|Moon and Bridge pier|
It's not that I hate fishing. It's just that fishing involves sitting in a boat for hours on end and I like activities with more movement. My hubby loves this sort of thing but I, well, I find it kind of boring.
But - these are unusual times - and sometimes that means keeping an open mind and trying new things. So in the very wee hours one early April Saturday I found myself at a boat ramp just north of downtown Portland helping my hubby launch his boat (well, technically he was doing 99% of the work......and I was just holding the ropes).
|St Johns Bridge before sunrise (cell phone shot)|
We launched at one of the few City parks still open underneath Portland's iconic St Johns Bridge. The moon shone brightly in the pre-dawn sky, lighting up a bright halo around the clouds and illuminating the bridge. Hoping for some wildlife shots, I'd only brought my long lens and had to rely on my phone's wide angle camera to capture the full scene.
|Sunrise river reflections|
After loading everything we'd need into hubby's boat, and parking the truck and trailer, we slid out into the Willamette River. (And for those of you not from around here it's pronounced "will-AM-it" as in, Willamette, dammit!).
The riverbank here is far from pristine. Lined with industrial docks, warehouses, huge cranes, rotting pilings, tank farms, and huge ocean-going vessels, this portion of the Willamette has been tainted by commerce for well over a century. Still it was cool to cruise by gigantic docks with the corresponding large ships as we motored to hubby's favorite fishing spot.
|Bright morning clouds|
In this era of social distancing, fishing was one activity still allowed by the state of Oregon. With everyone in boats, it's easy to maintain that 6 foot distance, I guess. But neighboring Washington state apparently didn't agree, and closed their fishing season due to the virus. Of course this caused a great migration across state lines. My hubby said last weekend over half the boats on this river were from out of state, mostly Washington. Since that didn't jive with the "stay close to home" spirit of social distancing our governor then declared only in-state residents would be allowed to fish from the following weekend on.
Despite the lack of out of staters, there were still quite a few boats floating in the river as we approached the designated fishing spot. Hubby rigged his pole and began the slow troll up and down the river, hoping to lure a fat, spring salmon. I readied my camera to capture sunrise from a shore lined with utility poles, buildings, and huge metal towers. A bit different from the mountain scenes I was used to capturing.
|Sauvie Island Bridge|
Sunrise was a lovely golden orange, providing a warm glow to the surrounding riverbank areas and fisherman's boats. I glanced over at nearby Sauvie Island (a huge island where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers meet) and captured a nice shot of the Sauvie Island bridge basking in soft morning light.
|Looking back towards the bridge|
After that, my hubby kept trolling up and down the river, in a set pattern. The number of boats increased and I entertained myself checking out the other fisherman (and some women) in boats of many different shapes and sizes. There were huge cabin cruisers and tiny metal dinghy's with putt-putt motors. Some boats had just one occupant, while others were crammed with people (no social distancing happening there - hopefully they were all from the same family). A couple of the fancier boats belonged to professional fishing guides. Painted with bright colors and decorative logos, I was surprised to see these boats full of fisherman (and they were less than 6 feet apart).
|Osprey perching on a piling|
Besides sunrise, the highlight of my day was cruising by an osprey nest. Perched on top of some rotting pilings, an osprey couple had built a huge nest of sticks. Each time we passed by, I'd ready my camera and big lens, hoping to catch one of the birds in action. The advantage of being on the water - we could get really close to these magnificent raptors. With the moving boat, however I soon discovered it was extremely difficult to hold my lens steady enough to get a clear image. But our trolling route took us past the nest several times, so I got many opportunities to practice.
Fishing was slow. My hubby had one bite, but quickly lost it. We saw a grand total of two salmon caught the entire morning (among 71 boats). Spring salmon are extremely difficult to catch.
I'd hoped to see more wildlife, but besides the osprey the only other action was a flock of Canadian geese. After a few hours, boredom set in, and I reached for my Kindle.
|Osprey in nest|
With my Kindle to read, I was entertained and would've probably lasted longer if it weren't for the call of nature. Although I'd rationed my water intake all morning, by 10:30 my bladder began telling me it needed some relief. I didn't want to try and go on the boat. We were surrounded by other fishing vessels - full of mostly men - so I wasn't about to drop trou over a bucket in front of them all. And there wasn't a good place to tie up on the adjacent shorelines, nor anywhere I could go even if we could. Luckily hubby took pity on me, and said he was ready to quit anyway. So he pulled in his line and we headed to the dock.
|St Johns Bridge in daylight|
One advantage to finishing early - no one at the boat dock, so social distancing was easy! While hubby took care of loading the boat, I made a beeline for the restroom. (It wasn't the cleanest but at that point I didn't care. Luckily it had a good supply of soap and water) While my hubby readied the boat for our trip home, I grabbed my camera for a couple of daylight shots of the nearby St Johns Bridge and it's gorgeous steel span and towers. One of Portland's local landmarks.
So that's the story of my first salmon fishing trip on the mighty Willamette River. It really wasn't that bad - I saw a lovely sunrise, got close to an osprey couple, and got to learn all about what my hubby does on his spring and fall weekends. Would I go again? Well, yes probably if this quarantine keeps me from hiking for awhile. But next time we'll have to figure out a new "relief system!" :)