I fished yesterday out of Willamette park and the bite was crazy on fire. There were actually bass schooling and chasing bait which was wild and only the second time I have seen that in Oregon. I caught a handful on ned rig and on a handful on a carolina rig but most of the 53 bass I caught came on hard baits.
The topwater bite was really good first thing. I caught 6 bass and 1 pikieminnow on a stick bait (first pikieminnow on a topwater for me). I had a lot of hits from tiny bass on the topwater which kept me fishing it.
No monsters but this size is fun:
I kept tossing the topwater since I was getting bit when I hooked a really nice sized smallie. I would guess it was well over 3 and probably over 4. That thing was a beast I was leaning on it pretty hard at the kayak when the lure came flying out sailing over my head. I may have said some things.
I went back to tossing the topwater and a few casts later another good hit, and a miss. Dang it. A few casts later another hit and a miss, then another and another.
Oh, that explained a lot. I did not know how the big fish came unpinned. If you catch a big smallie sporting a stylish treble-pierced lip please return the treble to me
I switched to the same lure in a baby bass color but could not get a hit on it. The mojo was gone. However, oddly enough I was visited by another beaver.
(Not sure if the video link will work, hope it does).
After that topwater bite stopped I tied on a crankbait and moved to a point I found on the Navionics web app. First cast was fish on. I did well with the crank on that point a few others. I would dust off the top with the crank and then fish the downstream edge with a Ned rig. It was a good one-two punch.
On some of the shallower structures I started picking up weeds/algae stuff on the crankbait so I paused and switched another rod to a jerkbait, that ended up being a lucky move for me. One of things I noticed was that the points and bars that held fish needed to have some current on them. I never noticed such big difference on the lower Willamette, maybe it is just more uniform in flow.
I eventually decided to try the hump that runs down the center of the river pretty much from just above the ramp for at least a half a mile upstream. With the weeds and its shallowness the crank was useless so I moved exclusively to the jerkbait. What followed was by far the best hard bait bite I have ever experienced. I would catch a bass about every 10 to 20 casts by just randomly tossing around in the middle of the river.
The coolest part is that the fish were schooling up and would occasionally (well 3 times that I saw and was able to catch up to) push bait to the surface. It was wild to see the surface turn to froth and little fish and bass jumping out of the water. Each time that would happen I pedaled over and picked up between 3 and 6 fish (on 3 to 6 casts) before the school would disappear. I even hooked two doubles (2 fish grabbing the jerkbait at the same time). I got them close but I did not land either one but it was really mind-blowing.
I had 42 fish by noon but no real size (biggest around the 1.5lb range). On that hump almost every fish I caught, whether from a school or on a random cast would have multiple fish following it to the kayak!
Most of the bass I caught were puking up fish when they jumped or close to the kayak. They were puking up these 4-5" fish and eventually one did it in the boat so I go a picture of the bass and what they were eating. I think there were smolts, the one he puked up was still (barely) alive. I released the bass and the smolt.
I then understood why the jerkbait was working so well. It was close in size and color to what they were chowing on. I said I was lucky earlier - I was matching the hatch on accident.
Around noon I decided to rest that area and go see if I could find bigger fish elsewhere. I moved a lot and went to more points and reefs that I found on Navionics. If they had current they held fish on the back side, but they were all in that same size range as earlier.
I will say the other thing I did the day before this trip was to pay for the Navionics app on my phone. After I finished fishing a spot I would look at those charts and pick the next. I would use the app to steer me to the structure and then find it with my depthfinder. I was surprised how well that worked and how little time I wasted fishing water that was uninteresting.
Evetually I went all the way up to rock island and looked in a channel I had luck in earlier in the year. Right now it is stagnant and absolutely loaded with carp. They are cruising around just under the surface. There may be some bread on my kayak in the future. I think once they put in the flashboards at the falls and raise the water level 3' that current will flow through that channel again and bass will probably move back in.
So after a quick check there I fished the main channel along the island. I caught a handful near the bottom of the island but none along the narrows.
After that I decided I wanted to try my ultralight for a while in hopes of panfish. I was tossing a little trout magnet but I mostly caught baby smallmouth (I don't count those as catches). I did manage to land one pounder though and broke another off. Eventually, I found an area that held some bluegill and fished for those until about 3.
The end of the day was anti-climactic. I went back to the hump in the middle of the river but it was like a desert (but with a lot of annoying stringy weeds). I did not even get a hit on my second trip to that hump. After a while I went to the best point I had found earlier (4-5' on top dropping quickly to about 20' and then easing into 30'). Nothing on an action baits on the second go round but eventually I coaxed my last 3 bass of the day on a Carolina rig from 20' of water.
It is amazing how different that river felt compared to the morning. The other really nice thing about the day was that the boat traffic was not bad at all. I don't think I was ever within 200' of a powerboat. Maybe 100' but still it was a really pleasant day.
To help restore my karma (I am sure I spent it all in the morning) I help a young couple carry their new canoe down to the water and helped them launch it.
Overall I would have to say that was one of the most fun and relaxing days of fishing I have ever had. The bass were greedy, the weather was nice, boat traffic was not an issue. I am a little worried about the beaver thing though...