Go The Distance – Premier North West Bass Fishing

oregon largemouth bassNorthwest Bass Fishing – Go The Distance

Our favorite home waters undeniably have some great Bass lurking in the shadows and waiting for us in our favorite honey holes, but living in the Pacific Northwest puts us in an ideal position to head for waters that are a little more distant. Yes, you can catch some quality fish in Silver Lake, Lacamas Lake, Vancouver Lake, Battleground Lake, the Willamette, backwaters of the Columbia on the Oregon and Washington sides, and some smaller, less notable waters within a short drive, but it is worth it to do some research, pull out some maps, ‘fly in’ for a looksee using Google Earth, use online resources and then pack up the rig for an expedition to more distant prospects waiting for FANW addicts.

Recent trips to Tenmile Lake near the Oregon Coast, the Snake River near Lewiston/Clarkston, points East in the Columbia Gorge, the John Day and down to Clear Lake, California have reminded me that a little travel and discovery can add to the fun of pursuing Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Besides taking in new sights and new country, it is also a great way to improve your skill at studying, evaluating and attacking new lakes and streams. With each new experience you add to your arsenal of knowledge and learn useful ways to quickly unlock the secrets of unfamiliar lakes and streams.

Clear Lake, a renowned Mecca for Big Bass chasers.

About this time last year I spent a week at Clear Lake, a renowned Mecca for Big Bass chasers.
Sure enough, my buddy and I found good numbers of big fish. I had anticipated using the classic, very large, realistic swimbaits popularized by Clear Lake experts and had a big Castaic rainbow trout, a light Hitch (common baitfish here), and some good Yum Money Minnows tied on and ready to go.

As it turned out the good Spring swimbait bite was over and nothing touched my monster-sized swimbaits, but by using them as small swimbaits I was able to inflict major damage using Gary Yamamoto curl-tailed grubs. I had a blast using electronics to find fish hanging near a depth change or underwater stump, targeting them and hooking fish right where I knew they were hiding. I also used some crankbaits (Caught a really nice fish just as my Brother-in-Law flew over with my Wife in his airplane!), some stickbaits and for several days there was also a tremendous spinnerbait bite.

I was really shocked when after scoping out a rock ledge extending out from shore in about 4 feet of water and smacking some good-sized Largemouth on my magnum size home-built twin-blade spinnerbait, I got such a tremendous hit that it strained my wrist and completely doubled my tough, 5 power rod. I can estimate a fish’s weight pretty well and in the first few moments of this fight I was convinced that what I had was the new world record for Largemouth Bass. But as the fight went on and I didn’t feel the familiar head-shakes or lunges, as the fish stayed deep and didn’t offer to come up, it occurred to me that this was probably a big catfish. Sure enough once I got him up close enough for a look, there was a monster cat. He slimed my line about four feet up from the bait and hung out both sides of the net when my buddy helped get him in the boat. I got the bait out and held him up for a picture, then released that big bruiser. Panting and sweating, I remarked to my friend: “Well, you’ll never see that again in a million years,” and of course, a few casts later he got another big cat! They were obviously chasing baitfish up on that rocky shelf, just like the Bass. Sheesh! Enough to fry your brains! But the Bass fishing was everything we could have asked for at Clear Lake and I marveled at fishing past islands with palm trees. It was a great trip and our timing was good too, since we just beat the dreaded algae bloom that starts in early to mid July and can really choke the water.washington largemouth bass

Some Prospects

Fishing the Snake, the John Day and the Columbia for Smallmouth is a high-percentage way to get into good numbers of fish. Current rips, eddies, seams, points, shelfs, small islands and underwater rockpiles almost invariably hold a hungry volunteer.

My most recent trip was to Tenmile in Oregon. What a great Bass lake! Lots of big fish are waiting to bite and more are guaranteed because of the special regs on this lake. Any fish over 15 inches must be released, while the normal 5 fish bag limit is okay for smaller fish, if you prefer that to catch-and-release. This means that as time passes the big fish are going to continue to grow plentiful. Other lakes up and down the Oregon coast have good fish too, and in the Summer it is much cooler, more comfortable fishing than in the 90 degree heat inland. Just bear in mind that near they are near the ocean, and these lakes can really blow up with high winds and waves starting at about 11 or Noon. It’s best to fish early morning or late evening if you can.

