The last couple of weeks has been filled with more fishing than usual.
Notice I did not say 'catching.'
The boats I have been in have caught fish consistently, even with me riding along, but I have yet to catch that elusive second fish. I'm beginning to believe that the power of my 'skunk' no longer infects the entire boat, just my pole. So with that in mind I have agreed to accompany a pair of fisherman to a certain beach to learn more about bank angling. They always catch fish and have assured me that I will, too. That will be a story for another time.
I recently was able to adjust my schedule to allow for an entire weekday of fishing. Even better, it was an all-expenses-paid trip, courtesy of a friend, on the Busch Light boat.
I only had to think about rearranging my schedule for all of two seconds after I saw the weather report. Tuesday was going to be one of the few days so far this year to hit the 70-degree mark. So if was off to Clackamette Park in Oregon City at 5 a.m. for an all-day trip.
After introductions all around we moved out into the river to back troll a ball of eggs with a sand shrimp tail. No long trolls here with herring and flashers, just a very slow backing down river with a diver and about 100 feet of line out.
The boats line up so close that you could just about touch rod tips - combat fishing at its finest.
We had two fish in the first hour and I was thinking, 'Wow, this is finally going to be my day on the river.' But it just was not to be.
After a slow period, Brad's rod got hammered; there was no timid bite to this fish. After he cleared the rod from the holder, he put the wood to the fish and the battle was on. Brad would reel down and pull up only to immediately lose what little ground he had gained. Finally the fish was brought close to the boat, only to run out most of the line. This happened at least three more times; it was really one of the best fighting springers I had seen all year.
Finally the fish tired enough for an attempt at netting him. The net came out and went away again just as fast, as the fish rolled and a very large adipose fin became visible; with a collective groan of disappointment the fish was released. We did boat two more fish that day for a total of five fish caught, a good day on the river by any standard.
There is a lot going on in the outdoor world this week. The first big happening is the stocking of tagged bass in Hagg Lake in Forest Grove. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have released 15 tagged bass into the lake as part of a $2.2 million contest sponsored by Cabela's, the world's foremost retail shop amongst outdoor enthusiasts, and the Outdoor channel. Hundreds of fish have been tagged in 20 states, and one is worth a $1 million dollar check, while the others are all worth merchandise of some kind. The only stipulation to the entire deal is that you must register online with Cabela's.
For hunters, this is the week we should find out online if we drew any of our Oregon tags. As of Tuesday morning, June 14, they were still unavailable. So let's all keep our fingers crossed that the stars align and we draw at least one of the tags we applied for.
Last, but certainly not least don't forget the late spring and summer runs of fish, just outside our doors here in Columbia County. Late springers, summer-run steelhead and the first sockeye salmon are being caught right now. Don't let the high water discourage you: there is still a ton of fish being caught. That being said, you might have to adjust your tactics or normal fishing spot.
Bank anglers are catching the majority of the fish right now. The fish are hugging the shore to stay out of the heavy current brought on by the high water flow. So keep your spin-n-glows and KwikFish close in and you might have a good chance.
In the field
Hunting: Results for draw tags should be available this week
Fishing: The local beaches are producing lots of fish right now. This is also the traditional start of good keeper sturgeon fishing in the Columbia Estuary, but with the extremely high water it could be later than normal.
Stocking: Hagg Lake 4,000 last Monday, plus 15 tagged bass
Misc: Columbia City's Joe Schwab's 'Outlaws on the Big River' and 'Outlaws in the Big Woods.' I was fortunate enough to run into Joe at the local barber and he sold me both books. These are a must read for any local outdoorsman. The books are tales from his days as an Oregon State Police officer assigned to Fish and Wildlife. The stories all take place in areas we all know well. The books are a great read and are available at local book stores.