I think it was the winter of 2005 when I first went out with Andrew for the Wahkiakum County Christmas Bird Count, and I’ve done it nearly every year ever since. I usually paddle the section of the count circle that is lower on the river, in the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. It’s usually a very cold, and sometimes stormy kayak trip. This year was no exception.

Christmas bird count by kayak

I set off from Skamokawa around 10:30 in the morning, and paddled out into a strong ebb tide, with a lot of extra runoff pouring out of the mouth of the creek. It was almost instantly windy and rainy, and I saw almost no birds for the first couple of miles crossing the river.

When I got to Woody Island I was ready for a break from trying to look at birds from a kayak that was getting tossed around in the wind and waves, and I pulled out for a half hour or so, had some tea and a Clif bar, dried my freezing hands and put on gloves. I usually don’t use pogies, since I’ve mostly used a Greenland stick for years, but lately I’ve been using my bent shaft Werner, and I sure was wishing I had pogies now!

Christmas bird count by kayak

I had planned to paddle down the west side of the refuge islands, but the wind was just too heavy for decent birdwatching, and I finally gave up and moved to the inside of the islands. That didn’t take me out of the wind completely, but it cut it way down, and I could finally set my paddle down without having it blown away.

Christmas bird count by kayak

My last stop was on Karlson Island, where Andrew hoped that I would be able to climb up on top of the old dike and find a treasure trove of birds in the large field inside the dike. Years ago, someone hit the jackpot here, so I gave it a try again. Sadly, this spot was nearly devoid of bird life. I found a dozen mourning doves and a Fox sparrow, and that was it. I did find a sizable congregation of coots, though, inside the little channel next to the dike.

Christmas bird count by kayak

Christmas bird count by kayak

Numbers wise, this wasn’t a great bird count year for me, personally. I only got 28 species, and there were quite a few that I was expecting to see that I did not. And my position as Scaup Sighting Champion, which I’ve held for several years running, was taken away from me. Last year I counted almost 7000 Scaup, this year, only 1020.

But I did see more White Winged Scoters than I have ever seen before, and I think my Coot count was the highest I’ve ever had, too. And I saw the Tundra Swans, and a few Ruddy Ducks, which I don’t get every year.

I pulled up to the Knappa Docks in Oregon at about 3 PM, just as another squall hit, nearly taking away my paddle again. Twenty minutes later it was back to flat calm, as I loaded up the kayak on the car. All in all, a nice winter paddle.

Christmas bird count by kayak

looking up

For the last couple of months, my life has revolved around various springtime tasks, and leading our Elderhostel/Exploritas kayaking groups every other week. This has been a very cold, wet, and windy spring. The picture below was taken on March 28th, on our Leadership Scenarios day in Skamokawa. Today, it looks much the same out there, at the end of May!

rain on the river

group photo, Exploritas program

I have been involved with Elderhostel groups since 2004, and to date, I have been a co-leader for 84 Elderhostel programs. This year, all four of our spring programs lined up on similar tides, and we paddled the same routes each time. One of these routes was paddling along the cliffs upstream of Cathlamet, created 17 million years ago by the Columbia River basalt flows. There are dramatic waterfalls, and a population of plants that are found nowhere else in the county, including various wildflowers, Oregon white oak, Madrone and even poison oak.

waterfall and ferns

Flowers shown below are Broad-Leaved Stonecrop, Larkspur and Streamside Arnica.

Broad-Leaved Stonecrop


Streamside Arnica

The controversial, but beautiful Caspian terns are back, to spend the summer nesting on sandy islands in the Columbia, and feasting on salmon smolts. You can read a little about the terns, and their presence on the Columbia River by clicking here.

Caspian Terns

In other springtime news, I did finally manage to catch a spring Chinook, with only a couple of days left of the season, and my brother caught his on the very last day. The water was so high and cloudy down in this part of the river that even though there was a decent run of fish passing through, the catch rate was pretty mediocre, and a lot of people went up above the confluence with the Willamette to fish in clearer water.

And I caught a very small window of dry, sunny days, and managed to till my garden beds while the soil was dry and warm. I got my potatoes planted, three 40′ long beds worth, just before the weather switched back to rain again. I bought fresh seed potatoes this year from Irish Eyes, and planted Russian Banana, a fingerling that has done well here before, Chieftan, a red potato, and Bintje, a variety I had never heard of before.

Now, if it would just stop raining for a little while….

cat and water

Ah, March. In like a lamb, and out like a lion, at least this year, anyway!

