Fishing on Idaho’s Clearwater River remained good this past weekend. Water levels and river clarity continued to improve all week and by mid week the entire Clearwater was fishing. This time of year we focus most of our effort around Orofino, as there are often large numbers of fish starting to congregate near Dworshak National Fish hatchery. Most all our fish were caught side drifting egg and yarn combinations, or pegged beads.
For anglers who love to fish the South Fork of the Clearwater we heard some good reports form that area and it sounds like quite a few fish have moved into the system. Floats and jigs along with floats and beads tend to fish very well up there this time of year, also people fly fishing with indicators and egg patterns tend to do very well.
If you are interested in booking a trip with us we run power boat trips on the Clearwater from Orofino to Lewiston. We still have some openings and we are booking trips through the middle of March. Click the big green book online button or give us a call. We would love to get you out on the water with us!
After the recent rains the Clearwater is back in shape and the fish are snappy! We had some great fishing the last two days, and lots of open dates now through the 10th of March. February is one of our favorite months and it’s great to be out on the river as the days are beginning to last a little longer, and the sun finally has a little warmth to it. Idaho’s Clearwater is know for big fish and we have been seeing lots of 15 pound plus fish this season. Now is the time to book if you are looking to get that late winter steelhead trip in on the Clearwater!
Welcome to our second installation in our how to fish for Columbia and Snake River walleye series. Our first article titled “How to Fish for Columbia River Walleye: The Easy Way” was a detailed introduction to what we consider the easiest, and most basic way for the beginning Walleye angler to get into fish. All that information is still valid and the things we discussed there are still very much part of what we do. This part and the following articles are meant to add more tools to your walleye fishing toolkit and give you an added advantage over the other anglers around you. The following is Part 1 on how we approach fishing crankbaits for Columbia River Walleye. This is the hard earned knowledge we have gained from running a full time guide business, and you will often find us utilizing these techniques to put fish in our boats even when the bite gets tough.
When talking about fishing crankbaits on the Columbia River for walleye the four seasons of the year dictate when, where, and what style of baits we fish. Our approach in the winter will be very different from July and the baits we use will vary as well. The following is part one of a four part series breaking down how we fish crankbaits throughout the year. Welcome to the insanity inside our brains.
Part 1: Winter – Early Spring
This period of the year is often referred to as the pre spawn. During this time of the year large female fish will be traveling to, and staging in, areas adjacent to where they will spawn later in the year. Walleye on the Columbia River spawn in the spring of the year when the water is between 42 and 48 degrees. Spawning often occurs in April and is done in areas of current over rocks. Walleye are broadcast spawners and spawning most often takes place at night in shallow water. During the pre spawn the smaller males will stage near the large females, but won’t necessarily be with the large female fish. Fishing for the smaller “eater” size fish takes a different approach than fishing for large “trophy” fish, as they are often in different locations. The one constant during the winter is cold water. When the water temps are in the low to mid 30’s the overall objective is to go SLOW.
During the cold pre spawn period you will generally find “eater” size fish grouped up in areas of deep water. January – early March we often find these fish in 70+ feet of water. It is possible to fish stickbaits, such as the Rapala F11, on three way rigs, but there are other more effective methods for fishing these cold water walleye in deep water. January, February, and March are arguably the absolute best months of the year for a chance at catching a true Columbia River giant, and this is where we focus our energy in the early season.
