Tri-City anglers are blessed with a plethora of amazing fishing opportunities. Along with miles of untouched shoreline, there are acres and acres of open water in the Hanford Reach and flooded backwaters of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Some places are so remote that fish live their life without ever seeing an angler’s lure. And if that’s not enough, consider the myriad of streams and inland lakes within a two hour drive.
Timing is everything. This adage rings true when it comes to catching your fair share of fish. Timing is now for American shad and sockeye salmon. These two sea-going fishes migrate upstream by the thousands with peak numbers expected to pass McNary Dam in a two-week period between the end of June and the first week in July.
Are pickled shad or sautéed roe on your mind? Have you run out of sturgeon or crab bait? If so, American shad should be on your dance card. Sharpen up the hooks on your favorite Dick Nite spoon and give these big-eyed cousins of herring a try from an anchored boat or a riprap shoreline.
The number of sockeye salmon returning to the upper Columbia River tributaries has increased markedly over the past decade, largely due to conservation goals furthered by upriver Tribes. There’s no better time than the present to wipe the dust off your favorite dodger and Macks Lure Smile Blade rig. Find a current seam along the nearest shoreline to anchor your boat. Who knows? You might also hook a big-shouldered summer Chinook salmon.
Let’s say firework celebrations and backyard barbecues prevent you from catching a Fourth of July salmon. That friends and relatives drink your libations dry and eat more food than they bring to share. It’s not the end of the world. Think fish tacos in lieu of grilled sockeye for a hot weather treat.
Walleye are one popular sport fish that provides year-round harvest opportunity. Recent conditions have led to large numbers of two-year old fish or “eaters” in the 14 to 16 inch long range. And you don’t always have to troll from a boat to catch them. I’ve seen anglers jigging for walleye from the shoreline near McNary Dam and downstream near Crows Butte where roadside access is afforded
High water put the damper on smallmouth bass angling in the Yakima River this past spring. Once flows subside, however, post-spawn bass will be aggressive for spinners and soft bait. You’ll have to work harder for bass that have moved from spawning beds in the Yakima River and backwater sloughs of the Hanford Reach. Many of these fish have holed up in deep water. Casting to the shelter of rocky points with spinners and trolling along gravel bar islands with diving plugs is bound to produce good action all summer long.
Are quiet waters and panfish more to your liking? If so, you might drop a worm in Scooteney Reservoir. You never know what you might pull up. On one trip last summer, I caught yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, walleye, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. They weren’t bragging size, but nobody went home skunked either.
As for me, I grab my fly rod and head for the Blue Mountains when air temperatures hit triple digits and rainbow trout call my name. I like to hike fern-lined trails into the North Fork Wilderness Area of the Umatilla River and the South Fork of the Walla Walla River. During huckleberry season, I might travel to mile-high Jubilee Lake near Tollgate, casting to keeper-sized trout from the shore. Southeastern Washington anglers can find respite from the heat in conifer-shrouded sections of the Tucannon River or wading the Touchet River upstream of Dayton. All of these angling venues have camping areas for RV and tent campers.
The choice is yours. Whether you prefer to anchor along the shoreline, troll the center of the river or cast from the bank, adventure awaits.