Bass seemed to be spread thin on the Columbia

bass

bass

I fished the Columbia on Saturday the 16th and it was a bit of a weird day. A little breezy in the morning but then dead calm in the afternoon. The bass just seemed to be really spread out. I caught 8 bass (and lost a few more) in depths from 12' down to 54' (the deepest I have ever caught a smallmouth).

Bite seemed slow and a little tentative and fished for a while before I caught my first fish. It was a nice 2lb 7oz, 17 3/4" bass (on the skinny side). I nabbed that guy on an underspin with a swimbait trailer in about 12' of water. I was pretty excited but I did not even get another bite fishing that way.

Shortly after that my buddy brought over the biggest smallmouth I have ever seen I weighed it for him and it was 5lb 8oz!!! The amazing thing is that it was only 20 3/4" long. That fish was the fattest football of a smallie I have ever seen. It looked like the shape of the toads they catch on the Great Lakes. He caught it on a Ned rig. I felt honored to even get to weigh that fish.

After that not getting any more bites shallow I started probing deeper and deeper and picked up a couple of stray bass in the pound and 3/4 range in about 20' or so on the drop shot. I kept probing deeper and picked up a pounder out of 54'. The only reason I was even trying that deep is because nothing seemed to be working consistently and the fish had to be somewhere.

A little later I picked up another pound and 3/4 fish out of 30' of water. In the meantime by buddy had only added on 8" fish to the beast he caught earlier. He called it a day but I kept fishing.

I mean the water temp was 61 and had been stable there for days. I thought the bite should have been on fire and it was frustrating to be scrounging so hard to catch fish.

I probably fished for 2 hours without a bite when I moved upstream a ways. I though that maybe I was marking some fish tight to the bottom where it rose up to about 22' out of 30-40'. On my first drop I caught another fish that was 1lb 12oz, I quickly dropped back down and missed another. I realized at that point my camera was not on so I turned it on and went back to fishing.

A couple of drops later I caught a 2lb 3oz (16.5") bass and I could see a bunch of other fish with it on the sonar as I fought it. I really thought I was going to be on fire but then the fish seemed to vanish. I just kept moving and drop shotting all over that structure. I missed a fish that felt pretty big in about 16' and then caught a small one (maybe a pound) out of 40'.

Other than that one flurry it was a really slow day for me. The fished seemed to be biting timidly and in addition to losing a couple of fish I had several other bites where the fish dropped the bait as soon I felt them. It took me a LONG time to realize that I was only getting bit when I was just dead-sticking or slowly dragging the drop shot with as little action as possible.

Other than the first fish that thumped the underspin super hard it was the an incredibly timid bite I had ever tried to encourage on the Columbia. I am curious if anyone else was out this weekend and if so what kind of experience they had.

Here is some video from the day.

 
Shaun Solomon

Shaun Solomon

Smallies are funny critters for sure. No barotrauma for the deep one? I’ve caught them deeper but they always needed fizzing so I try not to mess with them over about 35’ or so
 
NKlamerus

NKlamerus

Huh, thought I posted a reply here but I guess not.

I had almost the opposite findings in the Umpqua, bass were schooled in two very specific spots.

Lots of guys asking me how I'm still catching them? I'm sure they slow down in the winter but it's not like they disappear?

Love the videos, been looking at camera mounting options and thinking of doing the same style of over the shoulder mount, maybe a little further over the gunnel so fish in front of me are visible. Are you running a GoPro?

I have never targeted smallmouth that deep, I'm not sure I have the patience!
 
bass

bass

Smallies are funny critters for sure. No barotrauma for the deep one? I’ve caught them deeper but they always needed fizzing so I try not to mess with them over about 35’ or so

That is a good question. The fish seemed just fine and swam straight down when released (no swollen air bladder). I assume that means it was OK.
 
bass

bass

Huh, thought I posted a reply here but I guess not.

I had almost the opposite findings in the Umpqua, bass were schooled in two very specific spots.

Lots of guys asking me how I'm still catching them? I'm sure they slow down in the winter but it's not like they disappear?

Love the videos, been looking at camera mounting options and thinking of doing the same style of over the shoulder mount, maybe a little further over the gunnel so fish in front of me are visible. Are you running a GoPro?

I have never targeted smallmouth that deep, I'm not sure I have the patience!

Maybe it is a deep river vs shallow river thing. The last spot where I briefly was on them seemed indicative that the fish were in a school but then gone in a heartbeat. Of course maybe they just stopped biting for me.

I never seem to find big schools on the Columbia or the Willamette once we get to October like I do in the summer but maybe that is just my failure. It seems like once the water temp gets back to the low 60s that I tend to catch only a fish or two off a spot. Usually I am catching a better average sized fish just not as many in a day.
 
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