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Coyne: Guide to Banks Lake Walleye Fishing

Coyne: Guide to Banks Lake Walleye Fishing

By Danny Coyne

For the serious walleye angler, Banks Lake has to be on the bucket list. Located in Grant and Douglas County in Washington state, Banks Lake sits a mere five minutes south of Grand Coulee Dam and offers one of the best walleye fisheries in the entire Pacific Northwest. For Canadian anglers like myself, the drive is only 2.5 hours from the Osoyoos border crossing.

Stretching close to 27 miles long, Banks Lake offers fantastic walleye fishing throughout all regions of the lake from March through October.

Coyne: Guide to Banks Lake Walleye Fishing

When to fish Banks Lake for walleye

The pre-spawn season starts near the end of February and really starts to heat up in mid-March. The north end of the lake near Electric City and Steamboat Rock are great areas to pursue early season walleye. Once the water temperature hits over 43 degrees, however, the walleye start to spawn and the fishing slows down for a couple of weeks, usually during the first part of April.

It is highly recommended and good fishing ethics to release the spawning female walleye during this period. This way, they can complete their spawn to sustain this amazing fisher. But don’t worry – there are plenty of decent-sized male walleye between 15- and 19-inches willing to bite. The current limit for Banks Lake is 8 fish per day, per angler – and a retention slot size limit of 12- to 22-inches. One fish can be over 22 inches.

As May approaches, the large females have completed their spawn and become active again. Sticking around the north end of the lake near Steamboat Rock until early summer will help you improve your odds in locating these fish. As the summer and fall move in, the fish will be found throughout the entire lake.

Effective walleye presentations for Banks Lake

The most effective way to target Banks Lake walleye is by trolling bottom bouncers with a variety of Mack’s Lure walleye setups, including the Wally Pop, Smile Blade Super Slow Death Rig and Double Whammy Walleye, or basically any spinner equipped with a Smile Blade. The bait of choice is, hands down, good ole dew worms (or nightcrawlers). Adding scent to your baits, such as Mack’s Lure UV Bait Scents Trophy Walleye Pro Gel, will give these stubborn fish something they can’t resist.

Like in all walleye fisheries, trolling speeds in Banks Lake is critical. In the early spring, start off trolling less than 1 mph and, as the temperatures rise, increase your speed. The best way to find out what the optimum speed is by starting slow and increasing your speed until the walleye begin to strike your lure.

Banks Lake also offers all of the amenities and accommodations to make your trip the perfect excursion. There are numerous boat launches, camping and facility options for you to use. It’s truly an experience that all anglers should take advantage of and enjoy.

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