Dec 172019
 

After a bit of a slow spell due to recovering from a serious accident, we are back producing kayak fishing videos again. The latest video, about losing and catching big largemouth bass on the Colorado River.

Screen grabs from the latest watermanatwork.com kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

Earlier this year, within a span of forty eight hours, I lost, then caught two of the biggest fish of the year. The video is that story.

Screen grabs from the latest watermanatwork.com kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

The video is just under three minutes long, but is all non-stop big largemouth bass kayak fishing action.

Screen grab from the latest watermanatwork.com kayak fishing video; Huge Bass Redemption

Click HERE or on any of the photos to check out the Huge Bass Redemption video on YouTube.

More videos coming soon!

Dec 102019
 

There’s been some wild weather here in the desert southwest. A significant amount of rain and winds in excess of 30 mph have been passing through the area. The storms are highly localized. There can be heavy rain and high winds in a relatively small storm area, while a few miles away, there is hardly a cloud in the sky. The cloudy weather, without the 20-30 mph wind, evens out the daily temperatures. It’s a bit cooler during the day and slightly warmer at night.

A cloudy desert morning on the lower Colorado River

The overcast mornings do not help our efforts to get good bass fishing videos, but to be honest, the fish were not exactly jumping in the boat. With runoff from the recent local rain and water being let out of the upstream reservoir, the water temperature may be too cold for good largemouth bass fishing. When the water is colder, you probably won’t catch as many fish, but usually the fish are bigger. After a long cloudy morning of nearly no fishing action, I caught this nice bass after the sun came out and I was in “just one more cast” territory before heading in.

Nice Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The days between storms, there were few calm winds, but as long as the wind wasn’t too bad, we had to try and go fishing or we’d never get out there. We started out before sunrise, when the wind is most calm(and also the coldest) so we could paddle upstream before the daily downstream wind kicked in and drift fish our way back. Most mornings, there was at least, a light to moderate wind. The beautiful desert sunrises were replaced by ominous looking clouds and light rain.

Sunrise on a cloudy day on the lower Colorado River

This day started out cloudy, but the clouds moved out shortly after sunrise and it was a nice, but windy and cool, day on the Colorado River. The fishing has been challenging, but if you don’t have a line in the water you don’t catch anything, so you have to get out there. By about 11:00AM, I had caught three decent largemouth bass. The way the fishing has been, that would constitute a good day of fishing. The bass were all about the same size, this one might have been a few ounces bigger.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

After catching and releasing the last largemouth bass, I noticed birds diving on the water. I paddled over, tossed out a shad crankbait on a light bait casting rig and trolled under the diving birds. It wasn’t long before I had a hit and after a nice fight, had a striped bass in the kayak. I released the striper, turned around and trolled back under the birds. Once again, a strike and another Colorado River striped bass. Three nice largemouth bass and two striped bass for the day is a great day of Colorado River fishing, especially with the slow bite.

Colorado River striped bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Following another series of storms, encouraged by the previous fishing trip’s success, we headed back to the river, stopping to clear the road of blown down trees. It was like being back in the PacNW, except that here there are a lot fewer trees.

Blown down trees from desert storm wind

As we paddled up the river, the clouds started rolling in, the wind started picking up and worst of all, in three or four hours of fishing, I hadn’t had as much as a nibble. The wind quickly increased and blew us off the water by noon. A change of scenery was needed so we packed up and headed to another stretch of the Colorado River that faced a different direction and might be sheltered from the wind. For sure the fishing couldn’t be any worse.

By the time we reached the launch beach that afternoon, it had gotten very cloudy and dark, very atypical of this area. The wind had died down so we quickly paddled out to see if the fish were biting.

