Another tough day on the Willamette


Well-known member
I was torn between fishing upriver or hitting Swan Island harbor on Sunday. I am not sure how the fishing was upriver but it could not have been much worse than what I ran into around the harbor.

I spent quite a bit of time when I got there going back and forth across the harbor looking for sturgeon with the FF. I marked tons of fish but they were not sturgeon (as far as I could tell). They are close to but not directly on the bottom.

I knew the outgoing was not supposed to get going until noon so I fished my way out near the mouth where I once again was marking fish but feeling doubtful that they were sturgeon. I at least verified that they were not hungry sturgeon :)

Around 11 or so I started upriver with the reasoning that the fish must be somewhere I had not found yet. The whole way up the river I was marking tons of fish that I was sure were not sturgeon.

I finally made my way up to a hole that was about 63' deep with surrounding depths mostly about 10-20' shallower. I marked a ton of what I assumed were non-sturgeon, but I also marked a few thicker arches on the bottom that look like they might be sturgeon.

I fished that are from about 11:30 to 1:00 and only managed 4 shakers during that time - moving my casts a lot and re-anchoring multiple times. I finally decided to look for a better bite downstream - not realizing I was leaving my hotspot for the day.

From there I headed down closer to the RR bridge, stopping and fishing here and there without a sniff. I finally made my way down near the dolphins and anchored up in about 55' of water where once again I was marking fish, but not convinced they were sturgeon.

After fishing for a bit with a bunch of pecking bites I decided to try and find out exactly what I was marking. I had brought my ultralight and tied on a 2oz weight and #6 hook and baited up with a nightcrawler and dropped it into the current.

Pretty much as soon as it hit the bottom I was getting bites and hooked into a small-ish (10") pikieminnow. That was kind of fun and better than not catching fish. I fished there for about 1/2 hour or so and caught a dozen or so pikieminnows during that time. Pretty much would get bit within a few seconds of it hitting the bottom.

Next time I will bring a fillet knife and chop some up for bait. So I think most of the fish I have been marking are pikieminnows. If that is true it is crazy how many there are in that stretch of the river. I would say that there is at least a 2 mile stretch that seems to be mostly paved with pikieminnows.

I will also add that I thought I was catching pikieminnows but they could have been peamouths since I did not look that closely at what I was catching. Whatever they are there do seem to be quite a bit more than I recall seeing in past years.

One funny thing is that there was an absolute unit of a sealion swimming around. He popped up near me about 1/2 dozen times during the day. I think he was looking to steal a fish, but the joke was on him, you can't steal a fish if I don't catch a fish :)


Well-known member
Definitely a frustrating day, but the kayak performed great. In the trip before this one, it was too rough to anchor from the back of the kayak. The squared off stern does not do well if there are waves crashing into it. The older hull did not have this limitation, but it did not have the awesome rear handle either. This trip there was little to no wind (and wind waves) so I was able to anchor from the back and that worked great. The previous trip I just anchored from the front. Not a huge deal but not as nice as facing downstream.

At a couple of spots I did not even anchor but just used reverse to hold my position in the current. That only works if there is no cross breeze like on Sunday. That allowed me to quickly try a lot of spots. I am thinking that when I fish for trout at Hagg I may even try and troll backwards - although I am a little concerned about having to constantly swivel my head.

I also installed the hatch gasket and tested that and it is completely watertight so that is nice too. Before I installed the gasket my front hatch leaked pretty badly but now it is completely watertight.