Columbia River Walleye Fishing: A Comprehensive Guide to Reeling in the Best Catches

How to Fish for Walleye on the Columbia River: A Comprehensive Guide


The Columbia River, renowned for its diverse fishery, offers an exceptional experience for anglers seeking to catch walleye. Known as a prized game fish with its elusive nature and delicious white meat, targeting walleye on this majestic river can be both exciting and rewarding. In this guide, we will provide you with all the essential steps and techniques needed to successfully fish for walleye on the Columbia River.

Understanding Walleye Behavior

Before diving into fishing techniques, it’s crucial to understand the behavior of these cunning creatures. Walleyes are known to prefer low light conditions such as dawn or dusk when they become more active. Additionally, they tend to gather around structures like rocky points, submerged trees, or drop-offs where they can find cover and ambush their prey.

Gearing Up: Essential Equipment

To maximize your chances of landing that prized walleye catch on the Columbia River, it’s important to have the right gear in hand. Here’s a checklist of essential equipment you’ll need:

1. Fishing Rod: Opt for a medium-light spinning rod with a sensitive tip.
2. Reel: Choose a reel with good drag functionality and smooth casting capabilities.
3. Fishing Line: Use 6-8 lb test monofilament line as it provides adequate strength while maintaining sensitivity.
4. Terminal Tackle: Stock up on various sizes of hooks (ranging from #4-#8), sinkers (split shot or bullet style), swivels, and snap connectors.
5. Lures/Baits: Popular choices include jigs tipped with live bait like nightcrawlers or leeches, soft plastic swimbaits in natural colors resembling small baitfish.

Selecting the Right Fishing Spots

Finding the ideal fishing spot is key to a successful walleye expedition on the Columbia River. Consider these factors when choosing your location:

1. Structure: Look for areas with underwater structures like rocky points, ledges, or submerged trees where walleyes are likely to congregate.
2. Currents: Walleye tend to hold in areas where there is moderate current flow as it brings an abundance of food.
3. Depth: Focus on water depths ranging from 15-30 feet, as walleyes often favor these zones.

Techniques for Catching Walleye

Now that you’re equipped and knowledgeable about their behavior, it’s time to learn some effective techniques for reeling in those prized walleye catches:

1. Jigging: One of the most popular methods involves vertically jigging a baited hook near structures or drop-offs at various depths until you find active fish.
2. Trolling: Utilize a trolling motor or drift boat while dragging lures behind your vessel at different speeds and depths.
3. Bottom Bouncing: Attach a live bait rig or spinner harness with enough weight (typically 1-2 ounces) to reach the riverbed while maintaining contact with it during retrieval.

Tips for Success

To increase your chances of success when targeting walleye on the Columbia River, keep these additional tips in mind:

1. Stay Stealthy: Walleyes have excellent vision and can be easily spooked by noise or sudden movements, so maintain a quiet demeanor and avoid unnecessary disturbances.
2. Experiment with Colors and Baits: If one technique doesn’t yield results, don’t hesitate to switch up your bait color selection or presentation style until you find what works best on any given day.
3. Patience is Key: Successful angling requires patience; if the fish aren’t biting initially, be persistent and adapt to changing conditions.


By understanding walleye behavior, using appropriate gear, selecting prime fishing spots, employing effective techniques such as jigging or trolling, and applying additional tips for success, you’ll be well-prepared for a memorable walleye fishing adventure on the beautiful Columbia River. Remember to respect nature and follow local regulations while enjoying this fantastic angling experience. Good luck!