We used jig and grub combos, large lipless crankbaits, wakebaits and spinnerbaits to catch most of our Tenmile trophies, though locals swear by the more subtle senko. This could be because Tenmile is a tournament hotspot and the fish are often highly pressured. We visited on weekdays, so that might have made the difference.

The lake is divided by a small channel and while we caught some good fish on the North end, especially near railroad pilings and leaner logs, the coves and rocky points of the Sound end yielded the best action for us. The last morning there was a classic fog-on-the-water Bass bite and I got a real lunker in a cove by swimming a wakebait past an exposed stump. Just a very satisfying yank to disturb a quiet morning!

Research Out Of Town

My buddy recently took a trip to Coeur D’Lane Lake in Idaho for a vacation with extended family. He just happened to have his Bass boat along so he piled in daughters nieces and nephews and out they went prospecting for Bass. They caught lots of good-sized Smallmouth and found a Largemouth hideout too. A little exploration and Bass fishing can really add to your vacation fun! I highly recommend scoping out new places to fish. If you do your research and have a huge smallmouth basslittle extra time you can plan out a very rewarding trip to a new spot further from home, see some new sights, learn a little more about Bass fishing and catch some big lunkers.

Remember to always be aware of safety around the water, check the weather conditions and be sure to check on possible special regulations for the area you plan to fish. Keep your dry side up, your wet side down, your line tight and hold that fish up for me to see next time I drift by!

Your addicted friend,
Bob the Bassmaster

{P.S. Don’t be shy about posting your questions or comments here. I’ll get back to you with fiction and fact from Bob’s Almanac!}

Wobbler Fishing the Columbia River

wobbler fishing

Early Fall Wobbler Success

Every year, the largest of the Columbia River salmon runs arrives in the fall to flood tributaries and awaken fishermen. Fall Chinook are the largest in both quantity and size, two things that make them highly sought after. Fisheries like Bouy 10 are flooded with boats and as we head a little bit upriver we see one of the most popular and growing fisheries in the Northwest – Wobbler Fishing.

Wobbler fishing could be seen as simple and no doubt it is simplistic in nature – that’s a large part of the appeal. With that in mind it is the subtleties of the technique that equal payoff. “Hog-lines” form and boats drop anchor, rods are rigged up and lines are dropped; coffee is poured and stories start. Hopefully, if all goes well the rods will fold and nets will fly.

You can go out in the Columbia river with a rudimentary knowledge of Wobbler fishing and have success, especially if you follow some key guidelines. With the barbless regulations in effect, landing a fish will be your next challenge. With these tips we hope to increase your odds of success.

Finding a slot

Fall Chinook typically run in much deeper water than their Spring counterparts. This is likely due to water temperature and conditions rather than biological nature. Use 30 – 50 feet as a general rule for finding your slot. That is a solid place to start but do not be stubborn and assume just because one depth was working on a certain day or in a certain place that it will produce again.

The benefit of the wildly popular Fall Chinook fishery is that there is plenty of visual reference as to where to fish. With hundreds of boats fishing in “Hog-lines” it becomes quickly apparent what slots are producing. It may not be wise to try to immediately copy what you see, but keeping a reference of their location or finding the same depth below or above that slot may be the right idea.

In some cases you’ll see that as lighting changes the bite will move – those that are consistently out on the water will have the advantage of being able to compare times of day, tide adjustments and lighting conditions to catch ratio. Trial & error and observing will go a long way. This fall, it’s worth it to change it up a bit until you’re getting good results, don’t settle for sub-par results as there is big numbers of fish available!

Rod selection

Proper rod selection will help increase your odds of success. Yes, you can get away with fishing many rods but having one designed for Wobbler fishing allows maximum efficiency. Lamiglas has designed a rod specifically built for the Columbia River Wobbler fishery. The XCC 885lamiglas-xcc-885-GH fishing rod GH Certified Pro Kwik series is a 15-40 lb (line rating) rod available at Sportsman’s Warehouse and many other fishing departments. At 8’8″ it  is the ideal length for heavy-lead applications with a moderate-fast action built to make your lure have the perfect wobble. I would typically stay with a stouter rod as these fish are big – having a bit of length to the rod is ideal for keeping lures separated.

