6/28/2002 - Jim and Scott - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Scott and I went out on a charter out of Illawco for Sturgeon. Decided to try it one time with someone else before I brought my boat down and tried it. There were only six of us on the boat and we caught and released about 30 fish to get our limit. We were done about 11:00 and heading back in. I had the largest and it only went 52", but we smoked them up when we got back to Bremerton, and they tasted fantastic! Next year I will bring the boat and we will do sturgeon and steelhead. Keep the reports coming!
8/9/2002 - spadboy - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Buoy 10 fishery is improving. Within a couple of hours after low tide, a number of Kings were netted near the red line including a 41 pound King taken by a Coho Charters customer aboard the Coho King.
8/7/2002 - AM - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Fishing in the River is slow, Reports of a few Chinook in the "Church Hole". Fishermen still doing well in the ocean although the bite "...seems to have slowed a bit, but not to much.". Lots of Black Rock fish being caught on North Jetty. WDFW has a creel full of poachers this year also.
7/7/2002 - FISHBONES - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Fished from the buoy to Bonneville Dam all them days lots of big sturgeon only 5 keepers average size 55" use whole shad, kids cleaned house on shad final count was 314. Limited on steelhead for the year largest one #19lbs. Springer fishing was alittle slow but summer run opener just smoked #4,5,6, and larger spin-n-glows w/sandshrimp on 20"-24" 17 pound P-line leader can not go wrong, watched bank bodys do well on steelies/summer/sturgeon best bite was at first light until 9:00 a.m. then fished 3:00 p.m. till sundown. great camping at Beacon rock campgrounds (showers!!!) great rates, lots of fresh bait at Cheveron station in Hamilton good coffee too!. next stop Area 10/11
8/25/2001 - Jordan Knapp - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA We went out ealy saturday moring and started our faily well. Catching 3 by 8:30. Fished the rest of the day and cought 9 more. All silvers one 25+lbs and one king 20+lbs. Most of the fish were between 8 and 12 a few were smaller. All of us ended up gtting our limts. We ended up with 9 fish in the boat. Good fishing when the weather is good.
9/3/2001 - Bill - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Fished with by boys and a couple of friends Monday. The wind kicked up quite a bit and delayed our early start until after 9am. We ended up hitting the end of the hot bite of the morning. The folks who risked life and limb going out in the wind and high waves were the ones limited. Things started out real hot, we couldn't even get all the rods in the water before we had a fish on. Then the bite just die out and we would get a hit maybe every half hour at best. We ended up with three lost at the boat and three nice clipped Silvers in the boat, 8, 10 & 11 lbs. Not bad from what I am use to doing but from the way things started I could see the fishing down there can be absolutely hot. Take care and respect the water folks, no fish is worth it!
8/5/2001 - Mike Gilchrist - Buoy 10, Wahkiakum County, WA Fished the last hour of the ebb through the flood and back into the ebb all between 10 & 12. Caught 5 marked hatchery Coho and released 4 unclipped. Also had 3 others lost at the boat so we should have had our six limit. The fish just seemed to know where the prop was.
Bruce and I accepted a generous offer to fish the lower Columbia River with Barney "Barnyard" Newton last weekend, 08-13 through 08-15. Having never met Barney before, we didn’t know what to expect when we got there. He told us we need not worry about hauling down a boat, that he had plenty of gear for us to use, and the camp spot was reserved. So we set out with some camping gear, a fishing pole, a little food, and an open mind.
We hoped that the traffic jam we were suffering through Friday night on I-5, just outside of Centralia (moving just fourteen miles in the space of an hour and a half!), was not a precursor of foul luck for the weekend’s fishing. And we marveled at just how slow two hours seem to pass, when a person is amped to the gills with anticipation of a big fishing trip and fear of the unknown! Bruce was sure that by the time we arrived, Barney would be sacked out and we would have to roam from tent to tent announcing our arrival to the unfortunate souls at the River’s End Campground. I assured him that Barney would be awake, preoccupied with the thought of extending such an offer to a couple of flakes such as ourselves.
It seemed that our fears would be realized, when upon our arrival to the campground (three hours late) we found the place apparently closed for the night, with the gates closed and all. As we sat discussing how to execute Bruce’s plan of a tent-to-tent search, a man with a flashlight approached our rig and said "Bruce…Brad?" It was Barney! Awake! What luck! It seemed the tide might turn.
