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..






Trolling for Kokanee

Trolling for Kokanee

Last Sunday, Diane and I took our little boat up to Lake Merwin to try our hand at kokanee fishing.  We had never fished for them before, but after reading a couple of blog posts and watching a fishing show on Saturday night, we decided to give it a try.  I put the boat on the hitch and we enjoyed the scenery on the 30 minute drive up the Lewis River on the way to our destination.  Once there, we got the boat in the water and headed out across the smooth surface.

calm day on the water

calm day on the water

I got the poles rigged and into the depths. To both of our surprise,  it was only about 10 minutes till we had the first one on and into the boat.  Great start to a great day!  From there however, not another nibble was seen and I spent a lot of time untangling lines.

Our first and only kokanee today...

Our first and only kokanee today…

We are new to this kind of fishing, and after further reading,  discovered that we need to purchase some different types of gear to become more effective catching fish and less effective getting tangled.  Even though we didn’t catch a lot of fish, it was an awesome day spent with  just the two of us on the water, fishing and laughing together!

lots of fish in the water

lots of fish in the water


reflections on a great day

reflections on a great day




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.



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……



A foggy weekend in Little Italy

Early morning fog

Two weekends ago, Diane and I took a trip down to one of our old haunts, Garibaldi, OR, to visit some dear friends and do a little fishing in Tillamook Bay.  For the last couple of years we have travelled there nearly every weekend from September to the end of October to fish.  A large run of fall chinook salmon migrate through the bay and into one of the five rivers that flow into it, and the fishing is usually quite good.  We have had success here and were looking forward to hooking into one of the 30 plus pounders this bay is famous for.  These fish are fiesty beasts, fat from a summer of feeding in the fertile waters of the northern pacific, and full of the wild spirit that makes their pursuit an almost mythical experience.  One takedown from a large chinook in the shallow waters of the bay will change your fishing perspective forever.

sun waves

We started early on Saturday morning, heading straight to a place in the bay known as the ghost hole.  I have no idea where the name came from, but I do know its shallow waters can hold a lot of fish.  The standard pattern here is to troll a cut plug herring up and down the shoreline and hang on.  The waters range from a nail biting two feet to little over sixteen.  It’s strange fishing here after spending time in the deep ocean waters of the San Juan’s, and honestly, I struggled a bit.  The ghost hole requires your constant attention, adjusting your line depth up and down to match the contour of the bottom, watching for the large patches of sea grass that float in and out with the tide, making sure your herring is spinning correctly, and avoiding the fifty other boats that ply the same waters as you.  It’s nerve racking!  After about forty five minutes of watching me struggle to keep it all together, Diane put her hand on my arm and gently  reminded me that it was ok,  all was well, and the fish would come.

traffic jam

We fished the hour before and the hour after the tide change and came up with a big zero on the scoreboard.  We were blessed to see several fish caught however, and it was easy to blame our lack of fish on being rusty on the waters here.

The next morning, we loaded into the boat right at sunrise and headed up to the bay bar, a place of concern on a good day, a very dangerous, life taking place when it’s rough.  It is so dangerous that the Coast Guard has a permanent outpost right on the jetty to respond immediately in times of danger.  This day however, the waters were calm and the bar held nothing more dangerous than a continuous pattern of large swells that are easily manageable if you pay attention.  In went the lines, and we were fishing.  Fishing among a few hundred other boats that had the same plans as us……..

A crowded fishy place

We left the lines in for a couple of hours and trolled our way in and out of the ocean and bay hoping to connect with at least one fish before the sun started its trek into the afternoon.  I had one really good takedown that didn’t stick, and that was the sum total of our action for the day.  On the way back to the marina, I could feel the disappointment creeping in and fought hard to keep it in check.  As we got closer and I pulled the boat off plane, I started to feel a little better, the beauty of this place has a way of doing that. The drive home through the coastal range was good, the Wilson River road is winding,and a canopy of deep green trees covers you with nature’s beauty like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day…………..

Tillamook Head

The old Coast Guard station, a new one was built in the early 70’s

Coast Guard station

Waters of the ghost hole…

Tight Lines………….

Astoria, Cape Disappointment, and a Happy Birthday!

Beach treasure

Sunday was my daughter’s birthday so we headed down to the beach to celebrate the day.  On the way there, we stopped in Astoria, OR,  to do a little birthday shopping.  Astoria has a great Sunday farmers market that spans about 6 city blocks.  Besides the usual kettle corn and trinket stands, there are seafood purveyors with the early morning catch for sale, and just about everything in between.  Diane and I really like this little town, so much in fact that we have placed it on our list of potential retirement places.  There is a great sense of community here, and most importantly to me,  a place to go fishing is only a short distance away.
After spending a good amount of time in Astoria, we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River and headed down to Cape Disappointment.  We fished a little for sand perch, played with Abby in the sand, and had a most wonderful day.


Astoria waterfront looking out over the Columbia River


great architecture



Pick a pepper, any pepper


study of peppers..


Tomatillo’s anyone?


great looking tomatoes!


orange and purple goodness!


Beautiful flowers


Cape Disappointment


Let’s go fishing..


Abby on the prowl

Off to the water..


looking for treasures..


shore birds feeding in the surf


fish stories told here…


You want me to go diving for crabs??


Cape Disappointment lighthouse


beautiful day..


Abby made a new friend


the next generation, I’m very proud of her……


A kiss from an Angel..


Sailor’s dream..


Tight Lines………..





























Shakerville Act II

Abby chasing a shaker as we reeled it in

The last catch and keep days for the spring/summer sturgeon season found us at Dibblee Beach again in pursuit of one last fish.  The weather was perfect, the waters were calm, and we were determined.  In an attempt to  mix things up a bit, we decided to use anchovies and squid as bait this go around.  The thought was that even though we had been catching fish on herring and sand shrimp, maybe the change in bait selection would get us into some larger, keeper fish.  It was a good day, we caught a lot of fish, but no keepers!  As the old saying goes, they call it fishing, not keeping for a reason.  We are really looking forward to October, when it all starts again….

Just a little short!

Great day on the water

A nice fish caught off the beach above us…….

we call her “sandy”

let it rip!