June may be, if not the best, then definitely one of the best months to fish for walleye in the Northwest. By now the walleye have spawned and are back in a constant feeding mode.
The fish with the big, toothy mouth and weird colored eyes, are a favorite of many anglers, not for their fight, but for their tasty, light meat. Chunked up, battered and deep-fat fried, walleye makes excellent fish and chips.
Because it is such a good-eating fish, it is no wonder so many anglers get after them in the reservoirs and rivers in the region.
Last week friends Greg Wilson, Merle Shuyler and I ran up to Lake Roosevelt to do some kokanee fishing. But, because the fishing was so poor, we decided to jump over to Banks Lake and try for some walleye.
While the fishing wasn’t red hot, we did end up catching several eater-sized walleyes in just a few hours of fishing. And Greg caught a beautiful fish that was pushing the 26-inch mark.
We fished the morning after the big thunderstorm, and that may have put the fish off the bite a little. When we talked to a few other anglers near Steamboat Rock, they said the fishing was really good the day before. It’s the old “shoulda been here yesterday” scenario.
Even then, we had pretty steady action and it was a fun morning on the water searching for the spiny-ray fish and trying to get them to bite. Our best lure was a Rufus Special worm harness rig in chartreuse behind a two-ounce bottom bouncer.
Walleye anglers have also been having good luck at Lake Roosevelt, although we didn’t try for them there. Most of the best fishing is up lake, near where the Spokane River flows in, and on up to Kettle Falls.
Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir have also been fairly productive for walleye in recent days.
The Columbia River can be really good during June, but it depends on water flow. If they are dumping large amounts of water over and through the dams, the river almost moves too fast for a decent drift. But anytime the flows recede the fishing will be good.
We tried everything in our bag of tricks to try to get the big kokanee to bite at Roosevelt, but only caught rainbows. The water at Roosevelt was high and rising, and that may have put the landlocked salmon off the bite.
Rumors of a 6-pound kokanee being caught in late May got us all fired up to go try to find some of the big fish, but as it turned out, nobody was having any luck.
The kokanee at Lake Chelan are smaller than those at Roosevelt but they have much more willing to bite. For the past several weeks anglers have been having excellent luck there catching their 10-fish limits. And they are catching the occasional land-locked chinook.
Lake trout have been on the bite at Chelan as well, with some bigger fish showing in the catch. Several fish over 10-pounds have been taken in the past couple weeks.
Closer to home, Rimrock Lake has been good for kokanee, too. Anglers fishing for the little landlocked-sockeye salmon have been catching lots of fish, but they are small again this year. Still, the kokanee, known as silvers, are fun to catch on light gear, and they are really good to eat when smoked.
As mentioned last week, the shad continue to migrate up the Columbia by the hundreds of thousands and will provide some fun fishing in the days and weeks ahead. Some friends fished below Bonneville Dam last week and caught over 50 of the hard-fighting shad. And I’ve heard that the fishing below John Day Dam for shad is just starting to get good.
Special hund draw results available
Most hunters who took the time, money and effort to apply for some of the special hunts that are available in Washington State have probably already checked their draw status. But if you haven’t done so yet the results of the special hunt drawings were released late last week, and are available now on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
Post cards will also be sent to let those who have applied to let them know whether they were successful or not.
As soon as the results were posted the internet and social media blew up as hunters messaged their friends, letting them know the results were available , and to see if they got lucky and drew one of the coveted special hunt tags.
For those keeping score, for what seems like the 71st year in a row, there was no joy in the Phillips hunting camp after the draw. And, unfortunately, most of my hunting friends also drew the big goose egg.
Oh well, there’s always next year.
Luckily we have some fishing to drop back on, and if you target the right species, now is a good time to be out after them.