Nehalem bay 1, visitor 0

So, I ended up in Nehalem this weekend despite gale, and small craft advisory from NOAA. Turns out, they were really accurate. We put our boat in at Nehalem Bay State Park and ran across to Kahrs Dock where we started trolling herring. It was windy all day but manageable at this point so we continued on up river. Just upstream from Wheeler, and just before a spot called Hole In The Wall, I hooked a beautiful Coho, and my first Coho for that matter! What a great fight! He was an easy 15 to 18 pounds and chrome for days! Only issue was he was also native. I reluctantly returned him home. I was then told later by a friend that you are allowed one native per year? I didn't think so and if confirmed here, I think I will throw up at my disappointment. I don't know everything and I think we all know how ridiculous our regs are. It's really difficult to keep up with. More effort than it should be anyway. No picture of that fish, sorry guys but it was raining sideways at that point. We continued past the town of Nehalem upriver about another mile and conditions were really deteriorating fast at this point. We decided to troll back down through wheeler and head for the dock. By the time we got back to wheeler the wind was so bad we packed it up ran for the ramp. We got out just past Paradise Cove and the swells I the bay were 3 to 5 feet. Other boats ahead of us turned back and ran for shelter up river. We should have followed. We ended up in 10 foot wind waves and in a steady south 50 wind with gusts near 70. Hands down the scariest water I have ever been in. I would have been scared in a 21 foot hard top boat, let alone my 15 foot smoker craft open boat. It took us about an hour to run 1.5 miles and when we got to the docks, they were tossing so violently they were unusable. The dock ended up braking up from the waves before we could make a landing there anyway. Long story short, we beached the boat on the concrete ramp as we felt it was safest. I jumped out, pulled the nose of the boat straight and waves were coming a foot or so over the stern and we capsized on the ramp. The next 2 hours were spent literally dragging the boat up the ramp enough to get to where I could start bailing water out with a 5 gallon bucket since my bilge couldn't keep up and eventually failed anyway. Two strangers show up and saved the day. We got enough water out to were we lifted the bow of the boat and were able to back the trailer under to get it close to its pivot point. After about a 2 min rest I had enough strength left to just, and I mean just winch the boat up to the stop on the trailer. We were lucky to escape with our lives yesterday. Marine conditions can be no joke and I think this storm was a surprise to many as many empty trailers were in the lot still and boats were circling trying to find there window of escape. The draw of catching a salmon is a strong one and while a very sobering experience I will go back, but realizing that small craft advisories mean you really have to be mindful of where you put in. I almost put in at the 101 ramp and now realize with absolute clarity I should have. The conditions in the open where you don't have shelter from wind can be flat out deadly. After all this. I still consider my day a success and even better, a huge lesson learned. If I were any less a pilot, I don't know if I wound be posting this right now. I could write a book on this experience and can only say so much here, without being in a room together and sharing this story over a beer. I will have this story to share for the rest of my life. Truly life changing.

Humbled by the forces of nature,

Chris
 

rogerdodger

Moderator
Most Featured
Good to hear the day ended safely.

Friend was wrong, you were correct. coho regs are easy:

"Nehalem River: CLOSED for wild coho (open for hatchery coho under permanent rules)"
 

sapo

Member
Interesting, scary story..nice fish. Yep last year u could keep wild coho but this year it's closed.
 
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