The Sandy is probably the easiest river to access from Portland. I started downstream outside Troutdale where the river flows under some very neat steel bridges beside the old Hwy 30 on its way to the Columbia. I made my first stop under one of these, but was quickly joined by three other fisherman. I’m mostly a lone angler, and I prefer solitude while fishing, but I’ll admit that I am now less antisocial, and will engage with other anglers more often, chitchatting about the fishing, and see how everyone is doing and hopefully picking up a tip about what’s working. On my past three or four times out though, no one else has had any luck either, so I must not be the only one striking out.
A lot of the river is on private property running up 30 to Oxbow park. I found one spot from the book, but the water seemed too low and fast to do much anything with.
I made my way up to Oxbow, usually a busy place with lots of folks on the weekend, but I found it completely deserted. I parked and bushwhacked through what felt like a mile of underbrush until I found a bank that wasn’t completely lined with trees. An hour and a few lost spoons later I made my way back to the car to explore some more. I drove 100 yards up the parking lot and saw another trail leading down to the river. It led to a long, deep channel just begging to be fished. The water was calm on the surface, with a steady current underneath, and I could make out channels and boulders that had to be hiding fish.
As I picked my way to the head of the channel, a splash that sounded like someone tossing a brick into the water sent large ripples across the tailout. I only briefly glimpsed the large fish that had come out to play. Three or four times in the hour I fished through the channel it surfaced loudly. All up and down the stretch of river little fish jumped out of the water. Something I’d heard meant they are trying to escape bigger fish down below…
If there is anything worse than not seeing any action all day, it’s knowing that the fish are in there and they’re just not biting. And if there’s anything worse than that, it’s having them jumping all around you, but completely ignoring what you’re throwing at them! Either way, it is always impressive to see a big fish leap out of the water.
My last stop was at the boat ramp, where I came across four guys in their mid twenties. It wasn’t until they said they were out “for work” that I made the connection with their matching Fish & Wildlife caps. I don’t know if it is as fun as it sounds, but getting paid to spend the morning floating down the river and fishing sounds like a pretty good gig to me.