Columbia River Celilo pool Smallmouth Bass 26

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Columbia River – Celilo Pool – Smallmouth Bass Fishing Report


The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. By volume, the Columbia is the fourth-largest river in the United States and has the greatest flow of any North American river draining into the Pacific. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River.

Both the Snake River and Columbia River are listed among the five best Smallmouth bass rivers in the country by

Columbia River - Celilo pool - Smallmouth Bass - 02

Our destination for the day would be the Celilo Pool of the Columbia River. Weather was calm, 65° in the a.m. and maybe up to 88° in the afternoon, with water temps around 73°. The wind probably never blew more that 5-10 mph. From what I was told, this was very unusual weather on the river. This part of the Columbia River is between The Dalles and John Day Dams, offering Bass fishing year round, and presenting great opportunities for Smallmouth bass from early spring all the way through fall. Although, you’ve GOT to watch the weather! If it’s blowing, it can get very nasty with big waves.

I’ve been told that in summer and fall, most Columbia River Smallmouth bass relate strongly to the current in 5 to 20-foot depths and this is exactly where we found our most productive areas. The typical holding places were behind and along current breaks, on submerged rock piles/humps, along the outer edges of flats, weed lines and rocky outcroppings/drop offs.

We targeted these areas, first thing, with top water baits. Zip was using a Zara Spook, his son Triston a Lucky Craft Sammy and I was fishing a PayCheck Baits Repo Man. I didn’t get any action at all, Zip had one blow-up and Triston caught one.

Zip had some pretty good reaction and top water fishing about a week earlier, so we gave it some time and several locations. We did mange to catch a couple and had some followers, missed blow-ups, and one Crankbait fish, with another NICE one getting off at the boat. But nothing that was really producing and working well, or consistently.

Time to switch it up. Tristin was the first to pick up a tube around 10 a.m., and he quickly caught several fish. Zip and I put down the reaction stuff and started fishing slower on the bottom with tubes, worms, etc. Generally, I’ll always try to fish something different if we already know that particular bait is working. In this case, the tube was already catching fish, so I tried other baits: A Senko and shaky head. I didn’t get any takers on the Senko, but had a couple bites on the shaky head.

Around noon, we moved into a new area and Zip said “a Jig has worked well in areas like this.” My ears perked up! I love a good jig bite! Usually bigger, heavier rod, line and bait!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI quickly tied on a ½-oz D&M Pro Model Football Jig in Greenpumpkin with just a simple matching Greenpumpkin double tail. Now keep in mind, almost ALL of the bottom consists of rocks: round, volcanic, every shape and size. So it’s snaggy!

Tip: One of the ways to help avoid always getting hung-up is to keep a shorter distance between you and the jig. This keeps the line at a greater angle and can help from getting your jig snagged every cast. When it does get hung up, STOP! Don’t start jerking on it or pulling hard. Sometimes just releasing the pressure will free the jig, allowing it to roll over whatever it was stuck against. If not, and because you have kept it closer to the boat, just go over and get it off. Nine out of ten times, once you’re right over it, the jig will easily come free. Even so, be prepared to lose a few. You should also check your line often for frays near the jig.

From that point on, I never really put the jig down and caught fish at just about every stop for the rest of the day. Zip & Trist kept fishing the tubes also catching fish at each stop. They were using 2 types of Dry Creek Outfitters; 3.5″ Creektubes in old Ugly color and 5” Maxi Tubes in Columbia Craw and I will certainly be stocking up on these!

Although we did catch a few fish on topwater (early), then later in the day on Crankbaits & Ripbaits, the most productive baits that day for these Columbia River smallmouths were Tubes and a Jig with most of our fish in the 2.5 -3.5-lb range.

I fished the Senkos and the Shakeyheads on the new Powell Inferno series 6103 M Ex-Fast (6’10” Medium Ex-Fast Action 6-12lb.) and I fished the tubes on a new Powell Inferno series 6101 L Ex-Fast (6’10” Light Ex-Fast Action 4-10lb.) Both with 2500 series spinning reels loaded with 10-lb Spiderwire Stealth Glow-Vis Braid to 6-lb Spiderwire EZ Fluoro leader.

I fished Top water, Swimbaits & Jigs on the new Powell Inferno series 704C Ex-Fast (7’0” Heavy Ex-Fast Action 12-20lb.) with an ABU Garcia REVO STX loaded with 17-lb Berkley Trilene XL.

I was also throwing Crankbaits on a new Powell Inferno series 705 CB Glass/Comp Mod-Fast (7’ Med-Heavy Mod-fast Action 10-17lb.)

Looking forward to the next trip on the Columbia River!

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