“Random” Rock Piles

I used to believe in “random” rock piles too.  I spent years pussy footing around on trolling motor only through all the backwater sloughs, bays, and ponds of the Columbia River.  To afraid to get on plane with the big motor and then would have my fears confirmed by running the trolling motor on high straight into another random rock pile.

For my first 10 years of fishing the Columbia, areas like Casey’s Pond where more myth and legend than anything. A bunch of people warned and told stories of hitting a rock pile out in the “middle of nowhere”.

So for years, smallmouth and largemouth alike stayed beyond my ability to reach them.  I was no better off than the earliest explorers who feared going “out there” because of a mixture of ignorance and old wives tales.  The Columbia River is still shrouded in myth.  The Reach is too dangerous to run, Casey’s will tear your stuff up and don’t even think about running around in Paterson.

Just like the earliest explorers learned how to use technology and new-found knowledge to conquer their fears and the seas, today, we are out of excuses to failing to explore.  Technology will allow you to find and travel to areas you’ve never thought possible or you thought were too risky.  I hate to see people tear their motors up.  10, 15, 20 years ago, that was just the risks on fishing on the Columbia.  Today, that no longer has to be the case.  Now, I am not claiming you will never touch bottom again, but a few nicks here and there compared to a destroyed prop or lower unit is a big difference.  Maybe even worse, not being able to access some of the best largemouth and smallmouth fishing around because you don’t know how to get to it is also no good.  Sometimes, not even knowing the “it” existed is equally the issue.  So often I have had people ask “how do you catch these big largemouth (or smallmouth)?”.  They often want to know what I am using, what color, how big of a bait, etc.  But the truth is, I just figured out how to efficiently and safely travel into areas where those big fish exist at certain time of the year.

Casey’s is actually made up of a network of an old irrigation canal system and roadbeds with a few rocky shoals/flats. Turns out there is nothing “random” about it at all.
This image shows the remnants of the old canal. In areas the canal banks have fallen away but in others they are still there. Random rock pile mystery #1 solved.  Note the weeds growing in the canal ditch at top of photo.
The area many locals call the “crossroads” is really where the canal intersects two different roadbeds.
In places, the old canal bank is pretty shallow (“CBS” = canal bank shallow). In other places the old canal bank is deeper or not there at all.  This contributes to the idea of “random” rock piles.
Other areas have submerged shoals or islands that can be easily seen and identified. For every one you need to avoid with the outboard on plane is one that needs to be fished in a precise way.
Once I have everything identified, I can create tracks that allow my to travel without damaging equipment
An example of a main track line that can be used to travel the length of Casey’s

At GOA, we have solutions.  The information is available.  If you are willing to put some time in and learn, you can conquer the Columbia and all its backwaters and tributaries and put yourself on fish you only saw other guys bring to the scales.  No, it won’t be free.  But it will be much cheaper than the cost of a new prop, or lower unit, and what price do you put on confidently accessing areas that provide the days that memories are made of not only for you but your fishing buddy, or family member?

Recent tournaments are being dominated by anglers who are utilizing GOA’s resources to access and catch fish they have never been able to or have even tried to get to before.  Those anglers are putting in their time to study and learn and using GOA as a resource to help.

We offer courses, consulting and coaching.  As a member you get discounted pricing for these things.  No, we don’t know or think we know it all.  We are just dedicated to learning and passing on that knowledge to those who want to also make a similar commitment.  That’s all.  Pretty simple.  Nothing is handed out for free, no giveaway of “keys to the castle”.  Just an avenue to greater success through knowledge and hard work.  Turns out the same things that aided the earliest explorers will help modern-day Columbia River bass expeditions as well!

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  1. Don, I hope you take this as more of poking fun than anything else. I really wished this post was on your site before what happened to me. This year I bought a brand new boat. My second time out, still breaking in the engine, I decided to take a long run to Casey’s. I guess you already know where this is going, but a month and over $9k in damage to my prop and lower end (thank goodness for insurance) I was finally able to get back on the water. Running down to the area a number of times, I thought I had transiting the area around Casey’s down. Boy did I learn that day.

    I’m a long way from learning everything about the Columbia, if one can say that, but this page is a great way to help! Keep it up…