On the Hunt for Washington Walleye

By: Daniel Eggertsen

The elusive walleye made its way into Washington water structures virtually undetected. The first recorded walleye sighting occurred in 1962 at Banks Lake located in the eastern portion of the state. From there, there were sightings in Franklin Lake which connects to Banks Lake through a pumping system.

As time went by, the walleye made their way from these spots to Columbia river. Here, they spread out in virtually every corner of the water surface from the mouth area all the way to the Canadian border. The walleye did not stop here. It seems the fish was on a mission to conquer just about every available water source in Washington. They spread out to places like Moses Lake; Potholes Reservoir; Billy Clapp Lake and Soda Lake believably through an irrigation canal system. This channel system includes the Banks Lake where walleye were first spotted.

Present day Department of Fish and Wildlife officials use the over abundance of walleye in these bodies of water to stock smaller rivers and reservoirs. There are only two natural reproduction walleye spots in Washington: Roosevelt Lake and Lake Umatilla. This is also known as John Day Pool. Anglers have long considered walleye one of the best fish to fight with. Many state that the walleye bite is almost as bad as the bark. So to speak anyway.

The main reason anglers return year after year and season after season is due to the presence walleye make at the dinner table. Walleye are sought after for the white flaky meat that is afforded through larger meal portions than virtually any other fish in the water. Washington bodies of water carry a variety of walleye shapes and sizes.

Good fishing days will likely produce several versions of two to three pound walleye. Once in awhile, there is the chance to pull up a ten pound walleye amongst those smaller sizes. The Washington state walleye record is 18 pounds 12 ounces for a walleye caught in Columbia River by the McNary Dam. This record pound fight occurred in April of 1990.

The best characteristic of a walleye is the large, off-white eyes. This feature helps the fish adapt to its surroundings. Food sources are easier to seek out, even in dark waters, as a result of the large eyes. On the other end of the spectrum, it is these large eyes that force walleye to seek shelter from bright lights such as sunshine during the day. That is why walleye seek out deeper water levels most of the time. It provides a natural shield from the lights. When they must come towards to surface, either to feed or spawn, they seek out murky waters that provide light protection.

Any time period falling between dusk and dawn is perfect for walleye fishing. As spring rolls around, walleye prepare for spawning season. They slowly creep out from winter hiding spots to stretch in the warmer water temperatures. Spawning occurs along shallow gravel or rock bottom areas. Other spots are anywhere water levels are 5 feet deep or less.

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