When you think of the Pacific Northwest or Washington State, your first thoughts regarding fishing are around the famed salmon, trout, and steelhead that swim in the region’s waters. They get most of the attention, but here’s a little secret… the bass fishing is excellent. There are countless bodies of water that hold bass, but here are five of the best bass fishing waters in Washington.
Bass Fishing Washington: Potholes Reservoir
Potholes Reservoir is one of the most unique lakes in the country when it comes to topography, and it is full of fish.
Roughly half of the lake consists of “the dunes,” a flipping and pitching paradise of sand dunes, small islands, wood, beaver dams, and grass.
The average tournament finishes show that it is going to take a 20-pound bag to do well and that holds true just about any time of the year. Smallmouth can be found on any rocky areas and are willing to bite crankbaits, swimbaits, and finesse plastics. Largemouth can be caught just about any way you like, but jigs seem to be a popular bait in “the dunes”.
If you’re looking to fish a lake unlike any other, put this on your list, and it doesn’t hurt that there are some giants swimming around in Potholes.
Bass Fishing Washington: The Columbia River
The Columbia River is big… it spans hundreds of miles, and just about all of that water holds trophy smallmouth. It is also home to trophy quality largemouth, and each section of the river has unique qualities that make it look different than what is below or above the next dam.
One of the most popular tournament stops is near the Tri-Cities, and the smallmouth seem to flourish throughout this section of the river. Typical smallmouth patterns like reaction baits, jigs, tubes, and swimbaits will all produce on the Columbia.
Bass Fishing Washington: Banks Lake
If numbers of fish are what you are looking for, Banks Lake may be perfect for you. It is home to largemouth and smallmouth and has become one of the most popular tournament lakes in the state.
Smallmouth bass are the dominant species here but do not count out the chance for some quality largemouth action. There are several grassy bays, and reed-lined shorelines to throw your frogs, spinnerbaits, and jigs. Banks Lake seems to pump out some great numbers throughout the year, but especially during the post-spawn months where the bass congregate to the grassy bays and reed lines.
Bass Fishing Washington: Moses Lake
Roughly halfway between the state’s two biggest cities Seattle and Spokane, Moses Lake is home to big bass. Smallmouth and largemouth are both plentiful, and both play a role in tournament outcomes.
During the spring of each year, anglers from both sides of the state converge on Moses as it is an excellent early season lake for both species of bass. Crankbaits (both diving and lipless) are two of the top producers this time of year. There is submerged grass and offshore rock piles that many anglers target around the spring of the year. If fishing in the spring is your thing, you’ve got to check out Moses Lake!
Bass Fishing Washington: Lake Roosevelt
Even among the region’s bass anglers, Roosevelt often gets overlooked. It is known for excellent trout and walleye fishing, but it is home to monster smallmouth.
The lake is large, and each section is home to a full population of smallmouth bass. River current dominates much of the lake as both the Columbia and Spokane rivers flow into this big lake. Some of the best producers here are a drop-shot rig, jigs, and crankbaits. Also, since Lake Roosevelt is often overlooked, the fishing pressure is much lower than on other bodies of water. This means the big girls see fewer baits and your chances of hooking into one are much higher!
Although salmonoids get most of the focus from state agencies and anglers, the bass fishing scene is alive and well in Washington State. It is one of the nation’s best-kept bass fishing secrets, but the word is slowly getting out about the quality of the fisheries here.
I work full-time in the fishing industry as an outdoor writer, social media and pro-staff manager, and as a Marine Specialist for Navionics. I’ve been tournament bass fishing for 20 years at various levels and was one of the co-founders of the Spokane Bass Club.
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