This was my first trip to the Hanford Reach area of the Columbia, and it was very...educational. I read about it before the trip, but I was still surprised how powerful the flow of the river can be here and how quickly the water flow can change. At times I would start with the old 9.8 Mercury at about 25% throttle to slowly back troll and five minutes later I would have to run it up to full throttle just to keep the same pace.
We spent the better part of the first day getting the lay of the land, fishing the King Hole and a couple other holes above the bridge. We lost a few super baits and a down rigger ball on the bottom of the river but had no bites.
Day two started out well. I was starting to get the hang of back trolling with divers and we had seen a few fish caught, so things were looking up. Since we hadn't had any bites, we decided to take the jet divers off and attempt stacking on the down riggers. Shortly after clipping in we got our first fishing on, and all at once the S*** hit the fan. Almost as soon as the fish was hooked, the DR ball got wedged on the bottom. I was frantically trying to free my down rigger ball, while keeping the side of the boat toward the fish. Meanwhile the person playing the fish got his line wrapped around his rod tip and just couldn't quite get the fish the last 10 feet to the boat. As the 20-ish pound king was splashing around just out of nets reach, the swivel plate on my down rigger snapped and it and the boat started to spin. The boat whipped around, bringing the taut DR line dangerously close to clothes-lining both of my passengers. I grabbed the boom and holding the DR with one hand and the tiller handle with the other, I hollered that we needed to get that fish in the boat ASAP. With one more roll, the fish broke the leader, somehow spit the rotten banana super bait back into the boat and swam off. We made our way back up river and got the ball unstuck before continuing with the one remaining DR. Not 20 minutes later, the other ball got stuck and somehow we managed to shatter the mount on the other side. This time we couldn't get the ball unstuck and I had to cut the line. After breaking two DR swivel bases in one day I decided it was time to head back in.
Day three was much less eventful. We fished the King hole in the morning and then motored down river and spent a few hours at the next hole past the bridge. When we got back to the launch the fish checker told us that the week prior had been really hot at Vernita, but this week most the fish were being caught at Ringold down river.
We fished from around 6:00 am until about 1:30 pm on Sunday September 25th - Tuesday September 27th. Both days there were several boats already on the water when we arrived. The launch time on Sunday was about 20-30 minutes. We marked a lot of fish but just couldn't get any in the boat. This is one fishery where I would definitely recommend going with a guide or someone with knowledge of the fishery for the first time out.