Top Places for Bass Fishing in Oregon

Top Places for Bass Fishing in Oregon
Photo By Jeff Samsel

Longer days, higher highs, warmer water... Everything suggests spring, which means bass fishing in Oregon is about to break open. When it does, you want to be in the best place. That's why we've selected waters that are likely to serve up excellent bass fishing this year.

Crane Prairie Reservoir

Until three decades ago, Crane Prairie was strictly a trout lake. In the late 80s, someone let some largemouths go in the lake, which impounds the Upper Deschutes River in central Oregon, and apparently the bass took a liking to the lake's shallow water and plentiful flooded timber. Today, Crane Prairie supports one of the best largemouth populations in Oregon, with good numbers of large bass in the mix, and it is extremely popular with tournament anglers. The bass thrive here because of food chains that begin with all the timber and with plentiful vegetation. Trees and weeds, therefore, are the starting points for virtually any good Crane Prairie largemouth pattern.


Duo Realis Crankbait M65-8A

Length: 2 1/2 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Depth: 8 feet

A highly detailed crankbait, the M65 confronts bass with a realistic baitfish appearance plus sound generated by a metal plate and steel ball. Available in two models and a variety of colors, this crankbait is effective in both stained and clear water.

Price: $12.99

Sebile Action First Bull Crank

Length: 2 1/2 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Depth: 4-7 feet

Patrick Sebile's Bull Crank is an excellent lure, especially at that low price point of $6.95. The Xternal weight system helps to keep a low center of gravity, dig deep, and stay on track, reducing the need to tune. It features a wide body to increase visual presence.

Price: $6.95

Storm Arashi Silent Square Bill

Length: 2 1/8 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Depth: 3 feet

The Square Bill's self-tuning line tie lets you burn it and still have it track straight. The circuit board lip provides strong vibration up the line and helps the lure deflect well in cover, especially downed trees.

Price: $8.99

Gary Yamamoto Chikara

Length: 2 1/2 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Depth: 2-4 feet

This popularly-priced, rattle-equipped crankbait is designed to be worked through heavy cover and still get the job done. The Chikara features internal 3D holographic foiling that provides flash and cannot be chipped. The lure's value is enhanced by Mustad Triple Grip treble hooks.

Price: $7.99

Strike King KVD-1-5-Flat Side

Length: 2 ¼ inches
Weight: 3/8 ounce
Depth: 8-10 feet

This flat-side crankbait has a good thumping action and a tight wobble, and that means it's a great crankbait for cooler months or highly pressured lakes. Adding some weight to the hooks helps to cast the relatively light Flat Side on baitcasting gear, especially in windy situations.

Price: $5.79

Rapala Scatter Rap Crank

Length: 2 inches
Weight: 5/16 ounce
Depth: 6-8 feet

On a medium or slow retrieve, the Rap Crank is amazing: it tracks straight, then pops laterally and juts back onto the original track, ready for the waiting strike.

Price: $8.99

Spro Baby Fat John 50

Length: 2 inches
Weight: 3/8 ounce
Depth: 0-2 feet
Spro Baby Fat John 50

This smaller version of the established Fat John effectively imitates smaller forage, and works on spotted and smallmouth bass as well as largemouth. It runs shallow at any speed, and its fiberglass lip makes it kick out and 'hunt ' frequently before returning to true.

Price: $12.03

Bass Pro Shops XPS Square Bill

Length: 2 1/2 inches
Weight: 3/8 ounce
Depth: 5 feet

It's a good-looking lure, and fine quality for a hard-to-beat price. The XPS rattle is subdued, which is nice for spooky bass. The oval split on the line tie helps it run straight and avoid line slipping between rings.

Price: $4.29

Megabass Knuckle Jr

Length: 2.2 inches
Weight: 3/8 ounce
Depth: 1-3 feet

You'll be a megafan of Megabass lures because of their innovation and uncanny attention to detail. The Knuckle Jr.'s two-position adjustable bill really gives you two lures in one, making it easier to swallow the premium price.

Price: $4.29

Livetarget Bait Ball Square Bill

Length: 2 3/8 inches
Weight: 1/2 ounce
Depth: 3-4 feet

The Bait Ball is a crankbait with realistic 3D baitfish bodies inside the main body. The smaller lures inside cleverly mimic a school of shad. This crankbait casts very well and has a tighter wobble than most square bills, making it a perfect crank for clear water.

Price: $14.99

Columbia River

Much  of the long section of the Columbia River that straddles the Washington/Oregon border supports a world-class smallmouth bass fishery. Anglers travel long distances to get a taste of the Columbia. Ironically, the river's smallmouths aren't hugely popular locally, so you're unlikely to have much competition when you fish. May ranks among the best  months to fish the Columbia because the smallmouth spawn. Focus on current breaks, whether formed by islands, river bends, rock outcrops or some other factor, and work areas with lipless crankbaits and with jigs or sort-plastic baits rigged on jigheads. Although smallmouths are the main attraction on the Columbia, many backwater areas also yield excellent largemouth action.

Tenmile Lakes

Despite tremendous popularity with bass fishermen, Tenmile and North Tenmile lakes (which are connected by water) continue to crank out quality largemouth fishing year after year. Both lakes support big numbers of bass, but not at the expense of quality. The average size is good, and any fish that bites could turn out to be a giant. One reason the fishing stays so good, despite heavy pressure, is that all largemouth bass that are 15 inches or longer must be released. Both lakes have complicated basins, with multiple arms, and sometimes the bite varies dramatically when you move from one arm to another, especially if the water color is different. Ultra clear water makes the fish in these lakes fussy.

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