I think we can all agree that lakes we fish all change one way or another as far as fish quantity/quality over the years some for the good, while others not so much. This got me thinking about some of the bodies of water I fish on a regular basis, how they've changed and where they are at now in the cycle. Here's my list on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being low and 5 being the best on quantity and quality:
Sammamish: The quality of smallmouth these days on average seem to be alot smaller then what it was about 4 years ago. Largemouth fishing seems to be about average.
Washington: Smallmouth fishing seems to be about average for quantity while the size is probably a little down from just a few years ago.
Potholes: The largemouth fishing definitely seems to be one of the best in the state and results in last years NWB and ABA circuits as well as the potholes open can attest to that. Don't fish smallmouth there enough to know, but would love to hear someone weigh in on the brown there.
Moses: With the increased pressure since the Nixons Open it seems like the days of upper 20lb sacks of green are gone, but the brown fishing is alive and well. I'm going to split this one up:
Roosevelt: Undoubtedly the lake with the most prevailent change in size in the state, while maintaining a ridiculous number of smallmouth.
Would love to hear some others weigh in on places like Tri-Cities, Banks, Whatcom, American, Silver, etc... I'd also like to hear your thoughts on my rankings.
I think you are pretty dead on with all your picks Jordan. I have also noticed a big size difference on Sammy and Washington over the last 3 years. Deffinetley a decrease in size for both lakes. As far as Moses and Potholes.I havent fished those enough to have an opinion but have kept track of all the tourneys and looks like Potholes is alive and well! And Roosevelt has the numbers for sure with some real good fish here and there in early spring.
I have fished American quite a bit in the last 3 years but more for smallies. And have seen some real nice greens swimmin around.
Quality: Brown-3 to 4
The green fish are on my list this year.Maybe we can get John Werner to chime in on American?
Im gonna take a guess and say,
Quality: 4 to 5
Thanks Jordan for a good topic.
I don't fish WA or Samamish any more, but last time I did I felt that Sammy had gone way down since I fished it 10 or so years prior. Down in QTY and Size. I think the weed content was out of control in the lake, fertilizer on lawns?
I fish Roosevelt 90% of the time, the numbers are strong in there no doubt, size is up year over year in my opinion, and there are some bigger fish in there, I am convinced you run the gauntlet of dinks to get to them though.
I agree with your score on Roosevelt, and I can say I put at least 55 days in on the lake last year.
Banks seems the same, good smallies, on average larger than Roosevelt, at least it was before the draw down, how is it now? who knows.
Quantity: 1 - Many better lakes out there IMO
Quality - 3
For me that I what I would rate it. The potential though (quality) is huge as there is a great forage base and deep water. There are big fish there. Still working on this lake.
Quantity: 3 - 4
Quality 3 - 4
Again - Massive food sources, a lot of contour changes, and really - not too much when it comes to fishing pressure. I feel the potential is huge. Someone will find some magic in 15 - 30' with their DI/SI Finding feeding areas/ rest areas and understanding the suspended, roving smallmouth better I need to do.
Cool topic. Haven't fished enough in the last few years to really comment on Sammamish, Washington, Banks and Whatcom in comparison to years past. Did fish Whatcom a few times in 2010 and a handful of short outings in 2011, but only targeting smallmouth for a little while last year.
Didn't fish smallmouth on Whatcom enough to give a rating, but for largemouth I would rate Whatcom the following:
Not easy to catch five. But if you do, there's a good chance you'll have 23-26 lbs. Anyone that figures them out in the Spring Open this year will walk away with the tournament.
LM- Numbers-wise the LM have made a bit of a rebound in recent years. Still, I wouldn’t put it up to the levels offered at many other lakes. Quality, when you can find them is ave., but better than the ave. SM there. I didn't fish it last fall during/after the drawdown so that might have changed my opinion of it.
SM- Quantity for me has gone down some in recent years. Quality has always been less than average for me. Never caught a 5lb SM there, and hardly any 4’s.
LM- More LM here than guys think, but not easy pickings. Still, better than average in terms of size.
LM-difficult or easy on successive days…but they are there
SM-not well understood there, but when they are easily had, people are often shocked by the size.
LM – quality that is close to Moses, better than Potholes….just very difficult to find
SM- Still world class. Habitat and prey habits change often, so it’s not an easy nut to crack, but it’s a tasty nut if you do.
*Really, the Columbia should be viewed as separate and distinct current fed lakes with tributaries. Even the Tri-Cities pool (Lake Wallula) is really 3 different bodies of water – and that’s not counting the tributaries.
Here is what I have noticed on my favorite lakes.
