Columbia River Walleye Fishing: How to Catch Walleye

May 15, 2022

How to Catch Columbia River Walleye

As the Weather and water begin to warm it’s a perfect time for a Columbia River Walleye Fishing Trip. Take me to a section of the Columbia I have never fished and I’m an excited angler. The Columbia River Has lots of river miles that have never seen a walleye, Angler. Its not only nice to get away from the crowds but exciting to figure out where these fish are as well as what they are going to bite in the current conditions. I have fished sections of the Columbia where I’ve never seen another fisherman and had some of my most successful days. Walleye can be one of the easiest fish to catch as well as one of the most finicky fish in the Columbia River!

1. Locating Columbia River Walleye

Walleye Are like any fish if you can’t find them you aren’t going to Catch them! Your best tools are your eyes and your sonar. Here is what to look for.

  • Tributaries and I mean all of them hold Walleye. The Tributaries of the Columbia create current as well as cool water that hold Shrimp, Eels and baitfish. Where you find food, you will find fish! Especially in the spring and summer months.
  • Rocky Bottoms and sand bars often hold fish. They are hiding and feeding spots for Salmon smolt perch and baby Shad all of which are on the Walleyes diet.
  • Islands and underwater reefs appeal to walleye. When hit with waves or fast running current they can provide good action. Target the deep-down river edges.
  • Drops, Humps, sand bars and current seem are a favorite feeding spot for walleye. I Fish from 25 to 50 feet in the spring and 15 to 25 feet in the summer
  • River mouths and the Backwaters of the Columbia with healthy vegetation will draw Perch and other baitfish in the summer months. These are great places to target Walleye.

2. Columbia River Conditions- where to fish and when

After You have found potential Fishing locations, decide when and how best to fish them. Always remembering that at any second a walleye can change when and what They will do!

  • Dusk and dawn are the walleyes’ prime feeding times. Walleye see very well in low light conditions a lot of their prey cannot. You will often find them feeding shallow water along seams, points and islands in low light conditions.
  • Cloudy and overcast days can also be fantastic. They cause another low light situation that can really get the walleye feeding. It’s another situation where if you find the food you find the fish. Walleye love to ambush their prey on cloudy windy days.
  • Walleye chop Days with just enough wind to break up the surface of the water and defuse the light. This is a great time to fish shallow weed beds, shallow underwater islands and the sides of any structure the waves are smashing against. Or any other place the water may stir up and easy meal.
  • Sunny days with zero wind can be a challenge. Spend your time focusing on deep water or structure. Iven also had some epic fishing days fishing at the mouth of some of the Columbia River tributaries or any shaded are bait fish might hide.

3. My favorite fishing lures and Tactics

These are my 3 favorite methods for Catching Columbia River Walleye. I almost always exclusively troll when I’m fishing new water or looking for Walleye. It is a great way for beginners or seasoned veterans to catch lots of Walleye. Once I have found big schools of walleye I will often jig. This is a method that takes a little more skill and is difficult in windy conditions.

Berkley Flicker Shad

Trolling Plugs

Trolling covering lots of water is a great way to find and catch walleye. Use the shallow diving Berkley flicker shad around shallow shorelines, reefs and the mouths of the tributaries. This is a very reliable way to catch Columbia River walleye.

Walleye trolling plugs

Gorge Outfitters Worm Harness.

Helicopter Rig

The helicopter rig Is deadly in shallow or deep-water situations. I run them behind a 3-to-4-ounce bottom walker. Tip them with a nightcrawler, rubber grub or Berkley minnow. You can troll the shallow water or the deeper channels. Always keep the bottom walker just tapping the bottom. If you aren’t tapping, you’re not fishing.

Walleye helicopter rig

Gorge Outfitter Custom Jig 


Jigging is a tried-and-true method for catching Walleye. Tip your jigs with nightcrawlers, grubs or fluke minnows. Slowly drifting down the river. Drop your jig to the bottom. Using a quick jerk raise your jig 12 to 24 inches off the bottom then let them slowly fall back to the bottom. This method is best used when you know you are on the fish and can be used from 10 to 60 feet of water. Feel a bite, give a quick jerk and start reeling.

Next time you are out on the Columbia River Walleye Fishing give these methods a try. It just might change your day!

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