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!

Our little run about….

A little before the New Year, Diane and I found a cute little 13′ Bluewater runabout on Craig’s List and decided to pull the trigger.  For $500, the boat was really clean and had a nice running 18hp Mercury 2-stroke engine on it.  We had to do a small amount of fixing, but it has turned out to be quite a nice addition to our family for use in our local lakes.  It’s pretty crowded for any more than two when you want to fish, and certainly our pup Abby can’t come along, but other than that, it’s perfect for our intended use.  Our son Ryan made this video to celebrate the first launch and short run around the small lake near our home.  Please ignore the “no wake” buoy we fly by… 🙂

 

 

Tight Lines………

An Astoria adventure

peaceful morning

peaceful morning

Early Saturday morning Abby and I headed off to Astoria in search for an early season sturgeon.  It was raining when we left, but the sun broke through the clouds after we got over the coast range and it looked to be a good day in the making.  We arrived at the boat basin around 9,  parked the rig and looked around for a few minutes before getting started.  The air was crisp and full of the sweet, salty smell of the ocean, and the stress of the last week fell around my feet.  Abby was excited, she chased a few sea gulls around the dock and stuck her nose in all that she could find.  As I stood looking out over the water, she ran back and sat beside me, looking up with her large brown eyes as if to say “what are you waiting for? Quit daydreaming and let’s get down to business, the fish won’t catch themselves you know!”  I had to laugh a little, then proceeded to get everything rigged and baited.  For this trip I brought my big casting rod, the extra length provides enough leverage to get the bait out far enough to where I know the sturgeon run with the tide.  I carefully half hitched an 8″ smelt to the hook, attached the 12 oz weight to the slider and let it fly.  The bait settled to the sandy bottom and I brought enough tension on the line to place a slight bow in the top of the rod.  Now the waiting game began.  The tide was due to be full at 12:32, so I had a couple hours to go for prime time.

 

IMG_1694

the wait begins

The sun worked it’s way through the clouds, one minute bright and clear, the next covered and gray.  Abby kept herself busy, stalking the seagulls and ducks that lit on the dock.  I chewed through half a bag of sunflower seeds, the pile of shells a sundial on the deck marking time.  A few large ships made their way up and down the Columbia in front of us, and time continued to slip away with no signs of fish anywhere.  I reeled up my line a couple of times to check and recheck the bait, adding a little scent attractant each time before it went back into the depths.  Finally Abby jumped up into the truck and sat, watching the end of the pole with interest for a while.

 

Watching for a bite

Watching for a bite

 

When she had had enough, she just layed down on the seat and fell asleep.  HIgh tide was almost on us, and I certainly expected at least a bite or two before then.  We fished through the tide change and another hour of excruciating nothingness and decided to call it a day.  I was hungry for something substantial and a change of scenery.  A quick stop at the local burger joint filled the hole in our stomachs and we turned the truck towards home.  Abby laid in the back seat sleeping, her legs kicking while dreaming of seagulls and ducks, and I was filled with the blessings of a great day on the water, my nose full of the sweet smell of the ocean.

 

Tight Lines……

 

 

O’ Henry!

Sunset over the islands

Diane and I travelled to the San Juan Islands this last weekend to go fishing and relax with our good friends Erik, Darin, and Karin.  Erik and his wife Andrea own a small slice of heaven on Henry Island, and were most gracious with their invitation to join them.  I have fished there a couple of times before and was very excited to be back, as not only is the fishing great, but the islands have a very calming effect on my soul.  In fact, I had told Diane previously that I believe that the San Juan’s are probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  She was somewhat skeptical of my boast, but was eager to see for herself what all the yapping was about

We left early from work on Friday and pointed the FJ north full of anticipation for the weekend ahead of us.  Little did we know that the trip there would be an ordeal in itself.  Traffic seemed a little heavier than usual, but we chalked it up to the warm sunny weather and a Friday afternoon with people wanting to start their weekend early.  It normally takes about 4 1/2 hours to get to the marina at Twin bridges, this crazy day  we spent almost 6 hours in the traffic!  I can get impatient in traffic, and had to keep telling myself to breathe in through the nose and out of the mouth…..

 

stuck in traffic!!

Once we finally broke out of the mess, we motored our way to the marina and as luck would have it, Karin and Darin arrived at the same time!  The boat was sitting in the water ready for us.   We quickly loaded our gear in the Grady as the sun was starting to go down and we didn’t want to travel in the dark.  As soon as I threw off the bow lines and stepped into the boat, I felt all the stress of the week and the day slip away.  Such a wonderful feeling!  Darin and I put the girls in life preservers, put the throttle down, and we were finally on our way.

All the stress of the week left in the wake…

 

enjoying the view

 

The water was glass, even across the Rosario Straits, which can be very nasty at times, and we made good time.  The many islands that make up the San Juan’s were in full view, the trees and rocky beaches even more beautiful in the fading sunlight.  I felt very blessed to be in this wonderful place….

We finally arrived, Erik was waiting for us with a cold beverage and a great spaghetti dinner, and we were very thankful.  Diane was speechless, she couldn’t believe how beautiful this place is.

 

 

 

Guemes Island

 

 

Fading rays of the sun

 

 

Sinking sun

 

Honey, when we get there, use this immediately!

 

 

We all went to bed early, it had been a long day, and Darin, Erik, and I were to be up early and on the water.  5:00 am came to soon as always, and we gathered our gear and hit the waves.