I would have given these each a 4 3-5 years ago but both numbers and average size seemed down last year and the previous year. I feel this is due to pressure. Still a great fishery!
-Largemouth (I don't have extensive background targeting them)
I do not have but a couple years fishing on most of the major lakes around here, but I'll weigh in on the lake I've spent the most time on.
Largemouth- Quality 5 / Quantity 3. Quality is at least near 5 because I don't feel like there is a better tournament lake in the state to go and catch a 5lb plus Green anytime from April through October. But I agree with others who said the lake is highly sensitive and can be very negatively impacted by weather and water condition changes. That leads me to the quantity rating. Quantity to me is a 3 right now and I would say I would have rated it that 5 years ago as well. For me, I don't think I would say the lake has ever been one I expected to go out and catch 20+ largemouth in a day, even though I have done it a few times and I know guys who do it regularly.
Smallmouth- Quality 4 / Quantity 4
A lot of people are going to disagree with me here, because it can be difficult to catch a bunch of 3lb+ Smallmouth in the summer, but it can be done if you really spend time finding them. Every year there is no lake I would rather go fish for Smallmouth between the months of April and June. I can say in my boat there are multiple 4lb+ Smallmouth caught every year and some of them come later than June usually in September. It does not matter what time of year it is out there, if you find Smallmouth in this lake and figure out what kind of presentation they want you can usually catch a good handful of fish and often at least 10 fish. One day last year I had Joel and Rob in my boat and we caught probably 20 fish off a single rockpile.
Silver Lake I would say was in a pretty bad way last year.
Hey Doug after last weekend down at Silver. I'm hoping it's on slight rebound. I believe weather patterns last year really put the fish into a funk. Russ Baker proved last year that the lake still does have quality fish and more than people believe. I'll be heading back down this week. After catching a 6+ last saturday with Russ I'm wanting to see if I can duplicate it again. As for lake cycles I believe every lake goes up and down do to pressure. Look at Moses. It was dynamite before the first Moses Lake open. Then I believe more people started fishing it after seeing those weights. As for Potholes, its on an absolute up swing. No lake in this state holds more quality fish. I credit that to the Meseberg's extensive habit building program. It has helped increase the forage base. Which in turn has helped increase the bass population and feeding abilities.
I am going to reach here and say Potholes is 5/5 why:
Have personally caught several smallies in there close to 7 lbs (6-15,6-13) in the last 3 years and largies have been averaging 4.25 lbs. The last Potholes Open was won with 51+ lbs for 12 fish granted that was late April. For nine fish at the Open last year we had 37.50 lbs and 7 of those fish were smallies (5.86,5.62,5.26) were our 3 biggest in our bag. I have also had several days from March to July and caught 28+ lb bags of largies just running crank baits in the dunes.
Potholes is alive and thriving even with all the tournaments on it and has been for several years. Have seen on many occasions fish over 8 lbs in there.
No one has mentioned Lake Chelan: This lake has a ton of 5+ lb smallies in it and have seen fish over 8+ swimming in this deep impoundment. In WBC first club tournament on this lake in August several years ago there were five fish over 5 lbs caught in it. Not bad for just a club event.
5/5 Smallmouth ONLY
Still wonder why all the westsiders drive past this lake to fish Banks, Potholes, Moses...exc....... I got 20+ smallies over 9lbs each last year, and I saw some 14+ swimming in this deep impoundment.
On a serious note:
American Smallies- 4/3
Lots of 2-3.5 lbers, but the bigguns have disappeared with the added pressure during the spawn over the past 3 years. Great lake during the spawn, but tough other parts of the year due to the abundant forage, and most peoples inabilities to not do anything other than fag drag!
Spanaway Smallies- 2/3 Largemouth 3/4
Heavily pressured lake with a lack of trophy smallies over 4lbs; however, there is a healthy population of really quality largemouth. The largies can be quite difficult to catch. I think a person could really do good night fishing here in the summer for them, if it was allowed.
Lake Union Smallies 2/3
Back 15+ years ago when there was only about 3-4 of us that fished in there it was absolutely dynamite. Now days you can get a few early in the season, but just like Lake Washington there isn't many 4lbers left. It's been numerous years since I caught anything over 3lbs in there post spawn-fall. I credit this to the fishing pressure, and forage abundance.
Lake Chelan 5/2
Yes it used to be good, and yes there still is a few quality fish, but not what it used to be. You can catch 10-12" fish all day long in the summer, and if you find a school of quality fish you can really be in for a treat. This lake just doesn't excite me, as it did 5 years ago.
I don't run into 10-12" fish in Chelan all day long in the summer. Next time you want to hit Chelan give me or Tyler Walcker a call we will put you on much bigger fish.