Dave Graybill - 9/30/2012
I have been on the road a lot the past week. I drove down to the Columbia River Gorge to Biggs and spent a couple of days fishing the river for smallmouth bass. Then I traveled to Nehalem on the Oregon coast, which is between Tillamook and Seaside. I fished for salmon there, but left on Thursday afternoon to get back to help get things set up for the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Close to a thousand miles with some great fishing on the way, and a great event at the end.
My visit to Biggs was prompted by an invitation to attend “Fish Camp”. Organizer Ed Iman gets writers and broadcasters together with outdoor product manufacturers for a few days of fishing together, sharing information on their products and having some great meals at the cook shack. As soon as I arrived Iman had me busy interviewing the owner of Izore fishing lines, and then a quick trip on the river to fish for walleye. Greg Schubert and Casey Hougak from Walleye Warriors were really fun to fish with, but the river was so full of baby shad the walleye just weren’t interested in our jigs.
The next morning I met Renaud Pelletier at The Dalles Marina and we headed out to do some smallmouth bass fishing. Pelletier has been a tournament bass angler for over 40 years, and he knows his way around on the Columbia River in this area. We didn’t have to go far to find fish. There are some islands, reefs and back channels just above the launch and we both caught some dandies right away, casting Pop R top water lures. It is very exciting to see smallmouth, sometimes over 3 pounds, leaping out of the water and pouncing on these plugs. We saw a lot of great water and caught fish all day long. I should mention that I was using a Fetha Styx six-foot 10-inch Homewater Bass rod, ex-fast medium rod, with an Abu Garcia Revo STX reel loaded with Izore Platinum 12-pound test line. I was amazed at the distance I could throw these Pop R plugs. This is a perfect outfit for casting plugs for smallmouth. I am eager to try this set up with other types of bass presentations, too. It’s an amazing combination of both power and sensitivity.
That evening we had a terrific meal back at camp and caught the tail end of the presentation by the folks from Coast Products. They make an extensive line of LED lights, knives and other products, some of which I have already had a chance to try out. I will be sharing some of the new items with you on my Product Review Page on my web site soon. There was some question about the availability in the salmon fishing boat for the following morning, so Pelletier invited me to go bass fishing again. We had such a great time we were eager to get back out after smallmouth again.
On our second day of bass fishing we launched above The Dalles Dam and started off working some bays below the railroad bridge. We worked our top water baits along some bays and broken rock shore lines, and it was very slow. We only had a couple of fish come up to our plugs. The action picked up as it became brighter and warmer, but we weren’t getting the large fish like we were the day before. We did get a couple of bigger fish, more small ones than the day before. I told Pelletier that I had to leave about noon, so he said that he had one more spot he wanted to try before we left. Wouldn’t you know it, this is when it really got good. We pulled up to the bank he wanted to fish and I caught two fish well over 3 pounds in two casts. He caught the biggest fish of our two days right after that. It was tough to quit, but I had to get to Nehalem. I had dinner in my cooler and couldn’t be late.
On Wednesday morning skipper Richard Robinson took myself, Kevin Winters and Mike Kitner fishing in the “jaws”, where the Nehalem River meets the Pacific Ocean. We had a busy day, landing five kings, with one that Kitner caught weighing over 30 pounds. The next day I wound up in an amazing battle with the first fish of the day. I spent one hour and eight minutes in a tug of war that took us out into the perilous water at the entrance of the jaws three times . Each time we had to retreat I lost the line I had won with great difficulty. When we finally got the fish to the net we found that it had been hooked in the underside of its jaw and I was pulling it in at an odd angle, which made it so difficult to land to land the fish that was less than 30 pounds. We lost a lot of time on this fish, but still ended up with five nice kings when I needed to head for home.
I got home from this trip in time to set up for Salmon Fest. Attendance was low this year, in spite of the relief from the smoke. I’ve been invited to fish Vernita with Shane Magnuson on Friday, and am anxious to do some fishing closer to home!
By Dave Graybill