Columbia River Fall 2021

Well, actually, fall fishing included the lower Snake River, but all in the Tri-Cities Area of Washington State. While everyday on the rivers here or anywhere are a joy, I think I have always liked Fall fishing the best. This is probably from growing up in a small town in the Finger Lakes Region in New York State that was inundated every summer by a zillion tourists and “lake people”, but when school started right after Labor Day the “locals” could enjoy the lake in relative peace. That hasn’t really happened this year or last due to the Covid effect. People looking for activities that are relatively Covid safe have looked to outdoor recreation leaving marina boat lots empty and launch ramp parking lots full. Same holds true for RVs.

This appreciation of Fall fishing was enhanced by the fact the fishing was noticeably better as the water cooled with the longer, cooler nights. The cooler temperatures also meant there was no need to get out of bed before the crack of dawn and the hot sun wasn’t chasing you off the water by lunchtime. This factor is especially enjoyable in Eastern WA where summer fishing starts at or before dawn and lunchtime temps are passing 90 degrees on the way to triple digits. When we get to October the waters are cooling to the lower 60s and high 50s, great for the fish and fishermen who like to sleep in a bit. It also reduces the number of jet skies buzzing about, at least, during the week when I am out there.

It seems to me there is generally a bit more frequent windy days as we get later in the fall, which makes boat positioning more difficult when casting for bass. This year I decided to use windy days to improve my walleye game, specifically trolling. It can be like watching paint dry but the occasional bite can result in a very tasty fish fry or tacos.

Beside the fishing improvement, the scenery changes. Of course, the trees are turning colors here, though nothing to compare with the Northeast hardwoods. Rather, I find that increased activity in the vineyards and orchards to get the year’s harvest in consistent with the natural world’s creatures preparing for the winter, including the fish. Even the sounds of duck hunters in the marshes enforces the awareness of fall. The fall migration of birds of prey here is subtle but noticeable.

Anyway, Fall is great season to be outdoors before the snows of winter hit and we tend to stay inside fly tying, fiddling with our gear, planning next years’ trips. Here’s to getting in a few more casts and maybe put a few more fillets in the freezer before dropping the boat off at the marina for annual service.

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