Where to Catch Walleye on the Columbia River

November 15, 2021

The Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest is one of the few places that have an abundance of good Walleye fishing. Not only are walleye fun to catch, they’re darn good to eat. Even better when targeting these marble eyed buggers, it’s not unusual to come home with a huge pile of fish.

One of the things we love most about fishing for Walleye on the Columbia is that you can pretty much fish them year-round. If you’re on the Oregon side, here are some of our favorite places where to catch Walleye on the Columbia River.

Targeting Walleye in the John Day Pool

The John Day pool can be outstanding for targeting Walleye. The area just below McNary Dam is a very well-known good walleye fishing spot. This popular Fishery is loaded with Walleye and produces some of the biggest fish the Columbia has to offer. The Dalles Pool can be fished from both sides of the river for about 10 miles below the dam pretty much all year long. During the warmer months, walleye are very actively feeding and ready to bite. One of the main attractions to the John Day Pool is that it’s not unusual to catch Walleye as large a 15lbs. making it one of the main go-to spots for seeking out world record class fish.

Irrigon Oregon Walleye Action

From the boat ramp in Irrigon, you can access a nice flat shelf on the Columbia where Walleye like to stack up. Focus on the area between mile marker 62 and 64 and you’re sure to get more than a couple fish in the boat. If you’re looking to target the big ones try Boulder Alley just across from the Irrigon Ramp. Keep in mind, it’s not called Bolder Alley for nothing. There are lots of big rocks and snags in this section, but it’s where some of the biggest Walleye in the state like to hide out. This area of the Columbia can be hit and miss with fish hammering your set up left and right or only ending up going home with a couple of fish for the day.

Walleye fishing at the Mouth of John Day

The mouth of the John Day River offers excellent access to the lower John Day pool. Here you can focus on catching Walleye working the soft water up to Towal, Goodnoe, and Sundale. You can also target the soft section where the John Day River pours out into the Columbia.

Walleye Fishing the Dalles Pool at Rufus

During the months of March through April, the Columbia River walleye fishing begins to pick up in the Rufus area of the Dalles pool. Cookie cutter walleye between 16″ to 22″ are common at Rufus and there are even a few even bigger ones that get taken as well. This is definitely one of the best places Where to catch walleye on the Columbia River

From Preachers Eddy your can launch your boat and get on the water to start targeting Walleye. Focus on the upper Dalles pool and work your way down. There are three key areas to troll for Walleye in the Rufus area. Preachers Eddy, the Willows and the Rufus run. A little further down the river, the 106 hole is a popular hot spot and there is good walleye holding waters near the highway 97 bridge as well. In fact, the walleye fishing can be pretty good here pretty much all the way down The Dalles.

Miller Island

“It’s Miller time” There are three key places to target Walleye in the lower Dalles Pool. Your best bet it to hit the underwater shelves around Miller Island just off the mouth of the Deschutes River. You can also work the area upriver at Biggs Junctions or further down river at Browns Island. Boaters can access the Columbia River area from the boat launch on the lower Deschutes at Heritage Landing located just off the I-84 Highway or the Celilo Park ramp as well.

Fishing Walleye in the Bonneville Pool at Hood River

Targeting Walleye at the mouth of the Hood River on the Columbia is one of the lesser-known places where to catch walleye on the Columbia River to catch these fish. However, it can be as productive as some of the upper reaches like The Dalles and John Day Pools and often you will be the only boat in the area. When fishing this area of the Bonneville Pool remember Walleye like areas with slow-moving current, underwater shelves, and dark shaded areas. In this area of the Columbia focus on the flats near the Wind River on the Washington side, or the shallow sandbars in the middle of the river in 25 to 35 feet of water.

Crown Point Walleye fishing

another place where to catch walleye on the Columbia River is Crown Point is another great access point that can get you on the Columbia and fishing for Walleye. It’s located just below the Bonneville dam and is one of the few good places to target Walleye near Portland. This is one of the few places you can go catch Walleye and not see another boat all day. The season tends to run later than further upriver due to the snowmelt and hard currents. Also, the fish tend to be smaller here but they are plentiful and you can easily fill the freezer. Fish the faster current in 20 to 40 feet of water.

Reed Island flats

Extensive flats and shallows surround Reed Island making it an excellent place to fish for Walleye. Trolling worm harnesses in only a few feet of water during summer will result in big numbers of fish; also tossing crankbaits around the island’s shallow edges will produce as well.

Ough Reef Walleye

One of the most popular spots near Portland to fish for Walleye is Ough Reef located just upriver from the public boat ramp at Chinook Landing. In this section of the Columbia River there are extensive flats adjoined by deep water. The area can be tough to fish due to strong currents, and twisting seams. Plus there are lots of tackle-grabbing rocks on the bottom to contend with.

Another not so attractive aspect is the stiff westerly wind. Be sure to be prepared and dress accordingly. If you can hack the blustery weather fish the long shelf and you should have success as it can hold excellent numbers of walleye. These fish love to hit when vertical jigging and using roundhead jigs.

Government Island Walleye

Government Island offers a great stretch on the Columbia to go after the marble eyes. Here you’ll want to fish around the I-205 Bridge, on both sides of the Island. You can also work the area all the ways to the railroad bridge near HWY I-5 that separates Portland Oregon and Vancouver Washington. Here you’ll want to fish with blades and bait and roundhead jigs with night crawlers for the win.

Book a Columbia River Fishing Adventures Walleye Fishing Trip

There is a lot of big water to cover and plenty of places where to catch walleye on the Columbia River. When it comes to fishing for walleye we stick to fishing the hot spots. The areas we have covered here are among the top areas where to catch walleye on the Columbia River.

Without a doubt, these fish are some of the best eating freshwater fish the Pacific Northwest has to offer. With healthy populations and sometimes even no catch limits in regards to how many you can retain. You’re sure to have a great time and a fine meal after your fishing adventure is complete.

If you’d like to join us on our next Columbia River Walleye fishing trip, give us a call at 503 490 3099 or click the book now button to reserve your seat.

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