A cool, cloudy afternoon kayak fishing on the Colorado River

The conditions were much better, save for one. This part of the river has a fairly swift and steady current. Probably due again to the recent rain, the river level was high and the current as fast as it gets. If you stop paddling, you’ll be steady for a few seconds, then you are headed downstream.
A peddle kayak would be good here, but must be very careful of very shallow sandbars. Making pinpoint casts, trying to make the drifting lure and drifting kayak go where they are supposed to go. It gets real interesting when you hook up with a nice fish.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

We weren’t hauling them in, but we’d only been fishing a couple hours and caught a few fish, including a couple nice fish. That’s more than we caught in five hours of fishing this morning. We were hopeful the following day would have continued success.

We were up and ready to go at the crack of dawn. Not many places you can camp feet from the river, the kayak a few steps away, a great kayak fishing spot.

A cool and cloudy morning kayak fishing on the Colorado River

We caught a couple small bass, but we were hoping to do a little better, so we decided to fish downstream to a backwater spot where the fishing might be better. Heading downstream when the river current is as strong as it is means you have to paddle back upstream against the current. It’s a steady grind and you can’t stop so you have to be 100% sure you can make it back upstream. We hoped the fishing is worth it because it is going to be a workout getting back.

When we pulled off the main channel into the backwater, you couldn’t help but notice the entire open water area choked with weeds from the bottom to the surface. It’s hard to see how fish can live with all this vegetation in relatively shallow water.

Vegetation choking the backwaters of the lower Colorado River

Still, I managed to catch a couple small bass between cleaning seaweed off the lure. The wind started to pick up and mindful of the upstream paddle back, we headed to the main channel. One last cast into about a foot of water covered with seaweed,a big hit and a nice battle wrestling a nice largemouth bass out of the seaweed and into the kayak.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The nice bass on another “just one more cast” hail mary made the paddle upstream back to the launch a little easier, but not much. The wind had picked up, unfortunately, it was a headwind, but we cut across an irrigation ditch that was only a couple feet deep and six feet wide that had less current and nearly no wind. By the time we reached the launch, the wind had died and I had enough energy left to paddle a short way upstream and drifting quickly back to the launch, I managed to hook one last bass.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

The weather remains unsettled with the storms moving in and out making for some spectacular sunsets.

Clearing desert storm at sunset

The weather will probably be clearing up in the next few days and we will have to see about the wind. We may do a bit of exploring and see about some other fishing spots nearby. In the meantime, we are putting the finishing touches on a couple videos that will be released soon so check back soon.

Nov 292019
 

Most people think the desert is a place that’s always hot and the sun shines all the time. That’s true much of the time, but when the desert weather deviates from the hot and sunny norm, it can be quite spectacular and somewhat dangerous. After a couple days of great kayak fishing, we’ve run into some of this non-hot and sunny weather. There have been a series of storm cells moving across the desert. Near the storm cells is heavy rain and strong wind, otherwise, there may be a stray shower or two. This thunderstorm was rolling across the desert about twenty miles from here. Moving from NE to SW, right to left in the photo, the rain at the edge of the storm cell was gobbling up the rainbow in front of the storm as it moved across the flat desert.

Early winter thunderstorm moves across the Colorado River basin in the Arizona desert

Even though the storms may be in the distance, enough rain can fall to cause flash flooding that rages through normally dry desert arroyos twenty or fifty miles away where no rain is falling. These flash floods move quickly through the arroyos and can be dangerous should you or your vehicle be in one. If you can see the storms, nearby arroyos can flood.

Desert thunderstorms and dry arroyos prone to flash flooding

After a few days of storms and flooding, we weren’t sure what to expect on a somewhat calm day following the storms. By the moonlight shining through the early morning scattered clouds, we could see the water level in the river was very high and the water level at the launch ramp was the highest I’d ever seen it. We paddled out into a river that looked completely different because of the high water level. As the sun came up, we started to see the effects of days of desert storms.

Colorado River sunrise after days of desert thunderstorms and flash flooding

The river was as high as I’d ever seen it. Local fishermen also commented that this was as high as they’d seen as well. The thick and tall reeds and bushes that line the river banks that are normally five or six feet overhead, were now at eye level on the kayak. Drain pipes, usually five or six feet overhead, were underwater. The usually placid section of river had a fair current running. The water was brown, foamy and filled with floating debris washed into the river by desert flash flooding.

