Monday, September 7, 2009

Fish Camp 2009

This will be a long post. Fall Chinook Fishing is a big event every year, where we camp on the island with friends and fish the Columbia River. Fortunately this year the season started before the kids were in school... so they got in on all the fun.

Here is camp - at one point there were 9 different tents setup on the beach. Lots of friends and family!

Lightning struck fast - the first morning we took our first fish! A nice 17 lbs "up-river bright" (URB), fresh out of salt water.
With the first fish in the boat, we could now eat the "lucky bananas"!

The water was 71*F most of the week, which seemed to affect the bite. With warm water (and fish), it was important to cut and get the fish on ice as fast as possible.
That green carpet is getting pretty worn out.

When the current quit running close to high tide, everybody would start squaw-fishing. Each fish over 9" long is worth $4. The kids love the action, and keep fishing for the $!
Looks like rough work there, boy!
The favorite baits for the money-fish seems to be fresh eggs and blood-line. Plenty of fresh bait available at camp!

Here is a pretty good afternoon haul - and this was just one kid's catch!
Salmon fishing is expensive... yet these kids are raking in the dough, and they do their share of salmon catching, too!
Talk about spoiled!
When squaw-fishing the warm water often comes in handy to retrieve a snagged hook! Now that is dedication.

We do put the kids through the paces when out in the boat, though. This kid drove the boat (under supervision, of course) and netted his first fish, too. Just like a pro - he scooped the head on this nice 26 lbs hog.

He also got to pull anchor several times, too. Here he is after the first one...

... and here he is after a few days of it!
We had a great crew this year. Hard working, and hard fishing!

The hog lines were thick near the mouth of the cowlitz. As always, there is always a 'hot slot' or two in each hog-line. Alot of jockeying to get into that hot spot each day.
The nice thing about camping out, is that we could avoid the Rainier, OR boat launch as much as possible. That place is a Zoo this time of year, so be careful! Definitely NOT the place for a newbie - too many grumpy old men in bad moods.

Shame on them!

Some days the fishing was fast-n-furious. The fish stacked up on the deck before we could get one taken care of, down goes another rod!

The fast action and busy hands make for big smiles, though. They can barely hold up their fish!
Lots of complaints about sore backs and stiff hands... its tough pulling on these fish!

Here's a video landing one of our fish -

But after the boat chores and camp chores are done, there is alot of sun, sand, and fun.
Beach combing is fun, even on the Columbia Beaches.

It is great sitting in the shade watching the big ships slip by... all the way past blowing their horn to "get out of the way!"
Some of these boats are big. It is always amazing (and alarming) how often the little boats don't move out of the way - after repeated warnings.

And so each sunny afternoon slipped away into cool mornings of cellphone calls - talking about spots and colors and fish and fun.
The fish kept biting and we kept getting up and wrestling with the anchor... fun!

Saturday morning was expecially fun... a big rainstorm and southern wind kept things lively all day. Everyone struggled to lineup anchors and avoid eachother...
We stayed away from the crowded lines and still got a fish in the boat. The bite was definitely slower on Saturday.
Here you can see the crazy angle of the rope with that stiff southern wind. Crazy!

We froze the nicer fish we caught, and canned alot of the fish, too. More than 185 lbs of fillets for the week into the freezer and on the shelf.
Enough Omega-3 fatty acid to keep us going until next year!

We'll be heading out to Wyoming for deer hunting and visiting family this year, so we froze a salmon whole. After taking out the gills and guts, we filled the cavity with paper towels and vacuum sealed the entire 18 lbs fish for a family salmon-bake.

To break up the week of camping and fish, we did get in a great game of golf and a trip out to Astoria for some salt-water Silver Salmon fishing.
We got some nice fish - even though the bite out there had been slow. We also managed to feed this big bull Sealion - he took our fish 3 times!
Here he is eating a smaller WILD (and endangered) coho.
On the third fish he took he ended up getting hooked with one of the hooks... keep your eye out for a big bull with a cute pink hoochie stuck to the left side of his face...
Some nice silvers did make it into the boat, though. And some more big smiles and great memories.
There is so much more than just fish in the Pacific NorthWest, but during late August and early September, we can't seem to focus on anything else!
Another great year and lots of memories, especially with the kids. Those memories are more valuable than any fish in the freezer or canned on the shelf.