March is one of my favorite months, for a lot of different reasons. For one, my birthday is in March, and has almost always been accompanied by blooming daffodils, and, by the end of the month, trilliums are also blooming in the woods.


And for another, it is when I usually start fishing for springers. I have made a tradition out of starting on my birthday, but I usually don’t see much action until the end of the month, or later. I got my first strike while trolling yesterday, but it didn’t stick, and that was all the springer excitement I’ve had so far this year.

Dynamic Water training

It’s also when I start getting the first kayaking work of the year. I usually have a custom tour of some kind in early March, and this year was no exception. Andrew had someone sign up for one of his Gray’s Bay tours, but his broken foot was still healing, so I took the tour. That turned out to be the same weekend that Jukka Linnonmaa from Kayak Finland came to visit, so he came along with us. It was a beautiful day, as was much of early March, and we made it all the way to Knappton and back.

Jukka and Me at Altoona

Jukka stayed with Don and Kitty at the Inn at Crippen Creek Farm, and showed us slides of some of his paddling travels after dinner. He’s been paddling in a lot of the places that I want to go paddling, like Japan!

The next day he asked to borrow a kayak, and since my other plans for the day had fallen through, I decided to go paddling with him, too; he and Andrew and I paddled to Altoona and back, about 20 miles. On a beach downriver from Skamokawa, Andrew made an incredible find: fossilized teeth and a piece of jawbone from a Pleistocene era horse of some kind. Besides bringing us this amazing good luck, Jukka was great company, gifted me a beautiful Finnish knife, and sold Andrew one of his digital cameras and a waterproof case for a song.

fossil teeth and jawbone

Columbia River Kayaking also held a leadership scenarios training day for Josh and Katie this month, has been busy getting ready for the first of this year’s Exploritas programs, which starts this coming Sunday, and we cleaned up the paddle center in preparation for the upcoming kayaking season, even as we await some kind of news from the bank regarding the future of Skamokawa Center.

high tide at number 35

In between all of this, and occasionally getting up before dawn to go fishing, I overhauled the home website for Red Alder Ranch, cleaning up the appearance a bit, and getting rid of some old, irrelevant pages. I still need to finish updating the links page, but it looks better than it did!

Springer fishing sunrise

I’ve also been engaged in some spring cleaning on a larger, and less “virtual” scale, clearing away some old trucks and boats that are no longer useful, and endeavoring to clean up my shop so that I can work on a couple of boatbuilding projects that have been brewing for a while. Stay tuned for that.

My old, mostly faithful Toyota 4×4 left today, on its way to a new life with a group of young Mexican guys down in Portland. It was actually a little bit sad. That truck was my daily driver for years when I lived down in California. But it’s been sitting in my pasture since 2004, with a jammed up timing chain, and I finally admitted to myself that I really wasn’t going to get around to rebuilding the engine anytime soon, and it was time to move it on.

Toyota truck in the weeds

As if by magic, almost as soon as I started clearing out old projects and cleaning the place up a bit, my good friend Scott emailed to say that he wanted to give me his ’68 GMC pickup, as it was time for him to move it on. What can I say? Nature abhors a vacuum, I guess. I’ll be going up to Seattle sometime soon to pick it up.

Spring Chinook nigiri

Levi did catch a springer the other day, and gave me a piece of it. I cooked some up for dinner one night, but saved the rest of it for some springer nigiri. It was as delicious as it looks!

On my eighth fishing day on the river this year, I finally managed to put a fish in the boat. It was a cold and rainy morning, but since the season is only open three days a week right now, I have been making myself get out there on every open day, for at least a couple of hours. Today, it paid off, after only an hour and a half at anchor.


Not only did I manage to hook a springer, but no seals or sea lions got to it first, AND it was a hatchery fish, meaning that I could actually keep it. This is the first time since 2006 that I’ve managed to keep a springer. Last year I got skunked completely, and the year before the seals got the one fish I had near the boat.

