I had a good day fishing the Willamette on Saturday. I launched out of Cedaroak and was on the water by 7am. There were quite a few bass breaking the surface all around so I was pretty excited. I started fishing a zara spook and after a dozen casts or so I had a fish slash at the bait and miss it 4 times before becoming hooked. The bass was not huge, between 1.5 and 2lbs, but made for an exciting start to the day. A few more casts and I missed another fish, then another fish. I decided that the zara spook, while getting bites, was resulting on too many missed blowups. I should have had a rod rigged to follow up on misses, but I foolishly did not. So, I decided to switch the zara spook with a baby torpedo hoping to get a better hookup percentage.
A couple of casts and blam a solid hookup with a fish that was pushing 2lbs. Pretty excited that I had the right lure I was ready to lay the smack down. However, after that fish the sun broke over the clouds on the horizon and the surface of the river instantly went dead. Instead of lots of splashing, the surface just went dead calm with an occasional, widely scattered small splash. I fished the baby torpedo for another 15 minutes trying to pick up some more fish, but it was over.
I decided that since the topwater bite was over that perhaps the bass would be a bit deeper but still active. I dusted off two promising rockpiles/points with a crankbait without any action. At that point rather than stubbornly (stupidly?) sticking with what worked last year I broke out the drop shot. I was fishing the drop shot by 8am.
The same two rockpiles that had not produced any action on the crankbait produced 3 and 4 bass respectively for me on the drop shot, with several other misses at each spot as well. The fish were all around the 1.5lb category and put up great fights on the spinning rod. The interesting thing is that even that early in the day the fish on the first point were in 18’ of water. I was surprised they were that deep.
I started fishing the second point in about 18-20’ without getting any bites. I worked in a bit closer and the bass on that point were in about 12’ of water. All 4 fish come from within a pretty small area. I found it interesting that even moving point to point that the fish were in such different water.
It was about 10 or 11am and after that the bite stopped for me.
At 2pm I anchored to eat my lunch and fish for sturgeon even though the tide was incoming and there was no current. I did not even get any nibbles from the bait stealers. I would have not stayed on anchor very long but I was having fun watching the osprey fish. I think it was a juvenile and it missed 4 or 5 times before getting a fish. The one it did catch was so big I did not think it was going to be able to take back off with its prize. Even once it the air it struggled to get enough altitude to make it back up into the tree. I ended up spending two hours sitting there.
I then started fishing my way back to the ramp. The wind was whipping around pretty good by then and it made it hard to control the yak and fish the drop shot. I finally gave up on that and tried a crankbait for a while without any success. Finally, for fun I started fishing a small beetle spin on my ultralight in the shallow choppy water. I figured maybe I would happen upon some panfish. I picked up 4 small bass on the way back to the ramp doing this. They were all a pound or less, but they are a ton of fun on the ultralight.
So I ended the day with 13 bass. It seemed like the morning bite was definitely the thing, although I did not fish in the evening. Here are a few pics of some of the fish I caught throughout the day.
The second topwater fish was very darkly colored:
This guy was the normal copper color:
Some of the fish were pretty fat:
Some of them were skinny:
Overall, it was just another fun day out on the water!
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