Northwest anglers are a travel-lovin’ bunch.
We happily lash our cars or trucks up the highway – and not-so-happily pump $2.40-per-gallon gasoline into the tank – whenever we can.
We road trip to central Oregon to fish the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers – or Central Washington, where Rocky Ford Creek, the Yakima River and dozens of fabulous trout lakes shimmer among the rimrock and sagebrush.
We roar up to the Olympic Peninsula to fish those classy steelhead rivers or even to Hood Canal for sea-run cutthroat trout.
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And road trips to Yellowstone National Park and other trout-rich stops in the Rocky Mountains are an addiction.
There is nothing like swinging the Subaru – loaded past the windows with tackle and camping gear – onto a freeway and mashing down that gas pedal.
Confession: I’m on a trip to central Oregon as I write these words.
But it might be a good idea to hang out around home for the next few weeks – just as spring glides into summer.
Well, all those little lakes that are so close to home are often crammed with smallmouth or largemouth bass, and those fish are prowling shorelines and eating just about anything they can fit into their big mouths.
Lights-out fishing for bass happens all over Western Washington and Oregon – even as many anglers drive past the little lakes for water far over the horizon.
Don’t believe me?
Put on a pair of polarized sunglasses and take a quiet stroll – or row – around a local lake. Pay lots of attention to the shallow water – especially shallow spots near deep water, weedbeds or docks.
Chances are good you’ll see bass skulking around, and some of those bass may be eye-poppin’ BIG.
These bass will not be total pushovers, but a little stealth will get anglers hooked up to some very nice fish.
It’s fun to spot bass in the bright sun of midday – and then sneak back in the evening, when the light is low and the bass start to get all cranky and hungry.
Fly anglers often use popping bugs that gurgle across the surface in hopes of seeing them vanish in a swirling boil.
Spin and casting anglers use floating plugs during low light – or creep gangly, dangly plastic creatures across the bottom for strikes.
Lots of humans wonder what they’d do if tiny space aliens appeared in our world, but bass would simply eat the newcomers. Many bass lures and flies look like arrivals from a galaxy far, far away, but that’s OK with the fish.
For June bass, weird is good, and weirder is better.
A lot of the best fishing happens when the neighbors are watching people lose weight, get lost in the jungle or scream at each other on nighttime television. Good fishing also happens when the neighbors are watching impossibly bright-eyed people read news off teleprompters, cook perfect meals in less than three minutes or when a talking sponge puts on square pants during early morning television.
Yeah, the best fishing is before or after work. And that’s a good thing – for those of us who are still hanging onto our jobs with our fingernails. Going fishing is just about the sanest thing we can all do in this horrible economy.
There’s a good chance that you’re reading this after being out on the road for the Memorial Day holiday. The credit card may be feeling a little warm – if not in full-radioactive meltdown.
So, why not lope down to the little lake to pester the bass? You probably won’t need to stop by the gas station – unless that Going Bass Fishing Twinkie Jones strikes.
You can take the kids along, and there will certainly be Bluegill-O-Rama in the shallows. And, who knows, maybe a big bass will take that bobber down, wallow on the surface and then bend – but not break – the Spider-Man fishing rod with the push-button reel.
You can’t get thrills and chills like that on a trout stream 200 miles away.
Chester Allen: 360-754-4226