For you fish geeks out there, here’s the specifics:

I was anchored up, in 17 feet of water alongside Welch Island near Skamokawa. I was fishing a sliver and green striped K14 Kwikfish, at the very end of a strong ebb tide. Fish weighed 12#, troll dressed.

net and water

It’s been a long and grumpy winter for me, with lots of time spent on the phone and email trying to sort out a new way forward for our kayak center here in Skamokawa. It’s easy to lose perspective when you sit inside all day, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally started breaking away from the office to get out on the water. I put the skiff in the water on my birthday, March 10 and started fishing for spring chinook. So far, I haven’t caught anything, but it is early yet, and tomorrow is the first day of another three day opening, so maybe my salmon luck will change soon.

unaaq and norsaq

And yesterday, I finally got out in a kayak again, for the first time in weeks. I took out the Valley Q-Boat, which was loaned to me by Rob Avery of Valley Kayaks. It is a fiberglass, hard chined, Greenland style kayak. It seemed to roll pretty well, and for an 18 foot long kayak, was very maneuverable and nimble. Andrew took out one of the new plastic Valley Avocets and we paddled down to Three Tree Point and back. I took the harpoon along just for fun, and found that I’m sadly out of practice, compared to what I was able to do with that last fall. Sigh…

Enjoy some pictures!

springer fishing

skiff and triangles

north shore

Valley Q-Boat

None of these have been blogged before. No words today, just pictures. Enjoy!


Skamokawa Creek

floating wood

tiny newt!


farm cat


Astoria anchorage

ancient cedar tree

snail shell


hardie hole



number 35

reflected pilings

resting boats


Moon and Stars

water and rocks

Buoy Ten

Every summer, staring in July, coho and chinook salmon start gathering up in the ocean offshore of the mouth of the Columbia River. They are getting ready to start their migration upriver, to the stream that they were born in, to lay eggs and start the cycle over again. And every August 1st, the summer river fishing season starts at Buoy Ten, near Ilwaco and the ocean.

fish face

Buoy Ten is the western boundary of the river fishery. Beyond Buoy Ten is the legendary Columbia River bar, and then the Pacific Ocean. To fish in the ocean, you have to go out past Buoy Four, which gets you out past the jetty tips and out of the worst of the turbulent waters of the bar.

underway on the ocean

I started fishing at Buoy Ten in 2004, a few months after buying my aluminum Valco Bayrunner skiff, which was the first craft I owned that was capable of handling the waters at the mouth of the Columbia River. My brother James and I caught several fish that year, fishing inside the river, behind Buoy Ten. The following year was a very good year for Columbia River salmon. Every fishing trip I took that summer was a success, bringing home at least one salmon, including several kings, or chinook. Many days I kept two, which is the limit. The fishing has not been that good since!

coho limit

crossing the bar

That summer was also the first time I decided to brave a bar crossing on my own. I had been fishing inside all day and was getting nothing, while the radio was crackling with awesome fishing reports from the vicinity of the CR Buoy, several miles outside in the ocean. The weather was mild and the waters seemed pretty flat where I was. The radio reports were saying that the bar crossing was easy, so I finally decided to give it a try. I had read several articles about bar crossing, including this one at salmonuniversity.com, and so with that in mind, I headed outside, following the “red line”, or the row of red, even numbered buoys that mark the Oregon side of the shipping channel. The last one in the row of numbered buoys is number two and then it is about two and a half nautical miles to the “CR” buoy, where all the fish were supposedly being caught, about eight nm from the beach in Oregon.

CR buoy

It took just a short time that day to catch my limit of salmon, and ever since I have fished in the ocean if it is possible to get outside safely.

I have had a lot of adventures at the Buoy Ten fishery in the intervening years. My brother caught a 30 pound king one year at the CR buoy, on the same day we discovered a rather large leak in the Valco. Our desire to get back inside safely pushed us to a poorly timed bar crossing, which we survived unscathed. However, I will never forget what that water looked like as we came back across in a 16′ skiff with a bilge full of water, while the tide was still ebbing pretty hard. I have never seen water doing so many contradictory things in such a short distance!

King Salmon, August 06

The following year, in a larger fiberglass boat, I cut too close to the “A” jetty near the Ilwaco entrance and hit a submerged rock, which tore the outdrive right off the back of the boat. I started sinking immediately and fortunately was able to radio the US Coast Guard who came and towed me in to the boat ramp and helped me trailer the crippled boat. That one is still sitting in the driveway awaiting repairs, two years later. It is not easy to find old Mercruiser parts, and when you do find them, they are not cheap!


We have broken fishing poles with fish still on the line, inadvertently caught flounder when trolling too close to the bottom, and had many, many crab traps stolen by local scumbags. I took Alice out across the bar for her 13th birthday and she caught her first salmon ever, in the ocean near the CR. That day we hooked the first fish as I was letting the line out on the first pole. It literally took about eight seconds! We had two fish in less than 45 minutes.

