Bass Trout Combo

April 22, 2015

We did a little combo trip a couple of days ago to check out some new Bass water out in Eastern Washington.  It is a fresh reminder of just how much fishing we have right in our own backyard, and you probably do too!  Bass are all over the place and found in almost every state in the union.  It doesn't hurt however that with Columbia Basin in Eastern Washington holds some of the finest Bass water in the country.  There are hundreds of Bass lakes out there.

Before I get to the pics and advice, I want to encourage you to come to the Red's Rendezvous this Saturday where Steve Maeder of Northwest Fly Fishing Magazine will be spilling his guts about how, where, and when to tackle Bass in Eastern Washington.  This is a rare and unique opportunity to learn from a down to earth knowledgeable guy that simply loves the take of a hungry bucketmouth.   

Steve Joyce and I hit the water last week with Steve Maeder and the fishing was slow, but we landed a few nice fish and explored some new water.  I even got to fish a little bit!  I absolutely love the technical casting and finesse presentation aspects of Bass fishing.  

For those that haven't done any Bass fishing I'll try to summarize some of the misconceptions that a lot of folks have.  We guide a lot of trout converts that are fishing Bass for the first time and most are surprised by a few things.

  • Bass are smarter than folks realize
  • The casting is often more precise and technical than trout fishing
  • The tug is better than a "bobber down"
  • Subsurface takes are often hardly noticeable (these fish vaccum it up)
  • There is no take like a big hit on a Popper!
  • Most wonder why the heck they didn't try this sooner
  • Bass don't fight as well as trout, the thrill is in the take and the fact that you were able to fool them
  • The way you move, finesse, and twitch the fly has an enormous impact on results. Often two anglers side by side, same fly, will have very lopsided results because one guy just has the presentation dialed in.  
  • Lakes are more fun that they thought
  • They aren't the best caster in the world
  • Holding them out of the water for a quick pic is not harmful!  Grip and grin pics are ok here!
  • They begin to see why it is the most popular gamefish in America.  Bass fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry for good reason.  Lots of places to fish, they hit hard, numbers are ample, and it is good fun.

Two days ago prior to the big pressure change coming in the big Bass were hitting the fly well.  We had some incredible fishing which included putting the largest Bass I have personally ever seen in the net!  I estimated it around 8 pounds but that is just a guess. We didn't have scale and it didn't matter to much how heavy it was.  It was just a bad ass Bass and that is all that mattered!

This is more of an average sized Largemouth.  Yesterday the big fish weren't taking flies nearly as well and the smaller fish were more abundant.  They were still tricky to catch.  We boated about 20 fish and nearly all of them were caught within 2-3 feet of the reeds.  

Bass Fishing Gear

I have written a bunch of articles on how to get prepared for Bass, so I'll just give you the basics here in a short list of things to consider or buy.

  • Bass Fishing Flies - You can use your old wooly buggers, but I am telling you right now that fly matters.  A lot.  You don't think so just pick up a Bass Pro Shops catalog and you'll see 75 pages of Bass lures haha!  While you don't need that many get a few good flies.  My favorite sub surface pattern is a Jawbreaker in various colors.  Get a dozen of them at least.  

  • Fly Rods for Bass - I am currently casting a 7'10" 8 weight Redington Predator that is the cat's meow.  The Sage Bass II Rod is also very good (better) but a few more bucks.  We sell the Redington as a rod/reel/line kit.  The 6710-4 would be better for Smallmouth and smaller bass.  Plus would make a great streamer rod for big trout if you pitch flies under the brush a lot.  I like my Redington very much.  You can use any rod in the 6-9 weight range, shorter is better.  I don't like to use fine rods like Sage ONE types because the heavy flies and hanging up in the reeds on heavy line is hard on light tapers.  You'll break rods.  Get something tough that is designed to put flies into tight spots along the bank. Shorter is better here.  
  • Fly Lines - Use a floater most of the time.  As you get more into this, then consider getting Intermediate lines and another rod or two to have in the boat for quick change.  I like the RIO Smallmouth (this is what I am currently using).  It is great for longer casting or the RIO Pike Musky Lines for big flies in close.  Either is a good choice and each has their pros and cons.  The Pike/Musky is a shorter and heavier head.
  • Leader - I like 12 pound Maxima.  

Later that day we hit the Yakima to try and catch the evening bite hoping that the Caddis hatch would erupt.  It might blow up this weekend, we'll just have to wait and see.  More likely we're looking at the first few days in May because the hot weather went by the wayside.  It is cold in Ellensburg today.

We put on a nice evening float and caught a few troutski's rising to Caddis.  Great day of bass fishing in the morning and fishing in the afernoon!

  1. Great timing on the bass article as I've just recently turned my attention to fly fishing for them around the Spokane area. I have great memories fishing for bass with my grandfather as a teenager (Ah, that was decades ago btw.). I may have overlook it in the article, but where did you fish for the bass? Would welcome some other techinical information on how to fly fish for bass. Thanks for Rick in a Spokane...
  2. Bass fishing on a fly rod is one of the funnest things you will ever do! Being stationed in San Diego for 5 years forced me to switch over to the bass game, and I fell in love. I feel as if many fly angler pass up on these great fish because the amount of Billy bobs and $100,000 bass boat crew that fish for them. There truly missing out on one of the most bad ass fish on a fly rod. Simply put Bass are blast and if you dont mind running an indicator you can double your catch rate and lose alot less flies