You may have missed this if you haven’t checked your calendar lately, but evidently this week is bass week. According to an email from the good folks at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, it is “officially bass week.” The email states this week “we are celebrating bass anglers and all things bass fishing.”
Frankly, it’s heart-warming to see bass get a little love. In the land where the salmon is king, and steelhead and trout are revered, bass often time get overlooked by many anglers in the state.
Bass are pursued in virtually every state in our country. Well, maybe not in Alaska, but just about everywhere else. Turn on the Outdoor Channel, or the World Fishing Network, and fishing for bass will be prominent in approximately 65 percent of the fishing shows.
In many of the Midwestern states and down South, bass is the number one fish that anglers go after. And if you looked at the sales of fishing tackle nationwide, you would discover the bulk of the sales of lures, baits, rods, reels, boats and motors are to anglers who are fishing for bass.
That’s not the case here in the upper left corner of the country. Not that we don’t have some bass around to catch. Actually, you’ll find bass in many of the ponds and lake in eastern Washington, and some of the rivers around the Northwest are teaming with bass.
Western Washington has bass too, including Lake Washington.
One of the largest bass fishing tournament series in the world was set to hold a tournament on the Columbia River last year, but was canceled due to complaints from the main competitors about having to travel so far to get here. The tournament would have been nationally televised on ESPN and would have made a big splash in economic impact for the area.
If there wasn’t some world-class bass fishing available around here, the big time tournament put on by B.A.S.S. wouldn’t have even considered coming here. It would have been fun to see just how the big name bass pros would have fared.
In non-pandemic times, there are bass tournaments scheduled by regional tours taking place all over Washington from spring to fall. Just about every week there is a bass fishing competition going on somewhere.
But it is the recreational anglers the WDFW people want to get fired up about doing a little bass fishing. Their website offers all kinds of helpful tips on where and how to fish for bass. Plus, they are offering up some prizes for photos entered of anglers and their bass.
If you watch any of the bass fishing shows on TV, you will see there are about 19 different ways to catch them. You can fish top water lures, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, finesse baits, grubs, worms, and there’s even a deal called an umbrella rig, that looks like a whole school of bait fish tied to your line.
Sometimes it seems they make it way too difficult.
I’m not an expert bass fisherman by any means, but over the past 40 years I have caught hundreds of bass, mostly smallmouths. And I’ve caught 90 percent of them on a Rooster Tail spinner.
Yes, you can fish for bass from a boat. But it is one of the fish we can catch around here where you have just as good a chance fishing from shore.
Again, many of the different freeway ponds around our area have bass. Several years ago I went with a WDFW crew when they were shocking a couple of the I-82 ponds down near Donald. We went out at night, and when they dropped the chains and put the current to them, I was amazed at the number of stunned bass that came up. Many were smaller, but there were a few that would have pushed the state records. Unless they died of old age, my guess is many of those fish are still swimming around in those ponds.
The lower Yakima River is full of smallmouth bass. So is the Snake and the Columbia. In some spots near Paterson on the Columbia there are largemouth bass too.
Reservoirs around Eastern Washington also have lots and lots of bass. Both largemouth and smallmouth. Potholes Reservoir offers great bass fishing, as does Bank Lake and Lake Roosevelt. Those are the popular lakes, but there are others that aren’t as well-known including Evergreen Reservoir near Quincy and Scootney Reservoir in Franklin County.
Surprisingly Lake Chelan has some good smallmouth bass fishing, and a couple of lakes on the other side of the mountains, Riffe Lake and Mayfield Lake along Highway 12, also offers some good fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth, especially this time of year.
With hundreds of thousands of sockeye salmon, and millions of shad swimming up the Columbia River right now, it is sometimes hard to think about fishing for bass. But, if you want to have a fun time catching some good-eating fish, don’t overlook the hard-fighting smallmouth, or the ferocious largemouth.
Plus, it is bass week in Washington state, so we got that going for us, which is nice.
• Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at email@example.com