An amazing day on the Willamette, 02 October 2016


Well-known member
I had a really great day on Sunday. It was not the most fish I have ever caught nor the biggest but it was definitely up there with one of my favorite days on the Willamette ever.

I was on the water and fishing by around 7:15. It was a dark, drizzly morning that just screamed smallmouth to me. On my second cast along a rocky structure I had a really hard strike that did not stick. A couple of casts later missed another fish. I was using a spinnerbait and to be honest it is rare to miss a fish and to miss two in a row is really surprising.

I shrugged off the misses and continued along the rocks. I was poised and ready for that next strike. Half an hour later I was not quite as poised or ready but I finally broke the ice with a little smallmouth. I was starting to have my doubts about how epic this day was going to be. By 9am I had three smallmouth, with emphasis on the small. The outgoing tide was starting to pick up so I decided that I would forget the smallmouth and fish for sturgeon.

I pedaled 30 minutes upstream to a favorite spot of mine. It was a tough pedal with only the thoughts of my initial failure on the smallmouth to keep my company. By the time I got to my spot my gray mood matched matched the gray rain filled sky.

I rigged up my usual 1/2 anchovy and tossed out, at least pleased by the amount of current and the fact that the wind was at my back and the rain was not in my face. In less than a minute I had a good bite and when I reeled down on the fish I could tell it was a good one.

After a 10 minutes of strong runs and dragging me around the river I was able to get my first nice fish of the day. A nice 5' sturgeon.

I cast back out and in a couple of minutes had another good bite. This fish fought like a demon, dragging me down the river, changing directions sharply - whipping the kayak around. Then all of a sudden the line went slack. Dang it I said - or something like that :)

I reeled in fast and then I could see the line was actually curving under the kayak just as it came tight that big sturgeon jumped clear out of the water just a couple of feet behind me. Talk about a brown underwear moment. What a huge splash. Some folks fishing in a bass boat nearby looked over when they heard the splash but they did not know how close I was to getting crushed.

That jump seemed to energize the fish. I think it jumped, looked at me and said I can take that old guy. After a long, brutal struggle though I was able to bring that fish to heel.

I went back to that spot and within a few minutes I had hooked another good sized sturgeon. Almost a mirror image of the previous one. Again it was a 10 minute battle that raged down the river. By this time I was actually starting to get tired.

The next three fish were in the mid-40s and put up a good fight but seemed like babies compared to the first three.

The bite seemed to stop after that but I had plenty of tide left so I decided to move lower in the hole. The river at this point went from about 40' to 70' and was a bit wider so the current was much less. I decided to give it a try.

I cast a couple of times with no bites and said to myself one more cast and then I will move. I felt a bite that seemed a bit weird. I thought maybe it was a shaker. Nope.

Terrible pictures but it was 22" catfish. It was not a bullhead but I am not sure it was a channel cat either since it did not have any spots. I think it was actually a white catfish, but I am not sure. If so it was my first white catfish ever.

I cast back out and got some more bites that seemed similar but I did not hook back up. At that point I decided I had gone the wrong direction and went back upstream above my first spot in even shallower water with more current.

I moved my cast a couple of times when I hooked a good sized fish. About 1/2 way through the fight it made a nice jump. After a good strong fight that seemed a little short I got the fish to the boat. It was about 50" long, but would have been longer if it had a tail!

Yep, the tail was completely gone. Looked to be sort of chewed off. I am not sure what could have done that. I doubt a sea lion would bite the tail off and leave the rest. I had already unhooked it when I saw that its tail was gone and I could not hold it while I tried to dig out the camera. I am bummed I did not get a pic. The cool thing is how thick that fish was. I am not sure if it was an illusion from the missing tail or if it had developed more muscle to compensate. It had enough power to jump clear out of the water though!

The next fish was low 40s fish and the outgoing was coming to an end. I decided to make one last extra long cast. After a couple of minutes of waiting the rod gave that familiar twitch. I picked up the rod and could feel a fish munching. I tightened up and started to reel and I could not budge that fish.

Then line started coming up and that huge sturgeon made a huge, arcing leap way down the river. It was so perfect looking it seemed fake. What can I say about the ensuing battle that I have not said a zillion time already. It was brutal, I was at the mercy of that big fish for quite a while before I came out victorious.

I measured it a bit over 6' long:

By that time the outgoing was starting to end and I was so tired that I was afraid to re-bait. That would have been an amazing end to a day that started out slow and ended fantastic, but since it was only 2:30 and I wanted to give the bass another crack on the incoming.

I went back to throwing a spinnerbait, crankbait and drop shot along a handful of rocky flats that almost always produce some fish. Not a sniff for an hour and a half. Finally I ended up at a spot where I had a monster day a few weeks ago.

Before fishing it I thoroughly mapped it out with my Garmin 73SV and I realized I had not understood that spot before and I was marking a TON of fish. Turns out that there is a 15' flat that has a 30' deep bowl in the middle of it. I had not realized that the flat came back up so far out in the river. The edge of that bowl was just paved with fish.

I started fishing a drop shot and it was the best bass fishing I have ever had. The fish were in 18-24' along that outside edge and I ended up catching 38 smallmouth in two hours. Just amazing fishing. I think I could have caught even more but it was tough to stay on the spot with the wind and the bit of current that was there. No monsters but all the fish were between 1 and 3 lbs. I finally left because I was exhausted. The fish were still biting like crazy.

I think that is the first time I was so tired from reeling in fish that I had to call it a day. What a blast. Here are a couple of smallie pictures. I did not take many because by then I was pretty numb.

That is a day I will never forget. Having one sturgeon jump is amazing. Three is insane, one did not have a tail. Super hot bass bite at the end. I could not have scripted a better day.

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Well-known member
Excellent report as usual. Sounds like a ton of fun, you are making me want to hit the river bad!


Active member
Wonderful, sounds like a memorable day. I thought channel cats lose their spots as they grow bigger? Not an expert. That would be way cool if you caught a white cat!


Well-known member
Thanks guys!

bubs;n599111 said:
Wonderful, sounds like a memorable day. I thought channel cats lose their spots as they grow bigger? Not an expert. That would be way cool if you caught a white cat!
When they get big the spots fade, but this guy was only 22". Someone told me they thought it might be a blue catfish. I am not sure if it was a blue or a white (should have gotten better pictures), but I am sure it was not a channel cat. I caught thousands of those when I lived on the East coast.


Active member
That is cool, I would be stoked to catch one of the less common species. I've been hoping to hook into a white catfish in the Tualatin for awhile now!


Well-known member
bubs;n599188 said:
That is cool, I would be stoked to catch one of the less common species. I've been hoping to hook into a white catfish in the Tualatin for awhile now!
I was pretty excited to catch a new species for sure. If I luck into another one I will take more and better pictures.