A couple more sturgeon reports from Swan Island

Sunday January 17th:

I have found that often when the river rises (and is warming) that the fish inside the harbor do not bite well. The 17th was no exception. I moved a lot and fished fast until I found a bite. I fished 4 spots back in the dry dock areas without a bite before I caught a couple beside the Vigorour back in the dry dock area. That bite quickly went dead so I moved out closer to the mouth of the harbor. that was a good spot for me. I caught 7 shakers and 3 keepers there. I also broke off a big fish that I never got off the bottom for the 20 minutes I had it on.

While I was on that spot a couple of guys came by in kayaks (Sam and maybe Steve) and they had not caught anything yet. The tied off near me but did not get any bites. They were going to leave so I told them to try at the edge of the current. They each caught some fish there. After a bit my sonar started acting funny so I said bye to them and went to shore downstream a ways to try to see what was up. I think my battery cable was a little loose. I jiggled it tighter and everything worked fine after that.

I fished downstream of the harbor for a bit and picked up 6 shakers, but it was kind of slow so I worked my way back towards the harbor mouth. I spent a lot of time looking for fish but I did not see many. Just one here and one there. I eventually found a spot where I marked a couple of fish and I anchored up. Just when I started getting bites a huge log raft came down and I had to get the heck out of there.

I moved closer to the mouth but still slightly downstream and out in the current. Once again I started getting bites and a huge log came down and I had to pull anchor again. That dampened my enthusiasm for fishing out in the current! Getting squished really ruins one's day. So I went back to my earlier hot spot just inside the harbor but the bite was dead. About then another kayak guy came by. He has a blog about kayak fly fishing and is a really nice guy. We chatted and I said the bite was dead where I was but out near the edge of the pier might be good. He tied off there and caught a couple - including snagging a big keeper by lassoing it around one of its ventral fins. Totally weird. That was a handful so I went over and helped him get that fish off.

I moved a short distance I could toss into the current and that turned out to be a dynamite spot. Tons of bites, but a lot of the fish were really tiny. I did hook another big fish and broke that one off too (dang Power Pro). I am not sure what going on with me breaking off so many fish. I think it is the Power Pro line. I am going to take that off and go back to Tuff Line. Anyway at the end of the day the rain stopped and the wind died and it was really nice out on the water. Caught a low 40s keeper on my last cast for my last fish of the day. I love it when a day ends like that!

The worst part of the day was when I got home. I noticed the pocket on my vest where I keep my camera was unzipped. Yep, I made a nice deposit to the fish gods. Dang that made me mad. Oh well, that is what I get for being a moron. No one to blame but myself.

Sunday January 24th:

I was so stoked to fish on the 24th. I knew it was going to be an epic day. In anticipation I re-spooled my reel with 50lb Tuff Line XP. The river had warmed a couple of degrees and with all the rain during the week the river was higher and flowing really hard. It was tough to swallow that I ended up having a pretty slow day. In 7.5 hours of fishing I only caught 16 fish, 13 shakers and 3 keeper sized. Most of the day it was really slow. I only caught 7 fish in the first 5.5 hours, the last 2 hours were much better (I caught 9 in that time frame which is a decent catch rate).

Best spot was once again at the edge of the current. I fished the dry docks first for a bit, but I was not getting any bites and other folks started crowding into the area. I decided even if I hooked up I would not want to deal with trying to fight a fish with anchor ropes in the area. There were a zillion fish on the sonar but they were not biting. I spoke with a guy who had fished that area all day and he said that finally around noon the fish started to bite. I am just too impatient to wait for the fish to start biting. I prefer to go find the biters even if it means fishing over fewer fish. In the end, I was happy I moved. I got to fish all by my lonesome the rest of the day and it was so nice on the water. Plus I did not break off a single fish, although I must say I did not hook into any oversized fish.

If I get some pics off the camera I will post them. I will say that the dry docks seem like they are really doing a good business which is nice to see. They were working all day on Sunday and the boats in the docks were different than from the previous weeks.

I did spend a half hour at the end of the day fishing a piece of worm under a bobber back in the harbor fishing looking for panfish. I guess it is too early or I was in the wrong spot. I did not get a sniff as far as I could tell. I really want to figure out the panfish bite back in the harbor. I am sure it is fantastic once you figure it out. I would not eat anything from there but I do have a notion of keeping some crappie to cut up for sturgeon bait. It would be nice to be able to stop buying anchovies for a while.
Another great report! Thanks for taking us along Bass. Sorry to hear about your camera. Sounds kinda scary with all the logs coming down.
billfisher said:
Another great report! Thanks for taking us along Bass. Sorry to hear about your camera. Sounds kinda scary with all the logs coming down.

Thanks. I have had that camera for about 10 years and I was really sorry to lose it. We had bought a nicer weatherproof camera when we went to Alaska a few years back. I will just have to commandeer that one for now and either buy a new family camera or buy a cheaper camera for me. After a while the stink just does not come off the camera :)

The logs that you can see are just annoying. Typically have a lot of time to pull anchor and get out of the way. The scary thing is when a log comes down that is under water. I don't think that happens much around Swan Island but it happens more upstream where the current is much stronger. Years ago around George Roger's park a kayaker's float on his anchor suddenly went under and the back of his kayak started dragging under. He quickly released from the anchor and was fine, but it showed how fast things can go south. Whatever tangled with his anchor rope stayed hung with it and he never got his anchor back. Without a quick release he might have lost his kayak as well.

That is one of the main reasons I fish around Swan Island so much in the winter unless the flows are pretty low. It is probably the safest place to fish on the Willamette and there are plenty of sturgeon in the area.
Enjoy it while you can! I sure hope you don't lose that fishery!
I sure hope they don't close the C&R, at least on the Willamette. If they do I guess I will start taking trips up the rivers. There is no intention to close the fishing above Bonnieville or above Willamette falls.
Top Bottom