March Madness Baby!

I took my first bass fishing trip of the year on Saturday the 23rd of March. I hit the Columbia river since it was a the perfect alignment of not too much wind, decent clarity and no family obligations. That is a rare trifecta in the spring in Oregon :)

I started fishing a little after daybreak with no idea whether the fish would be in 5 or 50 feet of water. I figured I would fish shallow first and work deeper until I figured something out. I started out throwing one of my favorite springtime lures. A 1/2oz white-ish Jackhammer stealthblade. The smallmouth around here love that thing in the spring!

I fished a first small point with nothing to show for it. I moved to a second longer point that is usually good for at least a few bites. I fished shallow with the jackhammer with no bites so I kept changing lures and moving deeper and deeper. I went all the way out to the end without a sniff. I was starting to not feel too good about the day at that point.

I was getting ready to leave when I decided to dust off the shallows of the point one last time with the jackhammer. On my 2nd or 3rd cast with it I felt soft hit and struck back. Fish on! I played that little guy with all the care you give a trophy fish. I needed to get that skunk off! Fortunately, he agreed and I landed my first fish of 2024. Just a little guy but I was really pumped.

I fished that spot for a while longer but that fish was the only one dumb enough to bite my lure. I figured I would cover some more shallow water (fish was in about 6') and try to figure out if that fish was telling me something useful or was just a liar fish :)

I moved to another spot that seems to hold fish pretty consistently in the early spring. It is not very different from the surrounding water (just a 6-8' deep flat) but the bass seem to like it in the spring. On my second cast I hooked a fish and lost. Next cast I had two hits and missed both. I was both excited to have found them and frustrated to not be hooking up. On my next cast I had another solid thump on the jackhammer and landed fish number two. A decent 2lb 9oz fish.

A couple more casts with the jackhammer and picked up another 2+lb fish fish. It was on baby! (Narrator's voice, "it was not on"). Well after a half dozen casts without a hit I switched to a rattletrap and on the first cast I hooked up again and land a nice little guy. A few casts later I picked up number 5 on the rattletrap.

Once again the bite died. So after a half dozen casts I went back to the jackhammer and hooked up almost right away but lost it on the way in. That was my last bite from that spot but I was really pumped. I was not expecting much on this first trip and it was already better than I had hoped for.

After that flurry I hit a pretty long lull while fishing similar spots to the that flat that was holding them. I could not buy a bite on the next handful of spots I tried so I figured that maybe I just ran into one errant school and that most of the fish were still holding a bit deeper.

The day had started calm but now there was a decent amount of wind out of the East. I went to a spot that my one friend loves in the spring. It is a small ridge in 12-15'of water that barely sticks up but the bass seem to like it in the sprint. I tossed the drop shot around and missed a few fish (it is a little difficult to fish a drop shot in the wind and current in the kayak) but I was encouraged by once again knowing that I was around fish.

I kept at it and was able to finally get the hook to stick in a nice 2lb 10oz bass (my biggest of the day up to that point). I kept at it with the drop shot, missing some bites, when I finally struck paydirt again.

Right away I could tell that this was a better fish. I kept good pressure on the fish and let it pull drag when it wanted to. After not too long of a fight in the the 46F degree water I was able to slide my net under a beautiful 4lb 3oz bass!!! The day was just getting better and better.

I was really stoked. I went back to the drop shot but after missing another fish I thought I would try a Ned rig to see if they would eat that better. That turned out to be the right call because on my first cast with the Ned rig I caught a nice 3lb 2oz smallmouth!

A short while later I caught another 2+lb bass on the Ned but then the wind shifted directions on me and between having difficulty holding the kayak in place and perhaps the fish changing how they were set up I could not get another bite. I figured I would move to another spot and maybe revisit this spot again later.

So I decided at that point that since I had caught fish in ~6' of water and in 12-15' of water the different groups were in different stages of moving up. I went to another spot that has a nice little flat in the 6' range and some nice 10-20' water right next to it. I figured one of the two spots should have some fish.

I started out tossing the jackhammer on the flat and picked up two more nice smallmouth in pretty short order. However, I could not coax a 3rd bass of the flat and I could not find any in the deeper adjacent water. By then it was getting late in the day so I figured I would head back to the ramp and only stop at the 6' flat where I had caught 4 bass in the morning.

The wind was 180 degrees from where it was in the morning and I was pretty tired and not expecting much as I tossed the jackhamer around when I was surprised by a hard hit and some good weight. I was really stoked when I was able to slip my net under a 3lb 5oz beauty!

That was my last fish of the day. I ended up with 13 bass, over half of them were over 2lbs and the best 5 went 15lb 13oz. A respectable bag - especially given that my only goal was to not get skunked :)

Here is some video from what turned out to be a pretty good day!

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Wow! Congratulations on a great first bass trip of the season! Those fish are beauties.
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I guess that they missed me :)
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