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Fishing potential promising for local anglers in 2022

by JOEL MARTIN
Staff Writer | March 25, 2022 1:00 AM

COLUMBIA BASIN — The fishing this spring at Potholes is, in a word, excellent.

It’s extremely healthy right now,” said Pete Fisher, who works at the MarDon Tackle Store and is a local go-to guy for fishing conditions on the reservoir. “About the only thing that we’re kind of lacking is the perch population, but that’s kind of due to a natural cycle. The walleye, the largemouth, the smallmouth, the crappie especially, the bluegill – the reservoir’s just extremely healthy, that’s just what amazes me.”

Potholes Reservoir is located between Moses Lake and Othello, and is one of the most popular fishing destinations in the Columbia Basin.

Fisher attributes the good year the reservoir is having in part to a project that’s been going for more than 10 years: habitat boxes. These are four-by-four-by-eight-foot boxes with orange construction mesh wrapped around them, and they protect young fish that would otherwise be left vulnerable to predators by the reservoir’s 20-foot annual water level fluctuation, Fisher said.

“When (the water level) drops, all that year’s small fry and that year’s bait fish have to funnel out into the main reservoir, which is basically a bowl. It looks kind of like a moonscape. There isn’t much cover to hide from the predators, so they spend time in the boxes where the bigger fish can’t get them.”

Moving south from Potholes, anglers come to the Seep Lakes, a collection of smallish bodies of water that cover the landscape like a paint spatter. Fisher said the conditions there are also promising for the 2022 fishing season.

“(The Seep Lakes are) healthy as well,” he said. “Long Lake, Soda Lake, some of the bigger lakes are doing well, and most of those have everything that the reservoir has. Especially Long and Soda, they’re along the canal system. They end up having all the same fish that the reservoir has. And those are looking real good, the same as last year, which is healthy. For the smaller lakes, the Pillar-Widgeon chain, those are four or five little lakes, they offer really good trout fishing.”

Largemouth bass are plentiful right now, Fisher said, but the best fishing overall begins in May. For folks fishing from shore, Medicare Beach on the north side of Potholes and the face of O’Sullivan Dam are easily accessible. Many of the Seep Lakes, too, offer easy access, either by vehicle or on foot.

Fisher warned that anglers in boats should pay extra attention to the lake bottom, because it can be deceptively shallow in places which could damage their watercraft.

There’s rocks in between Goose Island and the face of the dam that you think you’re way off shore and then your lower unit’s gone. It claims maybe three or four lower units a year. And in the sand dunes, you’ll get stuck, and hopefully you can push off, because those canals are about the only deep part. So you really have to know it, or don’t be going flying through there.”

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