Rivers Provide Variety
The Columbia River and its tributaries provide, at times, sensational fishing for everything from squawfish to sturgeon.
Currently, anglers are trolling for chinook salmon and steelhead along the lower Columbia and a few tributaries. One of the most popular spots is Drano Lake just above Bonneville Dam.
When the water warms a little more, fishermen will be casting and drifting for walleyes from just above Bonneville to Lake Roosevelt. Trophy-size fish are found, particularly along the lower river.
As the Snake River warms, smallmouth bass will become active and anglers will cast bait and lures from the river’s mouth to Hells Canyon Dam. Some of the best smallmouth fishing in the Northwest is in Hells Canyon.
The Columbia and Snake also provide good fishing for whitefish, trout, channel catfish, sturgeon, crappies and even perch.
One of the best spots to catch 12- to 14-inch whitefish is along the Columbia just below Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers hook sturgeon along many sections of both rivers.
The Hells Canyon section of the Snake attracts sturgeon fishermen from throughout the world. Every year anglers hook and release sturgeon measuring more than 6 feet in the canyon.
Another hot spot is the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia.
Arrival of “upriver bright” chinook salmon in the Hanford Reach draws a crowd every August and September. The Fish and Wildlife Department has predicted the best run since 1989 for this year.
The Snake and its tributaries will be crowded with steelhead fishermen from September through the following March. The department hasn’t yet made any predictions as to what kind of a run anglers can expect this fall.
Some sections of the Columbia, particularly behind Chief Joseph Dam, provide sensational fishing for huge rainbows and some out-sized kokanee.
The Yakima River is considered one of the top trout streams in the state. However, anglers have been complaining that the number of trophy rainbows has dropped dramatically the last couple of years.
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