Large pre spawn walleye (mostly females) will be found much shallower than their smaller male counterparts. The large fish are still actively feeding on whatever food sources are available to them as they try and pack on as many calories as possible to support the growth of their eggs. The predominant food sources during this time of year are the young of the year minnows from the previous year, including suckers, juvenile shad, juvenile Pacific Lamprey, and the ever present sculpins that inhabit the rocky areas of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. These minnows have had an entire summer and fall to grow, and by January – March most of them are 3-5 inches in length. During winter and early spring we find large mature females in less than 20 feet of water. During daylight hours most of these fish will be in the 12-20 foot range, and at night they often move very shallow to feed. Our preferred method to target these fish is to SLOWLY troll with our bow pointed upstream against the current. The goal here is to troll upstream at less than 1 mph, and oftentimes as slow as .6-.8. Remember that on the Columbia we are fishing in areas with current and if your speed on your GPS says anything less than .5 mph there is a good chance you are actually drifting back with the current. The goal here is to present our crankbaits as slowly as possible while still being able to cover some ground in search of fish. In this situation we favor long bodied deep diving walleye plugs such as the Bandit Walleye Deep, Bay Rat LXD, #11 Berkley Flicker Minnows, as well as #10/#12 Rapala Deep Husky Jerks. Not only are these plugs an almost exact size match to most of the available forage present, but they are also all capable of diving to our targeted depths when flatline trolled. Our standard procedure is to troll these plugs with long setbacks with 30# power pro braid to get them to run just above the bottom. Resources such as the Precision Trolling APP which can be downloaded on your IPhone or Android device really help in knowing approximately how many feet of line to run using a line counter reel. Remember that when targeting trophy walleye it’s not a numbers game, but at any time a rod goes down during the winter / early spring it has the chance to be a giant. Walleye in the 12-16 pound class are common on the Columbia, and fish over 18 pounds are caught ever year.
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We often get asked, “what’s the best time to fish Idaho’s Clearwater River?” Often our answer is simply whenever you can get here, but specifically we look at the month of February as one of the absolute best times of the year to fish for the giant B-Run steelhead on the Clearwater.
February is typically when the Clearwater starts to become alive again. With Orofino, Idaho sitting at an elevation of just over 1000 ft spring starts to show in the Clearwater Canyon often long before the surrounding highlands. February also tends to kick off the Spring migration of steelhead that have overwintered both in the Snake and Clearwater Rivers . During the cold water periods of late November, December, and January most of the upstream migration stops and Clearwater steelhead look for deep slow moving water to wait out the cold, but as the water temps start to rise (usually during the last week of January and first two weeks of February) the urge to migrate again takes over. From now through April Idaho’s steelhead will make the final push of their already incredible journey back to their spawning grounds deep in the Selway/Bitterroot wilderness or to the hatchery they were born in.
During February we position ourselves near Orofino, Idaho where the North Fork Clearwater River meets the main stem Clearwater. Dworshak National Fish Hatchery is located here and we are waiting to intercept these fish as they gather near the hatchery of their birth. During February our number one used technique is side drifting bait and single egg imitations. This method allows us to cover lots of water and put our gear in front of lots of willing fish. During February its not uncommon for our boats to see double digit numbers of steelhead slide into the net. So, if you are getting some cabin fever, and ready to hit the water contact us today and lets get you out on a fantastic steelhead fishing adventure on Idaho’s Clearwater River.
To book your next Clearwater River Steelhead trip either give us a call at 208-669-1569 or click on the green Book Online button at the top of your screen. We look forward to spending a day on the water with you!
We are now through our second full week of fall Chinook fishing on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. We have been non stop fishing since September 15th. Over the past week we have had some amazing fishing and a few days that we absolutely could have done better. This week saw our first major weather event of the fall, and the drastic drop in temperatures and strong winds made for a tough weekend. All in all though fishing has been very good this week and we are excited to see what this upcoming week has to offer.
Again this week we almost exclusively trolled brads superbaits behind pro troll flashers or small 3.5 Colorado spinners behind the same flasher set up. We still have been having the most success fishing in the bottom 10 feet of the water column, but don’t be afraid to run a few rods suspended well above bottom as we have been seeing multiple fish come on the suspended bow rods every day.
We still have some open dates next week and we have room for anglers to jump on boats the 7th -10th. The 8th we have an almost open boat, and the 9th we have an open boat. Plus 2 seats open both the 7th and 10th. October 10th will be our last day on the Hanford Reach for 2019 as we transition to fishing at home on the Snake River our of Heller Bar for some awesome steelhead fishing in the entrance to Hells Canyon.
It’s been a full week straight of fishing for us on our 2019 Hanford Reach Fall Chinook season. This week has seen its ups and downs, but we are definitely on fish and we have had the opportunity to limit each of the past 4 days, some days we have pulled it off and other days we came in a fish or two short.
