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  #51  
Old 20th October 2018
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Well, the season is a wrap, 'cept for a 3-day live capture derby next weekend to benefit the hatchery's brood stock program.

Late in September they cut us down to a 1 fish daily limit because the dam counts were looking so bad. That's from a 2 fish limit last year, and a 3 fish limit in years before that. Salmon runs go in cycles and we've been on a downtrend, which should be reversing here in a year or two. But we literally only had about 20% of the fish this year that we had in 2015, which was the peak of the cycle.

Then they pulled the plug on the whole season on October 15th, which was two weeks earlier than planned. They said we had taken our 7000 fish quota at that point.

The fish were smaller on average than previous years, and averaged poorer quality this year as well. I'd say the average fish was 10-12lbs is all. A few years ago it was more in the 15-17 range. And we started getting some pale fish in late September. Last year, I don't think we saw a pale fish until about October 10th.

I personally managed to boat 32 fish, not sure how many HAMMER Dan got but it was several. Had various other guys join me in the boat at times. I'm guessing we put 50+ in the boat altogether over the course of the season. So it wasn't a total bust. Beats working. And I've got a freezer full of salmon filets. I'm probably going to smoke about half of them though, given the quality.



I took the above pic from my boat, while it was beached right after launching it, at sunrise one morning. You can see my net in the upper right corner. This is looking downriver. Right next to the boat launch is this giant pile of branches. It's home to the two beavers you see if you look close. They didn't seem to mind the boat warming up right next to their house.

There's tons of wildlife along the Reach. Deer, Elk, coyotes, beaver, eagles, etc.



Here, they're easier to see in this close-up.



A typical day's catch, before they dropped the limit down to one. That's a 150qt cooler. These fish are pretty average size.



Bald eagles like to sit up on the power line tower and watch all the boats. They probably think we're idiots, fishing with rods and reels and lines.



I only managed two fish over 20lbs all season. This guy was 22.8lbs. The other big one is in the picture in post 47, he was 28.2lbs.



A week's booty, this was early in the season before they dropped the limit, and while the fish were still fresh.



My buddy George flew in from his home in Wyoming and spent a week fishing with me. He limited every day. This is his biggest one, it was a tick over 20lbs. He had never done this before, he's kind of a hard core trout fly fisherman. So these fish were the biggest he's ever caught. Now he's hooked, he's already talking about coming back next year.



George again. This fish is high teens for weight. It's turning red, but it's a buck so it's OK. The bucks will cut nice even when they're red on the outside. It's the hens that go pale inside when they get too far along.

I'm going back for the derby next weekend. Being a live capture derby, we keep all the fish alive and we turn them in. WDFW then transports them to the hatchery to use brood stock. It's a lot of fun. When you get this late in the year, the fish get really aggressive and the fishing is good. Plus, there will have been no fishing pressure on the river at all for the previous two weeks. Last year I got 13 in the 3 days of the derby, and all the entrants collectively turned in over 500 fish. It's a hoot.
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  #52  
Old 20th October 2018
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Best of luck on your venture, keep the rod tip up or at least up current. Remember, there is a 30#er waiting, go get it!
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  #53  
Old 22nd September 2019
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If you're having a little trouble reaching HAMMER Dan or myself lately, well there's a reason for that ...



It's salmon season and this is our office for the next few weeks!

Alex is holding down the fort for us while we're gone, though.

The season is just gearing up, the fish are just starting to arrive. This last week we managed to boat five between the two of us. Nothing remarkable in size yet though.

I did however bring an incidental-catch sturgeon to the boat recently though ...



He was roughly 7 feet long and over 200lbs. Pulled him in with a little lightweight 9 foot rod with a low-profile reel and 40lb test leader. Took awhile. The season for them closed on 7/31 though, so I released him.

Funniest thing about him is that I caught him in 12 feet of very fast water. Not the place I expect to get sturgeon, they normally live in deep slow holes. So until I got my eyes on him, I thought I was bringing in the biggest salmon of my life. I said a bad word when I saw he was a sturgeon. Oh well, he was fun to catch anyway.

