Willamette River Fishing Reports 2022

M
Mdiscom
Couldn't resist the nice weather on Saturday. I don't have much experience chasing bass in cold water - but thought I'd at least check out the river. I took my neighbor and my father and we launched in Newberg around 2 in the afternoon. The water temp showed between 45 and 46 degrees. My neighbor connected with the first smallmouth throwing a crank bait on about his fourth cast. We ended up putting 15 or so in the boat in just a couple of hours - all between 1.5 to just over 2lbs. A few on the crank - but most on a ned rig. It was a good afternoon - and the smallies are definitely moving around.
 
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G
Gulfstream
NICE!
 
bass
bass
Great job! I hit the Willamette out of West Linn Sunday and got skunked. My buddy caught one on his 5th cast and that it was it for either of us for the whole day. I fished every depth and every technique but it was like a ghost town for me. I am not sure if I ever even marked a bass. The only action was having schools of smolt pecking at my lure every now and again.
 
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Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
Good job! I would have started in backwaters, looks like you might have been on the main river channel. Heck of a day whatever you were up to.

I thought about hitting the river but wound up going to a pond in Albany and did ok. I didn’t realize it was the superbowl so I probably would have felt like more options were open but I’m happy with my results.

About “cold water” bass… the dirty secret is it can be the best time of year for numbers. They sometimes school heavily in winter holding water, and if you can locate a concentration and time it right, you can just nuke them. Usually deep water stuff, (spoons and whatnot) but not always.
 
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bass
bass
Bunched up bass make for a feast or famine situation (I had famine). I am sure they were bunched up somewhere but I could not figure out where. Of the folks I spoke with on the water (who were bass fishing) they all had similar success. Most folks had none and one fellow had one fish. I looked shallow, deep, in eddies, along seams, in a slough, rocks, hard/soft transition, around wood, tops of humps, edges of humps, points, channel edges. If anyone has every caught a bass on a type of structure I fished it.

I gave it the old college try but I never even marked what I thought was a bass.
 
M
Mdiscom
Thanks, Bass and Shaun, for your insights. Yes, Shaun, we were on the main river - starting in a location that has literally never failed me in the few years I have been fishing bass. We did indeed catch most of the fish deep (15-25ft) with the ned. The few fish that hit the cranks were much "shallower". I'm surprised that you (Bass) got skunked - (I follow you on this forum, and I trust your proficiency on finding/catching bass much more than my own...) I appreciate what you said about "not marking" bass. I think I have good electronics and I know that I mark fish - but I have not quite figured out how to read my electronics to know what is a fish and what is not. I need to get better at that - I mostly focus on the structure and try to fish where I think they would be. I will say that I don't think these fish were schooled up - at least not very tight. We basically let the boat drift with the current - which was certainly faster than normal Summertime flows. Usually right when I was about to motor back up to drift down again through what I thought would be schooled fish, one of us would hook another one, and we continued down. I'm sure we drifted at least half a mile to a mile.....Perhaps the schooled fish followed our baits (boat)? (that would surprise me).

At any rate, the fishing was FAR better than I expected - and unlike my bass fishing in warmer weather, all the fish were decent (no dinks). I will be out there again this week at least a couple of times to see if it was a fluke or not.
 
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Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
We had an ideal weather situation, so factor that in for sure. I haven’t been so good about getting out recently, but with the weather being awesome AND the moon waxing towards full, it would have been a missed opportunity. This time of year if we get a decent warming trend it helps a lot.

I look for a warming trend and hopefully decent water clarity, and building up to a full or new moon. That’s what I’m after this time of year, if you wanted to boil it down.

I’m curious… I know you said you found them deep, but were they in areas that had a sudden depth change? One thing I like to find for winter spots are locations with very little current. On the main river, I would expect to find that on abrupt changes in depth. Sometimes large rocks or root balls will do the same thing. In another few weeks I’m going to be all about shoreline wood, but that’s a prespawn pattern, and (I’m guessing) we are probably still in a winter pattern with some fish beginning to transition to pre-spawn.

Good stuff, I hope your next outings continue to be productive!
 
NKlamerus
NKlamerus
Dang!! Nice trip

Glad y'all found them.
 
M
Mdiscom
Shaun Solomon said:
We had an ideal weather situation, so factor that in for sure. I haven’t been so good about getting out recently, but with the weather being awesome AND the moon waxing towards full, it would have been a missed opportunity. This time of year if we get a decent warming trend it helps a lot.

I look for a warming trend and hopefully decent water clarity, and building up to a full or new moon. That’s what I’m after this time of year, if you wanted to boil it down.

