June 20th is the official ocean Salmon opener for Washington so we planned a trip to Astoria, Oregon to see if we could get a limit of King Salmon and bonus limits of Rockfish, Lingcod and Dungeness Crab. Our original plan was to fish Saturday and Sunday, but as the week grew closer, the weather turned ugly. We decided that our best opportunity would be to fish on Friday for rockfish, then hit the Salmon opener on Saturday if we could get across the Columbia River Bar.
We arrived in Astoria on Thursday night and stayed at the Motel 6, it was actually pretty nice. After a quick night sleep we met Mike Barksdale of Fish On Extreme Guide Service at 5:30AM. The weather was cloudy but calm and our trip out into the ocean was smooth. It took us about 45 minutes to get to our first stop for lingcod. Limits are two per person, and all of us wanted to get these first as they are the best eating of the bottomfish available to us today.
We got to the spot, and got our gear ready. We were using 10oz copper pipe jigs below a shrimp fly rig. I slathered Pautzke Herring Fire Gel over my shrimp flies and jig before sending it down to the bottom. It took about 10 seconds after my jig hit the bottom to feel a bite. I reeled it up and to my surprise I had a keeper Lingcod and a keeper Yellowtail Rockfish. A “twofer” on my first drop!
As I was unhooking my fish, Gabe was already hooked up and brought in another beautiful Ling. The action stayed steady for the next 30 minutes with Gabe, Cory and myself all putting nice Lingcod in the boat. Tony caught a few rockfish, but was struggling to put a Ling in the boat. We were giving him a bad time, and then his rod doubled over on a big fish. After a 5 minute battle, Tony landed the biggest Ling of the day, a beautiful fish!!!
Once we had our limits of lingcod, we moved to another location to get our rockfish. For rockfish I decided to put the new Eagle Claw EC2.5 rod and reel to the test. I spooled up the EC2.5 size 20 reel with 20 pound braid on an EC2.5 6 foot medium action rod. I connected braid to a Promar Shrimp Fly Rig, anchored with a 2oz Ahi Live Deception Flash Jig - Green Mackerel Color. This set up was way over powered for this rod and reel but I wanted to see how it performed under these extreme conditions.
I slathered my shrimp flies and jig with Herring Fire Gel and sent them down. I hooked a double on my first cast and even though I had the drag set tight, they were pulling some line off the reel. I was 100 feet deep and was able to lad the fish with ease on the EC2.5 combo. I was super impressed with how it preformed on this first try.
It took me about 30 minutes to get my limit of rock fish, and all of my gear performed great! I am completely sold on the EC2.5 ! The Promar Jig and shrimp flies performed equally as well. There are tough, durable and put fish in the boat! I have to add that I think the Pautzke fire Gel really helped too. This is a great set up for any future bottom fishing that I will be doing.
We got our limits of rockfish, and headed back towards the mouth of the Columbia. On the way back we checked our crab traps and were able to get 5 keepers. It was a great day topped off with an outstanding lunch/breakfast at Trina and Rons place in Warrenton, OR. I highly recommend their Hobo Breakfast if you stop there!
We got back to our Air B & B around 4pm, cooked up some steaks, and got ready for day two. We knew the weather would be rough, but were determined to see if we could catch a King Salmon on the opener.
We met Mike at 5:00am and headed out for the ocean. The wind was howling and rain was coming down sideways as we headed down the river. As we approached the Columbia River Bar a Coast Guard ship pulled along side us to let us know that it was closed to boats under 30 feet. Luckily, Mike's River Wild boat is 30ft, so they allowed us to go out.
We were able to cross easily and soon were getting our trolling gear out for King Salmon. It did not take long for the first rod to bet a bite, but we missed the first fish. We got our lines down again and Cory’s rod went down with a big King! It was a wild fight but Cory played the fish well and the Trokar TK2 Octopus Hook brought it into the net. I think that it had to be there first King Salmon that was sport caught in the ocean in 2020!!!
We fished for about another 10 minutes, but the conditions were getting worse. Mike decided that we should pack it in on Salmon, and head back in. We stopped at one location for rockfish, but it was just too rough to fish.
We got back over the bar with ease, thanks to Mike's outstanding boat skills, pulled our crab pots (7 keepers), and headed back to dry land.
It was an amazing trip with lots of great fish and even better memories.
Mike will be guiding out of Astoria all summer, so if you are looking for a great trip connect with him on facebook or give him a call at 503 - 939-7816
Thanks for reading