On the way to our destination, we stopped and picked up Gene, a local to the area, and we hoped, a man that could get us into some salmon.  A few minutes later, Lime Point stood wrapped in the early morning sun off the port side of the Grady, and the lines were in the water.  A green and white hoochie tied behind a flasher is the setup of choice.  Down riggers are a necessity to get your offerings into the deep water where the fish are feeding.

 

Sunrise over Lime Point

 

It wasn’t long before Gene’s pole began to dance, and he quickly set the hook and the fight began.  At first, it looked to be a good fight, but soon became evident that it wasn’t a salmon on the line, but a dog fish.  The disappointment lay like a blanket, but hey, a fish on the line is better than nothing at all….

 

what’s on the end of the line?

 

Looks like a shark, smells like a shark, must be a shark! We will not eat this beast from the deep….

 

 

Waiting for the takedown

 

On the water, my favorite place in the world

 

And so the rest of the morning went.  We had one other take down, but the fish didn’t stick and we failed to get anything else to even glance at our lines.  At about 9:00, Gene got a whiff of bacon from one of the cabins on the water’s edge, and decided he had had enough and needed to strap on the feedbag.  Seeing as the action was out of this world, we decided to drop him off at the dock, check our crab pots then get a little something to eat ourselves.  The crab pots yielded nothing edible, and after a great fried egg sandwich, we decided to go on a water tour around the islands.  Diane and Karin piled into the Grady, and we went on a couple hour tour of some of Erik’s favorite spots, including a stop at Westcott Bay to pick up some oysters and clams for the night’s dinner.  We were hoping that the afternoon’s fishing would add a salmon to the menu, and there was lots of talk amongst each other speculating on where the fish were.

Beautiful yacht

 

The Hotel De Haro at Roche Harbor. Thousands of pictures and paintings have been done of this beautiful place.

Henry Island Madrone trees

 

The afternoon found us back on the water and looking for fish.  We headed south, out into the Harro Straights, and ran down the coastline of San Juan Island until we got to where it looked like a salmon or two might be hiding. The limit in area 7 is two salmon, of which only one can be a chinook.  Also, all chinook must be adipose fin clipped.  Earlier in the month, Erik got into a nice school of sockeyes and we long lined the center pole with a sockeye killer lure in hopes of hooking one of these tasty fish.  There were school after school of baitfish in the water around us, thousands and thousands of herring, anchovies, and candlefish.  The salmon should have been there gorging themselves on all the available chow, but we couldn’t find them, and the afternoon wore on till our patience ran out and we headed back to Henry.

The evening found us having a few cocktails, telling a few fish stories, and thinking about dinner.  Darin fired up the BBQ, and after a good wash, placed the oysters carefully on the grate.

Wescott Bay oysters- sweet, salty, and absolutely delicious!

 

Now Diane has never liked oysters, but after some serious goading by the rest of us decided that she would try one, but only one.  Darin picked out the best of the bunch, shucked that sucker open and handed it to her to try.  With a face only a mother could love, she tentatively tried a few nibbles.  We all stood around her waiting for those first words….. “Wow, those are really good!”   After wolfing down a couple more, she appears to have changed her mind on the matter….

I’m only trying one!

 

Yep, this is good!

 

BFF’s

 

These oysters rock!

 

Erik’s turn

 

Next on the menu- clams in white wine, garlic, and butter. doesn’t get any better than this!

 

Great dinner, surrounded by great people!

 

After a spectacular dinner, we all adjourned out to the point to watch the sun go down.

 

sailing into the sunset

 

Scout Patch, namesake of Erik and Andrea’s piece of paradise…

 

Sunset from Scout Patch, the end of a great day!

 

The next morning found Erik, Darin, and me on the water again.  This time we headed further south, Eagle Point our destination.  the water was glass and the beauty immeasurable..

morning splendor

 

We soon got the gear in the water and suddenly found ourselves surround by killer whales.  There were about 50 or so of these beautiful animals all around us.  There were huge schools of bait fish in the water, and the whales were getting busy, eating as much as they possibly could before the bait balls disappeared for day.

 

Mom teaching her young calf how to get after it!

 

a big bull spying on us

 

king of the ocean..

 

The whales around us were spectacular and we spent a good deal of time watching them play and feed.   We decided to troll back with the current towards home, with one eye on the whales and one eye on our fishing rods.  It wasn’t long till my line starting going crazy,  I had a fish on!  It turned out to be a small native chinook and we took one quick picture and then put it back to the deep where it came.

 

the only salmon of the trip, a small native that had to be returned

 

The trip back took us about 3 hours.  Every time we passed over an underwater ledge, we hooked a ling cod.  It is not ling season so we couldn’t keep any of them, but they were fun to catch and it kept us busy.

 

Nice ling- too bad we couldn’t keep any of them

 

It was getting late in the morning, and we needed to get back so Erik could catch his plane home.   The rest of the morning was spent tidying Scout Patch up and packing our stuff for the trip back.  It was a somber time, none of us wanted to think about the Monday ahead.  We loaded the Grady, and headed back to Twin Bridges, the smooth waterways filled with sailboats.  The long ride back gave me plenty of time to contemplate on the beauty of the weekend and the happiness I felt in my soul.  We may not have caught a lot of fish, but I would not want to spend a weekend any other way……

 

Tight Lines!

 

The ride home…