The fishing wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. Given the water conditions, I felt fortunate to catch a few bass.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on a near flood stage Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

The bass weren’t all that big, but it was worth getting out on the river to see how much different things are at extreme high river water levels.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Landing the kayaks was a breeze considering the launch ramp was almost under water and the parking lot a part of the Colorado River. It will be a different story in the days ahead with the receding water leaving a swath of gooey mud on both sides of the river.

Kayak launch on a high water Colorado River

The weather is unsettled and there is more rain in the forecast. We are hoping the weather will straighten up and the river will calm down and clear up. We’ll see what happens so check back soon.

Nov 192019
 

Kayaks can take you to a lot of places where boats would have a great deal of difficulty due to the shallow water, underwater obstacles inches below the surface and sandbars that can stretch across the entire river. Not to mention that the road to get the launch on the river would probably destroy your boat trailer. Driving along the rivers looking for places to launch the kayak reminds me of the days in Baja, headed south and turning west at any dirt road we thought might lead to that perfect surf spot. A bit different here and now, but the desert is still hot and dusty.

Razer ATVs in the southwest Arizona desert

In this part of the desert, water is life, so there are a lot of large canals that transport Colorado River water to the smaller irrigation canals of the agricultural fields that supply a good deal of winter vegetables to the rest of the United States. In the middle of it all is the Colorado River, which gets smaller and smaller as it nears the Mexican border. Each stretch of the Colorado is bit different with a lot of potential for bass fishing.

Lower Colorado River at sunrise

We were up before sunrise looking for hot bass fishing action, but the Colorado River largemouth bass did not read the script. The reeds that grow next to the river are very tall so it looks like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but the river here is surrounded by large farming operations. As the sun came up over the tall bushes, the largemouth bass got a little more lively.

Kayak fishing on the lower Colorado River

The river looks pretty calm in the photo, but, depending on the depth, there is a steady current. Stop paddling and you go downstream. The water is generally shallow with very shallow sandbars. The river water is super clear. You usually have to cast from out in the river up against the bank with a swift current; keeps you busy.

The lower Colorado River is shallow with numerous sandbars

Off of the main river channel there are backwaters and overgrown irrigation canals. These canals can be less than a foot deep with deeper pools along the banks where the reeds shade the water. There are a bunch of fish in here, but the clear, shallow water and narrow passage make it easy to spook them before you can cast.

Overgrown irrigation canal off of the Colorado River

Probably due to the fast moving current, where potential food goes past pretty quickly, the largemouth bass here are very aggressive, which is just what you want as a fisherman. Even the smaller fish hit hard and put up a great fight.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

We ran into Randy, a local fisherman using a Hobie Pro Angler which looked to be just about perfect to handle the steady current. Holding steady against the current with your hands free is a big plus here.

Local kayak fisherman Randy on his Hobie Pro Angler on the Colorado River

Minutes after I took this photo of Randy, he peddled a short distance, hooked up and landed a 7 1/2 lb. largemouth bass. It was only fifteen yards from where I was standing on shore so I got to see the whole battle. A great way to end a great day of fishing.

Wish I could say I caught a seven pounder, but I didn’t come close. The biggest fish I caught were about a pound, pound and a half. Not complaining though because I caught a lot of fish, had a lot of strikes and an unbelievable amount of bass able to spit out the 4″ grub.

Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

This was a great place to fish, a unique part of the desert southwest river system. It is also one of the rare places you can paddle up to your campsite. Just like where we live on the Columbia River, you can camp for free, all you have to do is pack out your litter. This seems to be too much to ask. This great fishing/kayaking/swimming/camping spot looks like the city dump. Not just here, where we live as well. It is sad to see America’s great rivers like the Columbia and Colorado littered with trash.

