Smallmouth Bass Hot Fall Action in Columbia River, Washington/Oregon
Bob McNally 10.02.16
The Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington state line is well known as a great salmon and steelhead river. But the mighty Columbia also has world class smallmouth bass and walleye fishing.
Some knowledgeable anglers believe there are world record smallmouth bass in the Columbia River. I do, because the Washington fisheries department has electro-shocked, weighed, tagged, and released many different smallmouths each weighing 10-pounds or more. And there are reports the Idaho fisheries department once electro-shocked and weighed a 13-pound smallmouth in the Upper Snake River, which is a major tributary of the Columbia.
On a good day a good angler can be expected to catch 40-to-50 smallmouths from the Columbia or its feeders. In that catch it’s almost a certainty there will be some bronzebacks weighing in the 4-pound class.
Top smallmouth fishing is found downstream from Wanapum Dam at the town of Vantage. Some of the best water is below McNary Dam, at the town of Umatilla, Idaho, and near the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers near Pasco.
The lower Yakima River also is a prime spot for hefty smallmouths. The Yakima flows into the Columbia just upriver of Pasco. The area from West Richland downstream to the Columbia is excellent water for smallmouths weighing to 5 pounds. The Snake and John Day Rivers (both Columbia feeders) are famous for smallmouths. There also is smallmouth fishing found in the lower reaches of the Okanogan River, a Columbia River feeder stream near the town of Brewster.
Big bronzebacks are available virtually every day, from April through October in the mainstream Columbia. Bass guides are scarce on the Columbia, so bring your own boats and motors. Superb, improved boat ramps can be found throughout the riverside areas at Army Engineers and state parks.