With the official start of summer just around the corner the walleye bite on the Columbia River is really starting to heat up. Water temps are now in the upper 50’s and walleye are feeding heavily as they feed on migrating juvenile salmon smolts heading to the ocean. We have been having success both pulling crankbaits, and fishing bottom walkers and worms. Our best bites the past few outings have been using crankbaits in color combinations that mimic downstream migrating salmon smolts. Any baits with chrome, blue, and purple hues to them have been getting consistently attacked by hungry walleye.
A major key to our success this year has been the use of inline planer boards. We like the yellow boards made by Offshore Tackle Company and we use them in conjunction with the tattle flag system. Trolling with planer boards lets us really expand the amount of water we cover, with our outside boards often 50 feet to the side of the boat we are covering over 100 feet of river from the outside board on the right side to the outside board on the left side. Another benefit to fishing boards is that it lets our baits fish out away from the influence of the boat. Fish that come in contact with our plugs on outside boards have no idea our boat is even in the area. Yet another advantage of fishing planer boards it the ability to run deep diving plugs on short set backs. Yesterday for example the fish really seemed to be keyed into a Bandit Walleye Deep, and by using a planer board to fish the lure to the side of the boat we were able to run them at 40 feet behind the board. This put our Bandits fishing at around 13 feet which was perfect for the active feeding walleye that were looking up from 15-19 feet of water.
The video included below is an example from some trout fishing earlier this year on how we set out our planer boards and the spread we get from using them.
Brett Jones, owner and manager of our southern Idaho operation was on a afternoon trip with good friend Jeff Fetters of Fetters Custom Rods, when he hooked something big! As Brett got the fish close to the boat he realized he had something special. Jeff, in true walleye tournament form quickly scooped the monster up with the net. After a quick measurement the huge rainbow was sent back to the lake to continue growing and is still out there for someone else to put their hands on. Congratulations are in order as Brett is one of the the best and most accomplished anglers we know, and to see his name next to a state record is a special treat.
The video below shows the excitement just after the fish is landed and being released.
American Falls has long been known as a big fish hot spot. To anglers that know these waters a fish like this is no surprise. Jones Sport Fishing holds an Idaho Outfitter license for American Falls Reservoir, and Brett would be more than happy to show you exactly how he targets the huge fish that roam this large reservoir.
We started our 2020 walleye season last week on the Columbia River. To say that fishing started out hot was an understatement. Fishing was on fire! The beautiful spring weather has pre spawn Columbia River Walleye on the bite, and the box of fish we brought back to the landing last Thursday was one of the best we have seen in years. The fish this year are averaging a little bigger than the past few, and although we may be catching a few less the overall size is fantastic. If you are looking to break the magic 30 inch mark you need to do yourself a favor and give us a call.
All our fish were caught last week trolling crankbaits in 16-24 feet of water. Currently the large deep diving plugs such as the Bandit Walleye Deep, and the long extra deep Bay Rats are fishing well. We also did very well on Berkley Flicker minnows in the #11 size. For a detailed article on how we fish crankbaits early in the season click on the following link.
Fishing will continue to be very good for big fish over the next few weeks. The water temperature last Saturday was 41.5 degrees, so we still have a little ways to go before active spawning starts, at least in the mainstream Columbia. The Walleye spawn will kick off when water temps are between 45 and 50 degrees.
Our main focus will be on chasing Columbia River Walleye now through June, and into July. These are a great, excellent eating, and plentiful fish that are great for the entire family. If you are looking to learn this fishery booking a trip with us is a great way to shorten your learning curve, and we love helping people learn how to target these cool fish.
We are back for another instalation of our Tip Tuesday series. This week we discuss what crankbaits we choose and why we choose them for early spring on the Columbia River, as always we really appreciate you watching our videos, and please leave us comments with questions or what you find to be effective when chasing walleye early in the season.
On this weeks Tip Tuesday we are going over how we rig up our Kokanee Cut Plugs to catch more salmon. Over the past three years we have experimented with a number of different hook configurations to try an get the best performing hook setup. What we have settled on two different set ups that seem to give about an equal hook to land ratio. The first is a single #4 treble rigged behind eight 4mm beads, and the second is two #1/0 Owner Cutting point octopus hooks. The two hook set up is also rigged behind eight or so 4mm beads. The purpose of the beads is to set the hook just behind the cut plug, an to let the lure spin freely on the line enabling it to spin faster that it would if it had to spin the hooks an the lure. Check out the video below to get all the details on how we rig these awesome little lures. Also make sure to check out our other tip videos on how to make you a better salmon fisherman.
Its no secret that the line of Superbaits produced by Brads Killer Fishing Gear have become a staple in the Northwest Salmon scene. One of the newest arrivals in the line is the Kokanee Cut Plug. While this version was originally designed for the little land locked Sockeye that inhabit many of our local lakes and reservoirs, it quickly gained a following among serious salmon fisherman on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Even though it’s smaller than a lot of lures used for salmon this little bugger has proven itself for both Spring, Summer, and Fall Chinook. Its primary foothold in the Adult Salmon world came from spring Chinook fisheries such as Drano Lake, and the Wind River.
Although the Kokanee Cut Plug fishes very well directly out of the package, there are a few tweeks that allow the KCP to be a Chinook catching machine. Check out the video below for a modification that we do that makes these things fish much better.
Idaho’s Clearwater continued to fish well this week. The cold overnight temps made things a little difficult at times as dropping water temperatures slow upstream movement and make the fish less aggressive. We were able to find fish all week by targeting likely steelhead holding water that was just out of the main current flow, often times picking fish up out of “frog water” on the very inside portion of the run. When faced with cold water conditions we prefer to fish bait. Both cured roe and shrimp were our baits of choice this week, and multiple fish were caught each day on both. One of our major keys to success during this time of year on the Clearwater is to add lots of scent to our eggs and shrimp. Some of our favorites are the anise/krill and the krill from Super Dipping Saucy, but we also use lots of mikes shrimp oil, and special mix from SmellyJelly.
Fishing will continue to be good this week, and the change in weather patters should begin to bring water temperatures back up to normal levels. As water temps rise the fishing will continue to improve. With the mild winter, and long range forecast it looks like this is one of those years that we will be fishing the Clearwater deep into March. When conditions allow we often see some fantastic steelhead fishing in March.
We still have quite a few day available and for those interested in booking a trip with us we encourage you to give our office a call, or to check out or availability by clicking the Book Online button at the top of the page, and as always if you are enjoying our content please share it to your social media accounts. Every share, like, follow, or subscribe we get goes a long ways in helping our small family business.
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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