Posted by: socalsalty | August 4, 2011

Destination Report: Salmon Fishing on the Columbia River

Ed of CCA and Amy from SOS

Tuesday, Jake and I fished with Capt. Dan Porter of Dan’s Guide Service.  We arrived in the town of Kelso, WA Monday afternoon and got situated, then woke up Tuesday morning in time to meet Dan at Goble’s Landing in Rainier, OR at 5:30am.  Jake, Dan and I, were joined on the boat by Amy Baird of Save Our wild Salmon (SOS), and Ed Rabinowe from Coastal Conservation Association.  I told you about SOS in my previous post.  Ed is neighbors with the legendary rod maker, Gary Loomis, and Gary brought CCA to the Northwest to aid in the preservation of salmon (they started in Texas and have been big advocates for the fish in Texas, Florida and other states).  SOS and CCA differ in their approach, but both have the same goal, to rebuild fish stocks into a sustainable resource that we and future generations can all enjoy.

One of our poles and a couple of the boats in our ‘hog line’

After loading the boat, it was only a short 15 minute ride to the fishing area.  Dan set up anchor in a spot just 16 feet deep, that was located close to where the Cowlitz River joined the Columbia…near Buoy 25.  There were already other anglers set up in ‘hog lines’ across the same area.  Dan had previously scouted the area and liked our particular spot because there was a rise in the bottom where the fish could get a rest from the current.

Dan uses really nice gear…G Loomis poles with Shimano Tekota reels.  The reels were spooled with 50# braid tied to a swivel.  Tied to the other end was  a 3 oz ball sinker.  On a slider above the swivel was tied a 30# mono leader and about 2 feet from the slider were tied a variety of artificials.  The various regulations surrounding what fish you can take are too confusing to tackle in depth, but the artificials help you avoid deep hooksets…allowing you to safely return fish that you aren’t supposed to keep.  Dan cast our lines out so that they were arrayed in a pattern about 30 feet behind the boat,  behind the rise where he expected the fish to be.

Shortly after setting up, we noticed an angler in the hog line in front of us hook up and land a fish.  Couldn’t tell what, but Dan guessed it was a steelhead.  He mentioned that steelies were likely what was going to be on tap for us today with an outside shot at a king (aka chinook).  I had no problem with that as my limited previous salmon experience had only been with silvers (aka coho), so either way I’d hopefully be landing a new species.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get bit for a couple hours.  The time

A pink flatfish lure requiring some repair

was broken up by an enlightening discussion about the merits of the different approaches that CCA and SOS hold.  Both of these organizations are aiming to protect and build the resource, so it was comforting for me to know that they are out there working hard to preserve it.

Just before 8am, Jake’s line got hit hard.  Line started stripping out and similar to how he handled catching his first barracuda earlier this year, I was impressed with how calmly he handled it.  He just stood up there, rod tip up, and enjoyed the run…letting the gear do its job.  When the fish took a breather, Jake took in line.  We saw a swirl when the fish surfaced and judging from the size of it, I thought that Jake had a big one on.  Jake got it close to the net, and we saw that it was indeed a big one…a king and not a steelie.  But the mighty king got a second wind and took another extended run.  The second run was shorter than the first, and it had a couple mini runs before it was finally netted.  When we were able to untangle it and

ONLY a 9 lb steelhead 😉

remove the lure, we saw that it had begun to straighten out the treble hook on the lure.  We weighed it to discover it was a 31 lb-er!  Nice work Jake!

Shortly after Jake’s fish was landed, I got bit.  It didn’t feel that heavy to me and I handled it easily.  I did get a jump though about about 10 feet from the boat which was exciting to see.  It was feeling like things were starting to heat up, but that was pretty much the action for the day.  Amy got bit, but her fish managed to work itself off and that was it.  We were back at the dock by 1pm. It appeared to me though that we did better than most of the other boats out there.  The guys to our right hooked up once, but failed to land their fish.  I only saw one other fish get taken besides that first one of the day.

Dan’s 25ft North River

All in all, I was completely satisfied with the trip.  My son took his first salmon and it was the most prized of all the Pacific salmon, a big king!  I caught my first steelhead.  And in between it all, we shared a great day with some really nice and interesting folks that taught us a lot about this awesome fishery.  Thank you Capt. Dan!  We captured some good video, so look for that in a future post.  Tight lines.

A very happy father and son with Jake’s big king salmon

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Responses

  1. Sounds like a fun trip. Looking forward to the video 🙂 🙂

    • Wanted to post it here, but the wifi is terrible at my parents house. Bad enough to tweet/blog, but video edit??? Forget it 😦

  2. Awesome first salmon for Salty Jr.! Funny to see a flatfish lure – I haven’t used one for close to 20 years , though I do still have one or two f5 and f7’s in a tackle box here somewhere.

    • It’s the only one that worked on Tuesday. Nice action in the river current.

  3. THATS A NICE FISH!

    • Be ready to hear it from Jake when you see us next 😉 It’s all he’s been talking about. So happy as a dad to give that to him.

  4. good job salty and unsalty. that’s very impressive! i wish i can catch some big fish one day so i can eat them! is it easier to use jigs than live bait in general? or it all depends…?

    • I’m stoked you get out there Claire. You should join us one of these times. That chef, Lucy Lean, is doing another, chef/fishing trip in OCT. I’ll let you know.

      Re: bait vs. jig, you can usually get bit better on bait, but when the bite is hot, you want to go with a jig to help you maximize that opportunity (no time wasted re-baiting). Sometimes, depending on the size of jig you use, it’s also a way to get the bigger fish.

  5. sure, please keep me in the loop. it’d be great to fish with you and a chef!

    your bait vs. jig analysis makes sense. if i just want to buy one jig, for a beginner like me, can you recommend one?

    • Too many factors to recommend one jig. It depends on the target fish, conditions etc. I’ll show you what I mean when we go out.

  6. In a different life Capt. Dan was my boss in corporate USA. Great to see him sharing what he loves with others. I’ve only had the opportunity to be on the boat with him a couple of times but he definitely knows his stuff. Also glad to see that the CCA is active up your way. Best from Texas…

    • Kmart, thanks for stopping by and saying hi. Dan told me about his corporate life and I applaud him for making his choice. Jake and I were definitely bene-FISH-iaries 🙂

  7. […] Recently, I had the opportunity to take my kids on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. My parents still live in the area and I like to bring their grandkids up at least once a year to see them. My son and I got to spend some time, just the two of us, before his sister joined us later in the week. During that time, I arranged for the both us to go on a little fishing adventure. We traveled down the Washington/Orgeon border and went on a guided salmon trip on the Columbia River. […]

  8. […] Recently, I had the opportunity to take my kids on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. My parents still live in the area and I like to bring their grandkids up at least once a year to see them. My son and I got to spend some time, just the two of us, before his sister joined us later in the week. During that time, I arranged for the both us to go on a little fishing adventure. We traveled down the Washington/Orgeon border and went on a guided salmon trip on the Columbia River. […]


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