We'll be fishing a lot until about the middle of October.
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  #54  
Old 22nd September 2019
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I used to run a fishing resort on the Wisconsin River in Sauk below the last dam before it hits the Mississippi. One of the only places where there's actually a Sturgeon season there. It's 6 weeks long and there's a size limit of 70" one year and 50" the next. You needed a tag and they're registered just like deer at a registration station which we were. Weighed and measured and the info of the person who caught it. It's really big with the Russian and Polish and the female eggs are like gold to them. They would load up a big ass hook with a dozen night crawlers and fish the bottom of the river all night long. One of those fish would pull them boats up and down the river for hours some times.
The DNR wrote fines and seized tackle continuously for poaching.
We made a large part of our annual income during those 6 weeks. Every cabin and every boat booked months in advance even a year. A strange creature for sure if you've never seen one up close.
I'm all about the walleye fishing myself. A very elusive fish.
Look forward to hearing about your adventure. As always, pics or didn't happen. ;p

Last edited by 60Gunner; 22nd September 2019 at 03:54..
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  #55  
Old 23rd September 2019
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Enjoy!
Life is short.
Fishing season is shorter.
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  #56  
Old 28th September 2019
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Snow storms are coming. Danger Captain Aaron.
But then again it will be easier to chill the salmon in the blizzard.
Montana friends have already headed south for the winter, lightweights...
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  #57  
Old 17th July 2020
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In light of a strong summer Chinook run, and a record-strong Sockeye run, I took a few days off early in the week to hit the Chiawana ... that's what the Indians called it, it translates literally to "Big River".

First I went to the legendary sockeye fishery in Brewster. The sockeye limit is two per day, native or hatchery. It was a bit tough. Fished about 7 hours for two take downs, only one of which resulted in a fish in the boat ...



Sockeye are not the biggest salmon species. This one is actually much larger than average for a sockeye, at least one out of this river. But most salmon aficionados consider sockeye to be the best tasting, and you generally see it selling for the highest price among salmon in the grocery store.

I started getting a little frustrated with how slow the sockeye fishing was, so on a tip from a friend, I bagged it about noon and went down river to a new place I had never been before to fish for Kings (aka Chinook). I wasn't on the water 2 minutes and I had a take down that didn't stick. Then a couple minutes later that same rod (we can fish with two rods) slammed down and the reel started screaming bloody murder. After a few minute fight, I boated this beautiful fish ...



This is about a 15lb fish, roughly twice the size of the sockeye above. I've caught lots bigger kings than this, but he punched above his weight class and put up a really spirited fight, with a couple real decent runs before he got tired and let me net him.

Notice the absence of a fin on his back in front of the tail (adipose fin). That means he's a hatchery fish, which in Summer Kings, they have to be a hatchery fish to kill them. If they have that fin, we have to put them back. In the fall run, we can keep native or hatchery kings, but not on the summer run.

Again working against a 2 fish limit on Kings, I kept fishing, got another take down and lost him near the boat, and finally put this one in the boat:



So I limited on Kings that day, but not on Sockeye.

You see that plug hanging from his mouth, that's 5-1/2 inches long not counting the hooks.

I camped there for the night and hit it again first thing in the morning. Problem was, so did everyone else. There were about 50 boats over the mile of river I was trying to fish. Made it really, really tough to navigate and put my lures where I wanted them and forced me to fish in less desirable places. I only managed one by 9am. But as we got into late morning the crowd thinned and I was able to fish it better and I got my 2nd one:



The one on top looks funny because he had been sitting on ice for a couple hours before I caught the second one, below.

From there, I drove a couple hours to Wanapum dam and fished with a buddy below the dam ... who also happens to be a fishing guide. The migrating sockeye stack up there, they get confused by the spillway and have to search for the fish ladder. It's windy and the water is really rough from the spillway, but it's a hell of a sockeye fishery. Got my two within about an hour, fishing out of his boat. So I managed to limit on both Kings and sockeye that day. A first for me! I didn't take a picture of those two sockeye, but each was about half the size of the sockeye pictured above.

All 7 fish over the two days cut beautiful red, with lots of fat showing. They're going to be delicious. I'll tell you what, once you've eaten fresh Columbia River salmon, you can't eat store bought salmon anymore. And I love eating salmon!

We are so lucky to have that river in our back yard. It's really the premier salmon stream in the lower 48. Just an incredible treasure. I grew up just a few blocks from the river, in the Tri-Cities, and as a kid I used to walk down there and fish from shore. My dad took me fishing there for steelhead many times as well. So I have a lifetime relationship with the Big River.

Last edited by aswracing; 17th July 2020 at 04:17..
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  #58  
Old 17th July 2020
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I'm not a fisherman - but those are beauties!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aswracing View Post
I grew up just a few blocks from the river, in the Tri-Cities, and as a kid I used to walk down there and fish from shore. My dad took me fishing there for steelhead many times as well. So I have a lifetime relationship with the Big River.
I can identify with 'being home' - while the activities may be different, whatever it is, it always seems better when you get to do it 'back home'...

Glad you had a good catch.

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  #59  
Old 17th July 2020
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Woow... Nice! Enjoy!!!
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  #60  
Old 24th July 2020
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I’ll be out whenever the next run is! Airfare is cheap and I can’t go to Canada this year because of the covid! Need some fishing! ��
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