Late Fall on the Columbia River

There was a break in the weather this weekend, so we decided to get the boat out of the garage and head out on the Columbia River to do some catch and release sturgeon fishing.   Two wonderful friends, Justin and Bob, met me at the house on Saturday morning and off we went.  Once the boat was in the water, I headed north (down river), about 3 miles, got anchored up, and the lines in the water.

Justin's first sturgeon

Justin’s first sturgeon

It wasn’t long until we started getting bites and Justin got hooked into a nice size fish.  If you have never had one on the line, it can be quite an experience as they pull really hard and can take a lot of line in a hurry.  After a good fight, we were able to get it into the boat and took a few pictures then back in the water.  There were a lot of high fives and smiles to go around.  I got the lines back in the water and we waited.  After a good hour or so with not even a sniff, I decided we needed to move to a different location.  We pulled the anchor and moved upriver about a half mile and got the lines back in the water.  Almost immediately the bites began to come again and Bob was able to hook into another great fish…

Look at the smile!

Look at the smile!

As Bob was fighting his fish, I picked up one of the other rods to get it into the boat, and hooked another fish! It was chaos for 10 minutes or so as we danced around each other trying to keep the lines from tangling.  I got my fish to the boat first and released so I could concentrate on helping Bob get his in.  The picture above says it all!  It wasn’t 15 minutes later, and the rain starting coming in, so we pulled the anchor and headed back to the house.  My beautiful wife had a big pot of soup ready for us when we got home.  A great day for sure.

Evening colors on the river

Evening colors on the river

 

Sunday morning, Diane and I got up, had a nice breakfast and decided that the weather was still too nice not to go fishing.  We loaded up the boat and Abby and headed out to the same place as I had gone yesterday.  As we traveled down river,  Abby ran from one end of the boat to the other in excitement and Diane and I looked at each other with a big smile on our faces- it was going to be a good day even if we didn’t catch any fish.  Twenty minutes later, I got the boat into position, the anchor down, and our lines in the water.  There wasn’t even time to get a beer opened before Diane had a heavy fish on the end of her line…..

bending the rod

bending the rod

keeping the line tight!  Great job!

keeping the line tight! Great job!

 

Fifteen minutes later, the fish was in the boat and a big smile on her face…

beautiful fish and day

beautiful fish and day

 

I hooked up just a little later…

my sturgeon

my sturgeon

 

We spent another couple hours on the water watching the river go by and decided to call it a day.  There is nothing like two great fall days spent with wonderful friends and family on the river…..

 

Tight Lines..

 

 

 

 

Spring and Summer Fun- 2013

Diane and I have had a busy spring/summer this year, and as we move into the monsoon season in the Northwest, we thought we would recap what we’ve been up to.  We continued fishing for kokanee during the months of April and into May with good success.. We are still learning this fishery, next spring will be better…

Kokanee- Lake Merwin

Kokanee- Lake Merwin

IMG_0009

In the cooler it went!

We also did a little sturgeon fishing, this was the last year for keeping sturgeon, so we made the best of it…

Abby waiting for the bite

Abby waiting for the bite

It didn't take long!

It didn’t take long!

Let's get another one Mama!

Let’s get another one Mama!

A great fish for Diane

A great fish for Diane

Wow!

Wow!

And another!

And another!

Annalysa gets in the game

Annalysa gets in the game

Tannyr's first sturgeon.  This was a proud moment for us!

Tannyr’s first sturgeon. This was a proud moment for us!

Even got Darrin in the game!  His first sturgeon as well

Darin with his very first sturgeon

Thanks Mama for taking me fishing today!

Thanks Mama for taking me fishing today!

I'll guard the fish!

I’ll guard the fish!

Next up, a great trip to the San Juan’s with our best friends Darin and Karin for ling cod and shrimp… Some of the best times of our lives are spent here.

Home away from home

Home away from home

Like no place on earth

Like no place on earth

Diane's first ling

Diane’s first ling

one for the grill

one for the grill

teeth anyone?

teeth anyone?

Darin gets in the act

Darin with his best ever ling

nothing like a little Jack to get the day going

nothing like a little Jack to get the day going

keep your hands away from that mouth..

keep your hands away from that mouth..

great eats!

best eating fish bar none!

a fish of a lifetime!

a fish of a lifetime!

where's Waldo?

my best Kilroy imitation

setting the shrimp pots

setting the shrimp pots

pulling the pots- there's 600 foot of line to coil

pulling the pots- there’s 600 foot of line to coil

a full pot, time to grade them out

a full pot, time to grade them out

they're everywhere!

they’re everywhere!

what a great smile

what a great smile and a job well done!

nice fish, Erik!

nice fish, Erik!

let's go already

let’s go already

at the top of Henry

at the top of Henry

best friends, best of times..

best friends, best of times..

a great day

a great day

Wescott Bay

Wescott Bay

spring flowers on Henry Island

spring flowers on Henry Island

shrimp and ling cod- nothing finer!shrimp and ling cod- nothing finer!

