SA Bass

INTERNATIO­NAL

Columbia River Smallmouth Adventure: Lake Umatilla (Boardman and Arlington, Oregon)

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

“Cold Front Reactions (Part 1)” We were crushing big weights on Lake Celilo, hoping to ride the momentum to our next stop, Lake Umatilla, but a passing cold front stalled the bites that have been going great for us. – Fishingboy and David Swendseid (DUO Realis U.S.A)

I n spring 2017, I had the honor of fishing with David Swendseid, the R&D Manager of DUO Realis U.S.A, on the Columbia River where we had recently experience­d a reaction bite slugfest under prefrontal conditions that dropped on Lake Celilo unexpected­ly.

We were crushing big weights on Lake Celilo, hoping to ride the momentum to our next stop, Lake Umatilla, but a passing cold front stalled the bites that have been going great for us.

Check out this two-part article where I bring you the highlights of Day-4 as well as some insights into our approach to unlock cold front reaction bites on a day where conditions were flat out tough.

Columbia River’s Lake Umatilla

Before we talk about the fishing focuses, let us check out some facts and the lay of the lake of the Columbia River’s Lake Umatilla, a 177km long reservoir that stretches between John Day Dam to McNary Dam, straddling the border of Oregon and Washington.

Lake Umatilla was created in 1971, with the constructi­on of the run-of-the-river, John Day Dam, 45km east of the city of The Dalles, and McNary Dam, 1.6km east of the town of Umatilla. Lake Umatilla is one of the largest reservoirs on the Columbia River, with a surface area totalling approximat­ely 223 square kilometers.

Lake Umatilla offers some of the best fishing for walleye on the Columbia River which many anglers believe will one day produce a world record. The current state record, caught in 1990, is just less than 9kg. Walleye catches are common between 1.5 and 5.9kg and are found throughout this pool, but most of the conductive areas are from Arlington upriver to Umatilla.

Smallmouth bass fishing is also popular in Lake Umatilla. Tournament catches in this pool are on par with the best smallmouth fisheries in the U.S., and a winning bag of smallmouth­s on could easily exceed 10kg. Umatilla Park has some areas that are good for bank fishing for smallmouth and other warm water species such as largemouth bass.

Besides walleye and bass, salmon and steelhead fishing can be good at the mouths of John Day and Umatilla Rivers. Steelhead fishing is productive from September through to January. Shad run occurs near Umatilla River in late spring and early summer. Crappie fishing can be good during fall, particular­ly around docks and marinas.

Located on the eastern fringes of the Columbia River Gorge’s transition­al zone, the landscape around Lake Umatilla is a dramatic change in scenery, from vegetation in the transition zones in the west to dry expansive grasslands in the semi-arid climate east.

Most of the shoreline of Lake Umatilla is predominan­tly bordered by highways and railroads right up to the city of Boardman. However, there are several recreation­al facilities that provide boating access to anglers, such as Boardman Marina and Port of Arlington where we launched on Day-4.

Into rough water again

Launching at Boardman Marina, we charted a course east but conditions out on Lake Umatilla were insanely rough from the get-go. The wind was blowing tremendous­ly strong and the long ride to our fishing area was excruciati­ng rough out of the marina.

Unfortunat­ely, conditions out on a primary area we intended to fish were not looking good either. We were

forced to fall back into a protected area, where we ended up catching only a walleye and a little smallmouth, by incredibly high swells and heavy current.

For the first time, conditions out on the Columbia River actually made me felt nervous. More so, with further unstable conditions blowing our way, we decided to head back to the marina and replan. Safety is always the top priority when you are fishing on the Columbia River.

Into a cold front

Having made it back to the marina safely, we made an impulsive decision to relaunch at the Port of Arlington and headed downriver to check out the west pool. It was an unplanned move but in reality, we were headed directly into a cold front unknowingl­y.

A cold front is defined as a leading edge of moving masses of cold, dense air which forces warmer air upward. From a bass fishing perspectiv­e, cold fronts are about as bad as anything can be. That might be true for largemouth­s. For smallmouth­s, however, they do not behave like largemouth­s and respond differentl­y to the effects of cold fronts.

There are lots of theories out there as to how the fluctuatio­ns in air pressure affect both largemouth­s and smallmouth­s. However, we cannot precisely address the biological responses to cold fronts fish exhibit because science is not able to fully understand them yet.

What we do understand is that we can continue to catch smallmouth­s by adhering to several tactical approaches, such as slow, persistent presentati­ons. Drop-shot is a potent weapon, as well as finesse football jigs dragged slowly, downsizing or even dead-sticking and etc. In fact, the same ideology also applies to peacock bass in tropical conditions in Malaysia.

From what I have observed and learned fishing on Lake Umatilla with Swendseid, slowing down is not the one and only answer. In reality, there is a multitude of variables as to how bass respond to cold fronts, and every cold front is technicall­y different.

In that respect, you will sometimes find fish that respond better to certain reaction baits even under frontal conditions, specifical­ly in areas that exhibit stability in water temperatur­e or some form of stability. Again, that philosophy applies to peacock bass fishing in Malaysia.

To be continued…

 ??  ?? The waves come crashing on one of the islands
The waves come crashing on one of the islands
 ??  ?? One of the many riprap banks we fished in Lake Umatilla The calm waters in the Port of Arlington
One of the many riprap banks we fished in Lake Umatilla The calm waters in the Port of Arlington
 ??  ?? One of the many barges we passed on our way upriver
One of the many barges we passed on our way upriver
 ??  ?? A notificati­on sign for boaters in the Port of Arlington
A notificati­on sign for boaters in the Port of Arlington
 ??  ?? The Realis Crank M65 8A is crankbait that is made to catch fish in rough conditions
The Realis Crank M65 8A is crankbait that is made to catch fish in rough conditions
 ??  ?? Swendseid catches a solid fish on the Realis Crank M65 8A
Swendseid catches a solid fish on the Realis Crank M65 8A
 ??  ?? Swendseid caught this walleye on a DUO Realis Crank M65 8A in sea-like conditions
Swendseid caught this walleye on a DUO Realis Crank M65 8A in sea-like conditions

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa