#39: Oregon Trail Snags a King Salmon
We took a roundabout way up to Oregon to do some sightseeing. After completing 5 states in 5 days, we felt ahead of schedule and were making great time. We had little confidence that we would make it all the way to Oregon and catch two King Salmon in a day and continue our streak. We drove through wine country to the start of the Redwood Highway and took it all the way up to the Oregon coast, stopping at several spots along the way to see the incredible forests. The trees were taller than we thought was possible.
After coming out of the redwoods we drove up the southern Oregon coast at sunset, which was one of the most beautiful drives we went on the entire trip. The North Pacific coast is absolutely unreal. We finished off the drive at a rest stop south of Portland, heading up towards the Columbia river for some King Salmon. We stopped at a bait and tackle shop and picked up the necessary equipment. We also got a spot on the river, but were told that King Salmon were hard to come by from the shore. We fished the Columbia for a few hours, and then drove to the Hood River to give that a shot, but had no luck there either. We were beginning to understand what every fishing shop told us - it was going to be very difficult to catch a King from shore.
We looked around for Salmon charters, and found Captain Wade Grant through the recommendation of another guide. Gave him a call, booked our seats, and met him at the boat ramp at 5:30am the next morning. We went out in a channel off of the main part of the Willamette river, a tributary of the Columbia River. We were trolling big flashers with a spinner and a piece of bait trailing behind. He he told us we certainly could get two but not to get our hopes up, as Salmon that early in the run were not super plentiful. We fished from 6am to around noon, and an hour and a half in Daniels rod went off, and after a battle he landed a beautiful 18 pound King. That was our only bite of the day however.
We got back to the dock, and Wade was going to filet the fish for us but we told him to keep it for himself, as we lived out of our car and had no way to cook it. He was shocked and said he wouldn't let us leave Oregon without trying some fresh salmon, so he gave us directions to his house, which was in a floating community only about half a mile down the channel, and we met him and his wife there. They showed us around and introduced us to their parrot, and then Wade fileted and barbecued the Salmon. It was some of the best fish we've ever had, and we had a geat time swapping fishing stories with him. The craziest was a time where he caught a ten foot Sturgeon off of his front deck. As we wrapped up the meal, he told us he wanted to help, and said he would take us out again the next morning free of charge. We were very grateful for his offer as we weren't sure we could afford another charter.
We fished the rest of that day too. We drove back to the Hood river and fished a spot on it we got from an employee at a fly shop in town, and caught some Rainbow Trout and a large White Sucker, but no Salmon. We met Wade again at the ramp the next morning, and we got going. Sure enough, about two hours in, one of the rods went down and I jumped at it and managed to land the fish, my first King. We couldn’t have done it without Wade, and are super grateful for all his help. We got back to our car, again in shock at how well the fishing had gone. Coming into this leg of the trip, King Salmon was a formidable challenge, and one that we anticipated taking us many days, even weeks.
Once again, however, the fishing community showed its generosity and willingness to help, and we had two King Salmon after only three days of fishing. For our next state, we had been in contact with some friends in Washington, and had a guide trip scheduled up there for Steelhead. The family was out of town for another few days however, so that night we drove the ten hours to Missoula, Montana in an attempt to catch our fish there the next day and then hit Idaho on the way back to Washington.