I’m curious… I know you said you found them deep, but were they in areas that had a sudden depth change? One thing I like to find for winter spots are locations with very little current. On the main river, I would expect to find that on abrupt changes in depth. Sometimes large rocks or root balls will do the same thing. In another few weeks I’m going to be all about shoreline wood, but that’s a prespawn pattern, and (I’m guessing) we are probably still in a winter pattern with some fish beginning to transition to pre-spawn.

Good stuff, I hope your next outings continue to be productive!
Yes and no. My "go-to" spot definitely has several vertical underwater drop-offs. That's where we started and got our first several fish. But like I said - we drifted with the current for a significant stretch - catching fish as we went (without significant depth changes).
 
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bass
bass
Mdiscom said:
Thanks, Bass and Shaun, for your insights. Yes, Shaun, we were on the main river - starting in a location that has literally never failed me in the few years I have been fishing bass. We did indeed catch most of the fish deep (15-25ft) with the ned. The few fish that hit the cranks were much "shallower". I'm surprised that you (Bass) got skunked - (I follow you on this forum, and I trust your proficiency on finding/catching bass much more than my own...) I appreciate what you said about "not marking" bass. I think I have good electronics and I know that I mark fish - but I have not quite figured out how to read my electronics to know what is a fish and what is not. I need to get better at that - I mostly focus on the structure and try to fish where I think they would be. I will say that I don't think these fish were schooled up - at least not very tight. We basically let the boat drift with the current - which was certainly faster than normal Summertime flows. Usually right when I was about to motor back up to drift down again through what I thought would be schooled fish, one of us would hook another one, and we continued down. I'm sure we drifted at least half a mile to a mile.....Perhaps the schooled fish followed our baits (boat)? (that would surprise me).

At any rate, the fishing was FAR better than I expected - and unlike my bass fishing in warmer weather, all the fish were decent (no dinks). I will be out there again this week at least a couple of times to see if it was a fluke or not.

I agree that the FF is for finding structure but usually I can mark at least some fish here and there when they are around something There are times I have caught them without marking any but I would say that is rarer - especially in deeper water. Congrats again on having a great day out there!
 
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Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
Mdiscom, I have very little experience with recent developments in sonar technology, but I’ve tried to at least keep up with it so that if/when I am privileged to own a boat again I won’t be completely overwhelmed.

Most (all?) graphs are going to have an option for split screen operation. Fish show up super good on old school 2D sonar, so if you have a graph that is large enough to make split screen use practical, it might be useful to try running half the screen in 2D.

It reminds me of the days after paper (and later LCD) graphs came out there was still a place for flashers because of the sensitivity to bottom composition and the fact that flashers offered information that could be understood and acted on instantaneously, whereas you had to let the picture of the sonar spool out. I kept my LCD graphs set up with a side bar displaying incoming returns as a flasher on the left side of the screen. Useful in a range of circumstances.

Fish won’t always mark, of course. Plenty of times a fish will rest with it’s belly literally on the bottom, and graphing those fish is going to be tough. Those fish aren’t always the eager biters we are looking for, but sometimes they can be caught…

No idea what was happening on your trip, but obviously you found a population with some that were willing to play. It’s challenging questions/scenarios like this that keep me coming back for more. Fishing is an endless puzzle.
 
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M
Mdiscom
Found myself staring out the window at work - decided to sneak out in the afternoon. Went back to the Willamette. I discovered a couple of things: first, the smallmouth are getting hungry. I think I'm liking these colder-water bass - they all seem to be chunky. I put a dozen or so in the boat - several north of 2 lbs with one reaching 3.5 lbs. Also caught my first 3 pikeminnow for the year - dispatched each one with the club - and had a pair of eagles come get each one about 20 yards or so from the boat. Fun to watch..

Second, I tried to pay better attention to my hummingbirds - I recently had the dealer network the unit on the bow with the unit on the helm - and I realized they are messed up. The bow unit on split screen is showing the sonar from the stern transducer and the downscan from the trolling motor (bow) transducer. I need to get it back to each unit showing their respective transducers - and also need to clean up image - downscan has quite a bit of interference. I see some youtube instruction in my future - hope I can figure it out.

Tight lines
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NKlamerus
NKlamerus
That's awesome!
 
Shaun Solomon
Shaun Solomon
Good stuff man. That last one looks mean!

Keep us posted on the situation with your graphs.
 
bass
bass
Nice job again @Mdiscom !! Looks like you really have it dialed in on some nice fish!! I hope you get your FFs set up the way you want. I love having and using good electronics in my fishing. I think being good with your electronics gives you a pretty big advantage over the fish - who don't have any electronics :)
 

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