Kayak fishing launch on the Colorado River

After a day of fishing and paddling against the current, I was pretty well worn out. Thankfully, there were no mosquitoes, so getting the fishing gear ready to go for the following morning was a breeze and I didn’t have far to go to the master bedroom. Beyond my Hobie Quest kayak is Randy’s Chevy Trail Boss pickup truck with a bed extender for his Pro Angler.

It was a great weekend of fishing at a spot I’d never been too, caught a lot of fish, met some nice people. I talked with a local fisherman who was thinking of trying kayak fishing. This area has great kayak fishing, hard to go wrong. Fished with Randy, who caught the fish of the weekend for sure. He’s a cool guy and can lift a Hobie Pro angler in the back of his pickup, no problemo. After a full weekend of desert kayak fishing, he drove across the desert to catch a cross-country air flight. That’s a hardcore kayak fisherman, so he gets one more photo.

Kayak fisherman Randy looking for one more Colorado River largemouth bass at sunset

There are a few unsettled weather days ahead, but we are always encouraged by the results of our exploration, and we are going to be looking for more kayak fishing action. Check back soon.

Nov 142019
 

The kayak fishing on the Colorado River remains challenging for the past few days. To get skunked in such a good fishing spot is unusual, but it does happen. Usually you can catch a small bass, bluegill, crappie or something to keep you from skunkville, but sometimes, especially if the river water is cold, you can be rewarded for your hard fishing efforts with nothing. Fishing for largemouth bass should be considered big game fishing, sometimes it all or nothing. Tuna, salmon; big game fish, the same deal. When a good fisherman gets skunked, he knows there’s only one way to go from there.

That’s pretty much what’s happening. The fishing is getting a little better and we are starting to see a few bigger fish. The conditions for kayak fishing have been very good with one exception; the mosquitoes. This part of the Colorado River runs through the desert, it’s the only water around. Water is life in the desert and is the only lifeline for mosquitoes. There is a lot of swamp, marsh, wetlands, whatever you call it adjacent to the river; perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Conditions are perfect, beautiful day, you can’t see the thousands of mosquitoes.

Sunrise over Mittry Lake AZ

We paddled and fished everywhere on the lower Colorado River we have had success before and tried to cover every nook and cranny of the river. When the fishing is not that good, you kind of accept that and spend a bit more time looking around. I haven’t had much luck fishing in this Colorado River backwater, but I did see a wildcat here, so it’s always worth having a look.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the backwaters of the Colorado River

Since we are visitors here with a limited amount of time, fishing is what we came here for and that’s what we are going to do. Even if the conditions are marginal or the fishing is not that great. The more time you spend fishing, the more fish you are going to catch. At least that’s what we’re working with. Fish gotta eat. Sooner or later, you’ll get one.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River with watermanatwork.com

After a long, hot day of desert kayak fishing, it’s always a treat to pack up the boat and all the gear. We are extremely fortunate to have places like this where you can experience the best of this country and not have to pay(much). Launch before sunrise, paddle the calm water through cattail islands among thousands of birds with the stars shining brightly in the dark desert sky. This is some of the very last wild country here in the United States. We recommend you get out there and experience it while it is still here.

Launching fishing kayaks on the lower Colorado River

We spent a little bit more gas money and motored away from the river a bit to get away from the mosquitoes. Around the water, it’s like an Alfred Hitchcock movie just after sunset with swarms of hungry mosquitoes. Away from the river, there are flies during the day, but no mosquitoes. The weather in the desert at night is usually extremely comfortable. To be able to enjoy it without being eaten alive is great. Have a couple cold beers after a long, hot day of fishing and rest up for another fishing day tomorrow.

Kayak fish camp in the Arizona desert with watermanatwork.com

The thing about largemouth bass fishing, and other big game fishing, is that you don’t catch anything until you do. The day before, I got skunked. Other local fishermen confirmed the fishing was bad, but still… This day, my luck did a 180 and I caught six or eight bass. Most of them pretty small, but I caught a nice one before the sun came up, a big boost after a day of nada, and after making a perfect cast with the crankbait on the casting rig on the way back to the launch, I got this nice bass, which could be the best of the season for me so far.

