Safe Columbia River smallie kayak spots

Hydrocephalic

New member
I want to give smallies a shot on the Columbia soon. I'm quite experienced on the kayak on the Columbia, but I've never launched for bass and I know generally further upstream is better.

I'm not looking for any honey holes, but does anyone have a suggestion on general launch areas no more than 2 hours drive from Beaverton? I was eyeing just below the Bonneville dam, but I'd appreciate any tips on other spots! Also, post up or PM if you are interested in heading out together on a weekend.
 

bass

Well-known member
Most Featured
What size kayak do you have?

For my outback (and similar size kayaks) I think any of the ramps are fine to launch from. I know folks launch from Cascade locks, Mayer state park, The Dalles, etc. I have watched lots of youtube videos of folks fishing from all these spots. Mostly from Hobies but I would think a 12' paddle kayak would be fine as well.

The hard thing is to find days where the wind is not howling. I have been wanting to fish the Columbia all summer but I have not had a free day when the wind was not scaring me. It looks like on an average basis that the wind starts to die down in the gorge starting at some point in September. I keep checking but keep getting denied.

A secondary concern is to check the current in the river. There are a handful of spots that report the current or flow. The flow rate is not necessarily a function of recent rainfall. There are times of the year when they do heavy dumps to help the smolts get downriver. I don't think this is necessarily dangerous to fish when it is running hard but it would make it a lot more work to fish and limit the areas you can fish. You will need to calibrate this to your kayaking skill level and strength.

You can find the stream at Portland here: USGS Current Conditions for USGS 14144700 COLUMBIA RIVER AT VANCOUVER, WA

The Dalles also has a stream velocity gauge: USGS Current Conditions for USGS 14105700 COLUMBIA RIVER AT THE DALLES, OR

It looks like the recent stream velocity at The Dalles is pretty low right now compared to June (1mph vs 3mph).

I hope someone with more experience on the big C chimes in but I think the above at least gets you started.
 

Snopro

Member
The hard thing is to find days where the wind is not howling. I have been wanting to fish the Columbia all summer but I have not had a free day when the wind was not scaring me. It looks like on an average basis that the wind starts to die down in the gorge starting at some point in September.
If you want no wind Summer Gorge conditions plan for the days PDX is close to 100 degrees. It shuts the wind off over here.

You're right. Fall is interesting in the Gorge. The Summer wind pattern is medium to strong West wind 90% of the time. In Fall it's an equal mix of West, East and no wind days.

One thing to remember about the Gorge is it's about 80 miles long (Troutdale to Arlington). It's often the case where it is nuking at one spot and glassy at another in the morning and those locations might swap conditions over the course of a day.

The current flow of under 100k is the lowest you will see all year. It should last another month or two.
 

bass

Well-known member
Most Featured
If you want no wind Summer Gorge conditions plan for the days PDX is close to 100 degrees. It shuts the wind off over here.

You're right. Fall is interesting in the Gorge. The Summer wind pattern is medium to strong West wind 90% of the time. In Fall it's an equal mix of West, East and no wind days.

One thing to remember about the Gorge is it's about 80 miles long (Troutdale to Arlington). It's often the case where it is nuking at one spot and glassy at another in the morning and those locations might swap conditions over the course of a day.

The current flow of under 100k is the lowest you will see all year. It should last another month or two.
Wow that is a ton of stuff I didn't know! Hot days here are often breezy and I figured it would be worse in the gorge. I did not realize that the wind could be localized - I assumed it would be the same all over and I usually only look at The Dalles.

Is there a flow level where you consider the river to be unfishable, other from a safety point of view or a "this is just not fun" point of view?
 

00Swede

Member
I live in Mid-Columbia and like they said, you can drive in and out of the wind several times between me and Portland. I always check the webcams on this site before heading out.
 

Hydrocephalic

New member
I appreciate all the responses and feedback.

I have a Jackson Coosa HD and have been paddling the ocean off San Diego and our coast for 15+ years in addition to the rivers, and have all the necessary gear to survive a disaster on the water. I suppose I should have titled this "safe from wind" as that is my big concern... Driving a few hours just to get blown off the water in 30 minutes simply isn't worth it with my limited fishing time during grad school.

I will definitely be using the resources linked. I use Windfinder for wind forecasts normally but it's good to have multiple predictions.
 
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