The Pacific Northwest isn’t just for salmon, trout, and steelhead. Big smallies? They got ‘em. Big largemouth? Yes, those too.
One of the best kept secrets in all of fishing is the bass fishing in the Northwest.
Here are the seven best places to fish for bass fishing in the Northwest.
1. Columbia River, OR/WA
The Columbia has to be number one for bass fishing in the Northwest. It is known for large smallmouth and lots of them. It’s abundant current, forage, and sheer size make it the perfect breeding ground for trophy smallmouth.
It is also home to some big largemouth and fish up to nine pounds are not unheard of. A tournament in 2014 had two fish bigger than nine pounds weighed in. That is stout anywhere in the country, let alone in salmon country.
The hardest part here is finding the big ones and keeping the little ones off of your hook. There are some great stretches of river between the dams and each of them has the potential for a giant smallmouth on the end of your line.
2. Lake Coeur d’Alene, ID
This spot has been blown up a little thanks to Bassmaster magazine and their annual Top 100 Lakes. It has ranked as high as fourth and is always near the top. Even still, it continues to produce big fish.
The local tournaments just about always take a four-pound average to win and sometimes that has you buried down in the standings. How about three fish over eight pounds or bags over 27 pounds? That has happened. More than once.
If you are after smallmouth, head north. If largemouth are your thing, stay south or head to one of the chain lakes and fish grass and wood.
3. Potholes Reservoir, WA
Pothole Reservoir has one of the most unique lake maps anywhere. A rocky section of the lake is home to some bruiser smallmouth. Back in the endless sand dunes is largemouth heaven.
“The Dunes” are the place to go if you want to flip, pitch and frog until you are sore. It is home to brush, grass, and hundreds and hundreds of beaver huts.
Potholes is always a fun time and you have a legitimate chance of a trophy largemouth or smallmouth.
4. Tenmile Lake, OR
We didn’t forget about you, Oregon. Nestled on the Oregon Coast is a fishery that consistently pumps out giant largemouth. Not far from boats out crabbing or anglers fishing for salmon is a hidden gem.
Tenmile has ‘em. A look at the standings for bass tournaments will open your eyes to the amount of giant bass that swim in this Oregon fishery.
5. Moses Lake, WA
Moses Lake is a popular tournament stop for Eastern and Western Washington bass anglers. It has a good population of both brown and green bass. Big largemouth is what makes it special, but abundant and aggressive smallmouth seal the deal.
However if you do not have a twenty-pound limit in a spring tournament for five fish, you might as well not even weigh them. Put the boat on the trailer and better luck next time.
6. Noxon Reservoir, MT
Somewhat unknown and underfished, Noxon is an amazing fishery. Although Montana made the list for 10 of the Absolute Worst States to Bass Fish, Noxon Reservoir is worth checking out.
It’s as picturesque as you will find in bass fishing locations, and you are certain to see some wildlife while there. Largemouth and smallmouth are both prevalent and ready to bite. The fishery lacks great size of fish, but more than makes up for it in scenery and sheer numbers of bites.
7. Banks Lake, WA
Though not known for giant fish, Banks Lake never disappoints. It’s chock full of largemouth and smallmouth like most of the best places for bass fishing in the Northwest. The fishery used to be known for trophy largemouth and the Washington state record of 11.57 pounds did come from here in 1977.
Now, smallmouth dominate. They are eager to bite and this is one of the best lakes in the region to fish a pattern and cover ground. It’s vast and beautiful and can get a little rough when windy if you head to the southern end.