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Event Article

A Little Voodoo Goes a Long Way when Fishing the Tributaries of the Columbia River


Date: 10/23/13
Tackle Type: Rods
Manufacturer: Edge Fishing Rods
Location: Woodland, Washington
Reviewer: Zander


Introduction: “Come up and let’s go fishing” is what Jon Bial, GM at Edge Rods said to us on the last day of ICAST in Las Vegas and he really meant it. The last time we visited Edge Rods the company was just on the verge of introducing their new lineup of bass rods and we were eager to make the trek back up to Woodland Washington to check out how the company had grown, but Jon had other plans.


Jon Bial, GM of Edge rods shows us the Company's latest blanks being produced


The minute we landed he made it clear we were here for one reason… to fish. If we wanted to check out the operation or talk about the new rods that was all fine and good but we would have to work it into the busy fishing schedule that he had planned. The next two and a half days were filled with plenty of time with the company’s salmon and steelhead rods in hand, fishing in the tributaries of the mighty Columbia River.


Less than an hour after we land we spool up and get ready to fish


From PDX airport we head straight for Edge’s headquarters in Woodland and after a quick walkthrough at the facility we picked up a few rods, spooled up a few reels and made the commute to the launch ramp, and when I say commute I literally mean 2 minutes as the river flows directly behind the property and Gary Loomis’s home is right next to Edge Rods and just as we imagined he has his own launch ramp on the back of his property.


Jon shows us his favorite rods for hover fishing


Here we met Justin Kyniston of Top Notch Guide Service for an afternoon sled ride down the river to try our luck at some hover fishing for Salmon. The morning bite had been decent but as with so many types of fishing, catching fish in the middle of the day can be difficult, so we didn’t get our hopes up.


Justin Kyniston explains how to hover fish


At a minimum the river was a beautiful sight with the fall colors coming displaying vibrant red and gold hues. I turned to Jon and asked exactly what part of the river we were fishing and he grinned and replied “the North Fork of the Lewis.” Something I should have known considering that their blank business is called North Fork Composites.


The fall colors are coming in at the Lewis River


We hit a number of spots on the North Fork including the “Swirly Hole” and started hover fishing with Edge two piece rods specifically designed for this technique. Hover fishing basically entails “hovering” over a pool of fish in deep slow moving water and presenting bait on a leader. In our case bait meant a big gooey ball of salmon eggs finished with some shrimp bits. The eggs had all been properly cured and were a bright red color with an elastic feel. We asked what Justin’s recipe was and he simply replied “I don’t even tell my own wife what I do to these eggs.” Makes sense, after all the effectiveness of the bait is critical to the success of a good Guide.


Something big on the line


Whatever was in those eggs the fish seemed to like it as we started getting strikes the second the kicker motor was turned off. Justin talked about how stealth and patience were important when hover fishing and that when there were multiple boats running gas motors the bite would always slow down. Before he could even finish the explanation the tip on my rod tip dipped all the way down into the water and the battle was on. The second I pulled up and the rod fully loaded I knew this was a big fish. After five minutes playing tug of war with the fish we still hadn’t seen even a flash at the surface and all the guys in the boat started in with the jokes. The repartee immediately stopped once I finally got the fish close enough to the surface, that was when we all got our first look at him, and he was huge.


The end of the battle with the "Behemoth" finally comes


The only thing worse than a back seat driver is a back seat angler, and I had four guys telling me how to fight the fish, stop working him like a bass and so on. Truth be told I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to get this fish in and that’s when I realized the guys were right, I was fighting this buck like a bass. I was lucky I didn’t break the leader by trying to horse him in earlier and I leaned back lifted the rod and let the stick do the work. The pressure on the line evened out and the fish soon tired out and Justin went in for the net.


Still shaking after the battle, a great way to start the day off


The second the fish saw the net it freaked and went down for one final surge into the channel. “That fish didn’t like your mug at all Justin,” the guys joked. The next chance we got we made it count and we lifted the fish into the boat. After that intense battle the fish deserved a name and “Behemoth” weighed in at just over 40lbs. He was turning dark as the Swirly Hole is 8 miles from the mouth of the Ocean where Behemoth entered the Columbia River system. When I tried to lift up Behemoth for pictures I was still shaking. Not bad for a first fish, and our first sign that there was something magic about the river.


Jon lands a nice fish


After the adrenaline in my system started settling down I had more time to reflect on the battle with Behemoth. The tools used in this type of fishing are extremely specialized and rod manufacturer’s like Edge need to find that perfect balance between a sensitive tip that allows you discern the lightest strikes and still have plenty of power to keep proper pressure on the line, protecting the light leaders and keeping fish pinned on de-barbed hooks.


The "Black Widow" grip is made out of weaved carbon


Then there is the carbon based grip which Gary Loomis has dubbed the “Black Widow-Exposed.” My Edge rod experience up until Behemoth was limited to fishing the company’s bass rods and while I thought the matte grip was both comfortable, and cool looking, I didn’t consider the other benefits. When hover fishing anglers are constantly messing with bait, and in Justin’s case this bait is as gooey and messy as they come. Anglers up here wear gloves to not only mask their own scent but help keep the gunk off their bare hands, but the gloves do little to prevent the transfer to your rods or reels. It only takes one trip like this to soil traditional cork grips, but with the Black Widow carbon grip design a quick rinse after fishing has them looking as good as new.


Jon releases a Salmon to end the day


We continued fishing and landed five more Salmon, none of which could hold a candle to Behemoth, but still very impressive considering we were just fishing a few short hours before sunset and within shouting distance of Edge headquarters. The Lewis River was not just a beautiful backdrop for the company’s facility but also serves as a perfect testing ground for all the company’s river rods. While Edge’s bass rods have just started to gain prominence the brand’s hover, float, backbounce, plug, hotshot and mooching rods have built up a strong following among guides and die-hard salmon, steelhead and sturgeon anglers throughout the Northwest and beyond.

Next Section: Day 2, A drift on the Klickitat River









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