SA Bass - - Contents - >> Story and Images by Fish­ing­boy and David Swend­seid (DUO Realis U.S.A)

“Com­bat­ing Rough Wa­ter (Part 1)” The Columbia River is a world­class fish­ery that needs no in­tro­duc­tion in the world of bass and mul­ti­species an­gling, from small­mouth to salmon to stur­geon, and you name it. – Fish­ing­boy and David Swend­seid

The Columbia River is a world-class fish­ery that needs no in­tro­duc­tion in the world of bass and mul­ti­species an­gling, from small­mouth to salmon to stur­geon, and you name it.

In spring 2017, I had the honor of fish­ing with the R&D Spe­cial­ist of DUO Realis U.S.A, David Swend­seid on the Columbia River for early sea­son small­mouth in some of the most gru­elling and in­tense river con­di­tions I had ever come face-to-face with in bass fish­ing.

Stay tuned as I bring you the Day-1 high­lights of my trip, from com­bat­ing rough wa­ter while I learned to catch small­mouth on Lake Bon­neville’s east pool, plus some in­sights into use­ful tips you could use to el­e­vate your small­mouth bass fish­ing ap­proach in South Africa.

Bass fish­ing in the U.S. Pa­cific North­west

Be­fore I talk about the fish­ing focuses on Lake Bon­neville, let us veer onto the sub­ject of bass fish­ing in the U.S. Pa­cific North­west­ern re­gions of Ore­gon and Washington State.

The U.S.A is the world’s third largest coun­try by land area, as well as the bass fish­ing capi­tol of the world, and a geo­graph­i­cally di­verse coun­try. From a bass fish­ing per­spec­tive, how­ever, the same holds true. Al­though the sport may not be as pop­u­lar as the U.S. states in the West, Mid­west, South­east and South­west, the Pa­cific North­west packs lots of un­tapped po­ten­tial, no­tably small­mouth whereby the species is wide­spread in this re­gion of abun­dant rain­fall with mod­er­ate, oceanic cli­mate that is wet, windy and cool in au­tumn, win­ter and spring.

Swend­seid and I are sched­uled to hit the wa­ter on back-to-back days, a week in mid to late April, dur­ing the spring tran­si­tional pe­riod that is marked by highly un­sta­ble weather that sets up in­cred­i­bly chal­leng­ing con­di­tions, lit­er­ally on my first day on the wa­ter in the U.S.A.

My first U.S. bass fish­ing trip

I have been count­ing down the days to my first bass fish­ing trip in the U.S. since I was in col­lege. Over the years, my work as a free­lance colum­nist for an­gling mag­a­zines over­seas has pro­gres­sively en­abled me to bass fish in sev­eral other coun­tries through col­lab­o­ra­tive teamups and in­vi­ta­tions but op­por­tu­ni­ties from the U.S. never emerged un­til re­cently.

In fact, the seeds of the op­por­tu­nity fi­nally landed in 2015 in the form of a strate­gic team-up be­tween my­self and the R&D Spe­cial­ist of DUO Realis U.S.A for a front cover story on spy­bait­ing for Malaysia’s Rod&Line mag­a­zine (is­sue #235, July 2015), as well as a short fea­ture on DUO Realis Crank G87 deep crankbaits for Lure Mag­a­zine of South Korea.

In ret­ro­spect, even if I could af­ford guided bass fish­ing trips in the U.S., in all hon­esty, that is not the way I en­vi­sioned my­self go­ing for­ward with a trip I have yearned for since my col­lege days, es­pe­cially if it is the first trip and I want it to be a mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

No doubt, the Columbia River has al­ways been high on my bucket list of small­mouth waters. Though I have caught large­mouths in coun­tries such as France, China, South Africa and South Korea, I have still yet to ex­pe­ri­ence small­mouth bass fish­ing in any shape or form but that is set to change.

The road to Lake Bon­neville

My road trip to Lake Bon­neville, a Columbia River reser­voir in the Columbia River Gorge, from cen­tral Ore­gon to­talled 211kms or three hours on scenic The Dalles – Cal­i­for­nia High­way of Route 97 and 197, re­spec­tively.

We were headed to The Dalles Yacht Club ma­rina for an early launch on a seem­ingly calm day but ev­ery­thing changed the mo­ment we idled past the ma­rina break­wall. That day, I learned not to trust the weath­er­man when it comes to fore­casts on the Columbia River ar­eas.

Bat­tling rough wa­ter

Our bat­tle with rough wa­ter be­gan as soon as we ex­ited the ma­rina. For most of the day, we were climbing and evad­ing waves as high as 3m, for which had also in­con­ve­niently become a rou­tine of the day for us. In fact, Lake Bon­neville felt more like an ocean with con­di­tions that thrill seek­ers would go wind­surf­ing in­stead of bass fish­ing. How­ever, there is some science be­hind the windy weather phe­nom­ena.

Rough wa­ter con­di­tions in the Columbia River is mainly

caused by at­mo­spheric pres­sure dif­fer­en­tials east and west of the Cas­cades moun­tain range cre­at­ing a wind tun­nel ef­fect in the deep gorge that gen­er­ates 60km/h winds. In ad­di­tion to topo­log­i­cal fac­tors, rough wa­ter could also be caused by heavy cur­rent gen­er­ated from flow reg­u­la­tion of the run-of-the-river dams.

Lo­cat­ing early sea­son small­mouth

From a fish­ing per­spec­tive, I read that the best fish­ing sea­son for small­mouth up north starts in late April or early May, ahead of the spawn. And, lo­cat­ing small­mouths in those con­di­tions of­ten de­pend on the tem­per­a­ture gauge.

Ev­ery fish­ery is unique and the Columbia River is no dif­fer­ent. How­ever, the key fac­tors to look out for when it comes to lo­cat­ing high per­cent­age fish hold­ing ar­eas could not be any dis­sim­i­lar. I was glad that Swend­seid had

no reser­va­tions in shar­ing his views and ex­pe­ri­ence as a tour­na­ment an­gler on strate­gies for lo­cat­ing small­mouth in cold wa­ter.

The worst of cold wa­ter con­di­tions is muddy wa­ter that is ris­ing with fall­ing tem­per­a­tures. That holds true even in equa­to­rial cli­mate fish­ing con­di­tions in Malaysia where I fish for but­ter­fly pea­cock bass in the Perak River sys­tem lakes, es­pe­cially dur­ing the mon­soons. On the Columbia River, how­ever, we were deal­ing with early sea­son con­di­tions where the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture gauge pri­mar­ily reads 7°C. Now that is a whole dif­fer­ent story.

To be con­tin­ued…

The Allison BasS­port Pro XB-21 in The Dalles Yacht Club boat dock launched and ready to head out to rough wa­ter

Swend­seid works a deep wa­ter area be­side a bluff

This is an area where I caught a big small­mouth on Texas-rig Zoom Trick Worm

A fishy look­ing area where the cur­rent is in­cred­i­bly heavy

My two big­gest small­mouths of the day came on a glide­bait and straight tail worm

Swend­seid’s way of sum­ma­riz­ing his day on Lake Bon­neville

The chart­plot­ter guided us into a shal­low area on the Washington State shore­line

Swend­seid caught this solid fish on a DUO Realis M65 Crank 8A

The DUO Realis M65 Crank 8A is one of the top baits of the day

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