After the introductions were made, we sat down and proceeded to get to know one another over an ice-cold beer, and a shot of Jim Beam thrown in for good measure. The course of conversation led from one thing to another, jobs, wives, etc., and eventually the topic of fishing came up (funny huh?). Barney filled us in on the details of how he figured to get us over some fish – hit the Buoy Ten area at low slack for salmon, then chase up river in the afternoon for some "sturg". It all sounded good to me. My confidence was increasing, and even more so when I learned that I could sleep in some in the morning.
Morning came with a flurry of activity around the campground. Diesel rigs churned up and down the narrow gravel road, readying to launch their trailered vessels. Campfires crackled carelessly, and the smell of the Columbia mingled with its smoke. We ate a few donuts and swigged down coffee, then made for the marina to start loading gear for the day’s excursion. There would be five of us going out on the boat this morning – Bruce and I, Barney and his two buddies, Jack and John.
Soon after the gear had been stowed and our rods made ready, we set out for the channel. We followed a string of boats out through the sandbars that choke the way to and from the Marina. The lead boat was Barney’s brother in law, skippering his charter boat and clients. The treachery of the small channel soon became obvious as we passed boats stranded in the shallow waters. One boat was bogged down tight, yet held his throttle open, hoping for a miracle to happen I guess. Another boats’ crew was in the water up to their knees, attempting to push their craft back into the channel. In all there were four such unfortunates passed as we zigzagged our way to open water.
It didn’t take long to get out into the main channel, where we shut down the engine and fired up the trolling motor. Barney directed us to get our rods out and start letting out our set-ups. We would be trolling medium and small sized divers, with whole herring for bait. After a couple of passes without any action, Barney headed us down toward the Buoy Ten area, where we found considerably more action and boats. Well more boats anyhow! We spent the next few hours trolling in and out of them, adjusting our depths and trolling speeds, but with only one good bite. I managed to hose up that opportunity by not being patient. Somewhere, swimming around Buoy Ten, is a large lip-less King Salmon!
After a couple of hours of intense trolling without any more hits, and only seeing a few Salmon boated around us, we started talking about Sturgeon. I think Barney was afraid that we would mutiny if something didn’t happen soon. Combined with the need to demonstrate the fact that he could put us on some fish, the decision was easy. "Twist ‘em up. We’re heading for the Summer Hole!"
Twenty minutes upriver we anchored up within sight of the Megler-Astoria Bridge, with our bow into the current, in twenty feet of water. We had sand shrimp and fresh anchovies for bait. Best I can remember we used sand shrimp on three rods and anchovy one the other one. That didn’t last long however. Soon the bullheads were attacking the sand shrimp, while the anchovy produced a good sturgeon strike. Within minutes we all had anchovies soaking on the bottom.
Bruce started getting some action, setting the hook on a number of shakers in the three-foot range. By the time he had hooked up with his 44-incher, he didn’t have many friends on the boat. Did I say "many"?
Jack and John each hooked up with keepers that measured around 43-44 inches. John’s fish was a nice fatty.
Myself, I was having fun with the little three footers as well. But, I was receiving quite a bit of good- natured abuse for having missed the only chance at a salmon, and now I was doing nothing at the Sturgeon hole to redeem myself. It was exciting however.
Barney selflessly endured the whole session without ever wetting a line of his own. What a guy!
With the tide turning on us and the afternoon starting to wane, we reluctantly pulled anchor and headed in for the evening. Three nice keepers in the boat satisfied us, but not nearly as much as four keepers! And I would have to wait a day for my next opportunity to boat one of them pre-historic beauties.
Back at the Marina, we unloaded gear and fish. And observed quite a few NICE salmon coming in. We would later learn that there was a real good bite on about thirty minutes after the high slack tide. Barney took us down the river to the Knappton boat launch, where I would not recommend launching a boat one really cares for! However, it was an appropriate place to learn the techniques of filleting "sturg".
Jack demonstrated the "cord removal technique", which I must say, is quite a thing to witness. It is falsely claimed that nicking the spinal cord will taint or even ruin your fillets. Then Barney showed us his version – without removing the cord. His method produced a nice fillet, much the same as Jack’s, but without the spectacle of jerking a six- foot spinal cord out of a four-foot fish! Where are the pictures when you need them??
The next day we didn’t take too much time salmon fishing. In fact we didn’t take too much time fishing at all. I’m not complaining mind you. On the contrary, I got to sleep in two days in a row AND catch some really decent fish. Listen to this!