Alice and salmon


This year, though, with my ultra-busy schedule and the extraordinary cost of gasoline and diesel, I did not fish nearly as many days down there as I have in the past. I went out in the ocean by myself for a couple of days near the middle of August and kept one nice silver, and then my brother came down near the end of August and we fished for two days, but inside the river, as the ocean was closed by then. He kept two silvers on the second day and that was it for our 2008 Buoy Ten experience. It was closed the next day, due to higher than expected catch rates on a smaller than expected run of fish.

salmon and herring

The second day I was fishing down there by myself, I took some video with the little Pentax. It was getting late in the afternoon and the northwest wind was really starting to kick up. This is the first time I’ve tried posting a video clip here. Check it out:

Now, I have gotten a lot of teasing from friends and family about the cost of my salmon habit, when measured in gallons of diesel and gasoline at $4 each. And admittedly, I have brought home some very expensive salmon over the years. But two years ago, I finally bought one of those “Little Chief” smokers from the sporting goods store, and the equation looks a lot better now. If you have to buy smoked salmon at the store, you will pay about $25/pound for it in a year when there is not a shortage of salmon. So one good sized silver, when filleted and put through the smoking process, can easily become “worth” about $200 or better. That buys a lot of gasoline!

And my salmon, smoked with alder twigs off of the land here, tastes way better than any smoked salmon you will ever find in a store! The recipe is here.

smoked salmon


This is a trip I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve paddled from Skamokawa to Astoria several times in the last couple of years, and the last time I went down there, I felt like I had energy to spare and joked with my clients that we should paddle back with the flood tide. They looked at me like I was crazy…

It is about 19 miles or so to paddle from Skamoakwa to Astoria, and so doubling that would come in at just under 40 miles, the longest paddling day I’ve ever done. When Ginni and I were building the schedule a few weeks ago, we were looking for a compatible tide series for this trip, and the only one that was available to us demanded a 4 AM departure from Skamokawa. We looked at each other and said, “Why not?”

The plan was to paddle to Astoria on the ebb tide, arrive around 8:30 or so, and eat breakfast at the Blue Scorcher bakery, just a couple of blocks up the hill from the Maritime Museum. Then when the tide turned, we would head back upstream to Skamokawa.

What 4:30 in the morning looks like

So we dragged our butts out of bed at an unnatural hour, made our way down to the dock, and set out downstream, leaving Skamokawa at 5 AM. There was a strong current flowing out and my new GPS showed us zipping along at 7 mph. Ginni borrowed the GPS and got her kayak up to 8.5 mph for a moment.

Down below Miller Sands, where the shipping channel turns towards Astoria, the dredge equipment was working, and we also saw this buoy, tangled in several hundred feet of gillnet. I’ll digress here for a minute. First of all, these nets are not cheap! Why anybody would lay out thousands of dollars worth of net in a place where they would risk tangling it this severely is beyond me. And it wasn’t just snagged on the end, either; whoever did this evidently drifted down on this buoy with the net strung out for hundreds of feet on both sides of it. But what really gets me is that after it tangled on the buoy, they just cut it loose and abandoned it, as a hazard to fish and to navigation. The bright side of this story is by the time we passed this buoy again on the way home, the guys running the dredge equipment had removed the net and piled it on one of their barges.

number 6, festooned with gillnet

That last leg of the paddle from Rice Island to Astoria is a long one, since the destination is in plain sight for so long, without seeming to get much closer. Finally we starting pulling up on Tongue Point, just east of town.

approaching Tongue Point

By this time, we were starting to smell the cinnamon rolls and coffee!


Not long after, we were pulling into the East Mooring Basin to see if there were any lingering sea lions hanging around. We only saw one, apparently not with the program as most of the rest of the gang is off to California to the breeding grounds.

entrance to the East Mooring Basin

Here’s a great name for a fishing boat, huh? And a bottom dragger to boot! Last year, the trawling industry here was hit with scandal when they were caught dumping and grinding up protected rockfish bycatch to prevent their whiting season from being shut down. Nice, huh? Little was done about it and they continued to fish for whiting even after being caught cheating the system. And this year, when salmon fishing is sharply curtailed all up and down the coast, the trawl industry gets to kill 11,000 Chinook salmon as bycatch. Can you tell I’m not a fan of the trawl boats?

God's Will?

