Early spring brings serious Walleye fishermen
to The Columbia River in pursuit of one of "the finest eating freshwater
fish available." This time of year, known as the "pre-spawn" period, also
presents the finest fishing action for the species. This is due in part to
the availability of larger concentrations of fish in smaller areas.
As water temperatures slowly climb to 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit, Walleye
begin their spawning runs from the lower reaches of impoundment's towards
the tailraces of dams. It is here where they will find good spawning
gravel and rock, aerated water and a good food supply. When the
temperature reaches 44-46 degrees, the Walleye will be getting ready for
spawning and some may already have. Either way, this is prime time to
catch good numbers of fish.
Fishing techniques for the early part of runs emphasize vertical
jigging. Your choice of jigs may not be as critical as your technique, but
some consideration to size and color should be carefully thought out. In
the high and muddy waters of February and early March, I usually have
better results with high visibility colors, such as chartreuse,
fluorescent green or red, or a fluorescent pink and white combination.
When the water clears, a myriad of colors will produce fish, but the
greens and chartreuse's remain my favorites as the river always has a
darker cast to it at the depths we find fish.
Thanks to Fly By Nyte Guide Service For This Photo
My favorite jig is known as a "bullet jig" or "tube jig." It is simply
a bullet shaped lead-head jig with a tube skirt over it. Some bass
fishermen may know this as a "Fat Getzit," only we tend to use a little
heavier weight to offset strong currents encountered below the dams. Start
with a 3/4 oz. or 1oz. bullet jig with a 1/0 or 2/0 hook and attach a
"stinger hook" (trailing hook size of your choice, snelled to the jig hook
with twelve lb. monofilament). Slide the lead head into the tube skirt
using your favorite scent attractant or WD40 as a lubricant. Now all you
need to do is thread on a nite-crawler (THIS IS A MUST!) and go fishing.
To thread the 'crawler,' start with the stinger hook and thread the worm
from below the band towards the tail onto the hook. Now hook the head of
the worm onto the jig hook so it is stretched out between the two.
Jig fishing for Walleye is a "finesse" technique that can be quickly
learned if one has the proper equipment. You can simply drift with the
current and quickly lower your jig to the bottom. Once down, work your
lure only six to eight inches, making sure you keep a taught line on both
the up AND down stroke. The key here is always keeping your line taught as
the Walleye's bite can be very subtle, and any slack in the line will
produce a missed strike. Another method for a more controlled drift is to
use a bow mounted electric motor to slow your drift. This will keep your
jig at a bit of an angle ahead of you so you can prevent more snags and
detect the strikes easier. It will also allow you to stay in preferred
depths as the current carries you downstream.
Mid Columbia River Guide Service
featuring full-time fishing guide Elmer Hill.
Specializing in Trophy species such as Walleye,
Spring & Fall King Salmon, Keeper & Oversize
Sturgeon, B run Steelhead and Shad in areas from
Bonneville Dam and surrounding areas upstream in
the Columbia River to Tri Cities Washington
"Hanford Reach" Including Snake River Fishery.
30 years experience will insure you have a
comfortable and safe trip.
CALL TODAY 541-969-2537 OR Visit our
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Walleye fishing on the Columbia River in Oregon
Without going into great detail on boats and motors, I would just say
that the Columbia River can go from a calm impoundment to a raging river
with five to six foot swells in a matter of minutes, due in part to
prevailing winds blowing against the current. If you are in a smaller
boat, stay near the shore, near the boat ramp, AND ALWAYS watch the
weather! Your choice of rods and reels will be a critical factor in your
success, and should be matched to the tackle you are using. With the
heavier jigs, I prefer a six and a half to seven foot medium or
medium/heavy action rod. A "soft tipped" rod will NOT give you the control
and feel of what your jig is doing. Both level wind and spinning reels
will work, but I prefer a level wind finding it easier for line control
and "adjusting" for changes in depth. Eight to twelve lb. monofilament
will suit most fishing conditions. I find the new "Spectra" lines are
great, just a little hard to break loose from snags.
Finding the fish
Walleye can be found most anywhere in the river, but a good place to
start is on or around sunken islands, generally in the twelve to twenty
foot depth range. Breaklines or shelves that run parallel to the bank are
another prime holding area. These breaklines generally taper or stairstep
off towards the center of the river offering a variety of depths for
fishing. Try a drift in ten to twelve feet of water, and gradually move to
deeper drifts until you locate the Walleye. A fishfinder is a must, if
only for depth control, though it is always nice to know there are fish in
Patience and Perseverance
Walleye fishing can be a frustrating experience IF you expect to catch
your limit (or even one fish) on every trip. The sometimes elusive fish
seems to be affected by many factors, including but not limited to such
things as barometric pressure, water fluctuations, wind and current. Don't
be discouraged if you go out one day and catch a big stringer of fish,
then come home "skunked" the very next day. Sometimes they just do not
want to bite! Stick with the basics, experiment a little, and be
persistent. Eventually they WILL BITE! Good Luck.......
This terrific article submitted by:
Capt. Jack LaFond
Catch Salmon from Bonneville Dam to
the Vernita Bridge area and all spots in between. Fishermen from The
Tri-Cities, Portland, The Dalles and all over the Northwest fish
with Columbia River Fishing Guides to catch huge Salmon, Sturgeon,
Steelhead and Walleye, and see the beautiful Columbia
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