When an surprise encounter with a friend turned into one of the best invites Iíve received in a long time,† I quickly jumped at the opportunity to boat from Portland to Astoria on the Columbia River. I was hooked right from the beginning as Captain Nick and Captain Jake described the plan: five salty dogs, one boat, one weekend and plenty of crab traps to throw into the waters at the confluence of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean.
We embarked from a marina in North Portland under sunny skies with collective cheers as we crossed under the I-5 Bridge. Motoring through the tranquil waters, I gained a new perspective on the Columbia River as the shipping terminals slowly gave way to long stretches of beach, tree-lined shores, abundant flocks of birds, glimpses of mountains towering over green hills and the industrial, yet oddly picturesque, towns that cling to the shores. We were on an adventure following the same river Lewis and Clark navigated to reach the Pacific two centuries before us.
Once in beautiful Astoria, it was time to get the crabbing gear ready and head further west without getting too close to the dangerous Columbia River Bar.† The traps were tossed into the dark waters and we eagerly awaited the ultimate prize, Dungeness crab. To our amazement and excitement the first haul was overflowing with Dungeness crabs. Needless to say, there were plenty of cheers and high fives all around. The fun continued all throughout the afternoon before we called it quits once the tides changed and we approached our daily catch limit. Back at the docks in Astoria, we celebrated, ate and relived stories of the journey west, crabbing, and the upcoming journey back. It was a trip for the ages.
For those seeking an up-close look at the Columbia River, the Portland Spirit operates a Historic Astoria Cruise from June-September, departing from Portland. My colleague, Greg Newland, also wrote a great post on crabbing on the Oregon Coast in Nehalam Bay, complete with details on how to arrange your own crabbing adventure.