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Go The Distance - Premier North West Bass Fishing

oregon largemouth bassNorthwest Bass Fishing - Go The Distance

Our favorite home waters undeniably have some great Bass lurking in the shadows and waiting for us in our favorite honey holes, but living in the Pacific Northwest puts us in an ideal position to head for waters that are a little more distant. Yes, you can catch some quality fish in Silver Lake, Lacamas Lake, Vancouver Lake, Battleground Lake, the Willamette, backwaters of the Columbia on the Oregon and Washington sides, and some smaller, less notable waters within a short drive, but it is worth it to do some research, pull out some maps, ‘fly in’ for a looksee using Google Earth, use online resources and then pack up the rig for an expedition to more distant prospects waiting for FANW addicts.

Recent trips to Tenmile Lake near the Oregon Coast, the Snake River near Lewiston/Clarkston, points East in the Columbia Gorge, the John Day and down to Clear Lake, California have reminded me that a little travel and discovery can add to the fun of pursuing Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. Besides taking in new sights and new country, it is also a great way to improve your skill at studying, evaluating and attacking new lakes and streams. With each new experience you add to your arsenal of knowledge and learn useful ways to quickly unlock the secrets of unfamiliar lakes and streams.

Clear Lake, a renowned Mecca for Big Bass chasers.

About this time last year I spent a week at Clear Lake, a renowned Mecca for Big Bass chasers. Sure enough, my buddy and I found good numbers of big fish. I had anticipated using the classic, very large, realistic swimbaits popularized by Clear Lake experts and had a big Castaic rainbow trout, a light Hitch (common baitfish here), and some good Yum Money Minnows tied on and ready to go.

As it turned out the good Spring swimbait bite was over and nothing touched my monster-sized swimbaits, but by using them as small swimbaits I was able to inflict major damage using Gary Yamamoto curl-tailed grubs. I had a blast using electronics to find fish hanging near a depth change or underwater stump, targeting them and hooking fish right where I knew they were hiding. I also used some crankbaits (Caught a really nice fish just as my Brother-in-Law flew over with my Wife in his airplane!), some stickbaits and for several days there was also a tremendous spinnerbait bite.

I was really shocked when after scoping out a rock ledge extending out from shore in about 4 feet of water and smacking some good-sized Largemouth on my magnum size home-built twin-blade spinnerbait, I got such a tremendous hit that it strained my wrist and completely doubled my tough, 5 power rod. I can estimate a fish’s weight pretty well and in the first few moments of this fight I was convinced that what I had was the new world record for Largemouth Bass. But as the fight went on and I didn’t feel the familiar head-shakes or lunges, as the fish stayed deep and didn’t offer to come up, it occurred to me that this was probably a big catfish. Sure enough once I got him up close enough for a look, there was a monster cat. He slimed my line about four feet up from the bait and hung out both sides of the net when my buddy helped get him in the boat. I got the bait out and held him up for a picture, then released that big bruiser. Panting and sweating, I remarked to my friend: “Well, you’ll never see that again in a million years,” and of course, a few casts later he got another big cat! They were obviously chasing baitfish up on that rocky shelf, just like the Bass. Sheesh! Enough to fry your brains! But the Bass fishing was everything we could have asked for at Clear Lake and I marveled at fishing past islands with palm trees. It was a great trip and our timing was good too, since we just beat the dreaded algae bloom that starts in early to mid July and can really choke the water.washington largemouth bass

Some Prospects

Fishing the Snake, the John Day and the Columbia for Smallmouth is a high-percentage way to get into good numbers of fish. Current rips, eddies, seams, points, shelfs, small islands and underwater rockpiles almost invariably hold a hungry volunteer.

My most recent trip was to Tenmile in Oregon. What a great Bass lake! Lots of big fish are waiting to bite and more are guaranteed because of the special regs on this lake. Any fish over 15 inches must be released, while the normal 5 fish bag limit is okay for smaller fish, if you prefer that to catch-and-release. This means that as time passes the big fish are going to continue to grow plentiful. Other lakes up and down the Oregon coast have good fish too, and in the Summer it is much cooler, more comfortable fishing than in the 90 degree heat inland. Just bear in mind that near they are near the ocean, and these lakes can really blow up with high winds and waves starting at about 11 or Noon. It’s best to fish early morning or late evening if you can.

We used jig and grub combos, large lipless crankbaits, wakebaits and spinnerbaits to catch most of our Tenmile trophies, though locals swear by the more subtle senko. This could be because Tenmile is a tournament hotspot and the fish are often highly pressured. We visited on weekdays, so that might have made the difference.

The lake is divided by a small channel and while we caught some good fish on the North end, especially near railroad pilings and leaner logs, the coves and rocky points of the Sound end yielded the best action for us. The last morning there was a classic fog-on-the-water Bass bite and I got a real lunker in a cove by swimming a wakebait past an exposed stump. Just a very satisfying yank to disturb a quiet morning!

Research Out Of Town

My buddy recently took a trip to Coeur D’Lane Lake in Idaho for a vacation with extended family. He just happened to have his Bass boat along so he piled in daughters nieces and nephews and out they went prospecting for Bass. They caught lots of good-sized Smallmouth and found a Largemouth hideout too. A little exploration and Bass fishing can really add to your vacation fun! I highly recommend scoping out new places to fish. If you do your research and have a huge smallmouth basslittle extra time you can plan out a very rewarding trip to a new spot further from home, see some new sights, learn a little more about Bass fishing and catch some big lunkers.

Remember to always be aware of safety around the water, check the weather conditions and be sure to check on possible special regulations for the area you plan to fish. Keep your dry side up, your wet side down, your line tight and hold that fish up for me to see next time I drift by!

Your addicted friend, Bob the Bassmaster

{P.S. Don’t be shy about posting your questions or comments here. I’ll get back to you with fiction and fact from Bob’s Almanac!}


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