Top Places for Bass Fishing in Washington

Top Places for Bass Fishing in Washington
Photo By Jeff Samsel

With spring quickly springing, the bass fishing on various rivers and lakes will heat up soon. Washington waters offer many excellent options for days spent catching largemouths or smallmouths. We've selected three that are extra intriguing. Here are your best bets for bass fishing in Washington.



Potholes Reservoir


Is Potholes Reservoir better for largemouths or smallmouths? Depends who you ask. That's a good thing, of course, because a fine argument really could be made for either. Largemouths are prevalent around the sand dunes in the lake's upper end and are probably more numerous overall. Smallmouths abound around rocky areas through the lake's lower end, though, and both species grow to large sizes in this 28,000-acre impoundment in the center of the state. During the spring, when largemouths are shallow and aggressive, keep a crankbait, a lipless crankbait and spinnerbait handy and cover plenty of water. For smallies, focus on rock with a jig and craw trailer.

Columbia River

The Columbia is an interesting case. It's smallmouth offerings are nationally famous, and anglers travel from across the country to spend a couple of days enjoying fast action from chunky fish, with hopes of a genuine jumbo. That said, most river sections get only modest pressure from local bass fishermen. The fishery is so vast and diverse that anglers spread out and they fish for a variety of species. Anglers who know the Columbia sometimes enjoy triple-digit catch days during May and June, when the smallmouths spawn. Key areas are protected from strong currently by islands, cuts in the banks, channel swings or cover. Try reaction baits first because the catching is quicker if they'll hammer a lipless crankbait. Lacking enough takers, switch to soft plastic lures.


Grande Ronde River


With open acknowledgement that many Washington reservoirs and larger rivers offer more extensive opportunities and bigger fish, this canyon-run tributary of the Snake River offers fast-action smallmouth fishing in a spectacular setting. Making a good thing even better, you're likely to have smallmouths that use the Grande Ronde's shoals and pools to yourself through the summer. While this river is quite popular with fishermen when the steelhead are high in the system and play boaters through the warm months, it gets very little fishing pressure during the summer, whens smallmouth move in. Depending on water levels, some sections can be waded, but a better approach is to float it in a craft that can handle some whitewater.

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