Sunday, June 13, 2021
66.0°F

Great bass fishing at Potholes

by Pete Fisher, MarDon Resort
| May 20, 2021 1:00 AM

The current water level on Potholes Reservoir is at 1041.15, which is 5.35 feet below full pool. The water temperature on the main lake is in the low to mid-60s. The water back in the sand dunes is warming to the mid-60s to the low 70s.

We have been getting a lot of questions from anglers regarding the water level on Potholes Reservoir. I just had a highly informative conversation with the Bureau of Reclamation. There is no plan to change the way the water is managed through the system, including Potholes Reservoir. It boils down to the lack of snowfall and rainfall over the past two years in the Columbia Basin and north to the Lake Roosevelt area.

This year the land started off at 65% of normal water saturation, which means there is extraordinarily little to no reclamation of water back to the reservoir from irrigation at this point. The moisture in the soil is the worst it has been in 50 years, according to the bureau. While the areas north and west of us received 100%-plus snowpack, the south and east, including the Basin, did not.

Some good news: normally the bureau shuts off the gates feeding Potholes Reservoir in mid-June. This year, they plan on feeding the reservoir all season long. The water level is likely to remain fairly constant in the 1041.15-foot level but should not drop much for some time. We need a year or so of normal precipitation to allow the Bureau to manage the water as they have in previous years.

Trout: Trout fishing has been good this week. Troll No. 7 Flicker Shads, Wee-Gee spoons, and Needle Fish spoons in front of Potholes State Park and at the mouth of Lind Coulee to Perch Point. Troll in 15-30 feet of water. From shore fish Medicare Beach with Berkley PowerBait or marshmallows and worms.

Warden, Lower Hampton, and Windmill lakes have been the top-producing Seep Lakes. From shore, use Rainbow PowerBait and a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce egg sinker with a leader long enough to keep it above the weeds. From a boat troll Dick Nites or small spoons behind Pop Gear. Fly fishing a black No. 10 Bead Head Leech has been very productive as well.

Walleye: The walleye bite has been decent, as long as you have a bit of a breeze. Most of the walleye have retreated to the sand dunes and are in the weeds, or along the weed edges. You can pick fish up trolling Slow Death/Smile Blades/crawler combo in 6-12 feet of water along the weeds, or cast spinnerbaits, weedless swimbaits or flukes, and Chatterbaits in the weeds and willows in 3-8 feet of water.

Smallmouth bass: The smallmouth are turning on. Fish for smallmouth bass along the face of the dam and the rocky area between Goose Island and the dam. Use a drop shot rig with a DS Minnow, blade baits and 3.5-inch tube baits in 10-25 feet. 5-inch Yamamoto curl tail grubs on a 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jig head have been catching fish as well.

Largemouth bass: Largemouth fishing is great back in the sand dunes. This time of year, a variety of baits will catch bass in the dunes. Top baits have been jigs with a craw or swimming trailer, swim jigs, topwater frog, 5-inch Senko and chatter baits. Fish 1-8 feet of water.

Panfish: Several reports of panfish coming in from the dunes. We have had reports of both incidental crappie and bluegill catches from folks trolling for walleyes. Crappie have also been caught on several habitat boxes on the face of the sand dunes. Vertically jig or use a slip bobber with a 1/32-ounce head and a Baby Shad or DS Fry. We are getting close to being able to target the panfish.