Fishing was a breeze on Saturday!

I hit the Columbia out of Stevenson on Saturday the 13th. The East wind ended up being a bit worse than forecasted for most of the day and it was a lot of work to stay out there all day long. For most of the day I had to pedal constantly to hold my position. When I would stop I would start drifting downstream at 2mph between the wind and the current.

I have to admit I was pretty jealous of all the guys out there in their bass boats with their spot lock trolling motors holding them in place while they casually fished. I am starting to think those guys might be a bit smarter than me :)

The fishing started out great. The wind was already blowing but the very first spot I fished produce 7 bass in less than an hour. I caught the first one up shallow on a vibrating jig and I caught the rest out a bit deeper (12-15') on a Ned rig. None of the fish were big, the biggest was maybe 2lbs, but still a lot of fun. Even though there were clearly a lot of fish around as soon as I made 10 casts without a bite I left that spot. I was determined not to spend time fishing where the fish were not biting.

After that I thought I would look for more shallow bass. I started just heading down the bank, chucking and winding the bladed jig. Probably my favorite early spring smallmouth lure. After a short while I picked up a bass on a little rocky point. I kept working my way along but after a half hour I only picked up one more small bass. It was clear that the shallow bite just was not happening like it had been the previous two trips.

I thought, OK, I know a spot that is 12-15' deep and often holds bass in the spring. I just new I was going to slay them when I got on that spot. Well either the fish just weren't there or I could not catch them It was getting really tough to fish with waves occasionally breaking over the bow of the kayak. Hard to concentrate on your drop shot when you are making sure you don't go swimming in the balmy 50 degree water.

After that disappointment I hit a variety of spots from 5-30' deep without so much as a sniff. I went about 3 hours without so much as a nibble and I was getting tired from the constant pedaling to hold myself on spots. In retrospect, I am not sure why I was working so hard to stay on fishless spots.

The other issue was that there were a fair number of bass boats out on the river. There a boat on almost every spot I wanted to fish. So not only was I working hard to hold myself on top of fishless spots, they weren't even spots that I had a ton of confidence in. I was starting to think about heading home.

I even did start to pedal back to the ramp, stopping to fish here and there when I looked back downriver and saw the one spot I wanted to fish was finally vacant. Well, I put the kayak in high gear and pedaled my butt off to grab that spot before someone else got there first.

I was a bit winded by the time I got there but I finally had some confidence that I would be fishing around fish again. The guys who had been on the spot earlier were definitely doing pretty well while they were there. I hoped that maybe I would fish it a little differently and be able to catch some of the ones they could not. With the wind and the current about the only thing I could use was as a drop shot.

I started tossing it around and on my 3rd "cast" I hooked a good fish. After over 3 hours without a sniff that fish felt so good. I put as much pressure as I could on that baby and worked it towards the kayak. When I had about 10' of line out and I was getting ready to grab the net the line just popped. I have to say that was a pretty low moment. Fortunately the wind quickly dried my tears and I was able to see well enough to re-tie :)

On my second drop after retying I felt another thump and set the hook into what once again felt like a big fish. After a great fight of give and take I got the fish close enough to the kayak to see it and it was indeed a nice one. After just losing the previous one I was really nervous as I pulled the fish towards the net. I have to say that when the net slid under that fish and I lifted out of the water it was like a giant weight was taken off my back and the angels were singing. It was a beautiful 19.5", 4lb 1oz smallmouth.

If I could have done so safely I would have jumped up and down in the kayak. The fishless hours were erased from my mind and I was really pumped. I kept working that area for quite a while and ended up with 4 more smallmouth from that area. No 4lbers but a couple of them were probably over 2lbs. I probably fished that spot for 10 minutes without a bite when I decided I would change things up.

I put down the drop shot and picked up my swimbait rod. I started casting it out and letting it sink on slack line until it hit the bottom and then slowly reeling it in. After a handful of casts I had a hard strike and after a short battle I hauled in a good size pikieminnow. Usually when I start catching those it means that bass have either moved off or have become inactive.

A few more casts and I decided that the spot was done, at least for a while. At that same time the wind had finally died down a bit and the sun had come out and all of a sudden I was roasting. Since the wind forecast I had seen had said that this would happen and that it would stay calm until evening I pulled up onto shore and stripped off most of my layers. Man that felt good. The plan was to fish my way back to the ramp.

I have to say though, that Mother Nature is full of tricks because about 10 minutes later the wind picked back up and I was freezing. It was just perfect. Each time when I started shivering and started to look for a place to beach and put my layers back on the wind would die just a little bit and I would think. "Its going to let up like the forecasts said'. Each time I was wrong.

It did not help that after leaving that previous spot I could not buy a bit again. I spent the next hour fishing some spots without a sniff. Finally, I decided to fish a spot that had at least some partial protection from the wind even though I had fished it earlier without success.

I thought it was kind of a dumb idea since it is only 5-7' deep and clearly almost every fish I had caught that day were in deeper water, but I was cold and it was on the way to the ramp. I have to say sometimes dumb ideas really pay off, intelligence is way overrated :)

I decided I was going to keep throwing the swimbait since it is easy to fish. That also turned out to be another idea that really panned out because all of a sudden I could not keep the smallmouth off my lure. The first one I caught was a respectable 2lb 4oz fish and after that I was getting bites on probably 80% of my casts. Missing some, losing some and catching some. The action was on fire.

After getting about a half dozen the bite slowed a little and I decided to try some other baits. I tried a Ned rig, rattletrap and a shallow crankbait. I think I had one bite on the rattletrap and that was it. I picked the swimbait back up and caught one on the first cast. I kept fishing that spot a while longer and picked up a few more even though the bite had slowed.

I only left that spot because I was getting tired and the wind had shifted directions 180 degrees and my wind protection was gone. I decided I was tired and I would only stop and fish one more spot on the way to the ramp (that I had only caught one small one on earlier). I thought that maybe the swimbait was the magic.

Within a couple of cast I had a hard thump and had a good fish one. Not as big as my fatty earlier and a real nice 17" 3lber.

I ended up with back to back to back fish. The bite was just wild and from a spot that had felt like a desert earlier in the day. I kept plugging away and ended up with a couple more. After a handful a empty casts I decided to call it a day.

I got to the ramp but when you have a miracle going it is best not to waste so made a couple of casts to a small point near the ramp that I have not caught a fish on this year and wouldn't you know it. There was a chunky little smallmouth there just waiting to be caught by me :) That was finally enough. I was really tired from working so hard all day and I had a long drive home so I thanked that last fish for playing and went to the ramp for real

Ended up being a fantastic day. 26 smallmouth and 1 pikieminnow. Blistering action separated by soul-sucking droughts. The key is to making through those droughts is to remember Tim Allen's catchphrase in Galaxy Quest, "Never give up, never surrender" :)

Here is some video from the day.

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