Nice Colorado River largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

That’s about it from the desert southwest. We are on the water every chance we get and we still have video footage from last season we are still working on. There’s always a lot going on here, please check back and see what’s next. We sure don’t know.

Nov 082019
 

The kayak fishing for largemouth bass was really on fire until a few days ago when the fish stopped biting like someone threw a switch. That’s how it goes. Largemouth bass fishing is big game fishing; you probably won’t catch twenty of them in one day, so a half dozen fish, or even a couple big ones can constitute a successful fishing day. We did really well for a few days, then not so good for a couple, so I reckon it averages out.

The kayak fishing conditions have been perfect. Calm wind, not too cold in the early morning and not to hot in the afternoon. A near perfect setup for kayak fishing in the desert.

Sunrise on Mittry Lake kayak fishing with watermanatwork.com

We’ve been on somewhat of a roll lately, catching a number of nice bass on a lake that can produce great fishing, or just as likely make you spend a day fishing without a nibble. On this morning, we got out fishing for a couple hours before the wind came up to 20 mph shortly after we caught this nice largemouth bass.

Mittry Lake largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

When the wind subsided, we were in for nearly a week of perfect kayak fishing conditions, primarily, light winds. Unfortunately, the fishing had turned ice cold and we had a tough time getting any kind of fishing action at all. What would cause the fishing to turn around so quickly? That’s the question every fisherman would like to hear the answer to. Being a river controlled by dams, the lower Colorado River and it’s wetlands get water from the bottom of the nearby upstream reservoir. Dam water comes out through gates, not normally over the top; the water at the bottom of the reservoir is cold, even in the middle of the desert. This sudden introduction of cold water has a chilling effect on cold blooded fish and often slows or stops the fish from feeding. In addition to the water temperature, there appears to be a widespread algae bloom that has filled the water with free floating algae. If the fish have to suck this algae through their gills, that may irritate them and cause the fish to be inactive.

River wide algae bloom on the Colorado River

Whatever the problem is, we are giving it a day or two to sort itself out and we will be back on the Colorado River looking for those big largemouth bass. Stay tuned.

Oct 292019
 

After a disappointing end to a meager fishing season in the Pacific Northwest, we were hoping a change of scenery would change our luck. We needed a big change of luck, so we went for a big change of scenery; from the rainy and cold Columbia River Gorge to the hot and dry Arizona desert.

We started off at a spot off the beaten path where we have had some success before. Nothing huge, but there are some big bass in this relatively small part of the river. This spot does not get a large amount of fishermen because it is on a long, dusty and rough dirt road sprinkled with rocks. It seems like washboard from beginning to end.

Rough desert road to the fishing spot

Kayaks are a great way to fish here, some guys use float tubes. Along with the washboard road, the boat launch itself is pretty rough as well. Not friendly to boat trailers at all.

A rough boat launch to river backwaters in southern Arizona

Even in October, it is still pretty hot in the Arizona desert, with daytime temperatures near 90°F. As long as the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, the early mornings and evenings are the best time to fish. By noon or so, it’s usually pretty hot. The fishing seems to slow down during the heat of the day. You can still catch fish, it just seems a bit slower than mornings or evenings.

Kayak fishing in the hot Arizona sun

This area is not very large and fairly shallow. Like almost every other waterway we’ve been to lately, there is a lot of aquatic vegetation, especially in shallow water less than 10-15 feet deep. If a lure or hook touches anything, it’s got seaweed on it so that eliminates the lead head plastics we use a lot of the time. We switched over to shallow diving crankbaits and floating surface lures and started to catch fish.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

Most of the bass were smaller, a couple nice ones and this one which I think is the biggest bass I’ve ever caught here so I’m encouraged to go back soon and try for something bigger.

