Columbia River Smallmouth Adventure: Lake Celilo (Celilo Park, Oregon)
“Big Water, Big Weather, Big Smallmouths (Part 2)” Here are two more tips on how to handle rough water. – Fishingboy and David Swendseid
(DUO Realis U.S.A)
In Part-1 of this final instalment of the Columbia River series, I talked about the highlights of my smallmouth bass fishing adventure, focusing on mid-depth crankbait fishing for pre-spawn fish in Lake Celilo’s east pool.
I finished the article with rough water tips from David Swendseid. He addressed different types of rough water, life jackets & flotation devices, pre-launch safety checks and boat design. Here are two more tips on how to handle rough water.
Rid your boat of water
Always ensure you have strategic means to get rid of water from inside the boat. A swamped boat is the number one reason for deaths and injuries. When your boat gets swamped by waves, access water will short the electrics leaving you immobilized on the water.
A dead outboard renders you immobile in situations where waves will continue to crash your boat onto rocks causing it to take in more water. Boats with upright flotation offer additional safety but even well-built boats may sink rendering the occupants in danger. So, extra bilge pumps, even portable units and or even buckets will be useful.
Prop and power correctly
Never run your boat out in big water with a fast propeller. When you are fishing in windy conditions, use a prop that lifts the boat quickly that allows the hull to climb.
For instance, a four-blade prop with smaller pitch will allow the hull to lift up quicker. A prop with heavy slip is slow out of the hole and can lead to disaster in rough water situations.
All in all, regardless of what you might face out on the water, it is imperative that you acquaint yourself with basic on the water safety skills before you head out to big water.
Finding pre-spawn staging areas
We got started in Lake Celilo’s east pool under predominantly clear but windy conditions after having made it through rough water that has become a daily routine for us since day-1. We spent the morning fishing deeper areas such as riprap and bluff shorelines but ended up catching only walleyes.
Finding smallmouths in staging areas often depends on the temperature gauge. As a case in point, we fished the west pool two days ago where water temperatures were in the 9°C range. As conditions stand in the east pool, the water temperature was already pushing 10°C by midday on one of the riprap shorelines where we were headed to fish.
The riprap banks in Lake Celilo are vast. It is practically impossible for the angler to hit every fishy looking spot. Instead of focussing on everything that is out there, we narrowed the high percentage areas down to transitioning rocks where we found schooling fish in isolated areas tight on the break under approximately 1.5m to 2m of water.
Swendseid had an awesome day cranking giant smallmouths
Swells and white caps are common in open areas on Lake Celilo
Who says there are not big smallmouths in the marina?