A Little Voodoo Goes a Long Way when Fishing the Tributaries of the Columbia
evening we geared up for the next part of our trip, fishing another tributary
much further up the Columbia River, called the Klickitat. The Klickitat river is
just over seventy miles long and flows alongside the eastern side of the Cascade
Range which is northeast from Portland, Oregon.
The next morning starts off cold on the Klickitat
The best way to
fish this stretch of water is on a drift boat so the next morning we set out at
3AM to meet up with our guide for the day, Dan Little of
R.B.F. (Rather Be Fishing) Excursions. When we arrived at the Klickitat it
was cold, and I mean the kind of cold that has you questioning why we are so
addicted to this sport. Once the boat was in the water Dan flipped on a switch
and a pair of heaters integrated into the hull of the boat started warming up
Fishing starts off good again
for those heaters, they not only took the edge off they kept our fingers
functioning. Like yesterday I was lucky and within the first few casts I hooked
up and landed the first Salmon which was in the mid teens, it was nothing to
write home about but certainly a nice way to start the morning.
Cal starts fishing with a spinning setup and
love fishing in drift boats and with waders as it puts you as close to the river
as possible. Drift boats provide plenty of stealth and with waders you can jump
out and cast from shore or fight fish from a fixed point. Key to a good drift is
having a guide that knows the water intimately and Dan was exactly that. He has
been a licensed guide for 22 years and lives right on the main street in the
small town of Klickitat. Before we approached each transition and riffle he would
give us some background and provide a recommended approach.
Dan checks out the LIN 256 reel as Cal works on a
Over the next
few hours we landed 5 more salmon float fishing and thatís when we decided to
mix it up. Cal wanted to catch some big fish on a limited edition Megabass LIN
256 spinning reel he was field testing and Jon wanted to target Steelhead.
Personally I was just content to catch whatever was willing to bite my bait. Jon
started fishing beads instead of bait and Cal ran the spinning reel with a light
It didnít take
long for Cal to hook up and the ensuing battle made the drag on the LIN 256
sing. Dan was immediately mesmerized by the unique whizzing sound of the LINís
drag and watched absorbedly as Cal hopped out of the boat and proceeded to work
on the fish. To ensure the 8lb. Sunline supernatural leader didnít break Cal
took his time playing the fish. After nearly ten minutes Jon reminded Cal every
extra second that pressure on the line increased the chance for a failure
resulting in a lost fish. That was the motivation for Cal to put the screws on
the fish and he cranked down of the LIN 256 and Dan landed the fish.
Talking rods during a break
brightly colored Salmon was released Dan asked Cal for a closer look at the LIN
256. After a few casts and retrieves he remarked it was among the smoothest, and
certainly most aggressively styled, reels that he had ever held. When we told
him the price he almost dropped it and quickly handed it back to Cal fearing he
would grow too fond of the reel and not want to relinquish it.
Jon loads up on a steelhead
minutes later Jonís persistence with the heavy beads paid off and he hooked into
a nice Steelhead which went postal on the surface, jumping four times before Jon
successfully landed the fish. Steelheads are always an absolute blast to catch
and constant pressure on the rod and line are key to making sure that the fish
donít throw the hook. This fish was just an appetizer for what was to come next.
Out of the boat Jon prepares to land the steelie
No more than
thirty yards down the river Jon hooked into another fish. ďThis one is bigger,
itís fighting differently,Ē Jon exclaimed. ďLooks like a steelie,Ē Dan responded
as he rowed to the riverís edge so that Jon could hop out and fight the fish to
shore. As soon as Jon jumped out the fish went aerial, but unlike a steelhead
which flips around madly this fish shot straight up like a missile and breached
like a killer whale. This was no steelhead, it was a 30 plus pound salmon on the
end of Jonís 12lb leader.
After going aerial multiple times this Steelie
poses for a picture
Before he could
climb into the boat the fish shot straight downstream and Jon was forced to
chase it on foot, all his efforts to put the brakes on the fish were no use. We
jumped back in the boat and tried to catch up to Jon who was getting
dangerously close to deep fast moving water, where he could no longer safely
pursue the fish. We caught up to him and he jumped back into the boat, the fish
still peeling line off the drag rapidly. ďHeís going to spool me,Ē Jon yelled.
Hooked up on a 30lb salmon Jon runs downstream as
the fish surges
Dan rowed as
fast as he could to catch up but the line reached the knot on the spool and with
no more give in the line he snapped free. We had to pull over to the side of the
river once again so Jon could recover. You win some and you lose some battles on
the river and that Salmon served us up a big defeat, but definitely got all of
our blood flowing in the process.
After an intense battle the fish won
The rest of the
day went more smoothly as we enjoyed a beautiful drift filled with plenty of
fish and fish stories. We ended the day with over 20 fish caught and a
combination of Salmon, Steelhead, a few nice resident rainbow trout and even two
prized, very stinky, whitefish.
We had a great drift on the Klickitat
Crossing the Columbia River on the way back to