And of course, we caught a LOT of salmon!

early March in the San Juan's

early March in the San Juan’s

Jay got us started with this nice blackmouth

Jay got us started with this nice blackmouth

fish scales are always a sign fishing is good

fish scales are always a sign fishing is good

fish on!

fish on!

one for the table

one for the table

Darin with a really nice blackmouth

Darin with a really nice blackmouth

day's catch

day’s catch

stack em up Jay!

stack em up Jay!

we love silvers!

we love silvers!

another silver for the cooler

another silver for the cooler

let's have some kings too..

let’s have some kings too..

plugging the boat

plugging the boat

A great day's fishing!

A great day’s fishing!

As we move into the fall and winter season, there are always more to do and catch.  Winter kings, steelhead, and silvers to name a few.  It has been a wonderful year so far, filled with love, adventure, and great times fishing. ….

Tight Lines!

Big changes coming to the Columbia River and its tributaries

There has been a lot of jostling between the government entities and sports and commercial fisheries this last year.  A major attempt is being made to move commercial gill netting out of the river.  The following article from the Oregonian newspaper highlights the changes that are coming.  For me, most of the changes will make no difference in how and when I fish.  One change, no retention of sturgeon, has me fairly upset.  The sportsmen is paying for the lack of federal government policy concerning Stellar Sea Lions and their impact on the lower Columbia fish stocks.  Because these pinnipeds are listed as federally protected, they are off limits to hazing or removal even though it has been scientifically shown that they are the major player in reduction of fish stocks, including ESA listed endangered salmon runs.  My belief is that without a change in this policy, there will be a continued decline in sturgeon and protected salmon returns no matter what other actions are taken.  Below is the article, notice how no mention of Stellar Sea lions is made…….

Moving gill-nets off the mainstem Columbia River carries a price for sport anglers. 
 
Or, rather, price(s). 
 
An array of packaged decisions — some not quite finalized — await fish and wildlife commissions in Oregon and Washington when they meet Dec. 6 and 7 in Portland and Dec. 14 in Olympia. 
 
A joint-state committee of members from each commission, assisted by their respective departments and an array of sport and commercial representatives, has written off on the basics of a proposal far more wide-reaching than the failed attempts of the past to move commercial salmon fishing into off-channel zones. 
 
Even as a participant in 2009, I would never have imagined the scope of looming changes — or the speed with which they’re approaching. 
 
While plenty of angst is fertilizing sportfishing websites, none of the proposals is particularly daunting. Commercial netters will bear the brunt of the trauma, despite Gov. John Kitzhaber’s pledge to minimize their losses. Hopefully, sport anglers understand the critical importance of a strong commercial fishery in the lower Columbia River. 
 
The proposal calls for an end to mainstem non-tribal gill-netting by 2017, with a phased approach, putting more and more of the mainstem catch into the nets of anglers. It also increases hatchery plants in off-channel Select Area Fishery Enhancement (SAFE) zones such as those in Youngs Bay, Tongue Point and Blind Slough on the Oregon side of the river and Deep River on the Washington shore. 
 
Commercial fishing in the mainstem will not end, just the use of gill-nets. More selective commercial methods, already under development, will be used to mop up runs of hatchery salmon after sport seasons are done. Incidental commercial mortalities of protected wild salmon will be reduced to near-zero. 
 
Highlights of the proposal: 
 
SAFE zones: Sportfishing in SAFE zones, allowed now, will end. Gill-nets will be allowed. 
 
Buffers will be established outside the entrances of the SAFE areas. The gill-net community originally asked for a closure of the popular Buoy 10 fishery west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge to protect early returning chinook headed for Youngs Bay. 
 
Ed Bowles, fisheries chief for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a no-fishing zone immediately outside the bay is more likely, although not from the bridge to the Hammond boat harbor entrance or all the way across the shipping channel to Desdemona Sands. “It’s got to be geographically identifiable,” he said. 
 
New off-channel areas are most likely to be researched on the Washington side of the river. The Cathlamet Channel has received much of the initial attention, although Bowles said enough protected upriver salmon use the passage that smaller tangle-nets might have to be used instead of gill-nets. 

Barbless hooks:
 Washington has wanted to shift to barbless hooks for several years on the Columbia River and its tributaries and Bowles said it’s now probable. 

 
“But it’s going to be barbless, not a single-hook rule,” he said. In other words, treble hooks will still be allowed as long as they’re barbless. 
 
The rule will allow fish to be more easily released, with less potentially harmful handling. Idaho anglers have been using barbless hooks for salmon for several years without problems. 
 
How far the rule will extend into Oregon tributaries remains a question. They include the Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers, all of which might potentially shift to barbless-hook fishing. 
 
Bowles said his staff is still reviewing Oregon’s proposals and hopes to publish a draft — including barbless hook requirements — by Tuesday afternoon. 
 
