2019 PacNW Kayak Fishing Wrap Up

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.

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