Report: my first catfishing trip to eastern Washington

Discussion in 'LOCAL WASHINGTON TALK' started by Steelie L, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    So me and a friend made the 5-hour trek from Seattle to Central Ferry two days ago in search of nice channel cats on the Snake River (this particular part of the river is actually a reservoir formed by Little Goose Dam). After pitching our tent at the state park in the early evening, we were off to find a bank-fishing spot. We crossed the bridge heading away from the state park and found a likely looking spot off the road: a small point of land created a break in the current and resulted in some softer slack water -- sort of a half-cove, if that makes any sense. (Note: Being unfamiliar with the water here, I'm not sure if it was a natural current or a wind-fueled one.) Whatever the case, it seemed like a promising location -- there were various fish rising and splashing about -- so we scrambled down the rocks and had our lines in the water by 8pm.

    For the next four hours, we threw the kitchen sink at 'em -- Secret 7, nightcrawlers, shrimp, cut mackeral...all in various presentations, from slip bobbers to egg sinkers to no weight at all. We caught four small bullheads, all while fly-lining the shrimp, but that was it. No channel cats. We did, however, see two huge branch-chomping beavers -- and we didn't (knock on wood) see any rattlesnakes, despite the fact that we were fishing from a rock pile (the entire bank here is a long line of rip rap) in the heart of rattlesnake country. My understanding is that because the rocks hold in heat from the day, the cold-blooded snakes flock to these rock piles like sailors to a tavern.

    All in all, it was fun to get out and explore, especially on such a warm, clear night, even if we didn't find our intended quarry. I'm a big believer in putting in your time, so hopefully this effort will put us in good standing with the catfish gods for the next time we trek across the state.

    In hindsight, we made big mistake by arriving to this unfamiliar river so late in the day, because if we had gotten there earlier, we could have scouted out some other spots to try after spot #1 didn't work out. Such is life when your fishing aspirations come second to the demands of family and work; we did our best with the time we had. In the morning before driving back to Seattle, we were able to find some other spots worthy of trying on another trip.

    If anyone's reading, I have a few questions:

    1) Everything I've read says the Snake is best for catfish in June and July. Does the fishing really shut off this time of year? I've no idea why it would -- the water didn't seem inordinately warm -- but again, I'm a catfish and Snake River novice.

    2) Are there any similiarities or differences between the type of water that bullhead and channel cats prefer? Meaning, if we were catching bullheads, were we probably in the right spot for channel cats -- or were we in the wrong spot?

    3) If anyone's willing to share some other bank-fishing possibilities in the state -- preferably not in rattlesnake rock piles -- I'd be happy to buy you a six-pack or three!

    Thanks for any and all advice,
    Lance
     
  2. rickspiff

    rickspiff New Member

    Messages:
    1
    State:
    Washington
    Boy, it's been a looong time since I fished the Snake for cats. Just got my gear together and put some projects aside... and it's cold out. Oh well, I still fish when I can.

    I've been living in the Tri-Cities area for over ten years and fished a lot of banks around here, so hopefully I've got some useful knowledge to share.

    1. Ten years ago they didn't really slow down until late September. If we found some shallows, especially with some grass, we usually caught a few carp. It's illegal to use live bait pretty much anywhere in Washington, but we used to cut them carp up and catch channel cats here and there. Occasionally a greedy smallmouth would grab a piece of that carp too. The solution was to just cut a bigger piece. :wink:

    The flats below Ice Harbor used to be good for bank or boat fishing, but got so crowded the place was closed by the Corps of Engineers a while back. I've heard it's open now, but haven't been back to fish it.

    2. As for which is where, if you can hook bullheads, the channel cats were usually not far behind. Never found a pattern to it.

    3. As above, head through Burbank Heights and drive right up to Ice Harbor dam. On the south side of the river below the dam (about a half mile to a mile), some high cliffs with access right down to the water and weeds can be found. Not many snakes there, even in the summer time. That whole area is shallow and full of carp and catfish all summer long. If you can cast out into the middle of the river, there's supposed to be lots of sturgeon there people bank fish for. Also, a small run of shad hit the dam about the second week of June. The place is packed around then.