Our bait had barely hit the bottom Sunday morning, when Bruce started getting a bite. Jack said "looks like he’s interested!" as his pole bounced hard. I cursed him under my breath, and Barney uttered something like " you sonofa…" He jumped up and set the hook on a dandy 47 incher! Grinning from ear to ear, he played the fish in like a pro. The fish took a nice little run and broke water off of the stern. It was beautiful!
Jack was next. Barney had been teasing him about using this Kevlar leader that seemed to attract only the bullheads. Whatever he was using at the time did the trick. All I heard was "get out of my way!" We did. "Jacksony" played in a nice 45 incher.
In the mean time I kept getting teased by them little three-footers. I would hook up with one and think "Yeah! This one feels like a good’n" only to be disappointed when I got it up to the boat. We had now been fishing for about two and a half hours on the "summer hole". My opportunities were going to getting pretty slim all of a sudden. Bruce had commitments back home that was forcing us to start home early in the afternoon.
I was considering a very long ride back home in the presence of the Mighty (if not Gloating) Fish Slayer himself and maybe having a little shot of "Jim" to console myself, when my rod started to jump. "Out of the way" I yelled, feeling a SUDDEN BURST OF ENERGY! Oh yeah, I picked up the rod and it was obvious this fish was very INTERESTED! I set the hook with a force that would have stunned any ordinary fish. My pole bent over hard! And stayed bent! I hauled in whatever slack was in my line and leaned forward to lever the fish closer to the boat. It was a standoff! Until the sturg took off. Then it was no contest! He was having his sweet way with me and I was LIKING it!
I managed to retrieve a little line, then BANG! He was off again. This time he was serious. I looked down at a dwindling supply of line singing off of my reel. "Barney? How much line is left on this thing?" Bruce chimed in " I think we better chase him!" Barney assured me that I had plenty of line left, but he commented "I haven’t seen that line since I spooled it on!" "Jack, get ready to pull the anchor!"
The sturgeon finally stopped his mad dash. Once again I levered on him and retrieved line. Then it was a stalemate, a draw, a push (he was resting). The wind played through the tightly stretched monofilament in an eerie tone. All I could think about for a minute was my line going limp and the fish of my dreams finning his nose at me while I stood with my jaw resting on the deck. But alas, it would not be so. The fish wanted to move again, so we were forced to haul up anchor and follow for a while, replenishing the short supply of line left on my reel. I was spooling line in nicely, when the fish decided he had had enough of the game. He took off on a run that made his previous work look shameful. My drag was set tight! But the line looked like it was free spooling off of the reel. I tried to brake him with some thumb pressure. It burned!
Barney again fired up the engine to give chase. I reeled like a mad man. Finally we were over the now tiring fish. He made a couple of short dashes, but I was able to stop him and continued to work him toward the boat. Finally he surfaced. Barney uttered the words of dread I did not want to hear. "He’s too big". "No, say it ain’t true!" I plead. "He must be a seven footer!" I was too tired to argue. Bruce wanted him in the boat and urged Barney to get the snare. Barney said, "You want to snare him?" Bruce said, "yeah, snare him."
I was plenty tired by this time myself and sat precariously on the engine cover while Bruce and Barney attempted to get the snare around the fish’s large forked tail. With some effort the snare was place over the tail and the hook removed from its mouth. It was hard to get a real accurate measurement with him in the water. But we carefully lined up his nose with the edge of the stern and made a mental reference mark at the point where his tail was in relation to the side of the boat, well past the window in the cabin. A photo was taken for posterity and then the beast was released. A powerful stroke of his tail pushed him back to the murky bottom.
I managed to get the rod into the pole holder and reached for what was left in a crumpled beer can that had been abused in the course of the fight and drank deeply. Barney found the measuring tape, and hooked the end to the stern, walked up and proclaimed the fish to be an EIGHT-footer! And added " I wouldn’t be surprised if it went eight and a half!" So there you go. An eight and a half footer! My, oh my!
By the time we were through fighting the fish in, it was about three in the afternoon. A good place to quit and head back for town, we thought.
We said our good-byes in the Marina parking lot. Barney assured us we would be invited back and we assured him that we would certainly be looking forward to fishing with him again, anytime, anywhere. Thanks Barnyard for a dream-come-true fishing experience!
I climbed into my rig and settled in for a long ride home with the Mighty Fish Slayer…