I don’t know much about this boat, except that it is an old, out of service pilot boat. It is a beauty though, with such a great color scheme. Here’s what I found when I googled it.

kayak and pilot boat

We paddled under the old red cannery building that was so damaged in last winter’s windstorm and then up to the dock at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The mileage to this point, measured by GPS, was 19.4 statute miles and we did it in 3 hours and 15 minutes. Not too bad! But we knew the return trip wouldn’t be so quick…

under the cannery


the dock at the Maritime Museum

After changing into “cilvilian” clothes and stowing the kayaks, we headed up to the bakery, where we spent an hour or so hanging out drinking coffee and eating breakfast. Josh looks like he’s still asleep though!

at the Blue Scorcher

at the Blue Scorcher

We got back on the water about 10:30, when we saw the ships at anchor starting to swing around with the change of the tide, and headed back past Tongue Point, where we saw four or five sturgeon jumping and rolling in just a few hundred yards. What makes them do that?

While our average speed on the downriver leg was 6.4 mph, now we were only averaging 4.3, and as we pulled alongside Rice Island and the dredge equipment again, the wind was starting to blow. We stopped on Miller Sands for a quick break and then continued on.

taking a break

This part of the trip was much less smooth than the first part, and we were soon surfing wind waves, and, around 30 miles or so, were starting to feel a bit tired! We took another break below Jim Crow Point and then got back to work for the last 5 miles or so. This part of the trip had only taken 50 minutes earlier in the day, now it took almost twice that! As we were pulling up next to Skamokwa, we were actually starting to notice an ebb current again.

where's the kayaker?

We finished the trip back at our home dock at 4 PM, eleven hours after we had begun. We covered 39.2 miles in eight hours and five minutes of paddling time, according to the GPS. We were tired, my drysuit was leaking and our boats seemed heavier than ever before as we carried them up the ramp to the paddle center. I joked that next time we should do the same trip in whitewater boats, just to keep things interesting. Oddly, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for that idea….


finished and tired!

Busy, busy, busy!

I keep meaning to write this post before it gets too stale, and I keep being too busy to get to it. But today, I seem to have found myself with a little bit of slack time.

getting ready to tow

Last week, we ran two leadership scenario days for our guides at Columbia River Kayaking. The task was given to two or three guides to plan and lead a kayaking day trip. We invite along an assortment of paddlers, and then as the day progresses, Ginni and I come up with scenarios of different kinds for the paddlers to put into play and for the guides to respond to. These can range from wandering away from the group, unzipping PFDs, capsizing or needing to be towed.

The first day was with Josh, Katie and James as the leaders, the second day was a harder day, with Matthew and Levi leading. They have a year or two of experience over the other guides so we gave them some harder tasks to deal with.

The first day we ran through an assortment of capsize drills, including this one out in the middle of the river. My job as the “client” was to get unstable, capsize and then be too seasick to stay in my kayak, requiring a long tow to sheltered water. Here’s Josh, emptying the water out of my kayak with a T-rescue.

kayak T-rescue

The next leadership day was set up to be a little longer and harder. The night before, we loosened some of the hardware on the guides’ kayaks: the skeg control and a deck line fitting on Levi’s, and a foot peg track and seat back strap on Matthew’s. If this sounds underhanded (it sure seemed that way to Matthew!), I should point out that we created no scenario for our guides that has not already happened in real life at some point. Hardware does fail!

I also set up my kayak with a bunch of loose, float-able gear in my front hatch. More later!

We set out downriver to Brookfield with our little group, and spent the morning spreading out, not listening to our guides, unzipping our PFDs and generally making pests of ourselves. At one point, I capsized, let my kayak, paddle and PFD float away and when one of the other “clients” came over to help, I capsized him as well. Things were starting to get interesting!

At lunch, we debriefed some of the issues from the morning, and then Ginni pulled out an exercise I had not seen before. “OK guys, your paddle is starting to get hypothermic and has a minor head laceration. Pull out your kit and deal with it.” As guides, we need to be able to deal with almost any contingency that might come up on the water, and hypothermia is certainly common enough, as are minor injuries. This is a great exercise for seeing right away how well equipped the guide’s kit is. Here’s Levi’s paddle, dressed in warm clothes, with a thermos of hot tea, and a bandaid on the head injury. Nicely done!

Levi's paddle, dressed warmly

After lunch, the plan was to cross the river just upstream from Jim Crow Point. At this point in the day, the wind and tide had combined to create some very choppy and confused water near the point. I set out with my front hatch cover loose, got ahead of the group and promptly capsized in the rough water. I pulled all the loose gear out of the hatch and spread it around and flooded the front compartment before anyone caught up to me. Now things were really exciting! My kayak was half sunken, with gear floating everywhere in the rough water. Another paddler had taken off straight across the river, and when Levi went to deal with that, he found that his skeg control didn’t work. Whoops!