Nice fall largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The first kayak fishing trip here in the southwest was a success. We were anxious to get back out there, but once again, the wind came up and kept us off the water for a few days. Although the forecast was for continued wind, we had a hunch there might be a break, so we rolled the dice and headed out into the desert.

Sunrise over kayak fishing camp in south Arizona

At sunrise, the wind was mostly calm, but by 10AM, it was already blowing 10mph or better, so it was a pretty short fishing day with only one small bass caught. We made camp hoping the wind would either die down in the evening or the next day.

watermanatwork.com kayak fishing camp in the desert southwest

The wind died during the cloudless desert night and it was calm and warm the following morning. We rigged up and headed out into the dark pre-dawn waters. We started fishing with the grubs we’ve had so much success here before but got nothing but snagged on seaweed. The only lures we could use without getting snagged in seaweed were shallow diving crankbaits that float and dive a couple feet when you crank them. I had not had much success with crankbaits here, but I tied on on and had the first bass of the day in the kayak before sunrise.

Pre-dawn largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Just a short time later, using the same crankbait, I had another largemouth bass in the boat, this one was a little bigger.

Largemouth bass caught at sunrise by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

Some fish were hitting the crankbait as it floated on the surface and I would give it a couple twitches before reeling. Some bass hit it as I was reeling in the lure. This 3/8 oz. crankbait caught all the bass on this day. I’d never had much luck with it before, but it’s in regular rotation now. I thought this lure might be too big, but everything from six ouncers to six pounders will hit it. I even caught a couple bluegill who attacked this crankbait!

3/8 ounce crankbait that was catching all the fish

With this size lure, I can use my bait casting rig. I use spinning setups most of the time because we are throwing 1/8 ounce lures. I prefer to use a casting setup whenever possible, even if it is harder to cast from the sitting position of a kayak. This shallow diving lure, with the short front blade, would dive to 2-3′, which was above the lake bottom which was covered with thick seaweed.

Thick aquatic vegetation covering the lake bottom

Casting the crankbait close to the reeds, pause for a few seconds, then jiggle the floating crankbait a few times, then reel it in at a speed that keeps the crankbait above the seaweed. Ideal conditions for casting this kind of crankbait or floating lure. An exciting way of fishing for largemouth bass.

Ideal conditions for kayak fishing for largemouth bass using crankbaits or floating lures

The magic crankbait was on fire because I caught a few largemouth bass in pretty exciting fashion.

Kayak fishing for largemouth bass with watermanatwork.com

Highlight of the day was this nice largemouth bass. It’s one of the bigger ones that I’ve caught here. This fish has a giant head. In a few months, it’s body may catch up and turn into a really big largemouth bass.

Mittry Lake largemouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The wind came up in the afternoon, but we were so tired from paddling, casting and hauling in the bass, it was hard getting the gear the short distance to the camp. The wind has come up again, take care of business and be ready to go again. Two great kayak fishing trips, we are anxious to get out there as soon as possible. Keep checking back.

Oct 222019
 

Welcome to the 2019 PacNW kayak fishing wrap up commentary here at watermanatwork.com. It has been a rather disappointing fishing season all the way around with a fitting rainy and disappointing salmon fishing season to end the year. The poor fishing and some serious personal issues have made for slow blogging recently; the kayak fishing action will continue as we move the watermanatwork.com fishing unit to the southwest for some largemouth bass fishing.

The 2019 smallmouth bass fishing on the Columbia River was not so much that the fish weren’t biting, there was so much wind most of the time, it was hard to find a window to get out fishing. The days we did get to hit some of our favorite smallmouth bass spots, we caught a lot of fish, but they were mostly “one pounders” or less. It’s been a couple seasons since I’ve caught a “trophy” smallmouth bass, which is a fish 20″ or larger. Due to the windy conditions, we spend less time on the water and less of a chance for a big fish.