    Anywhere you can cast into the Yakima river delta is worth trying, but most access is closed or severely restricted now. Try getting down to Columbia point and walking under the I-182 bridge. Lots of shallows back there, but we almost never caught anything unless it was after dark.

    By far, my most favorite spot was off highway 14 along the Columbia about forty to fifty miles west of McNary dam. There's occasional dirt and rock roads leading down to the river, where you can fish off five or six feet of cliffs. Beware that there's also a zillion huge spiders on every plant, so look for a flat open rocky space. Best for overnight fishing in the summertime. Just scope out a few spots, cast out about a mile, then reel your bait in ten to fifteen feet every five minutes or so. I don't think I've ever been down there and not hauled a couple of good sized bullheads.

    Of course, I'd have to go hunt for the place for an hour to find it again...

    Lastly, I've never fished it, but some old guys around here advised hitting up Scooteney reservoir. It's dead in the middle of snake country, though.

    Well, I hope that long-winded post helps. I know the weather's freezing and blowing and raining, but I want to go fishing, dang it! And since my boat is out of commission, I'm going to be re-finding all of those bank fishing spots over the winter.
     

  3. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    Thanks for the very generous reply. I really appreciate it.

    Happy holidays,
    Lance
     
  4. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    Well I am new to the area, I live in KennewicK (since 2008), from Mid April to late June there is a huge area behind Bateman Island, it is a spawning ground on the Yakima river delta where it meets the Columbia. I have been fishing it at night, use cut pikeminnow/AKA. squawfish or bait shrimp coverd with mikes shrip oil, usually use a lighted bobber set at 6' or on the bottom. Behind Ice Harbor dam is ok, Lyons Ferry park on the snake is where the Poluse river meets the snake, you can walk up the cannyon to fish the poluse for channel cats & it is loaded with pikeminnow & small mouth bass, also behind Lower Mounumental Dam I hear is good if you can find a grain elevator on the river usually around or below them is lots of cats, feeding on the spilled grain. There is also the flat inbetween the Potlatch pulp mill & the Walla Walla river delta, take hyway 240/12 I think out of Pasco towards Wallula you'll see the pulp mill, just past that there will be a large historical marker for Wallula just past that is a turn in, park by the RR tracks & walk down to the river there is a 30' plank laying in the bank (been there forever) just out from there is huge zebra muscle bed the cats lay on in the spring, use cut bait for best results, hope that helps.
     
  5. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    Thanks, tricitycatter. I really appreciate your generous reply.
     
  6. katmax

    katmax New Member

    Messages:
    1,070
    State:
    griffin ga
    thanks for the report.....:Happy:
     
  7. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    By the way Steelie nice fish, what is it a Salmon? This has been my first year Steelhead fishin & I am hooked (pardon the pun), I have caught 7 fish so far but have had nothing since just after Thanksgiving. Give my a hollar if you are gonna be over this way, we can hit the river or batemans island in the spring.
     
  8. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    It's actually a wild steelhead from the Hoh River. By far the biggest steelhead I've ever landed.

    Nice work on getting 7 fish thus far in your first year -- that's very impressive. Steelheading in the Puget Sound region has been tough this winter. I'll give you a shout if I ever head your way. I've actually never fished for steelhead over there -- that'd be fun.
     
  9. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    I have caught 4 wild ones this year, the biggest was 39" got a few pics in my profile. We most likely fish different for Steelies over here, prodominantly slip bobbers & shrimp, I have tried it with jigs & shrimp (other prefered method here), but have never caught anything or even got a sniff. I am however gonna find a few spots on the snake where there are big grain bins & gonna try the flat by Potlatch this spring, I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  10. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    Nice steelhead pics, man! Congrats. (Those are some sweet channel cats too.)

