Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Walleye on the Fly

        Canadian & American surveys of the upper Columbia, above Lake Roosevelt, indicate that up to 70% of the native fish species spawned within the system are eaten by walleye before reaching maturity. Short of pulling down the dams & allowing the river to flush, there is no plan other than suppression for reducing their numbers. Biologists think if the 70% depredation rate can be decreased by about 7%, native trout may remain sustainable. Toward that goal, Washington & Oregon have suspended catch limits on walleye, as well as other introduced, non-native species – channel catfish, bass, & northern pike.   

Always has to be some dufus who wants those fish like he caught back home in Alabama or Wisconsin. Walleye were illegally bucketed into the upper Columbia in the 1950’s, & from there have fenestrated downstream to inhabit the entire river. Below Chief Joseph Dam, where there are still salmon, walleye munch salmon smolts.

It’s not a good situation.

Walleye are good, filleted & fried, but they are not good fighters. A big one is good for a short, bulldogging fight, but that’s it.

In fall, during the October caddis hatch, walleye move onto those areas which traditionally concentrate trout, to feed on the big fall caddis. For a few evenings in September walleye were thick on one of my favorite trouting locations, & quick to take the swung October caddis imitation – so I did what anybody would do.

Skillet biology.

Filleting those sacks of walleye was a task nearing commercial proportions, but was worth it. Invitations were sent out, beer was brought in. The friends from up & down the river had a great time at the fish fry.

(Some of us had too good a time.)

And in the end, everybody agreed that skillet biology was a pretty good way to counter the harmful affects of bucket biology.

We do our best.       


7 comments:

  1. I love fishing for trout.

    The only thing that allows me to endure fishing for walleye in Ontario is the more-or-less constant state of inebriation I maintain that allows me to sit in a boat jigging.

    What I do miss when I am trout fishing is a good shore lunch! I won't kill a trout when I'm out for sport and I'm always out for sport when I fish for trout. That, and I live in the contiguous Superfund site known as Michigan (don't eat the fish ...any of them).

    If the upper Columbia has trout and walleye, well - problem solved. I've taken walleye on a fly rod and line with a 1/4 oz jig attached with #2 flouro. 10' - 12' of water along the bank and ...walleye. This was in the day when my best rod was a 6 wt fiberglass garage-made beast (probably an 8 wt, really) I bought in Gunnison and learned to use when trying to break my legs in the Taylor. That's not where I'd catch the walleye, though.

    Anyway, a proper walleye shore lunch on a trout outing? Well. I always thought I'd use my one-time ticket to get into Valhalla but I could be tempted to spend eternity fishing for trout in shore-lunch land instead.

    I just never thought there was such a place. Bucket away, Steve. Bucket away.

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    Replies
    1. Spike, as a Northern man, a "man of the country" as Cormac McCarthy describes, I hope to spend eternity in Salmonid Valhalla, but with occasional side trips out to Hesperia for walleye (which goes so well with the beer, surely flowing in Salmonid Valhalla), employing the flyrod & jig method you describe.

      One of us should write a piece about all those things other than flies that are cool to fish with fly rods. As a kid in Mass., from the age of 4 to 9, living on a lake, an easy bike ride to a couple fine brooks, I was an angling fanatic with a reputation (the only 3rd grader in Millbury busted 3 times in one month for ditching school, fishing), my only tool the old bamboo Montague fly rod my grandfather had given me. Money for lures was rare, but fortunately a small Colorado spinner could be had for about 15 cents, & these were very effective rigged with a fly, worm or small lip-hooked frog, which was killer for pickerel. Living in the far West I really do miss pickerel. Still, I harbor no plan to bucket them in, possibly losing my place at the table in Salmonid Valhalla.

      Your compatriot

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  2. streamers and leech patterns work well for walleyes especially when they are in the shallows

    here that would be summer evenings

    increase your predation in order to reduce theirs

    i'm sure as an invasive species they will understand another's attempt to balance things out

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the support Anony, & thumbs-up for the Leech patterns.

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  3. I enjoy fishing for them evenings to take an occasional grill fillet. In lakes I have found nothing better than a Clouser Minnow in its variations. In rivers a traditional Muddler Minnow on a fast sink tip works constantly well for me. Evenings and cloudy days seem to be best,but they travel in schools and the "action" for the night is over in 15 minutes!

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  4. I enjoy fishing for them evenings to take an occasional grill fillet. In lakes I have found nothing better than a Clouser Minnow in its variations. In rivers a traditional Muddler Minnow on a fast sink tip works constantly well for me. Evenings and cloudy days seem to be best,but they travel in schools and the "action" for the night is over in 15 minutes!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Michael, thanks for reading. The Muddler works well here too.

    ReplyDelete