Not that it was open to bass fishing during the heart of this year’s spawn, but Lake Washington is among the top 100 largemouth and smallmouth fisheries in the country.
Bassmaster‘s annual ranking of the best lakes, rivers and deltas in the country for the freshwater species also includes nine other Northwest waters, though none made the nationwide top 10.
Unlike past years, 2016’s rankings are divided into a national top 10 and top 25s in four regions of the country.
Here’s where Northwest waters stack up compared to others in the Western region, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico:
5. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho
7. Tenmile Lake, Oregon
8. Lake Washington, Washington
11. Snake River, Idaho/Oregon (Hells Canyon Wilderness reach)
12. Potholes Reservoir, Washington
13. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
15. C.J. Strike Reservoir, Idaho
17. Banks Lake, Washington
18. Columbia River, Oregon/Washington (Portland to McNary Dam)
19. Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho/Oregon
Dworshak, Brownlee, Potholes and CDA were all on 2015’s national list ranked at 74, 59, 43 and 11, respectively, while a shorter chunk of the Columbia, from The Dalles to Hood River was ranked 53.
Lake Washington, along with Lake Sammamish, have been closed to all angling since the end of April because a federal permit to hold fisheries in waters where ESA-listed stocks expired. It’s possible that WDFW will receive federal authorization to open the system later this month.
Nationally, Bassmaster‘s top-ranked lakes include Toledo Bend in Texas, the Santee Cooper Lakes system in South Carolina, Clear Lake in California, Lake Erie near Buffalo, New York, and California’s Delta.
According to the magazine, over three months’ worth of research went into the project, and it features input from bass anglers and biologists that was then checked against catch data.
“It’s a brutal process, but the results give bass anglers the ultimate bucket list of lakes for 2016,” Bassmaster editor James Hall said.