Dec 092014

2014 has been a fantastic year for salmon fishing, especially coho salmon fishing, here in the Columbia River Gorge but I think that the show is just about over. The good news is the coho salmon are still biting and if you know where to go, you can catch plenty of them, the bad news is that most of the fish are pretty dark and not good to eat, so you are pretty much fishing for fun. You might get lucky and catch a more silvery fresh fish, but they are few and far between. Can’t really complain, we are still catching salmon in December instead of sitting at home on the couch. If you love to fish, you’ll get out there whenever you can.

We headed out to one of the local favorite late season fishing holes to try our luck on a cool, gray December day. It’s been raining, so everything is wet and there’s plenty of mud but it’s cold enough in the mountains to freeze the lower elevation rain into ice and snow. The river level has dropped quite a bit from the raging waters we’ve had for most of November that killed a lot of the late season salmon and steelhead fishing on the upper river. We tried casting spinners and a couple plugs, but the fish had no interest in them. We started using coon shrimp and started catching fish immediately. Most of the fish were pretty dark, about five to ten pounds.

Late run coho salmon

We could have kept a few of the fish that weren’t so dark, but the freezer is full of salmon so there is no reason to keep fish that are probably going to be dead in a week.

This time of year, if you know where to go, you can catch just as many fish from the bank as you can from a boat. This is a good thing because the kayak is already in the garage for the winter. These places are not easy to get to and you have to be careful. The banks and rocks are wet and slippery. One misstep and you are going for a swim in a very cold river. Then, you get to hike a mile or so back to your vehicle.

Bank fishing for late season salmon

We had a good day of fishing. Caught eight coho salmon, threw them all back. We lost a few more and had a few strikes without a hookup, a pretty fun day of fishing in December. With the salmon run coming to an end and nasty weather in the forecast, this could be the last salmon caught in 2014.

Last salmon of the season?

If the weather permits, we might try and get out tomorrow for one last day of fishing, but the weather is 50-50 at best. We’ll have to see how it goes.

We are working on the 2014 Kayak Fishing for Salmon video and will try to have it up on the website as soon as possible. We’ve got a lot of work lined up for the winter hibernation, there’s going to be a lot of new stuff on the website, so keep checking in.

Nov 242014

After about a week of snow, ice, rain and freezing fog, the weather finally cleared up enough to give us another shot at the salmon here in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s still late fall and the temperature in in the mid forties, but that looks pretty good after a week or so where it never got above freezing so we headed on down to the local salmon stream. We’ve packed up the kayaks for the season but you can still catch salmon from the bank just about as easily as you can from a boat; if you know where to go.

It was a cold start to the day but I didn’t notice too much because after a few casts I had a nice fish on. Turned out to be a late season coho salmon. Usually, we catch a lot of chinooks here, but this year it’s been mostly coho salmon.

Mature male coho salmon

I caught this guy before the sun came up and I put it on the stringer, but when it got light I saw how dark he was so I released him back into the river. Hopefully he’ll make it upstream to spawn.

After a few more casts I had another solid hookup. After a nice fight, I got the fish to the shore and saw it was a nice, silvery coho salmon, a definite keeper.

Late season coho salmon

The bite slowed down so we called it a day. After a week away from the river, we figured out where the salmon are now and we will be headed there tomorrow. Not too many decent days left before we see more winter weather.

Nov 122014

There are still fair numbers of coho salmon coming over the Bonneville Dam, especially this late in the season, but the salmon fishing is definitely slowing down here in the Columbia River Gorge. We haven’t caught a chinook salmon for a few weeks now, there are plenty of spawned out dead ones on the bottom of the local rivers, so the king salmon fishing season is pretty much over. The coho salmon fishing has been very good, most of the fish are still silvery and fresh, but the number of coho coming over the dam is dropping sharply every day. I spoke with a local guy who caught a few steelhead so maybe we are going to have a decent winter steelhead run although there are not that many fish coming over the dam.

We got out on the Klickitat River a few days ago. Usually, by this time of the year the fishing has slowed down and the locals can get a few days of relatively peaceful salmon fishing in, but on this day, the river was packed with boats. The Klickitat is not that big of a river, fifty or more boats on a mile long stretch of river that’s only ten or twenty yards wide is ridiculous; you could barely get around. The Columbia Gorge is about an hour’s drive from the Portland/Vancouver metro area, turns out there was an article in one of the papers telling everyone the Klickitat River was going off and to get out there; that’s what happened. Packed to the gills.

Thankfully, we got there early and managed to catch a few fish before the bulk of the mob got there.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Klickitat River

I caught a couple nice coho salmon early and got a couple more later while trying to negotiate the flotilla of boats.

