Oregon’s Underrated Bass Fishing
By Jai Colvin
Yes, we have salmon and yes, we are popular for having that salmon, but let’s not forget some of the other fun fish in the Pacific Northwest. At the risk of causing a few groans and to quote a popular song…in Oregon, sometimes, it’s all about that bass.
Bass fishing is popular in Oregon. While many folks come from all over the world to hit the local waters for our native salmon, steelhead and trout, bass in places such as the Willamette Valley, the Columbia or Willamette rivers or coastal lakes provide some our most fun and interesting fishing opportunities.
Largemouth bass in Oregon can get to be a pretty good size, up to 9 pounds, and tend to be loners. “Smallies”, or smallmouth bass, are slightly smaller than largemouth bass and can be found in schools making them an easier catch. Anglers often hit the deeper lakes and reservoirs for the smallies where water temperatures are cooler, but these aggressive little fighters can also be caught within moving waters such as the Columbia, Willamette, South Umpqua and John Day rivers as well.
Did we mention that smallies are fighters? While they’re good eating, the strength, fight and acrobatics of smallmouth bass is what makes them a worthwhile target. Both largemouth and smallmouth are found in a variety of lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and sloughs throughout Oregon and during every season except winter. The warm water temperatures of the summer months will make for great deepwater fishing. In the early fall there’s a bluster of activity and catching smallies becomes easy.
How do we catch these guys? The locals report that worms work best, with the most popular and effective bass lures being rubber worms in a variety of sizes and colors. Bass will often hit a worm as it is dropping through the water. Crankbaits also work, but you need to understand how to use them. Spinnerbaits are popular as well. These are versatile and can be fished year-round in almost any conditions. And finally there are the ever popular jigs. Jigs are heavy, lead-headed lures with a single hook often masked with a rubber skirt, hair or other materials.
Whatever bait you use, bass fishing is sure to be some of the best fishing you’ve had in the state of Oregon. They’re also a great fish to cut your teeth on. They’re fun and provide enough fight to get a green angler hooked for good.