The salmon fishing on the Columbia River here in the Gorge has been pretty tough lately, but it’s hard to give up on salmon fishing because it is really world class fishing and salmon tastes pretty good too. Salmon that was caught by noon, on the grill at five and eaten by six is what “fresh” is all about. Anything else is just marketing; the “fresh” salmon you get in the store, not exactly fresh. Anyway, we went out yesterday with the mindset that if we didn’t get some action, the kayak fishing gear would be reluctantly packed away for the winter. We could still head up the Columbia River tributaries and try to find some fish, but it’s a long trip. We’ll probably do a couple trips anyway.
So the day starts out pretty slow, then I get a hit on the trusty Mepps spinner and manage to land a pretty decent Chinook salmon. I didn’t see any other boats land a fish so that was pretty good fortune. When I landed the kayak, there was a guy fishing on the bank who caught three steelhead while I was humping my gear up the cliff. I talked to him for awhile and told him he probably caught more fish than all the boats on the river put together! They were all wild steelhead so he released them. Caught a fish and saw three more caught, the season is saved!
The Chinook I caught was getting dark, but this one cleaned up and grilled nicely. Next week, maybe not.
Today we headed out a couple hours before sunrise, night fishing opens today, and arrived to see the water level in the river had dropped four or five feet in less than twelve hours. That is a huge change in the water conditions. The spot I caught the salmon yesterday is dry land! Places that usually have a gentle current is now fast moving water that you must work to get upstream in a kayak. Stumps and rocks that are normally submerged under a few feet of water are totally exposed. Much more dangerous for a kayak, especially at night. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way and you have to have the common sense to not push it, so we paddled in, stowed the kayaks and tried a little fishing from the shore where the guy caught the steelhead yesterday. The only difference is that the rock he was standing on yesterday was over my head.
The current was really ripping and it was tough to fish with a bobber and prawns. As it got light, you could see how much everything had changed from the day before. Usually, a significant water level change causes fish to stop biting for a couple days and with such a drastic change, the fishing was not going to be good. It wasn’t. I did get one fish hooked up. I could see it was a nice silvery fish, either a steelhead or Coho salmon. I reached for my landing net and right then, the fish made a drag burning run all the way across the river and I lost it. Catching a big, fast, jumping fish like a steelhead with a barbless hook takes some skill(and a little luck) and luck wasn’t on my side this time.
Not sure what else can happen, earthquake is always possible, but there is a bit of rain in the forecast, maybe we can get some of our water back. We aren’t ready to give up on the season yet. Might have to use all the tricks in the book this season, we’ve got another week to keep it going.