Guide Interview: Fishing Out West With David

Updated on July 14, 2022

Since his dad taught him how to fish when he was a boy, David Mallahan has loved fishing. He knew from a young age that he wanted to fish for the rest of his life as it quickly became his passion.

Before becoming the fishing guide that he is today, Dave was a commercial fisherman. As he got older, he decided he wanted to settle down. Leaving for months at a time was becoming burdensome, so he decided to become a fishing guide, working for himself and staying close to home.

What to Expect on a Trip With Dave

When asked about what to expect on a trip with him, Dave put it simply; you can expect to have a good time. He likes to laugh and he loves to catch fish—to him, that makes a great day.

He also said that you can expect to learn. Dave tries to help everyone that he takes out become a better fisherman in one way or another. He takes good anglers and novices alike, but no matter who his clientele is, he strives to show them something new about the sport of fishing.

Why is Fishing in Scappoose Unique?

Dave guides trips out of Scappoose, Oregon and takes anglers out to 3 main areas: the Cowlitz river, the rivers around the Olympic Peninsula, and the Columbia river. Fishing in Scappoose is a treat for Dave because there is fishing to be done year-round. The long Salmon season runs from spring all the way through November. Chinook or “King” Salmon start biting around March, and Dave will fish them hard into September. Starting in mid-August, he will start gearing towards Cohos and fish them into November.

Following the Salmon runs, Dave will transition into fishing Steelhead for the winter season. Dave believes that winter fishing is popular to a different breed of people due to more harsh weather conditions. The Steelhead season runs through mid-April, but picks back up quickly in June and continues through the summer. David believes that the long seasons spanning the entire year makes fishing in Scappoose one of a kind.

Guide David with a Big Salmon

What Differentiates Dave From Other Guides?

Growing up in the area, Dave spent time fishing from the age of 12 on the Cowlitz river as well as surrounding rivers. He hasn’t stopped fishing since. Now, at the age of 53, he has vast knowledge of the sport as well as the area he guides in.

Dave also said he uses top of the line gear that most people either don’t have, or won’t buy because of the price. Some guides in the area use lesser quality tackle, but Dave believes it’s worth spending the extra money for quality equipment that the customer probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

He also prides himself on the fact that he is easy going with his customers and won’t yell at them. It can be stressful trying to get people hooked into fish, and sometimes, other guides have a tendency to get frustrated and snap at clients. Dave said that it’s important to keep your cool and he believes that he does so.

What are Dave’s Favorite Spots to Fish?

For winter Steelhead fishing, Dave will take anglers to the Cowlitz river and the rivers on the Olympic Peninsula. Later in the season, he likes to head to the Palama and Louis rivers as well. For the spring Chinook season, Dave likes to fish the Cowlitz river, Columbia river, Palama river, and Louis river. Dave’s favorite and most commonly fished spot is the Columbia, and he will mostly take anglers there if they’re targeting Chinook.

Favorite Type of Trip

When asked about his favorite trip to take people on, Dave said it had to be winter Steelhead. He finds the combination of the challenging weather and the fish themselves to be exciting, and he also appreciates the type of customer that is willing to come on a winter trip.

Dave said he also enjoys catching King Salmon because of their size. He recalled that in the past, he has consistently caught 40-50 pound Kings. Recently, they’ve been somewhat smaller, and to catch one over 40 pounds has become less frequent.

Dave’s Most Memorable Trip

Dave vividly remembers one experience in 2015 out on the Olympic Peninsula with a customer from California. The customer had hooked into a monster Steelhead and they knew that it had the potential to be a trophy sized fish. Dave was in and out of the drift boat over half a dozen times trying to get the fish netted, but it didn’t tire easily.

Over the course of the 45 minute fight, Dave grew more and more nervous that they were going to lose the fish. It felt as though this huge Steelhead had the upper hand the majority of the time. Eventually Dave did help the customer land the fish, got it in the boat, and weighed it. The Steelhead weighed in at 31 pounds, well over the 20 pound cutoff to be considered a trophy. The customers from California continued fishing with Dave for a number of years, but haven’t had the chance to come back for a trip in a while.

Dave’s Dream Fishing Trip

As much as Dave loves to catch Salmon and Steelhead, he is drawn towards large Bluefin Tuna. He said that he has been Tuna fishing on the West Coast out of California and caught a 60 pound Tuna, but what he really wants to do is head out to the East Coast and catch a couple hundred pounder like in the show Wicked Tuna.

If you're interested in booking a trip with David, you can see his listed trips here. Sounds like your guaranteed to have a Damn Good time.

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