On the Hood, fishing’s good all year

For best results, bounce bait along the bottom says Ernie Delgado

Nice catch: Ernie Delgado hooked this steelhead just outside downtown Hood River.

Nice catch: Ernie Delgado hooked this steelhead just outside downtown Hood River.

Buzz Ramsey’s Outdoor News column this month covers winter steelhead fishing using a type of vibrating lure, called a plug, from the back of a boat. For local rivers, the tried-and-true technique of back trolling works particularly well on the Deschutes and the John Day. In the Hood River, however, a drift boat would get smashed to bits on the rocks long before any steelhead were brought in.

Winter steelhead fishing in the Hood is best approached from the shallows, with thick fleece underwear and a hearty set of chest waders.

“I love fishing the Hood,” said avid Hood River fisherman and school teacher Ernie Delgado. “It’s open all year and the fishing in the winter can be great. This time of year the quality of the fishing really depends on the condition of the water. I go as much as I can when the level and the color are right. If the river is chocolate milk it’s no good. A little cloudy is okay because the fish spook easily so a little color can help.”

Like any respectable angler, Delgado has been known to tell a fish tale or two at the local watering hole; but in the case of the brilliant white and silver 12-pound steelie he hooked under the foot bridge in the fall, he actually has the picture to prove it. Rules say catch-and-release for all native steelhead, so it was still the fish that got away.

“I tend to hook the majority of winter fish on eggs, bouncing along the bottom,” Delgado said. “I caught a lot of fish this year. In the 20-plus years I’ve been fishing here this was probably the best year I’ve ever had for steelhead.”

In addition to weather and water conditions, Delgado checks the Bonneville Dam fish count to see what kind and how many fish are moving up the Columbia. Steelhead run all winter but tend to surge in numbers as water conditions fluctuate. Fish counts from Dec. 6-11 show 53 steelhead passing through Bonneville dam; with only two on Dec. 7 but 22 on Dec. 10.


Delgado said some of the best steelhead holes in the Hood are no longer around because of the removal of Powerdale Dam a couple years ago.

“Below the dam used to be such a good spot,” he said. “The fish would hold there before heading past the dam. Now that the dam is gone they just head straight up; they don’t hang out like they used to.”

The positive side of losing those few compact holes is that the river is now completely open for fish passage and open for fishing from the mouth all the way to Punchbowl Falls in Dee. In time fish (and anglers) will find other “money holes” to hang out at.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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