Columbia River surcharge: 
Washington anglers already pay an $8.75 fee in addition to their license and tags to fish on the Columbia River and its tributaries (there’s that word again). 

 
Oregon will follow suit, Bowles said. The amount of the fee and where it may apply (read: tributaries) remain to be settled by Tuesday afternoon, but Bowles said his staff is leaning toward Washington’s model. 
 
This, incidentally, will not be a commission decision. Only the Oregon Legislature can establish fees. 
 
Hatchery production shifts:
 Hatcheries will send more of their salmon smolts to SAFE areas and release fewer in tributaries. 

 
Remember, though, while that may seem a severe reduction in the number of returning fish for sport anglers in tributaries, the absence of a mainstem commercial gill-net fishery also allows more returning fish to get upriver. 
 
In the case of the Willamette River, for example, 1 million, or 20 percent of the hatchery production of about 5 million smolts , will be sent to SAFE zones beginning in 2013. 
 
But without gill-nets in the mainstem, more of the returning adults from the remaining 4 million will return past the Portland skyline. 
 
“It’s about a wash,” Bowles said. 
 
Sturgeon: All retention fishing for sturgeon in the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers –sport and commercial — is destined to end in 2013. 
 
Bowles said that includes the SAFE zones. 
 
Sturgeon are in decline and a retention ban was probably in the stars regardless of the gill-net issue. 
 
Summer chinook:
 Commercial fishing for summer chinook will be phased out by 2017 and they’ll become an all-sport fishery in the lower Columbia. 

 
Public testimony will be taken by both commissions in their December meetings, Bowles said. 
 
Any differences on minor points will be ironed out by the time the Columbia River Compact meets in January and February to set new rules for the Columbia. 

Do your part, go to these meetings and make your voice heard.  You can bet that I will be there…….

 

Tight Lines…

 

Sturgeon City

On Sunday, my two boys and I put the boat in the water and went hunting for sturgeon.   It is still catch and release,  but we have a great time anyways.  The chance to catch a very large fish is always a great time.

Must have gained a little weight since I put these on last… LOL!

We got the boat in the water and into position and anchored up.  The fish finder started marking fish right away and it wasn’t 10 minutes till we got our first fish, a nice 39″ fatty.

First fish of the day, only took 10 minutes!

The bites kept coming and we were able to put the hurt on a lot of fish.  The day ended with me catching a 41″ sturgeon.

Last fish of the day….

It was a great day, lots of bites and lots of fish.

Gear Used:

  • Shimano 9′ Talora rod,

  • Shimano Calcutta reel spooled with 80lb Power Pro braid

  • Gamakatsu 6/0 circle hooks

  • Pacific Herring

Looking forward to the next trip!

Tight Lines…..

Waiting for metalheads…

November is a transition time in the Northwest.  The fall runs of salmon are all but done, and it’s still early for the big runs of winter steelhead.  There are still some fish to be caught, although few and far between.  Last Saturday I gave it a go on one of my local rivers, the North Fork of the Lewis, hoping that I may be able to coax a fish out of the river.  All up and down the bank were scattered carcasses of spawned out salmon – chinook and silvers.  I spent a couple hours throwing just about everything I had in the tackle box at the water, but never got a sniff.   The last couple days have seen the rivers blowing out due to all of the rain we’ve had (4+inches in two days!), but I’m sure that when they start to come back to fishable levels, there will be a lot of fish in the water again.  I cannot wait!!

Beautiful fall water

 

Bobber and jig fishing

 

all ready for steelhead

 

Gear used:

  • Shimano Stradic CI4 reel spooled with 20lb power pro braid, 8ft ,mono leader
  • Shimano Claurus rod, 9 ft fast action
  • First bite jig, any color as long as it’s pink!

 

Tight Lines…..

 

 

Boot Shopping on the Lewis River

Boot shopping

On Sunday afternoon, Diane and I loaded up Abby and went down to a local river in search of a steelhead or salmon.  The Lewis River is about 15 minutes from home and has a couple of nice runs of fish every year.  The monsoon season has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I was hoping that all of the fresh water in the river would serve as a catalyst to get the fall runs started.  As it turned out, there were fish in the water, however, they were what was left of the spring runs.  A salmon that has spent a lot of time in fresh water and has either just spawned or is about to turns a dark brown color and loses all dinner appeal.  Hence the word “boot.”  Not many people will eat one of these beasts, and for the most part they are not worth the effort to put on the smoker either.  As I was throwing a growing collection of spinners in the water, I noticed several of these “boots” rolling at the head of the pool.  After a couple of hours of watching them and looking for fresher alternatives, we called it a day.   Seeing salmon in a river makes any day great, hopefully in a couple of years I will hook into one of their progeny……

Gear Used:

-Shimano Stradic reel loaded with 12lb power pro

-Laminglass 9’6″ rod

-Blue Fox spinners, Hot Shots, various spoons in assorted colors

Tight Lines!