Rigging up

There is a lot of discussion on best practices for Wobbler fishing. You’re going to find that every circumstance has its standout subtleties but you can usually achieve success by following a few simple guidelines.

Use a 5 – 6 foot lead dropper - You will be rigging up a spreader first and then choosing line-length to your required weight. This is a very essential step. In deep slots  (40 – 50 foot range) go with 5 – 6 feet of line to your lead. You can shorten that in shallower water but 5 – 6 feet seems most consistent. There are a few exceptions of course but for any standard situation stick in that range. For dropper leader you should consider using a lighter lb test, so if you happen to get in some rocks or on some sort of snag you wont lose your favorite Simon Wobbler!

Use a 5 – 6 foot leader - LB test will depend on what you choose to put your faith in – leader length should typically be around 5 – 6 feet long. Same leader and lead line length is standard (5 x 5 is typical) You should be using at least 30 lb test leader with some guys using up to 50 lb test.

Wobbler Selection - This is where you’ll hear some of the most heated debates and opinions. Some years people will swear by a certain color combo or a distinguishing feature (one year we kept hearing about the “purple-dot.”) The fact is, many colors and finishes will work at any given time but you’re going to find that some stand out. This is where having multiple rods out with multiple colors will do a lot of good – pay close attention and adjust. Don’t be afraid to ask about what’s working around you. Below are some of Fishing Addicts personal favorites : these have produced well for us and are great standby wobblers to start with.

salmon lures

Simon Wobbler #11

salmon lures

Simon Wobbler #17

Simon Wobbler #24

Simon Wobbler #24

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Simon #11 is a standby in many peoples tackle boxes – you are flat out going to see it produce this year. The next option features a chartreuse lip (#17) which is an absolute killer especially when water temperatures are high. The #24 (watermelon) had some amazing days last fall and was silent other days – it seems when the fish keyed in on the watermelon pattern they wouldn’t stay off of it, but other days chartreuse would outperform by a long-shot. Again it’s a matter of trying them out and considering all the other factors at play (Are there fish coming through? Is my lure in the right slot? right depth? etc.)

You’ll find that other wobbler brands can and do produce well – we (and many others) prefer Simon’s for their tune-ability, color options and the way they “wobble” out of the box. Which brings us to our next point:

Tuning Wobblers

Hugely important to successful wobbler fishing is to tune them! Wobblers are most enticing to salmon when they run at the right speed. Bending the wobbler at the crease will affect the action of the wobbler. The more  bend in the crease =faster action, the flatter or less bend in the crease = slower action. A slow even wobble is our preferred action but as you might expect, there are certain times when more action pays off. The important thing is to keep experimenting with your tuning, then drop your wobbler down at the side of the boat and watch it. If it looks fishy, fish it. If it looks bad, re-tune it until it looks fishy. Then see if the fish agree.

simonbackpackOne particularly innovative product that has just hit the scene is the Simon Backpack. It’s basically a “cheat-code” to a well-tuned wobbler. These little hunks of goodness stabilize and slow the action of Simon wobblers and cause them to swim perfectly without ANY tuning – even in fast current. You can also add scent in the scent chamber built into the Backpack.

Buy Simon Backpack Tuner Online

“TUNING!” We cannot overstate this enough.

Pay close attention to the action of your wobbler and it will pay off in takedowns. 

 

Scents

Scent suggestions can be ambiguous as it’s a factor that is hard to measure. Our typical scent application for Wobbler’s is to wash them consistently with Lemon-Joy soap. This could account for scent or simply for a clean lure. Either way it’s worth it to experiment and find out what works. Some good scents to start out with would be sardine, herring, garlic, or tuna.

It’s well known that salmon key in on scent hugely, we just notice it more when fishing bait in small rivers rather than fishing hardware in the big river. One particular example being a day where we had 5 rods out of one boat – four wobblers had scent, one wobbler had no scent. That wobbler got clobbered all day and the others never got touched – this is not to say it was the scents fault – plenty other factors could have been at play, but it was interesting to note. All in all – go with what you have confidence in.

