Had a real hot and cold day on the lower Willamette on Saturday, November 30 (Portland, OR). The amazing thing was the quality of the fish. I did not catch a fish under 30". I ended the day with 17, 8 being good sized keepers and most of the other 9 being very close to keeper sized. Plus, every fish I caught was just unbelievably fat, it was like we spent the day fishing at some fat camp for sturgeon. Each fish I caught pulled a fair bit of drag and forced me to drop off anchor - you have to love a day like that.
For the details, I met up with a friend of mine (Brian) and at the first spot the bite was red hot. No more that a couple of minutes between fish. My first fish was a borderline keeper, maybe a shaker, and the next four were all in the mid to upper 40s. I spent far more time fight fishing and getting back on anchor and re-baiting than I did waiting for bites.
Every fish fought like a maniac, pulling the kayak around with a lot of rapid direction changes. The fish were really juiced up.
All the fish were decent:
Brian had similar success. We were feeling really good about the day! The bite slowed down after a while and so after not hooking up for 20 minutes or so we decided to pull stakes and move.
We moved to a spot where we had slayed them two weeks ago... crickets chirping. We moved to another spot and then another with equal success
It seemed like every spot that was red hot two weeks ago was devoid of fish on Saturday. We spent a good 4 hours looking for a productive spot. In all that time our total take was a couple of shakers. There was pitifully little current in the river.
Finally we decided to head back to the general area where we started the day. It took a little while for the bite to start but once it did it was hotter than in the morning. I have no idea what triggered the bite, but it was pretty widespread (we were at least a few hundred feet apart). Brian ended up catching a couple of 6 footers as well as some keeper sized and some big shakers.
While he was hooked up with one of the big girls I hooked up an oversized as well. At first she pulled me straight towards Brian and his fish. I was starting to get worried when my fish decided to do a 180 and whip me around. This happened again and again. My fish would take off in a direction really fast and then once I got on top of her she would whip a U-turn and violently jerk me back around and take me back to where we hooked up. After 15-20 minutes of this she tangled me around something. Man I was heart broken. I could still feel her on the line, but I could not move her. After 10 minutes of trying I broke her off. I sure hope was able to pull herself free. Here is Brian with his big fatty!
The bite never slowed down. I finally left because it was starting to get dark. I am still amazed at how big and fat the fish were and how many huge fish were jumping around me. It was just downright crazy. Here are a couple of really fat fish to show you what I mean.
As for bait, I was using chunks of anchovy and Brian was using chunks of herring. Once again, the particular bait did not seem to matter.
Finally, in case anyone is thinking about breaking any laws out here it looks like the CG has stepped it up a few notches
That is a major gun on the front of their boat!
Fish tremble when they hear my name
A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.
--John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928