First time fishing the Gorge in the evening this year

Shawn West

Active Member
The wind gods decided to show mercy on me this weekend. It was the first time this year during my time off that I could fish the Gorge without fighting hurricane winds. I decided to fish a couple of different lakes. I launched at the first lake around 2:15. I decided to throw a 3/0 popper and see what happens. I was getting strikes about every 6 - 10 casts. The SMB were not huge, but it was fun getting top water strikes during the middle of the day. One of the bass I caught upchucked a juvenile shad.

I am going to have to tie some of these up.
I ended up landing about 7 bass before leaving to get a bite to eat myself.

After lunch, I went to the next lake. This lake is much larger than the first one I visited. I started off with the popper, but I t was not getting much love. I switched to streamers and was rewarded with plenty of fish to the pontoon. At one time, I had switched to a streamer Joe Warren had given me. It is a white streamer with clear beads and hackle between each bead. I caught about 4 - 5 fish with that pattern. The interesting thing about that pattern was how ferocious the strikes were. It felt like the bass were taking runs at the fly prior to striking.

The sun was getting lower on the horizon. I decided to go back to the 3/0 popper. It took some time before I got a strike. This was a decent bass that put up a good fight. It stretched the tape at 17". The incredible thing about this fish was what was in its mouth. Behind my 3/0 popper was a very large crawdad. This bass decided to strike my fly even though it had a super-sized meal in its mouth. A friend of mine had described bass as gluttons. I have to agree.

You can see the claw behind the popper.

Shortly after that, I decided to fish with a couple of top water patterns given to me by some great tyers. The first was a foam disc mouse. I made about 25 casts with that fly, but never got a strike. I am convinced that this fly will produce for me under different circumstances. I then switched to a Dahlberg diver with a duel weedguard. The fly performed flawlessly, but I could not hook a single fish. I am pretty sure the duel weedguards were just too heavy. A 5# bass would not have an issue with that design, but the 12" smb were no match for the heavy mono. It was starting to get dark, and I wanted to catch a few more bass. I switched to a small cork popper with no weedguard. I lost count of how many fish I caught with that popper. Wish I would have brought my 2wt. Those 11" bass would have been a blast on that rig. I did manage to get in a little trouble when I returned to the launch. The park ranger was waiting for me. It appeared it was 20 minutes past sundown. He gave me a little lecture, but let me off with a warning.

It was good for the soul to get more that an hour to fish. I was starting to wonder if the wind was going to cut me a break this year. I guess it felt sorry for me.

I am hoping to fish some new water in a couple of weeks when my wife and I visit Leavenworth. I have been given a one day pass to explore some new water. I am good with that. Hopefully I will have a report for you then. Until then.....


Great report. I spent almost a year working down there at the Gorge near Dalles. I don't think the wind ever quit blowing enough to fish but a day or two. One of those days we went up near the John Day. Easily the best day of smallmouth fishing I've ever had. 3-4 pound fish, with some larger, almost every cast. I fished for smallies near Biggs Junction where we were staying, too. Not every cast, but lots of good fish.
Good stuff Shawn. We have had an usual amount of light wind days this year. Dead calm today as well.

Was it just a park rule about sunset?