Bassmaster Magazine’s third annual ranking of America’s best bass fishing spots is out, and locations not far from the Mid-Columbia are high on the list.
Lake Coeur d’Alene jumped from No. 9 in 2013 and No. 11 in 2012 based on an improving fishery for smallmouth bass, according to the magazine.
Editors of the magazine said they are trying to be as empirical as possible in compiling the list of the most productive waters in the United States.
Each state’s fish and wildlife agency is asked to suggest their state’s best waters, then catch data is examined along with tournament results and polling of the B.A.S.S. membership.
Once 100 lakes were identified, a panel of bass-fishing professionals, outdoor writers and fishing industry insiders did the ranking.
Ranked No. 14 is the Columbia River between Hood River and The Dalles and Washington’s Potholes Reservoir near Moses Lake came in at No. 66.
Here’s what the rankings say about each of the three Northwest locations:
w Lake Coeur d’Alene — “This lake makes a big move up this year on the strength of its trophy smallmouth fishery. The smallies have always been a rowdy group on this lake, but now they are rowdy and big. It is no longer unusual to land one over 6 pounds here. And don’t forget about the largemouth fishery. The lake record largemouth is 10-15, with average bass weighing in between 2 and 3 pounds.”
w Columbia River — “This is a bucket-list smallmouth fishery for anyone who loves catching brown bass. The surroundings are breathtaking, and the fish are not only plentiful, but get big. Although 6-pounders aren’t common, 5-pounders are.”
Again this year, the magazine illustrated the Columbia with a photograph of the river at the Astoria Bridge, which is definitely not bass water.
w Potholes Reservoir — “Be sure to bring your depthfinder here. You’ll see how glaciers carved out potholes before the water level was raised to cover most of them. Oh, and you’ll see plenty of smallmouth using these humps and depressions as ambush points.”
To see the list, go online on to Bassmaster.com.
Not mentioned by Bassmaster is that the Columbia River between Hood River and The Dalles is a windsurfing mecca because it blows so hard through much of the Gorge.
So while there may be lot of bass in this stretch, good luck in finding much time to fish for them in the May-through-September time period when the water is calm enough for angling to be enjoyable.