My guide pointed out this roadside nest of an Osprey high at the top of a pole.

9" Pikeminnow

An Osprey nest on a high pole. An Osprey and its nest. A 9" Pikeminnow

A small ferry uses a two-lane road that also serves as a boat ramp.

A small car ferry that crosses the Willamette River near Portland.

Off on my 50-mile morning drive south of Portland through the Willamette Valley. I was scheduled to fish in its meandering river near Salem.

Map of the Portland and Salem areas in Oregon.

Wild Buckwheat
At the edge of this field of corn, I snapped a shot of this flowering “weed” that looked like one of the many species of Buckwheat.

A type of Wild Buckwheat in Oregon.

The Willamette River near Salem
It is a stream-like body that is much smaller than the Columbia.

Corn and Wild Buckwheat in Oregon. A view of the Willamette River Valley. tunabanner1j

Day #4 - Fishing the Willamette River Near Salem

After 3 days of very early mornings, I had a chance to sleep in a little on this 4th day of my trip to Oregon. From strictly a fishing point of view, it was a total waste of time so far. In fact, these last 2 days of fishing have made for two of the most wasted days of travel fishing I have ever had. I had planned it with good intentions - to catch new species of fish in Oregon that we didn't have in California - but somewhere along the line, the good intentions lost meaning.

When I had originally called the guides to set-up this trip, I explained to them what I wanted to do and I listed some of the species I wanted to catch. I listed the Walleye, Silver Salmon, Redband Trout, Whitefish, and Pikeminnow. The guide said we might have a chance to catch the Walleye, Whitefish, and Pikeminnow, but the Silver Salmon was not in the river this time of the year, and the Redband Trout could only be caught in mountain streams that were several hundred miles away.

On the previous day, we had fished the Columbia River for 7 long hours trying to catch the Walleye – we did not even get a nibble. However, we did catch one small 11" Whitefish. On this 3rd and final day of fishing in Oregon, we fished the Willamette River, which is a small tributary of the Columbia that flows right through the city of Portland. The guide said we had an "outside" chance of catching a Walleye here and/or possibly a bigger Whitefish. However, the most likely fish we would catch in the Willamette this time of year would be the Pikeminnow. Then, he explained that the Pikeminnow wasn't actually a new species for me because it is the same fish we call the Squawfish in California. If I had know this before, I definitely would not have come all the way to Oregon to catch the "trash" fish I had caught many times in the Sacramento River.

I left the Hotel in Portland at about 8:30 AM for the 1-hour drive south to Salem, the capitol city of Oregon. With a population of 70,000, it is also the State's 3rd largest city. The drive down through the Willamette Valley was an interesting one - it is a rich agricultural area that has many beautiful rolling hills. However, my head cold was still giving me misery. I now had to chew gum continually to control a dry and raspy throat, and talking with the guide would even become a chore. The more I talked, the raspier my dry throat became.

I met my guide for the day at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) lot in Salem at about 9:30 AM. I parked the Hyundai in the lot and rode in the truck with the guide to a launching ramp on the Willamette River. The ramp was actually a 2-lane road that terminated at the river. A small ferry like some of the ones we have in the California Delta transported cars across the river. When the Ferry isn't present, boaters use the dead-end road as a launch ramp into the river.

By 10 AM, we were downstream at a favorite "riffle" of the guide. For the next 7-hours, we did a slow troll back-and-forth across the riffle. We were using the same "wire-like" setup we had used the previous day in the Columbia River for Walleye. The guide claimed it would be effective with any of the 3 species we were after (Walleye, Whitefish, and Pikeminnow). We caught one miserable 9" Squawfish. I didn't even bother to take a photo. The total day of wasted effort had to be rated as Snafu #13.

At 5 PM, we reeled in our lines and headed back to Salem. It was after 6 PM by the time we got back to the DMV lot and I got the Hyundai headed north on Oregon's version of I-5 in California. It was 7:15 PM by the time I got back into Portland and almost 8 PM by the time I got the Hyundai filled with gas for the early-morning return to the airport rental office.Despite the late hour and discouraging day of fishing, I made a last stop at McDonald’s for a final McFlurry with Oreo. I was back at the Motel 6 at approx. 8:30 PM and the light of day was now quickly fading away. Now it was rush time - cleanup, shower, dinner, and then the always time-consuming job of packing for the flight home. I was lucky to get to bed by 12 AM.

Summary: Fishing-wise, the day was a total skunk. A 9" Squawfish is worse than no fish at all in my opinion. However, there were a few bright spots throughout the day. The Willamette River was a pretty river - even with no fish, and the morning drive down through the Willamette Valley was interesting. Finally, for the first time in over a week, my head cold felt like it was getting better. In the last 4 days, I had put 575 miles on the Hyundai rental car.

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Bob regrets going to Oregon to catch a "trash" fish he had already caught around Sacramento


Willamette River

Wild Buckwheat

9" Pikeminnow


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