possibility. The only thing left to do is grill some fresh Chinook salmon.

Grilled Chinook salmon from the Columbia River

Got our fingers crossed for the rest of the salmon fishing season, at least I feel better about it today!

Sep 262016

Sorry, there are no photos or video today because the salmon fishing on the Columbia River is really poor. Out of 20-25 boats, which is about half of what it was this time last week, I saw three fish caught. I had a couple weak bumps, nothing even close to a hookup, in about six hours. The fishing has been slowing down in the past few days, not sure what the deal is. I’ve talked with a few guys who said there is virtually nothing happening on the Columbia River tributaries that would normally be kicking out a lot of fish. On the main river, some spots are better than others, but the fishing seems to have dropped off to almost a dead stop yesterday afternoon. It looks like the salmon are just passing through.

Windy tomorrow and rain the day after. When the weather is too nice, the salmon don’t bite. Maybe a little rain will wake the fish up.