Photo obtained from Wikimedia Commons
While trout and salmon will always be favorites of anglers in the Inland Northwest, largemouth bass, an aggressive, predatory fish that strike bait ferociously, will always hold a special place in the hearts of many fishermen. Largemouth bass anglers at EWU are blessed with lakes and fishing opportunities to explore and enjoy.
“This is a really good area for it,” said Tanner Groves, a junior at EWU and forward on the men’s basketball team. “Usually during the spring and summer, I get out two or three times a week, and a couple of times a week in the fall.”
Groves has been fishing most of his life but has started taking it more seriously in the last year. He doesn’t discriminate by species but certainly has a preference when fishing.
“I like to catch a lot of different species,” said Groves, “but bass are definitely one of my favorites. You have to be very strategic in the way you target them.”
Largemouth bass eat a variety of food, including other fish, insects, rodents and small amphibians, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This willingness to indulge in a wide variety of prey means that anglers can use a number of different lures to catch bass.
“Bass eat a lot of different things, so it’s about trying a few lures and figuring out what they want to eat.” -Logan Clayden, Local Angler and Sporting Goods Manager at Bi-Mart
“Crawfish, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and all kinds of rigs work,” said Logan Clayden, a local angler and sporting goods manager at Bi-Mart. “Bass eat a lot of different things, so it’s about trying a few lures and figuring out what they want to eat.”
Another good strategy is talking to other anglers and seeing what works for them.
The variety of lures and strategies is part of what makes bass fishing so much fun, according to anglers like Groves.
“I try a lot of things,” said Groves. “Sanko worms with a Texas rig, swimbaits, different jigs. I really like trying new methods and techniques.”
Most anglers prefer to cast those lures from either a spinning rod and reel or a baitcasting setup. Baitcasting combos start at around $30 and spinning combos start at around $20 and can be found at most retailers that sell sporting goods.
“I use both,” said Groves. “I have a few spinning rods, but my main one is a baitcasting setup. But I like experimenting with different gears and setups.”
Clayden stressed that the type of gear isn’t as important as knowing where the fish are. Largemouth bass like areas of cover to ambush prey from. Targeting dense vegetation, brush piles or fallen timber will yield the best results. Bass can also be found near boat launches, docks, along shaded and overgrown banks and anywhere else that provides cover and feeding opportunities.
Bass will congregate in sunny areas and shallow water early in the morning, and disperse throughout the lake as the water temperature increases during the day, according to the WDFW.
Besides a rod and reel, adult anglers also need a fishing license. Washington requires all anglers over the age of 15 to purchase a fishing license. Annual freshwater resident licenses are $29.50 and nonresident licenses are $84.50 with one and two-day licenses also available. Some locations also require a Discover Pass to park at WDFW access sites, which can be purchased separately for $35. Licenses can be found at retailers throughout Cheney, including Mitchell’s Harvest Foods, Safeway, Yoke’s, Ace Hardware, and Bi-Mart.
Largemouth bass anglers near EWU are blessed with three high-quality lakes within 25 miles of campus.
Surrounded by the rocks and scrub grass of the encroaching scablands, Downs Lake, 20 miles south of Cheney, is a good choice for early spring fishing. Averaging a depth of only 12 feet and located at the southern end of the county, the water in Downs Lake warms much earlier than other area lakes, giving anglers a chance to target warm water fish before the frost is off the ground.
“When it gets even a little warmer, you’ll be able to catch bass with pretty much everything.” -Logan Clayden, Local Angler and Sporting Goods Manager at Bi-Mart
“Downs Lake is great,” said Clayden. “Even when it’s cold the fish are biting. When it gets even a little warmer, you’ll be able to catch bass with pretty much everything. That lake is full of fish.”
Closer to campus, Silver Lake is set back among groves of ponderosa and provides year-round fishing, although bass fishing doesn’t pick up until March. Located between Medical Lake and Cheney Silver Lake is a favorite of Groves, who said he likes to hit the south end of the lake in a boat.
Bass can also be found around the public fishing dock, said Groves, giving access to anglers without a boat. Clear Lake, a large deep lake which is as clear as the name would suggest, is home to several species of fish and is popular among anglers seeking variety. Located about 7 miles from EWU, Clear Lake opens the last weekend in April and provides good latespring and early summer action for largemouth bass. The best months are May and June, according to the WDFW. The shaded shoreline near the bank and shallows around fishing docks provide good opportunity in warmer weather.
Regardless of the lake an angler chooses or what gear they choose to use, the area around EWU provides ample opportunity to get out on the water and catch fish. •