Rescuing a needled kayak

Rescuing a needled kayak

Matthew took on the task of rescuing me, which takes more time and effort when one hatch has been flooded. Levi gathered everyone up again and retreated back behind the point, while Matthew towed me and my partially flooded boat back to safety.

Plans were changed now and we headed back upriver to look for a better place to cross, as the wind, which was supposed to be light, instead continued to build, setting up wind waves and whitecaps over the whole river.

kayak portage train

We ended up landing on Fitzpatrick Island for a rest and regroup session. There were still two miles to go to get back to Skamokawa, and some people were tired and others were not comfortable in the waves. We ended up portaging across the island to launch on a more hospitable beach. In the middle of the portage, Matthew suddenly stopped and set his boat down for a closer look. It seems that his foot peg track had fallen out! That certainly could have happened in a worse place…

Something is wrong with Matthew's kayak

We finally reached Skamokawa, remarkably close to the time that our guides had been aiming for, but not before a few more bothersome “scenarios” popped up.

I love doing these leadership scenario training days. Of course, I have a lot of fun capsizing and causing trouble for the guides, but I also get a lot out of watching how things develop and learning different ways of dealing with trouble. Thanks to the guides for enduring it and thanks especially to the folks who came along as “clients”. We couldn’t have done it without you!

The calendar says that it’s June 6th, but when I look outside, I see March, or maybe early April. Last night it rained bucketloads, and when I got up this morning, I had all kinds of new drips and leaks around the woodstove chimney. The other thing this means is that my open skiff, tied up at the dock in Skamokawa, would need to be pumped out.

When I went down to the dock, the skiff was more full of water than I had ever seen it, so I switched on the batteries, which should start the bilge pump. But today, nothing. So I went and got a bucket and started bailing out. Part way through, I realized that someone had been in my boat. The stern line was untied, and my flare box had been moved and opened. Further inspection revealed that a bunch of circuit breakers had been flipped on or off, which is why the bilge pump hadn’t come on. Someone had tried to steal my boat! The only thing that stopped them was that I had padlocked and chained it to the dock, something that I had sometimes thought was overkill for such a quiet rural area.

This is the second time in a week I have found evidence that someone has either ripped me off or tried to. About a week ago, on one of my walks up to the back of the land, I found that someone had come and stolen all of my no trespassing signs. Not just torn them down, as the slob hunters will sometimes do, but stolen them outright, leaving no trace. I also found that someone had stolen the transmission, radiator and hood off of an old pickup truck that was parked on the log landing up in back. Metal thievery has been a growing problem out here. About a month ago, someone chopped down and stole about 1200 feet of the phone line that feeds Skamokawa, leaving the whole area with no phone service for a day. A couple of weeks later, thieves stole about 1000 feet of power line that supplied a pumping station nearby. An aluminum skiff with expensive engines hanging off the back is apparently also a tempting target.

So, when I realized how close I had come to losing the skiff, I decided it was time to pull it out of the water and put it back on the trailer at home again. This sure makes it less convenient to use on short notice, but if the would-be thieves had carried bolt cutters with them, I would have no skiff at all now. So I decided to go for a little spin before I hauled it out.

This has been a cold and rainy spring, and the water level in the river shows it. The beaches have been covered with flotsam and jetsam for a couple of weeks now, and the water is fast moving and high. This channel marker has a piece of wood jammed in it at a level that is almost two feet higher than the high tide was supposed to have been lately.

Number 35 again

Normally on an incoming tide in this part of the river, the water flows upstream, backwards from normal river flow. Today, I was out in the middle of an incoming tide, yet the river was still flowing strongly out. I measured over 2 knots of current with the GPS. This pile jetty or wing dam is choked with logs and debris.

pile jetty clogged with logs

On the way home, I decided not to buck the wind chop and I took the quiet passage inside of Price Island, called Steamboat Slough. No matter how choppy it is on the main river, it is always flat and smooth in the slough.

Yamaha P60

The skiff is safely on the trailer at home now, where I can clean the algae off of the bottom, do some repairs and get the boat ready to go ocean salmon fishing when the weather gets nice. This year’s season has been sharply curtailed and moved around on the calendar, but if I’m lucky, I might be able to pick up a few fish before the season closes.