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how to catch Walleye in the Columbia River

March 2001 Speaker at South Sound Chapter:   John Snaza

John's presentation was with safety in mind & for the average boat, not a special walleye outfitted boat.  It is recommended that a boat of at least 14' be considered. He recommended our first attempt at walleye fishing to be in the upper Columbia River near Umatilla/Boardman Oregon.  The states of Washington & Oregon have what is called "shared jurisdiction" as far as fishing is concerned.  This means you can fish the Columbia river FROM A BOAT in any area that the 2 states share the river as a boundary with a license from either state.  You can also launch your boat from either state & bring your catch back to that launch.  You however can not fish from the shore of the state that you do not have a license for. You can not fish the tributary rivers of the other state either.

His rod / reel selection would be the same rod as you would steelhead with, 7 1/2 to 8 1/2'.  Reel would be a level wind star drag of the Ambassador class.  Line of 15# should be about right.  Mono is fine, however some may prefer the spectra type lines.

The recommendation was to fish ON THE BOTTOM, in from 20 to 30 feet of water.

Troll downstream using a bottom bouncer wire/sinker unit, sinker weight should be 1 to 3 ounces.  Behind this  attach a walleye spinner harness or wedding ring unit back anywhere from 18" to 40".  Hook a large night crawler onto the front hook with the rear hook embedded into the worm, with the worm trailing straight back.  Scent of perch or annis may be applied.

Troll slow, you may have to kick the trolling motor out of gear or use a bucket to slow you down.  Many fishermen use an electric trolling motor.  The take down will probably be a simple tug/tug, hang up type.  This type of fishing you do not want your rod in the holder, have it in your hands for a faster response.  Plus since you want it on the bottom all the time, you will constantly need to be letting it out a few feet or reeling it in to adjust to the bottom contour.

When you get thru with your pass, then turn around & troll upriver.  But on the upriver troll, change the lure to a crankbait plug.  This will be in the 5/8 ounce size and about anything in the shad configuration seems to work.  The takedown on this will be more aggressive  that the downstream worm.

The average size of fish here will be about 3#, however there have been walleyes caught here in the 16# class.

The minimum size is 18", with  limit of 6 fish, with no more that 2 over 24".

His estimation of the tablefare of walleye would be about like a  halibut.

It is recommended that you take at least a couple coolers for ice to keep your bait, fish, and fresh watermellon that is grown in the area.

There are excellent launch, parks, RV camping in the area, with motels also.

There are walleye all the way downstream to the Longview area, with a goodly concentration near the Hiway 205 bridge.  However the river here can get effected by the weather more than his upstream suggestion.  Plus downriver you will be into more recreational & commercial boat traffic, and a longer way to go to get back to the launch if weather gets bad.

The above information was used with the permission LeeRoy Wisner of
LeeRoy Wisner had posted several EXTREMELY informative articles on the Puget Sound Anglers website and we strongly recommend visiting that website or
click here to email him directly. As an editor's note I must say that in my lifetime of searching every available resource I have never come across so many helpful and informative articles as those written by LeeRoy Wisner. Thanks again and hats to LeeRoy for giving us permission to post these articles so that you can learn more about fishing and hopefully you catch more fish!