As the Mid-Columbia roasts under 100-degree temperatures, area fisherman can count on plenty of walleye in every mile of river surrounding the Tri-Cities.
Warmer water and post-spawn bites make for consistent walleye action.
Local walleye are plentiful and the number of boat launches within a half hour of Richland to Wallula and even over the hill to Umatilla and Plymouth are numerous.
The Snake River also offers great summertime opportunities, with three boat launches and great walleye fishing just minutes from your front door.
The Hanford Reach as well as the stretch of the Columbia "in town" also will hold active walleye. But with higher flows, it will be imperative to find the slower water off points, or the currents where fish seem be concentrated.
The Columbia River below McNary Dam is one of the most well-known walleye fisheries in the West -- and for good reason, there are lots of fish. Both sides of the river for about 10 miles below the dam attract plenty of walleye this time of year.
Current seams, break lines, points and slack water areas with a small amount of flow can hold substantial schools of walleye. Ten- to 20-foot water below the dam is perfect for pulling plugs. And there are several points and current seams to drag a worm harness through schools of walleye.
Not only will walleye be schooled up in the summer, but so will walleye fishermen. You may be able to follow the fishermen to the fish.
More often than not, large groups of walleye fishermen mean large schools of walleye.
Crowded spots tend to get fished out quickly and if you venture off the beaten path, you could be handsomely rewarded by finding your own little "secret spot."
I recommend consulting a river atlas or using Google Earth to scout possible locations before hitting the water. Armed with a game plan that includes several spots in a stretch of river will greatly increase your chances of finding fish.
Keep in mind future fish populations when you start reeling them in. Releasing fish about 5 pounds and over will help maintain a healthy breading population.
The list of effective techniques used to catch walleye this time of year is almost endless. The gist of it is that if you effectively fish your top techniques, you should be catching fish. This time of year, smile blades truly shine and worm harnesses are a fail-safe way to get into fish. They will consistently catch fish day in and day out during the summer months.
With fish being more active, your downstream trolling speed can now be faster -- 1.5 to 2 mph. Using a 1- to 2-ounce bottomwalker and a combination of chartreuse or green beads, corkies or pills coupled with a silver or chartreuse smile blade is a good starting point for both rookie and veteran summer walleye fishermen alike.
Smile blades can be tough to beat, but if I were to put any other bait or lure up against them it would be a blade bait. While blade-baiting is a more active technique involving more focus, it can pay great dividends in the summer. This time of year drifting and casting blades is a good way to change it up if the worm harness bite slows down or becomes too mundane.
Plugs and stickbaits also can be great producers this time of year and silver Hot Lips or Rapalas are tried and true when trolling upstream in 10 to 20 feet of water on current seams or along rocky islands.
Bottom walkers or snap weights can be used to get stickbaits down in depth or they can be flatlined. Hot Lips will be digging on the bottom in up to 20 feet of water. Night fishing, or at least evening fishing, is another good bet for those wanting to pull plugs.
We live in the heart of the best walleye fishing in the world. It's only a matter of time until the next world-record walleye is caught within a stone's throw of the Tri-Cities.
Matthew Nesbit is a local biologist and an avid outdoorsman.