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Event Article

Targeting Smallies in the Columbia River, G.Loomis Style (continued)


As is often the case, once I start to fill my head with that false sense of confidence the bite died just as fast as the wind picked up. The wind gusts started reaching the mid 20’s and the water in the main river began to churn and look downright nasty. Jeff mentioned to Renaud that the “sheep” were out. Renaud had never heard this term before, and Jeff explained that where he came from the “sheep” referred to the whitecapping waves, to which Renaud laughed and took a liking to the new term. The sheep were out in indeed and we were starting to get wet not just from the wave splashes but from an increasingly hard shower of rain.


Bruce fishes a tube over some rocky structure with a NRX rod


Renaud signaled to us to move down the river and closer to shore in an effort to find more fish. For Renaud and Bruce these weather conditions are par for the course and we powered down the river taking a minor beating in the process. We pulled up to a rocky edge a few miles from where we launched and found an area of shallow water where we proceeded to fish more tubes and jigs. I’ll be the first to admit, while I know that tubes are absolutely deadly on smallmouth they are not my favorite lures to fish, especially in high wind. Bruce and I were having a hard time feeling anything in the wind so we decided to fish a few lipless cranks to see if there was any reaction bite.


A smallie taken on a tube


I cranked for the next hour with only a single fish to show for it, and it was a small smallie (no pun intended). Right as we were about to give up on the spot Bruce got a monster strike on the same Strike King Redeye Shad that we were both fishing. The G.Loomis Deep Flex rod he was using bent way over and absorbed the shock on the end of the line keeping the Redeye’s treble hooks pinned.


Bruce fishes the Redeye Shad close to some rip-rap


“Now that is going to be a monster smallmouth!” I exclaimed. “It doesn’t feel like a smallie,” Bruce responded as he tried desperately to turn the fish. After about a minute of trying to muscle the fish to the surface we finally got a first look at the beast as it flashed. Bruce was right, it wasn’t a smallie, it was a healthy looking 12-15lb. Salmon on the line! “We might need the net for this one,” Bruce yelled. It took a little more muscle to turn the fish and he had to be a little cautious with the light line but within the next few minutes I successfully netted the Springer. “Well that is a good test of that Deep Flex rod,” I joked.


Bruce lands a Salmon with the G.Loomis Deep Flex rod


The battle with the Salmon was an unexpected surprise and after the fish was carefully released back into the water to continue its journey we decided it was time to rethink our strategy. Jeff had brought some marabou jigs from Canada which he hoped would be the hot ticket, these jigs absolutely destroy the fish up North and Renaud commented that there are times when jigs such as these can be very effective on the Columbia.


A 4.10lb. smallie taken on crankbait


While the guys fished the jigs I decided to switch out from the lipless rattlebaits and see if any deep diving crankbaits would work. I tied on a Strike King 5 and 6 series Rootbeer pattern deep diver which reminded me a juvenile smallmouth. The wind and rain hadn’t let up at all yet, but with cranking I felt like I had a better chance of at least running into fish. We repositioned the boat along the same drift we had just run with jigs and I proceeded to crank away while Bruce went back to the Redeye Shad. Within the next ten minutes I cranked up three fish, the reaction bite was on!


Bruce switches to the same crankbait and we go to town

Next Section: Rain and Hail can't keep the fish away









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