If the success a steelheadin’ newb had last weekend is any indication, you may want to make a run to the Columbia River below Wells Dam sometime over the next 81/2 days.
With season there scheduled to close after March 31, Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks headed back to his old stomping grounds and filed the below pics and report:
Usually before a fishing trip I can’t sleep, but for some strange reason I didn’t toss and turn too much on Friday night. However, I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm set at 3:30 went off, so I guess I was a bit excited to head east over the mountains. The 10 o’clock news the night before showed how Snoqualmie pass was at a standstill with fresh snow dumping down, but as I headed over it at 5:00 it was bare with ice.
Finally, and after picking up Chad along the way we were on the shores of the Columbia below Wells Dam. Andy Byrd and his dad, Mike, were already there and Andy greeted us with news that they already landed a native fish in the 8 pound range. Of course Andy had to rub it in a little bit by saying how his dad, who lives in the Yakima area, has never caught a steelhead, so Andy handed the rod over to Mike after the fish took the jig tipped with Pautske Fire Cured shrimp on the first cast!
We continued to work the water, which is very intimidating as the river is so big here and within a few minutes I look over to see Mike Byrd fighting his second fish of the day! This one he hooked all by himself, drift fishing a corky and some shrimp. A nice little fish about 5 pounds made its way to the shore and there was that darn high fin again.
About an hour later, Chad’s dad Bruce Hurst was busy talking about the day’s events and how the weather was incredible when he looked back at his bobber and realized it was a foot underwater. Fish on! This time this nice fish, the biggest of the day as it would turn out, was clipped and he slid the hatchery hen onto the bank. As I was taking some photos I told him to hold it up to show off its red side and it began to wiggle a bit. Bruce lost his grip and dropped it back into the river…but I felt a bit guilty since I asked him to hold it up, and I jumped in, corralled the fish back to shore where Andy grabbed it for Bruce. The photo session ended real quick with a bonk on the fish’s head with a rock and tethered to a rope.
Just then another local shows up and goes about a 100 yards below us. Five minutes later that guy lands a fish. Then 10 minutes after that he lands another one! That’s it, I drove 200 miles, and have thrown the jigs with shrimp all morning, what the heck is this guys secret…I walked over and he was more than happy to let me know he was drift fishing eggs…and of course I left all my eggs at home, for summer runs in a few months…I kept telling myself, don’t let $5.00 worth of jigs be the difference of catching or skunking a trip as I bought a few extra’s of a “special” color the day before at Outdoor Emporium. Of course leaving eggs at home made me feel like a fool once again.
An hour later Chad and I were mulling over the idea of heading up to the Methow when Bruce was talking with us about how the fishing was pretty good where we were at. Just then Bruce’s bobber goes back down and he fights his second fish of the day. This one was just like Mike Byrd’s second fish, a small high fin’er and raced off to the might Columbia after the hook was slipped out.
Chad and I were a bit frustrated so we decided, “What the heck” let’s go to the Methow. We hit the lower end for a while, and it seemed everyone we talked to said how they caught a few earlier in the day but all were natives…something fishy about that. All I do know is that right now is a great time to hit the big river below Wells Dam for steely’s before it closes at the end of the month.
The next day I get a text from Andy with a photo of Mike. The message said something like “Dad went back out today by himself and got another one…”
Oh, and driving from Tacoma to Pateros and back to Tacoma after a full day of fishing is a very long day, and knocks the crap out of your immune system, as I have a head cold from hell now…maybe I need to call in sick tomorrow and hit the Cowlitz…