Ten Prime Bass Destinations in the Inland Northwest

by Rick Lawrence, June 03, 2021

Here are my top 10 Bass fishing destinations of the inland N.W. Whether you like catching Ditch Pickles (AKA L.M . Bass) or River Turds (AKA Smallies) here are some of the best waters to fish here in the N. W.

10. Eloika Lake, Wash.
This lake is 629 acres and located seven miles north of Chattaroy off Highway US-2, with a year-round open season. Fishing for Largemouth bass in spring and fall and are the best bets. This lake has a reputation as an excellent largemouth bass lake with more than a few 4- to 6-pound bass caught each year. Eloika has a resort with a boat launch and a WDFW boat launch south of Gray's Landing off East Bridges rd.

9. Chain lakes, Idaho
These 10 Chain Lakes are off the slow moving and majestic Coeur d’Alene River. From top to bottom they are Rose Lake, Bullrun, Killarney, Medicine, Cave, Swan, Black, Blue, Thompson and Anderson Lakes. The best bass lakes in the chain are Killarney at #1, followed by Thompson, Anderson, and Medicine. All of the lakes have both SM and LM, except Bullrun which only has Largees. There are 2 launches on the river, one near Thompson Lake and one near the channel that leads to Cave and Medicine lakes. There are 2 more launches in Killarney and in Medicine lakes.

8. Columbia River, Tri Cities area Wash.
There are hundreds of places in Washington where fishing for smallmouth bass can at times be outrageously good, but the Columbia is one of the best for giant fish. All of those huge pools behind the dams hold excellent populations of smallmouth worthy of your attention, but Lake Wallula, (McNary Dam Pool) stretching from the Tri-Cities area down to the Oregon state line is often considered among the very best.

7. Noxon Res. Montana
Noxon Rapids Reservoir is considered a top-notch bass lake for both Largemouth and Smallmouth are popular, as well are northern pike. It is a collection of such contrasts - mountainous beauty beyond compare combined with some of the best bass fishing in the state. Backing up about 34 miles of the Clark Fork River, the reservoir is relatively narrow - only a little over a mile across at its widest point. Yet the warmer waters have proved to be a haven for a species of fish more commonly thought of as only eastern Montana fare - Largemouth and Smallmouth bass. According to Jon Hanson, a fisheries biologist with the Montana Department of Fish and Wildlife, "It's got probably some of the best bass fishing in the Montana, right up there with Fort Peck,"

6. Pend Oreille River, Idaho
This is where the Junior Big Bass World Champions have been held the last 2 years and it is awesome bass water for sure. It has many sloughs (about 20) along its 25 mile journey from Lake P.O. to the Wash/ID. boarder. At full pool the LM load up in these backwaters to spawn which is going on right now. Morton and Cocolalla are 2 of the most popular but I like some of the lesser know sloughs like Gypsy Bay and The sloughs from the Old priest river channels. The Smallies inhabit all the moving water on the river, but there are some good boulder fields down near the town of P.R. that really produces big fish year after year.

5. Dworshak Res. Idaho
Dworshak is the #1 place to go west of the Mississippi if you want to catch the biggest Smallie of your life. The 3rd largest Smallmouth ever caught anywhere in the world, was caught here and it has produced many 9 lb. plus fish. However it is not an easy place to learn or catch fish at, as it is a very deep and cold body of water. Typically dropshotting in 80 to 100 feet of water is the norm here, but fish can be found in the shallows at times here also.

4. Pend Oreille River, Box Canyon Res. Wash.
Box Canyon near Newport Wash. is one of my premier Bass fishing waters. It has produced hundreds of giant Smallies for me over the years, as well as my 3 personal best, at 7lb, 6 ½, and 6 ¼. It not only has great Smallmouth fishing, but produces some nice Largemouth as well. I was just out on the river yesterday and had a hay day landing over 15 ditch pickles between 14 to 18” I also got a bonus 16” River Turd .

3. Long lake, Wash.
Long is one of the best Smallmouth waters in Eastern Wash, and should definitely be on your to do list. The area from Nine Mile Dam down to The State Park produces some good fish and the flat in front of the park is prime Ditch Pickle waters. The rocky area known as “The Cove” at Fisk Park is another prime place to catch them River Turds,

2. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
One of the best things about Lake Coeur d'Alene, besides the natural beauty and prevalent wildlife, is the fishery's diversity. Professional bass anglers Brandon Palaniuk and Luke Clausen both grew up fishing CDA and it undoubtedly helped shaped their fishing styles thanks to the many options the lake provides. There are few places in the country where you have a shot at catching a trophy Largemouth and Smallmouth on the same day, but Coeur d'Alene is one of them. Local tournament results prove that five fish limits over 20-pounds are not uncommon, with many in the mid-20 pounds and sometimes approaching or even exceeding 30-pounds. In general, the lake's northern and middle sections are deeper and rockier, with clear water. In contrast, the northern bays and southern parts are shallower and includes water that is a little more stained, with more grass, shallower water, and plenty of backwater lakes in the south.

1. Banks lake, Wash.
Banks Lake, part of the Bureau of Reclamation's Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, was created in 1951 by damming the north and south ends of the Columbia River channel known as The Grand Coulee. This long, skinny, 27,000-acre lake, ringed with basalt cliffs and talus slopes along its 90 miles of shoreline, produces some of Washington's best smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing and it's open year around.

The spring largemouth bite begins to heat up in May. The males combine feeding activity with their search for appropriate nesting sites so the successful fisherman will prowl for prime nesting habitat. One of my favorite sections of the lake is the Devils Punch Bowl. It has some shallow coves on the S.W. side that provide good spawning habitat. Also look for smallies in that area on the old submerged roadbeds that runs through it and along the lakeshore. These sites often consist of raised roadbeds with deeper water to each side, which provide good spawning beds and deep-water protection for smallies.


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