We finally had enough of the endless Columbia Gorge wind so we decided to pack up the truck and do a little kayak fishing in eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon is much different than the western half of the state. The Oregon coast and Cascade Mountains have thick forests and snowcapped mountains, the eastern part of the state has forests and mountains as well, but much of that part of the state is grassland and chaparral, pretty much a desert in the summer. Winter rain and snow turns the east part of the state green again, but for much of the warmer part of the year it is brown, dry and hot.
We headed out during an extended heat wave, a little unusual for this part of the country. It was in the high eighties here in the Columbia River Gorge and it would be close to 100° to the east. It only took about an hour of driving to arrive in the eastern Oregon heat. As we approached Boardman, Oregon at sunrise, the temperature was already in the mid eighties.
We stopped at the Boardman Marina and RV Park to launch into the Columbia River to try for some walleye and smallmouth bass. The Boardman Marina is a great place to launch a kayak; there is a large grassy area next to the boat ramps so you can rig up and launch into the marina without taking up space on the boat ramps. There’s water and bathrooms nearby as well as a nice picnic area and playground if you bring the family along. There is also a campground with all the amenities, including WiFi, if you want to stay a day or two. We’ve heard the fishing around Boardman is pretty good but we fished for a few hours and didn’t have much luck so we decided to get back on the road and head further east.
We wound up pretty far off the beaten path around Irrigon, Oregon, where we found a really cool little camping spot right on the Columbia River. The camping was free, the only “amenities” here was a pit toilet, but it was well stocked with TP and even more importantly, there were even a few trees that provided a bit of shade from the blazing hot sun. After a day on the kayak being baked like a peanut, it was a welcome relief to take a swim in the river and kick back in the shade with a cold beer.
The fishing at this spot was pretty good. We caught a bunch of smallmouth bass, including a few bigger ones that put up a great fight. The salmon fishing was starting to warm up, we saw a guy fishing on the bank catch a nice salmon using salmon eggs, we wished we had brought a little bit of salmon gear to try our luck. We also saw a boat fisherman who was fishing cut herring for salmon hook up a giant sturgeon, had to be at least seventy pounds, it jumped out of the water right in front of my kayak and broke off the guy’s twenty pound test line. Salmon, sturgeon and smallmouth bass all ready to bite, this is a great fishing spot, ideal for kayak fishing.
We had a few beers and a quick dinner then it was early to bed after a long, hot day of kayak fishing. The next morning was clear skies and light wind with another blazing hot day in store. We launched before sunrise to try and beat the heat.
We caught a few more smallmouth bass before a bit of wind came up. The wind wasn’t that bad but it kept blowing us into patches of seaweed that grow all over the Columbia River during the warm summer months and it was starting to get really hot, so we decided to pack it in and have a look at another fishing spot well off the grid that a local Oregon State trooper told us about, so we hit the road to have a look.
Sure enough, after a bumpy ride down a washboard dirt road that was giving us Baja flashbacks, we wound up at the spot. It was ideal for kayak fishing; easy access to the Columbia with a natural island that had a protected bay so you could paddle and do a little fishing and swimming even if it was windy. Free riverfront camping, which we really like, a couple unimproved boat ramps and standard issue State of Oregon pit toilets.
We didn’t get a chance to do any fishing because the wind had come up and we were pretty much toasted from two long, hot days on the river, so we filed this spot away for the next adventure. We know there is good fishing around here so we will be returning soon to give the salmon fishing a try when the weather cools off a little.
We are working on the latest smallmouth bass fishing video which will have footage from this eastern Oregon trip so stay tuned.