With the world changed forever by the coronavirus pandemic and the Pacific Northwest leading the nation with social unrest and political division, kayak fishing seems to be a small thing in the big picture. Fishing is one of those things that is normal on any given day, perhaps we are looking for any semblance of what “normal” used to be.
Mostly due an incredible months long run of windy weather, and with nearly all public facilities closed, this season’s kayak fishing for smallmouth bass on the Columbia River has been a total washout. We’ve not had the kayaks out in months and don’t see much happening in the weeks ahead. This is normally the time of year we would start fishing for salmon and steelhead, but with the rapidly diminishing number of fish making it this far up the Columbia, it’s not worth the effort.
Due to the drought conditions here in the PacNW, the water levels in the Columbia and other local rivers are extremely low. The aquatic vegetation gets thicker every year. Warmer water and agricultural runoff? Fishing conditions get tougher every year.
Watching the extraordinary decline of returning salmon and steelhead to the Columbia River has been stunning. I think it would be hard to find a local salmon fisherman who thinks the salmon and steelhead will come back to previous numbers. Salmon fishing season is now very short and catching fish is very tough while gill netting continues year round. It’s sad to think that I may have caught my last Columbia River salmon. I haven’t hooked a steelhead in years.
This area has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic from the very beginning. With a good deal of the economy based on outdoor recreation and out of town visitors, businesses in these small towns are struggling or have already closed down. The next few months are going to be critical for all of us, let’s hope we all will be fishing again soon.