by Andy Schneider
September just offers too many choices for a Salmon Angler in the Northwest; should you follow the URB's east? Or should you head to a Coastal Estuary and pursue newly arriving Salmon and Crab? Well this weekend I found myself with a full tank of Diesel and some extra energy to do both!
There is something just magical about a sunrise in Eastern Oregon. As the sun lights up the grassy hills the Canadian Geese start talking, Chuckar's start their noisy, "Chuck-Chuck-Chuckar!" and the smell of dusty sage fills your nose. The sounds and smells of Eastern Oregon seem clear your mind of your busy work week and make you take notice of the beauty of the drier side of our state.
I was joined by my good friends Brenda Skinner, Rick Hale (aka Baitboy) and, of course, Olliver. We started trolling 3.5-MagLips at first light hoping for a little plug action, but after a few misses, we decided to change things up a little and try hovering some eggs. Hovering eggs is fairly simple; a 48-inch leader, 3-inch lead dropper, 3-ounces of lead and the smallest of egg clusters with the compliment of sandshrimp. The idea of Hover fishing is to suspend your baits in "The Zone" while drifting downriver at the same speed of the current. But with a 25-mph sustained wind and gusts to 35-mph, it gets a little tricky!
Every pass we would get biters, some would be Pike Minnows, some would be Sturgeon, some would be Super-Jacks and some would be Adult Salmon (our elusive target species). But hooking into any of the mentioned was another matter all together. Unlike Back-Bouncing eggs, these Salmon had a hard time committing to a bait. You could get rod bending bites, only to pull back and get nothing but a clean hook. Other times you would get a small "peck-peck" and pull back into a hard fighting Salmon. Or you could put your rod in the holder to help net a fish and look over as lines peeling quickly off the reel and the rod tip is hidden in the depths of the Columbia!
Brenda was the first to show us how it was done:
While I broke off and bent hooks on hook-sets; Rick found some good timing and started hooking up consistently:
And I finally found a few biters that would hang on long enough to the bait so I could set the hook:
Every fish caught was supervised by Olliver:
We ended the day with 3-Adult Salmon, 5-Super Jacks, countless misses and a half-dozen lost...not to mention some serious wind and sun burn!
While sunrises on the Pacific are not usually as exciting as Eastern Oregon, this one offered some stiff competition:
With a incredibly flat ocean we dropped some crab pots to the north of the Tillamook Jetties, then trolled our way south into the mass of anglers trolling for staged Tillamook Bay Fall Chinook. Today I was joined by my good friends; Mike Fung and Tom VanderPlaat. My son, Ayden and, of course, Olliver.
Tom had something nibbling on his bait and pulled up a Sand-Dab for Olliver:
Salmon Fishing has been a little 'hit and miss' in Tillamook the last few weeks, but more 'hit' than anything, so we had some high hopes. But we must of ventured to Tillamook on a 'miss' day. But the beautiful ocean, good crabbing and good friends on board made it a great day!
Tom and I's good friend Pat Abel told us we needed to be along the North Jetty, 1-hour before low slack to get into a good bite. So I took Pat's advise and pulled tight to the North Jetty and dropped 16-ounces of lead to the bottom and held against the weakening ebbing tide. As our weights tapped bottom occasionally, Mikes rod started getting bit and was soon loaded up with a Chinook, but before he could get the rod out of the holder, it was gone. But that fish must have still been hungry and Ayden's rod was bucking and peeling line. Ayden grabbed the rod and was battling a mean Chinook. Tom helped Ayden keep tension on rod and did a great job coaching Ayden as he reeled frantically or watched in awe as line peeled off the reel at blistering speeds. Since barbless hooks are required in the Ocean, we never switched out and were still using barbless inside the bay. This put us all on edge hoping the fish wouldn't slip the hooks. But Ayden and Tom prevailed and Ayden was holding his 1st Tillamook Fall Chinook of the season:
What a great way to spend a tank of diesel with some great friends, family and pup!