Coho salmon caught kayak fishing on the Klickitat River

We went back a couple days later and got a few more coho salmon, but the fishing was definitely on the downswing. This was the biggest fish I caught, a nice coho salmon.

Coho salmon caught kayak fishing on the Klickitat River

With the fishing slowing down and some nasty weather on the way, I sadly packed up the kayak and put it into the garage for the winter. It has been a great year of kayak fishing, the steelhead and salmon season was the best I’ve ever had. I might sneak out for a few more days of salmon fishing, this time of year you can do just as well fishing from the bank as you can from the kayak and it’s a lot less effort. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get another salmon or two, if I’m really lucky, a late season steelhead.

This is the time of year we add a lot of photos and videos to the website because we spend a lot more time indoors, so keep checking in here on the blog or on the website for new stuff.

Nov 052014

Today was an awesome day for fishing on the Columbia River; no wind, not too cold and the sun even came out for a couple hours.

Salmon fishing on the Columbia River

Only problem is the salmon fishing was really slow. Paddled around all day long casting every lure I have until my shoulders and arms were aching and only had a few half hearted strikes that came unhooked after a few seconds. I saw the same thing happen to a couple other fishermen so it wasn’t just me being lame. I did see a couple guys who were trolling get a couple fish, but they looked pretty small. I paddled up one of the Columbia River’s tributaries and saw a lot of fish, unfortunately, they were all spawned out dead ones.

I hate to say it, but this might be the end of this year’s great salmon fishing season. I will probably head upriver to see if I can squeeze another day or two of salmon fishing in, but I have a bad feeling that the salmon fishing season here in the Columbia River Gorge may be over. Gonna need a beer or two for that.

Nov 032014

After getting limits of coho salmon on a relatively short day on the water yesterday, we were up at the crack of gray today to try our luck again. It was cloudy with showers around, but the wind was nearly dead calm, which is the most important thing. Despite the dismal clouds and drizzle, it wasn’t really that cold either.

Got out on the water as it was getting light and had a couple half hearted bumps, but nothing stuck until I managed to hook into a pretty small coho salmon, maybe a few pounds. We were after bigger fish than that so I released it back into the river. Had a couple more nibbles, but nothing good until after a couple hours of casting, I hooked and landed a nice coho salmon.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

After another hour or two and a few lure changes, I managed to get another, slightly bigger coho salmon in the kayak. That’s two days in a row of catching limits of coho salmon. Pretty good deal considering we are at the very tail end of the salmon run.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River

So far this season, I’ve managed to catch limits of coho salmon on five fishing days. That’s the best I’ve ever done. I’m on my way to my best salmon season ever, but it’s going to have to wait a couple days because we have some windy weather coming up. I just hope the fish keep biting!

Nov 022014

It’s been a pretty good weekend for salmon fishing here in the Columbia River Gorge. It hasn’t been raining, but the wind has been a factor. With the salmon season about over, we are getting up early to beat the wind; that was the ticket the past couple days. Yesterday, the wind came up quickly about 11:00 AM, but I managed to get a coho in the kayak before getting blown off the river.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River

I got one salmon on the stringer, but I lost another one and have an even better fish story than the “salmon was too big for the landing net” story from the other day. This salmon ripped the screw eye and hook clean out of the wiggle wart I was using. Gotta be kidding me.

Lure destroyed by Columbia River salmon

These salmon are big, strong fish. You can expect just about anything when you get one hooked up.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

Went out again this morning knowing the wind would be a factor. Almost didn’t go because the wind was already blowing pretty hard when the alarm went off at 4:00 AM. Because we are down to the last salmon fishing days of the year, we decided to give it a shot. It was windy and we couldn’t go too far out into the river because there were three foot wind waves on the rivermouth sandbar. We stuck close to the rivermouth and managed to get our limit of two coho salmon within an hour of paddling out. Good thing, because the wind came up quickly again and by 10:00 we were off the river and headed home.

Daily limit of coho salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River

Looks like rain tomorrow, but not too much wind, so we are getting up early again to try our luck.

Oct 302014

The rainy weather continues here in the Pacific Northwest, making the kayak fishing kind of tough. A little rain isn’t going to stop anybody from fishing, especially when you are going after what could be the last salmon of the season, but day after day of rain has messed up the rivers and the salmon stop biting when it’s muddy and the water levels are constantly changing. The wind was calm for a day and the rain lightened up enough to let us get out on the Columbia River to go after the salmon. The salmon are not biting as well on the main river here as they are further upriver, but the water conditions are not good enough to warrant a road trip east. The morning started out clear and calm with a beautiful sunrise.