    For wintertime steelhead, I generally tip my jigs with a small piece of raw prawn (usually about the size of a dime). I pre-cut the prawns, put them in a bowl, and sprinkle a good amount of non-iodized salt on them, after which I mix the salt and prawns together and refrigerate overnight. Then I put the prawns in zip-lock bags and keep them in the freezer until I need them. The salt toughens up the prawns and helps them stay on the hook longer. This was a trick I learned from the best steelheader I've ever fished with.

    Continued good luck to you. I'm looking forward to hearing some of your catfish reports come springtime.
     
  11. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    Well you have a lot more skill & patience with the shrimp prep, I just got to the local sporting goods store & buy the shrimp, usually the red/pink , I have had mre success with that color rather than the purple. I did try to brine & dye my own shrimp once this year but it was a dissapointing & messy thing. My wife said NO MORE of that, just go buy it. I get the ones packed on rock salt & keep em in the freezer. I use a 3/4 oz Bou Mac slip bobber & about 24" of Florocarbon leader (12lb), #4 red Gamakatsu barbless (barbless is mandatory on the Snake River), set my bobber stop between 4'-8', I move it up & down till I find the bite zone. I go through the back /first section of the shrimp's body & turn the hook through & out the head, then pull my bait/egg loop put it over the tail/body & snug it up holding the shrimp on the shank so it don't come off when casting.
     
  12. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    It sounds like you've got your set-up dialed in, and it definitely seems to be working for you. Keep up the good work!
     
  13. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    Been meaning to ask you, Tricity -- you mentioned fishing the Palouse near Lyon's Ferry for cats. I've heard it can be fantastic in early June, but that was from guys with boats. You mentioned walking up into the canyon -- what kind of walk is it? I'm not afraid of hoofing it; I just want to know what I'm in for. I WILL catch a channel catfish in Washington state next spring or summer, dangit.

    Thanks.
     
  14. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    Well I do know that late may & early June is the peak of the spawn (...depending on the winter it can be later, like last year) I do know that were killing them at the mouth of the Paluse, some other guys I know camped at lyons ferry & told me they walked up the canyon all the way to the Famous Paluse Falls (a site to see, if you haven't), they said it was pretty ruggid and the brush was thick, they had a machettie with them, they also had a few friends who had a canoe who went up to falls. I do know that it is deep & wide at the mouth 50' in some places. Here is a link to some nautical charts : http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/PacificCoastViewerTable.shtml
    The Columbia & Snake Rivers are inthe 18500's, chart 18546-bottom 1/2 has the mouth of the Paluse River depth readings, mind you they vary due to run off & Hydro power production. Hope that helps, use Goole World to get a view of the Cannon, not great but it will help you see what the terran is like.
     
  15. Steelie L

    Steelie L New Member

    Messages:
    28
    State:
    Washington
    Thanks for the info!
     
  16. tofish

    tofish New Member

    Messages:
    3,923
    State:
    arizona
    for what it helps, i've fished the snake river by lewiston with dad a few yrs ago. caught a few channels out of there on chicken liver. don't know much more about fishing up there though.
    gary
     
  17. tricitycatter

    tricitycatter Member

    Messages:
    354
    State:
    Washington
    Well I ordered secret 7 & am looking foreward to getting it next week, not that I expect to start catching cats right away, water temps are still cool. But i will let you know if it works here in the river this spring, you should look into getting some, i hear that a few rivers down by Vancouver have cats, you should also be close to the Dales & Bonneville dam, there should be lots of cats down that way.
     
  18. deaddog500

    deaddog500 New Member

    Messages:
    2
    State:
    Washington
    I too am trying to find a place to find monster cats up here...I learned to fish for cats in Louisiana. None of that will work here...Live bait on trot lines is not OK up here...
    I have met up with a guy from AZ here in the Spokane area. He is big (and I mean big time big) into steelhead. He wants to cat fish more just to be on the water when he is not after steelhead.

    So any advise would be helpful...bait? what rod/real work well? Locations? above or below dams?

    I have another friend in Lewiston, but he is busy arrow fishing carp. I am trying to turn him from the dark side!