Break in the Weather Puts Off Walleyes

by | Mar 29, 2023 | fly fishing the Columbia River | 1 comment

Columbia-RiverWhile this continues to be a bear of a spring, there are a few weather breaks.  Today was one of them.  Last night we left Portland, OR and returned to White Salmon, WA.  We woke up today and it was calm, partly sunny and the temperature was nearly 50°.  Off Mike LaSota and I went for one last day on the mighty Columbia River.


Columbia-RiverAction started fast and furiously.  There’s an old broken down dock we like to fish at over the years.  It looks fishy but until last week, I’ve never tossed to it and connected to a fish.  Last week I got a smallmouth bass.  This morning on the first pass I got three.  All fell for the Scott Robertson jig fly.  And I should mention, I had a double – two smallies on the same cast all the way to the boat but the upper fish came off just as I went to land them both.


white-sturgeonIn addition to my flurry of smallmouth action, Mike had action of his own.  He was fishing his usual – spin rod with a jig tipped with a nightcrawler.  Mike hooked into a small sturgeon the second his jig reached bottom and landed it.  Ten casts later he got another.  In the first 30 minutes we had about five smallies and two sturgeon to the boat.




Mike and I drifted down the Columbia and the sun broke out.  For the first time this trip the jackets came off.  In addition, we had a slight upstream wind which created the perfect speed of our drift.  The hard thing for me fly fishing is keeping my fly on bottom in 20ft deep plus of water.  While my ridiculously heavy fly helps, drifting properly is equally important.


Chinook-salmonThings were slow for us for over an hour.  Then as I was stripping in fast to make my next cast I hooked up.  Over the years fly fishing the Columbia in March I’ve yet to connect with a salmonid.  But I brought in a small Chinook salmon.  This little guy has probably traveled a long way working his way back to the Pacific Ocean.  My barbless dropper fly fell out in the net and we never had to touch this cute little guy.  Off he went.


Stormbreaker-BrewingThe entire morning as we fished the temperatures rose.  It felt like 60° at 1 PM.  My shoulder has acted up a bit the last few days (possibly from fishing too much?!?!?) so I grabbed a seat and put my feet up for a few.  It was easy to do because Mikes good friend owns Stormbreaker Brewing and sent Mike home with a case for me to enjoy while on my visit.  It just so happens I had one of the delicious brews in the Yeti today and I relished every sip!


fly-fishingMike and I made a move upstream to fish below an island.  We found this spot last year and honestly its one of my favorites.  It’s the edge of a shipping channel and there’s a big sand bar with a fast drop-off and more current than most places.


smallmouth-bassWe were drifting along fishless when suddenly Mikes fish finder started beeping off the hook.  I was first to go tight on what was about a 17” smallie.  Mike then proceeded to land two more.  Mikes a big guy and his hero shot didn’t do his first smallie justice so I took this photo.  This turbo smallie was 19” and built like a brick from head to tail!


Mike-LaSota-flyfishingDespite all the fish under the boat we only managed the three smallies over the next 20 minutes or so.  Mike put his trolling motor on anchor which keeps you in place but with the current of the Columbia It’s hard to keep your rig on bottom when the boat is in one place.  I tried upstream casts.  Fancy huge mends and you name it but soon we gave up and drifted along again.


Columbia-RiverIt’s hard to explain how beautiful calm and warm it was at this time.  And this may in fact be why we weren’t catching one particular species.  The one we wanted most because we like to harvest them.  That’s the walleye.  While we almost always stick a couple to bring home, today we couldn’t find one at all.  Its possible we each lost one but we never saw our fish.


pikeminnowThere was one other species caught however at the end of the day, that’s the pikeminnow.  We seem to managed at least one each time out and I didn’t let us down.  But that was it.  We stayed out longer than planned but the day, the warmth, the sunset, all these things kept us out on the water till about 5:30.


Columbia-RiverToday was likely it for Mike and I.  The wind is forecasted to crank tomorrow and on the Columbia you don’t want to be out in the wind.  We might drive around and look at some ponds for carp or we might even enjoy a full day of “Opening Day” of baseball.  The Cubs play at 11:20 AM and I for sure will be listening.  Then the plan Friday is for Granny and I to begin our journey east.  Our first stop will be a visit to Victor, Idaho.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Matt

    Nice multi-species day!

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Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!