Got schooled on the Columbia

Shawn West

Active Member
A friend of mine, Joe Warren, invited me to go out with him on his boat to chase smallmouth bass on the Columbia River. The first evening, I managed to catch 8 fish total; 7 smallmouth bass and 1 pike minnow. The pike minnow ended up being the largest fish of the day. The Cascade Locks pool was much lower than normal. Joe managed to catch a few smallmouth too. For the record, Joe spent most of the time keeping the boat in position while I fished. The trolling motor had broken that morning.

The next day, we were up at 4AM to get an early start. I am not used to being up that early. Usually I go to bed around 2AM. We launched the boat and immediately started throwing poppers towards the baitfish. The fish were not cooperating. Joe took us to the Oregon side of the river. This is where Joe started the class on how to catch the larger fish. Joe had hooked into a very nice smallmouth right off the bat. This fish was in no mood to be landed. It took a while, but Joe was soon holding a great bass while I took pictures. The fish measured 19.5" and weighed 3.7 pounds. Great bass!!!

Joe Warren with a nice Columbia River smallmouth

You would think Joe would cut me a little slack. NO. He proceeded to catch 3 more fat smallies. They were not as big as the first, but they were slabs. We fished for almost 4 hours. I managed to catch 1 small bass. I have no idea how many fish Joe caught, but it was not a bad morning. While eating breakfast at the restaurant, Joe had mentioned that today was an off day. The fish did not appear to be as aggressive as conditions would dictate. I had no complaints. I got to spend some time fishing with Joe. I had a good time and hope to hit the water again with him soon.

For those of you interested in learning how to catch smallmouth bass on a fly, Joe Warren has a DVD out called Smallmouth Fly Tactics with Joe Warren. There is a lot of good information in this DVD. I would highly recommend it. I have it in my collection.

The next time I get to fish with Joe, I do not plan on taking it so easy on him like this trip. ; )




Active Member
Thanks for the report, Shawn. I just recently bought a kayak and want to launch in Hood River somewhere to chase smallmouth - do you have anywhere you can recommend on the Columbia?


Active Member
I had a fish like in the photo blow up on my popper 4 times on the first cast yesterday and yet we still didn't hook up! I came completely out of the water on the first strike. After that it was dead. That crack in Wanapum Dam has them running the releases in manner that is not normal leaving the water level quite high between the dan and the gap :(