Watching the odds

Anchor fishing is an odds game – just like any other fishing. You are going to notice things about your program that consistently produce fish. This could be a slot, a color or leader length – whatever it is watch it and compare it. Use other boats and other fishermen as a reference point. Make the little adjustments, watch the tides, watch the lighting. Don’t write off a wobbler just because you weren’t fishing it correctly, also have the confidence to switch things up and try a new color. There will be a great number of Fall Chinook coming up the Columbia this year – this allows you the luxury of fine-tuning your wobbler game and achieving maximum success.

If your looking to get out this fall and wanna learn all the tricks please book a trip with our featured guide – Columbia-River-Guided-Fishing!

Good luck!

- Lucas


 

Fishing Addicts Northwest will no doubt be out on the Lower Columbia this year putting in work on the biggest run of Fall Chinook we’ve yet to see. Watch for video content and more articles to come on this fantastic fishery.

Buy Wobblers Online - Watch our Fall Chinook Fishing Video

Several 20 Pound Steelhead | Addicted!

Several 20 pound Steelhead on film – Fishing in Washington & Oregon for big wild & hatchery steelhead!

Float fishing, drift fishing and many more techniques are used to hook big aggressive fish!

Fishing Addicts Northwest – Multiple 20+ pound Steelhead on film!

We fished Oregon & Washington to find trophy steelhead, not all in film were in the 20 pound mark as you’ll plainly see. We had great fun.

Techniques include: jig fishing, pink worms, spinners, spoons & more!

The Best Way to Bleed Salmon & Steelhead

Steelhead & Salmon are one of the finest in table fare, but why spend all that time catching & preparing fish if you don’t take full advantage of the flavor? Properly bleeding a fish is one of the biggest keys to getting the most out of rich, flavorful Steelhead fillets. In this tutorial, Marlin LeFever of Fishing Addicts Northwest will show you how to bleed the fish properly. The fish used in tutorial is a hatchery winter steelhead, caught on a bobber and jig. Hope this helps!

We’ll keep you updated with tutorials, tips & tricks! Follow us:

Merwin and Yale Kokanee Fishing Tips

kokanee fishing

Book an epic Kokanee trip with Cameron Black!

If you’re looking to catch Kokanee spring is the time to start. Spring is be the most productive time to pull out these fun and very tasty fish in both Merwin and Yale. Spring is not the only time you have a chance at these fish. You can find them throughout the entire summer but its going to take a little more effort finding them and a lot more weight, preferably a downrigger to get down to them. Early in the season, March and April, Kokanee are in large, very concentrated
schools near the surface of the water. You’ll need to fish very shallow with little weight. Troll the west end of Merwin where the water temp is warmer until you start catching fish, then stay in that area and you’ll notice patterns in where you catch fish due to the large schools.

In May and June the fish will follow the water temperature line down deeper into the lake. As the water warms, the fish will go deeper and deeper. For this reason you’ll need to fish deeper than you did before. Using a quality depth finder is an easy way of targeting the fish. If you don’t have one fish at different depths until you find them. Also, as the water warms, the fish will move to the east end of Merwin where fresh and cooler water enters from the upper Lewis River.  Fishing for kokanee can be done many different ways. Jigging, trolling, and casting are most popular. Trolling will be the easiest way in Merwin and Yale due to their size. Start by trolling ford fender flashers followed by a wedding ring spinner. When fishing on sunny days, use silver flashers, and use copper or brass on overcast days.

Wedding ring spinners come in many colors but only red and green are your must have colors in your tackle box. Use the red early in the season when the kokanee are shallow and green when the kokanee move deeper. Also use Green Giant white shoepeg corn for bait, just one or two kernels per hook. Other bait such as single salmon eggs or a night crawler can work but corn tends to be must productive. Kokanee are strange in that sometimes they will bite best on things that other days they won’t touch. If you aren’t catching fish, make a change to your presentation about every 30 minutes, you’ll eventually find something that works, then stick with it.