top of page
  • Writer's pictureBMO

Columbia River Bronze Bonanza

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Bill Matthews Outdoors
Michael with a nice Smallmouth Bass

My son Michael came home from college for a few days and I asked him what he wanted to do while he was home. He said without hesitation that he wanted to fish the big “C” for Smallmouth Bass (SMB). He had been Fly Fishing in Montana for the last year and needed a SMB fix. We looked at the wind forecast and realized that if we wanted to go, it had to be the next morning because the wind would be howling the rest of the week.

I loaded up our 2 Jackson Coosa kayaks and all our gear that night and we were up and on the road by 3:30 AM. We got to the river about 5:30, and started fishing near our launch point. Immediately Michael hooked a nice 16” fish. While he was fighting it, a fish grabbed the tube jig from his other rod that was dangling a few inches in the water…now he had two fish on. I had a fish on as well and as I was reeling it in, the water exploded next to me and two shad fry jumped over the nose of my kayak trying to escape the bass chasing them….at this point we knew it was gonna be a day!

Bill Matthews Outdoors
Sunrise on the Columbia River

We caught about 20 fish by the launch, and Michael did not want to leave this spot, but I convinced him that the action should be ever better farther out in the river. We saw a lot of seagulls working in the distance, and paddled over to them and wow….there were shad busting the water all around us. I threw out my swimbait on a Trokar swimbait jig head and had a fish on as soon as I reeled up the slack, I looked over to see that Michael had one on his tube as well. It was an incredible feeding frenzy and we were right in the middle of it.

Bill Matthews Outdoors
More Columbia River Bronze!

I can say without hesitation that this was the most incredible day of fishing I have ever experienced. We sat in the middle of this gigantic feeding frenzy that lasted for four hours. it was similar to a scene you see in the saltwater where the tuna chase the bait to the surface and attack them, while the birds circle above and try to pick off the bait. It is the same thing here, in fact you could not even fish a top water lure because the seagulls would attack it. There were schools of shad boiling to the surface, being chased up by schools of hungry SMB below them, and the seagulls dive bombing them when they reach the surface. The water was literally boiling in several different places all around us. We would cast towards the breaking water and instantly hook up with a fish. These were not small fish either. Most of them were in the 15 to 16 “ range with many over 18”. I am convinced that these Columbia River SMB are pound for pound the strongest fish anywhere. I don’t know if it is the current, what they eat or just genetics, but man, they are strong. After four solid hours of this, the bite finally slowed down and we took a break for some food and water.

Bill Matthews Outdoors
Lunch Time

We sat on the bank of the Columbia and laughed out loud at how amazing the last four hours were. I really don’t think you can comprehend how amazing it was unless you were there, and I really don’t think most people will believe us when we tell them about it, but it was real and it was incredible. It’s hard to estimate how many fish we caught, but it had to be over 100 each. The very best part of it is that I got to spend this day of days with my Michael. Michael has become an incredible fisherman and he will always be my number one fishing partner, and for us to experience this day together was extra special - it is a day neither one of us will ever forget.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page