Spectacular sunrise over the Columbia River

You may be familiar with the saying “Red skies in morning, sailors take warning”. Well, that was absolutely true on this day. Shortly after the spectacular sunrise, the sun disappeared into the dark gray clouds and it rained off and on until early afternoon.

Storms over the Columbia River

Even though the river water was off color from all the rain, the fishing was better than expected. Got three salmon on the line; one came unbuttoned at the kayak, one was too big to fit into my landing net and while I was trying to figure out how to get it into the kayak it got away and I managed to get one into the kayak and on the stringer.

Kayak fishing for salmon on the Columbia River

I don’t mind losing a fish now and then, it’s part of fishing, but losing what was probably the biggest salmon I’ve ever caught because it was too big to fit in the landing net, that’s a tough one. I still had one more salmon for the freezer and there’s still a chance for a few more.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing on the Columbia River

Looks like heavy rain today and more rain and windy tomorrow, we are hoping that will be the end of the nasty weather for a few days. It’s almost November, only a couple more weeks of salmon fishing.

Oct 252014

We’ve been having quite a bit of rain, not unusual for this time of year, and it is putting a real damper on what’s left of the salmon fishing season. Many of the rivers are running high and muddy and when the rivers are in that condition, the salmon stop biting. We went out anyway because we are running out of kayak fishing days as the salmon season is winding down. We knew it wouldn’t be ideal salmon fishing conditions, but it turned out to be worse than we thought. The river looked like coffee; zero visibility with plenty of floating debris. The river was running much higher and faster than normal, making the kayak fishing very tough.

We trolled our proven salmon slaying lures for a couple hours without so much as a nibble. It was clear that trolling, which usually is a great way to get the salmon, was not going to work today. We brought salmon eggs in case trolling didn’t work, so we started fishing with eggs, even though it was hard to keep them from washing downstream, even when using a couple ounces of lead. We got hits on the eggs immediately, what was biting was not the salmon we were hoping for, but white sturgeon. The muddy water did not seem to bother the sturgeon at all, every time we dropped salmon eggs in the river, a sturgeon would gobble them up. We wound up catching a lot of sturgeon.

White sturgeon caught kayak fishing in southwest Washington

The fishing for salmon was terrible, but the fishing for sturgeon was great so I guess you can’t call the salmon fishing trip a complete failure. The weather was pretty wet and miserable, but we did catch a lot of sturgeon. On any other day, catching all the ten pound fish you want would be pretty good and sturgeon can put up a good fight, so you have to look at the positive side of things.

Kayak fishing for sturgeon in southwest Washington

It’s going to be a few days, at least, for the river water levels to drop and the water to clear up so we can get back on the salmon fishing. It’s been raining all last night and today, so that’s not helping things out. We are keeping out fingers crossed for a little less rain, a tall order in this part of the country this time of year.

Oct 222014

The salmon fishing on the Columbia River has been slowing down in the past week or so here in the Columbia River Gorge so we have to head upriver and follow the fish. The salmon run is ending so you either have to head east on the Columbia River or fish the rivers that empty into the Columbia. The tributaries that feed the Columbia River are mostly water from melted snow in the local mountains, I think this keeps the salmon more active than they would be in the Columbia River, which is still pretty warm. The weather is not very good this time of year, the rain and wind have a big impact on fishing conditions, not to mention the fact that getting out on the water before daybreak on a cold, windy and rainy morning is not all that much fun. It’s getting to the point where the next fishing trip may be the last kayak fishing trip of the season, so we try to brave the elements and get out there as long as the fish are biting.

We headed to one of the local rivers that empties into the Columbia that is one of our favorite salmon fishing spots. We’ve always done pretty well here and when we went out on an overcast and drizzly fall morning, our luck there continued. The river was not in ideal shape due to recent rain, but there were fish to be had, both chinook and coho salmon were biting. The chinook were taken by fishing salmon eggs and trolling the trusty wiggle warts and the coho were pretty much hitting the trolled plugs. Many of the chinook were darker fish but the coho were mostly silvery and fresh, so we spent most of the day trolling wiggle warts. I did pretty well, had a number of hits, some didn’t take and I lost a couple by fooling around with the video camera. I still managed to hook into a couple nice coho salmon that put up a great fight.

Kayak fishing for coho salmon

The coho salmon were still silvery and strong. The meat was bright orange and tasted great. The day started out cloudy and drizzling, but it cleared up in the afternoon and turned out to be a nice day so it was a good day on the river all around.

Coho salmon caught while kayak fishing in the Columbia River Gorge

The successful fishing trip gives us hope that there are still a few kayak fishing trips left in the salmon fishing season. The big factor now is if the weather will cooperate. It’s raining hard today and supposed to be windy and rainy tomorrow, but we will try again as soon as the conditions permit.