Hit the Willamette river up for some multi-species action on Sunday. With the cloudy, drizzly conditions I thought for sure the bass would be up shallow and aggressive. I was on the water fishing by 7:30am and started off switching between a crayfish colored crankbait and a white spinnerbait. After an hour of pure exercise I decided to give the soft plastic a try. My first cast with a Baby brush hog and I caught this little guy.
I was psyched figuring that I was on to something. An hour later that was still my only hit. I switched back to the crankbait and scratched out three more small bass, but I never found the bite I was looking for.
At 1:30pm I decided to give the sturgeon a try. I had chatted with several boats but the reports were pretty dismal. I shaker here, nothing there. I went to a spot that has been good to me in the summer before and anchored up without much hope, but looking forward to at least a short rest. Plus I wanted to test the repair I had made on my Shimano Cardiff 400 (broke it a month or so ago on an oversized).
I dropped my anchovy down and within 10 minutes I had a fish on! It was just a small shaker, but I felt good given that I was expecting nothing. Between 1:30 and 3:25 I picked up 4 shakers and one keeper sized. They all fought great and the keeper sized even jumped for me. The good news is that the repair I made on the Cardiff seems like it was holding up - meaning I had put it back together correctly
At 3:25 I had a small bite and when I tightened down there was no messing around, it just flat took off. I knew I had a big fish. I dropped off anchor and the fight was on. She pulled me up and down the river within a few hundred yards of where I hooked up. I kept as much pressure as I dared, but I was completely at her mercy.
While I rarely use this term with sturgeon. That fish made blistering run after blistering run. She would swim around for a bit with me pulling for all I was worth and then boom she would take off at max speed. When I say blistering I mean it:
That is a burn mark on my thumb from trying to slow her down!
About 10 or 15 minutes into the fight a boat with three guys in it saw me fighting the fish and stopped to watch. The fight just felt like it lasted forever. Each time I made some progress she would just take off.
After a lot of work I finally got her coming to the surface. She came up next to the kayak and turned and dove, completely soaking me. The guys in the boat laughed and I did to. It was like she had found a second wind.
After more grunting and groaning I got her up a second time and received my second bath. It was like she decided I should lather, rinse and repeat. However, she was definitely weakening and the third time I got here up I was able to roll her over and admire her. It was about 3:55pm, that was a tiring half hour.
I passed my camera to the fellows in the boat and the took a few pictures for me:
I passed them my tape measure and they were able to measure her at 75" and man she was fat. Not the biggest sturgeon I have caught by far, but one of the best fighters for her size.
I popped the hook out just after the second photo and turned her over while the other folks were still right beside me. She rested for a minute and then decided one more shower for everyone was in order and she soaked us all as she said goodbye and dove back down to the bottom.
After that I pedaled my way back up to my buoy and anchored back up. I caught 2 more shakers before pedaling back to the launch. What started out as a disappointing day of bass fishing ended up being a pretty awesome day overall.
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