After the past few years, there was a good deal of apprehension as to what the fall salmon fishing season would be like. As it turns out, there was a good deal to worry about. While marginally more fish returned to the Columbia River this year than last year, the numbers of returning fish were far below the historical average. Through our own fishing and talking to other salmon fishermen in the area, there appeared to be a large number of “tule” Chinook salmon, a species of salmon in the lower Columbia that is sexually mature, or “dark”, because the fish is dark, the meat is white instead of pink and the fish is just about dead. Also a large number of “jacks”, or small salmon. The daily limit of one fish means, if you get lucky, your fishing day is over. Releasing a fish caught early means you are taking a chance; most salmon fishing days this year I never even got a bite. The salmon fishing season was closed in mid October, just like everyone thought would happen, and that was the end of the 2019 salmon fishing season. I caught four salmon; one native Coho, which was released, and three hatchery Chinook keepers.

One of the few Chinook salmon caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish during the short 2019 salmon fishing season

I got a $150 ticket from WDFG for not having my salmon card on my person. I usually keep it in the glove box of my truck because the kayak is too wet to be filling out paperwork. I always have it and I always fill it out and send it in. They told me I had to have the salmon card on my person to “show I was not a poacher”, which is total bullshit. That’s all I will say about it here in the Kayak Fishing section, you can read about it here in the Journal section. The salmon fishing was very slow. Lots of boats filled with fishermen desperate for one salmon. I saw guide boats with six people get out on shore and everyone take a photo with the single salmon they caught. There were days that I did not get a bite in six hours and did not see anyone else catch anything either. On top of that, a series of winter storms arrived making the fishing conditions wet, windy and miserable.

Winter storms make for difficult kayak fishing conditions

After a few days of rain, wind and no fish, we pulled the plug on the 2019 salmon fishing season. It just wasn’t worth it. It’s got to be pretty bad for us to stop salmon fishing, and it was. We left the rain and packs of salmon fishing boats behind for the empty river and sun in eastern Washington, hoping to find some smallmouth bass fishing action.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass in sunny eastern Washington

It was getting cooler as winter approaches, but the mornings on the Columbia River were still pretty nice. A big change from being in the middle of fifty boats at sunrise battling for salmon.

A calm October morning kayak fishing on the Columbia River with watermanatwork.com

As is the case this time of year, the Columbia River bottom is covered with vegetation, seaweed and slimy green algae that covers nearly everything. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but the smallmouth bass fishing was really slow. The fish were bigger than earlier in the season, but very few fish. When you can’t catch smallmouth bass on the Columbia River, the fishing is bad. We caught a few fish, but the writing was on the wall; we had caught our last fish on the Columbia River for 2019.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with watermanatwork.com

With the 2019 Columbia River fishing season behind us, by the time you read this, we will be kayak fishing for largemouth bass on the Colorado River. We are ready for the bass fishing action! We also have a backlog of work that will be coming out shortly, so stay tuned. More kayak fishing action coming up.

Sep 242019
 

We had another go at salmon fishing at the local river mouth, but once again, the fishing was terrible. I did not get a single bite and only saw the bank fishermen catch a few fish, I did not see any fishermen in boats catch anything, and there were quite a few boats. Also, with a daily catch limit of one, once everyone in a boat has a fish, you have to go in and not that many boats were going in. The river water level is very low, not sure during the peak of the salmon run they would do that, but it seems to have affected the fishing. Many of the river mouth sandbars the salmon would swim over to head upstream are dry land.

With a significant storm coming in off the Pacific Ocean from the southwest, we headed east, away from the wind and rain of the approaching storm. The next morning, it was mild with a calm wind and scattered clouds. This was a big difference from the pack of salmon boats. Salmon fishing can be exciting, but it is not exactly relaxing.

Sunrise on the Columbia River 9-15-19

The calm morning conditions allowed us to paddle across one of the wider parts of the Columbia River and have a look at some new fishing spots.

Calm wind morning kayak fishing conditions on the Columbia River 9-15-19

Like the salmon fishing, the smallmouth bass fishing seemed on the slow side as well. The Columbia River at this time of year is choked with weeds and the increasing common green algae that seems to thrive in every freshwater location in the western United States. That may have something to do with the fish behavior. We did manage to catch a few smallmouth bass.

Kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River with watermanatwork.com

We would have fished longer, but we knew there was foul weather approaching so we were keeping a watchful eye to the west. We were across a wide part of the river from the launch, when we felt the first hint of cool west wind, we started paddling back across the river. By the time we landed and loaded up the truck, the rain was beginning to fall and the wind was picking up.

A major Pacific Ocean storm moves up the Columbia River Gorge

We headed back west and the following morning, we were out fishing for salmon. There was a break in the storm cells so it was calm with light rain. Once again, I did not get a single bite and only saw a few fish caught, mostly by bank fishermen. Even though I have a bright white light on my kayak and was only a ten yards offshore, a few yahoos in a boat came blasting into the fleet of anchored boats and almost hit me. After a few hours of what has become the norm for salmon fishing here, with the rain steadily increasing, I called it a day. We hung out down by the river, hoping the conditions would improve, but by sunset, it was raining steadily and would continue through the next morning.

A Pacific Ocean storm system dampens the tough salmon fishing conditions in the Pacific Northwest

The next morning at 5AM, it was still raining. Most of our gear was somewhat dried out overnight, but everything was pretty damp. Thankfully it was not too cold. We carefully hauled our gear and kayaks down the muddy slope dotted with wet rocks. Despite the miserable weather and poor fishing, there were plenty of fishermen on the river. For the third attempt in a row, I did not get a single bite. I’m not claiming to be the world’s greatest salmon fisherman and there have been plenty of bad fishing days, but I think this is the worst salmon fishing, perhaps, ever in recent history. After a few hours of soaking with no action, we headed in. I stowed my gear and sat in the back of my truck looking out at the rain and pack of fishing boats and wondered if I may have caught my last salmon here.

watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish on a rainy PacNW salmon fishing trip

With nice PacNW fishing days coming to an end, we want to get as many days of fishing in as we can, no matter what we are fishing for. Even though we were discouraged and wet from days of fruitless salmon fishing, we’ll keep trying until the fishing rod guides ice up, just like in the olden days of yore. We headed east again, and though the wind following the storm front was blowing too hard to go fishing, we were able to dry all of our stuff.

Drying out the kayak fishing gear after a couple days of rainy salmon fishing on the Columbia River.

To add to the list of diminishing returns of the PacNW fisherman, and every other person who enjoys the outdoors here, is the increasing number of vehicle break-ins at boat launches and trail heads. The evidence of this kind of activity is nearly everywhere, especially at the more remote locations where you are on your own. When you see broken auto glass like this in an empty parking lot, you might think about continuing on your way.

Broken window glass, sign of a vehicle break in at a remote boat launch on the Columbia River

Literally down to the last few weeks of decent fishing, we are on it every chance we get. It’s been a somewhat disappointing fishing season this year, we’re hoping it will end with a bang.

Sep 142019
 

Kayak fishing on the Columbia River during the 2019 fall salmon run is proving to be a tough one. The peak of the salmon run has passed this area of the Columbia River and the fishing is tough. The daily salmon limit is one. If you get lucky and get a fish early in the morning, when most of the action seems to be happening, your salmon fishing day is over by eight or nine o’ clock. Or, fish all day and get nothing, which is what I got my last time out.

There are more fishing boats than ever and way less fish. That is a poor combo if you’re looking for good fishing.

Salmon fishing boats as far as the eye can see with hardly any fish caught.

You know it’s bad when six people get off a big guide service boat and take turns taking pictures with the one fish they caught.

It’s a weekend and all the salmon fishing spots are packed to the max. The name brand spots are out of boat parking spaces by 9AM. With a one fish limit, there is a lot of boat launch maneuvering with all the boats coming and going. We are going to spend some predicted showery weather and try to have some fun bass fishing, then give the salmon another shot in a day or two.