Dredging Flies on the Mighty Columbia River

by | Mar 19, 2023 | fly fishing for walleye | 3 comments

big-walleyeWhile dredging heavy Clouser’s and jig flies doesn’t appeal to some fly anglers, it does to me.  And it gets me particularly excited when the laborious method of fly fishing takes place on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.  Here, on any given cast you could connect with a smallmouth bass, walleye, pikeminnow, carp or even a white sturgeon.  In fact, the list goes on.  This mighty river holds a lot of species.


flyfishingBest of all I get to fish the Columbia with my longtime friend Mike LaSota. Mike has been on the blog numerous times over the years, including last Thursday.  I often refer to him as Michigan-Mike because that’s where he was from when we first met some 25 years ago.  But he married Beata and moved to Portland, OR many years ago.  He has the fishing here dialed and I’ve been out numerous times for fishing visits.


flyfishing-for-walleyeThe beautiful weather of yesterday disappeared overnight.  But today wasn’t bad.  We launched Mikes boat from the Bingen, WA boat ramp around 10 AM.  It was overcast but not too windy and the temperature hovered in the 50°s.  We hit the water then motored upstream to where we fished hard for a few days last year.


walleye-fliesI fish my Winston 9’ 6-weight with the Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan fast sinking line.  The depth where most the fish on the Columbia live is between about 15 to 32 feet.  That’s a long way down to get a fly and the fast sinking line is only part of the trick.  To further guarantee a deep sink I fish Rich Strolis and Scott Robertson Jig Flies along with of course, Clouser Minnows.  Mike prefers to leave his fly rod at home and jigs with a spin rod.


smallmouth-bassI struck gold fast today.  I couldn’t have been any more than my fifth or sixth cast when I went tight.  I know the strike well.  Its more of a slight pull then a thump.  You feel like you’re dragging the fly through weeds.  Once I set the hook this spunky smallmouth bass fought his way to the net.  He’s very pale in color likely because we were fishing over a sand flat.


Columbia-RiverMike and I each picked up a couple of these average sized smallies over the next hour.  We saw fish on Mikes fish finder that we hoped were walleyes.  I proved that one of them was but then the fish disappeared not to be found again.  For the Columbia River this is an average walleye.  Anywhere else it would be a beauty.


walleyeAt least an hour or two passed by without any action at all.  We moved around to a few different places.  Part of the reason for our fish struggles was the wind.  It blew straight downstream for awhile so between that and the current it was next to impossible to get my fly or Mikes jig down to bottom because we were drifting too fast.


Currier-walleyeWe considered leaving but the wind again subsided.  Mike landed a nice walleye like my first, then I went tight on something big.  When Mike saw the bend in my rod the first word from his mouth was, “Sturgeon”.  But I could feel the fish and although it was tugging hard, I was able to get it up off the bottom fairly easily.  Then after a minute long battle we saw the fish.  It was a massive 32” walleye!


While this oversized member of the perch family is a beast, he’s not as big as one I got last year.  Somehow, we stupidly didn’t measure that one which is exactly why this one went right on the measuring tape.


huge-walleyeMike and I wrapped it up around 4 PM.  We had no less than an awesome day on the Columbia River for our first of the season.  Mike filleted all three of the walleyes we caught.  If at home in Wisconsin, I’d for sure of released these big walleye.  But here they are invasive and locals keep them all.  Not only are they invasive but they prey heavily on steelhead and salmon smolts.  Here you can see one we pulled from one of our smaller walleye’s stomachs.


We’ll take tomorrow off from fishing.  There’s some bad weather coming, a mix of snow, rain and wind.  Kind of the usual of late.  Its just as well, I’m way behind in blogs and various projects.  It will be a good day to catch up.  We’ll get back out here again soon.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Tad


    Remarkable day of fishing. Could not believe the size of those walleyes.


  2. Jeff

    These walleyes are extraordinary for sure! Perhaps a 35 plus incher one of these days.

  3. Howie

    OMG Dude! Great Walleye!! What a day!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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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!