Columbia River fishing

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I’m looking to live on the Columbia and fish it extensively. I’m from the south and I catch bass for fun, bluegill and redfish to eat. I haven’t ever fished for trout, salmon or walleye.

Can a kayak or small John Boat handle the Columbia? Anyone got any good guide recs near Portland? I want to learn to fly fish.
 

Flymph

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Bass can be great if you find some rocks or submerged timber. Walleye is a bottom bouncing game. Salmon is mostly done from anchor in the channels or by plunking. Fly fishing is great, with many world class fisheries in every direction.
A jon boat is a death trap on the columbia. I have fished the columbia from a canoe, and a kayak would be okay. Just stay near the shore.
If you want to go anywhere besides the bank near the launch, get into a bigger sled. The mouth is known as the graveyard of the pacific.
Hire some guides, you'll figure it out.
 
The Columbia river is NO JOKE, SERIOUS! I have witnessed dudes dying because they didn't have the right equipment or knowledge to handle the challenges this river brings! YOU need a bigger boat, I have seen guys running 12 footers, but MAN, that's risky, especially if the wind comes up and you get rollers, your gonna get wet! It's COLD, despite the surface temps in the summer months, a foot or two below the surface, your gonna freeze your chicken nuggets off! This river is FAST, and the tide shifts can be major. I have been on the water with a 13 foot plus tide, and a minus 3, all within a 3 hour period, and I have been on it with a 7 knot run during the spring run off! I have seen dead heads sink a 32 foot banana guide boat because no one was watching the bow while anchored up and it took them in the anchor line and pulled them under before they knew anything about it, two of the 6 on board never made it! I have seen small boats get swamped trying to run back in when the winds got up, 4 and 5 foot rollers, and I saw one go down and not come back up, at least the dude had a life jacket so when the river patrol found him floating face down 2 weeks later on the Wing Dam, it was easy to recover his body! If your looking to fish the pools above the dams, a small boat can work, but again, the winds can get brutal! Best bet is to hit the Deschutes or John Day until you get used to the fishing up here, and get a bigger boat! I wouldn't want less then a 17 foot boat at the least, and your going to need an anchor system with buoy puller and need to learn how to use it! You will also want a small "Kicker" motor, saves gas for trolling. For Steel Head, your Heavy/Mag Heavy bass rods and reels should work, but your going to want rods that have good sensitivity, so, that's something to think about! Salmon need slightly bigger rods, but also need sensitivity for those subtle bites they are famous for! For reels, line capacity and good drag systems are a must, don't have to spend a ton on the reels, but the good stuff will obviously last longer, I learned my lesson the hard way, buy once, cry once and now I run Penn International 7000 series level winds for Salmon and Shimano or Daiwa mid range reels for Steelhead and trout/bass and other light fish! For off shore, AVET reels 2 speeds are the only way to go!
 
The lower Columbia doesn’t behave like a river. Its more like the ocean in a way. Current rips in conjunction with the tide and wind can make the water stand up on you and it will swallow much larger boats.

For a more “traditional” sense of NW fishing, the tributaries of the Columbia are better.
 
OP
DisplacedTexan
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Bass can be great if you find some rocks or submerged timber. Walleye is a bottom bouncing game. Salmon is mostly done from anchor in the channels or by plunking. Fly fishing is great, with many world class fisheries in every direction.
A jon boat is a death trap on the columbia. I have fished the columbia from a canoe, and a kayak would be okay. Just stay near the shore.
If you want to go anywhere besides the bank near the launch, get into a bigger sled. The mouth is known as the graveyard of the pacific.
Hire some guides, you'll figure it out.
Sweet thank you.
 

USMC1911

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Wind is everything on the Columbia in a small boat. Fish early in the morning, know where your at and the closest dock. Stay 20ish minutes from your dock as the wind can pick up quick and it goes to 4ft+ waves quick. Fished it a couple years from a 14 foot Valco with a 9.9hp. Just be smart and pay attention. Oh ya look out for the large ships.
 
Best advice I got in regards to anchoring on the Columbia, was have 300' of anchor line and to position a very sharp knife where you could get to it instantly, as you might have only 10 seconds at best to save your life.
The two most dangerous things I ever do in a boat:

set anchor in the Columbia

retrieve anchor in the Columbia
 
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There is a lot to learn.
Flyfishing and Columbia River are two things that do not go together.

Living and fishing in the PNW will require you to learn "run timing" unless you are fishing exclusively on resident fish.
On the move right now are Summer Steelhead, Fall Chinook and Silvers (Coho).

As suggested above, go out with a fishing guide if you want to get on the fast track.
If you try DIY, years will go by before you "crack the code" (if ever) so to speak.
Going out with a quality guide, you will learn in one day, what would have taken you years to learn on your own.

Research guides.
Research *fisheries.
Put yourself on the fish with the correct gear and technique.

*Fishery
A moment in time, on a certain body of water containing a certain species of fish.
 

bbbass

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Just saw this thread.....

I fished the Columbia for bass near Irrigon in my 20' Deep hull fiberglass Fish and Ski model. There were lots of bass to be had, both smallmouth and largemouth. If OP has never fished for smallmouth before, he needs to know that they orient to rocks, unlike the trees and weeds that largemouth hang around. Look for points with bowling ball sized rocks. Smallmouth typically hang anywhere from 8' to 25' depending on many factors.

Walleye can be had above and below McNary Dam, which also has nice salmon and steelhead runs headed for the Snake R, Clearwater R, and Salmon R.

I was fishing a bass tournament one year in June, we had about 10 boats on the water. My fishing partner and I were in an area well protected from the currents by a very large point... almost a bay. Around 10am we heard some a voice. From far away.... "Help!" .... "HELP!!!!" Looking out to the main channel beyond the point, we saw a guy in a lifejacket in the water holding onto a medium sized ice chest and being swept along at about 5kts in the current. We pulled anchor and went over and fished him out of the drink. Just in time... he was dramatically hypothermic. Turns out, it was one of our guys in the tourney, a friend of mine. His fishing partner was rescued by another boat. What had happened is that he runs a Boston Whaler with a 70hp motor and when the wind came up and it got choppy, they decided to run back closer to the ramp. They were fighting 2-4' chop and when they hit one too hard, the jarring bounce made my friends hand push the throttle forward... the boat went strait up and came down on it's azz, immediately sinking out from under them. Thank goodness they had their vests on, but even that wouldn't have saved them had we not gotten to them fairly soon. The wind and chop on the Columbia requires large and heavy boats.

Uhhhhhm, yeah, OP should/could fish for bass on the Willamette, the lower John Day, and maybe take a trip to the Umpqua.

Trout fishing is just about everywhere there is cooler water and many techniques can be used. As mentioned, Salmon/Steelhead is a whole different ball game that requires some study/research, familiarization with run location and timing, and years typically... that is unless one has an experienced friend(s) or can afford a few guided trips to shortcut learning.
 
OP
DisplacedTexan
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Just saw this thread.....

I fished the Columbia for bass near Irrigon in my 20' Deep hull fiberglass Fish and Ski model. There were lots of bass to be had, both smallmouth and largemouth. If OP has never fished for smallmouth before, he needs to know that they orient to rocks, unlike the trees and weeds that largemouth hang around. Look for points with bowling ball sized rocks. Smallmouth typically hang anywhere from 8' to 25' depending on many factors.

Walleye can be had above and below McNary Dam, which also has nice salmon and steelhead runs headed for the Snake R, Clearwater R, and Salmon R.

I was fishing a bass tournament one year in June, we had about 10 boats on the water. My fishing partner and I were in an area well protected from the currents by a very large point... almost a bay. Around 10am we heard some a voice. From far away.... "Help!" .... "HELP!!!!" Looking out to the main channel beyond the point, we saw a guy in a lifejacket in the water holding onto a medium sized ice chest and being swept along at about 5kts in the current. We pulled anchor and went over and fished him out of the drink. Just in time... he was dramatically hypothermic. Turns out, it was one of our guys in the tourney, a friend of mine. His fishing partner was rescued by another boat. What had happened is that he runs a Boston Whaler with a 70hp motor and when the wind came up and it got choppy, they decided to run back closer to the ramp. They were fighting 2-4' chop and when they hit one too hard, the jarring bounce made my friends hand push the throttle forward... the boat went strait up and came down on it's azz, immediately sinking out from under them. Thank goodness they had their vests on, but even that wouldn't have saved them had we not gotten to them fairly soon. The wind and chop on the Columbia requires large and heavy boats.

Uhhhhhm, yeah, OP should/could fish for bass on the Willamette, the lower John Day, and maybe take a trip to the Umpqua.

Trout fishing is just about everywhere there is cooler water and many techniques can be used. As mentioned, Salmon/Steelhead is a whole different ball game that requires some study/research, familiarization with run location and timing, and years typically... that is unless one has an experienced friend(s) or can afford a few guided trips to shortcut learning.
I’ve managed to land a few very small smallmouth on the Willamette downtown. I’m going to take a little trip up to the sandy river tomorrow and see if I can do better.
 

bbbass

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I’ve managed to land a few very small smallmouth on the Willamette downtown. I’m going to take a little trip up to the sandy river tomorrow and see if I can do better.
MIght even be some salmon running in the Sandy... If you see some people bank fishin the lower Sandy, personally I wouldn't fight the crowds at Lewis and Clark, you might stop and chat them up, see what is happening. (That's how I learned to rig sand shrimp for Sandy Salmon)

You guys get any rain? It is drizzling here... not the 1/2 of rain I was expecting this morning.
 
OP
DisplacedTexan
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MIght even be some salmon running in the Sandy... If you see some people bank fishin the lower Sandy, personally I wouldn't fight the crowds at Lewis and Clark, you might stop and chat them up, see what is happening. (That's how I learned to rig sand shrimp for Sandy Salmon)

You guys get any rain? It is drizzling here... not the 1/2 of rain I was expecting this morning.
Yeah it rained pretty good last night and this morning. It’s just stopped and suns starting to come out.
 
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So here’s what I’ve learned from reading these posts.
Better have about $50,000 at least to fish that river.
Anchors are death traps
Run over to Costco and grab some salmon
I’d rather spend a day in Shawshank than a day in the Columbia.
Is it man against river, or is the fishing really that good?
Op. Jon boats don’t belong in the pacnw.
 

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