This is one of our absolute favorite fisheries of the year, and there is nothing quite like spending an early fall day on the Hanford Reach. The weather this time of year makes for some amazing days spent on the water.
All our fish have been coming on the downstream troll. We have been doing equally well on both superbaits and spinners pulled behind pro troll flasher.
Our program goes roughly as follows, remember there are a lot of times we may fish deeper or shallower depending on the situation. Bow rods with 12oz at 30′ (these often start much shallower, but when water depth allows we run these suspended all day) middle rods 12oz at the same depth as the bottom (if it’s 35 feet deep these rods are run at 35 and so on) back rods 10oz at 10 feet deeper than the bottom depth ( if in 35 Feet the line counter is at 45 and so on).
We also still have some openings for this year. Our open dates for Kyle’s Boat are as follows.
We all have been there before. Why is this rod or that rod not as productive as the others? Why is that rod always tangled? Well have you checked to see if you line counter reels are reading similar to the other rods?
Below is a video tip we put together showing just how much this issue can impact how your lures are fishing. Please make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
To say that the past few days have been a challenge would be an understatement. Due to recent heavy rains the flows on the Columbia River have changed greatly in the past week. As I write this the river is currently dropping and the conditions are getting “better.” I put that last statement in quotations because although things were a little difficult, after a few adjustments we found the Walleye very willing. I have wrote before on how we approach fishing for walleye during high flow periods on the Columbia, so when flows came up we changed from primarily pulling deep diving crank baits to trolling bottom bouncers and worm harnesses. Our key to catching fish in these conditions was to find areas out of the main flow and troll downstream as slow as possible. We also played with a bunch of combinations with beads/floats and blades before we locked into what these fish seemed to want. The color combo that worked the best the past two days for us is Gold and Black, and in particular we did well with a black fish pill and a Gold Smile Blade.
Although we kind of stumbled onto a working color combo, our biggest key to success was simply fishing hard. We barely had one fish by 11am on Friday and we ended with 10, and again on Saturday we didn’t really get into fish until after noon and managed to end up with 15 including a monster 12.35 pound beast! Walleye fishing is all about paying attention to minor details. Pay attention to the details, make adjustments, and when you find a groove ride it until it goes away.
The Walleye Spawn is currently on and the spring weather is improving, with that said we have openings over the next few weeks and going all the way through July. Walleye have become a favorite fishery of ours, so if you would like to see why we like it so much, or to just learn how we go about it get in touch with us and book a trip.
We have been fishing hard over the past week and getting into plenty of action on the Columbia River for delicious Walleye! This year we are not catching the numbers of fish we have the past few years, but the overall size and quality of the fish this year is amazing, and we are putting plenty in the boat for guys to take home.
We are finding most of our fish in 20-25 feet of water. Our most successful presentation has been trolling crankbaits. For some reason the action of the cranks are just driving them crazy. We have been running a wide selection of colors, and have really just been playing with things as the day goes on to find the right combination.
Despite the changing conditions this year, I think this has been the most fun I have ever had Walleye fishing as it’s really making us think and execute to constantly put fish in the boat. The months of April and May have for the past few years been our absolute best time frame, so hopefully our good fortune continues over the next several weeks and we get to experience more of this great fishing.
If you are interested in fishing with us we still have plenty of open dates, and we would love the opportunity to earn your business.
At Jones Sport Fishing we have absolutely fallen in love with chasing tasty Walleye on the Columbia River. Our Walleye season starts in full force during the month of March, and we chase these fish hot and heavy all the way through July. The Columbia River is known both as a place to catch monster Walleye as well as large numbers of great eating size fish. On any given day you could find us pulling crawler harnesses, dragging crankbaits, vertically jigging, or casting swimbaits for these incredible tasty fish.
At Jones Sport Fishing we are full time fishing guides that pride ourselves on working hard to make sure we both put you on fish, and make your day as enjoyable as possible. We have years of experience and have assembled a great team of guides that all share our philosophy. We hope that after you book your first trip with us that you will come back for years of fishing fun. To Book your next Columbia River Walleye adventure give us a call at 208-669-1569 or click on the green Book Online button at the top of the page.