Mention monster March minimouths in these here parts and your first thought is probably “Master Angler” bass caught on the John Day by a client of Mah-Hah Outfitters.
But this time of year the Oregon river isn’t the only stream that’s home to some seriously stout smallies.
Wally Sande hooked a 6-pound, 11-ouncer out of the Mid-Columbia earlier today and the big river has been yielding more, though smaller, bass in recent days.
Sande was actually jigging for walleye at the time, using a “superstition” pattern Kit’s Tackle Glass Minnow, an eyed orange-and-blue leadhead with a Krystal Flash-like tail, according to son-in-law Jerry Han, a Kennewick dentist.
He said it was weighed on Berkley digital scale.
Local angler-author Wayne Heinz called the 22 1/4-incher a “humongous” bass for that area.
Heinz had kept meticulous notes from his fishing trips over the decades, and he says that he and his partners have caught a half-dozen 6-plus-pounders over the years, but never anything so closely approaching 7 pounds.
The state record is an 8.75-pounder caught April 23, 1966 in the Hanford Reach.
Heinz says that when he fished the Mid-Columbia last week, he caught nine smallies over 2.5 hours. While most were 21/2-pounders running around 16 inches, the top three went 4.6, 4.5 and 4.0 pounds and all taped at around 19 inches.
“All on 3/8-ounce grey blade baits, vertical-jigged about 47 feet deep along the West Pasco shore” just below the mouth of the Yakima, he reported.
Speaking of, the Yakima is known for its spring smallie fishing, as the bass make an annual spawning run into the Central Washington river, but Heinz said his outing yesterday afternoon didn’t yield any bites.
“Big bassin’ on the Yak usually begins the first week of April,” he said.
Heinz reported the Columbia last week was running at 43.5 degrees and on the (relatively speaking) low and clear side, with 14 feet of visibility.
The Yakima, he said, is flooding and swift, he stated, with 3.5 feet of visibility and 53 degrees at Bateman Island.
Walleye receive more attention than bass this time of year around Tri-Cities, and while the tasty white-meated fish are the target today – Han and Sande have at least two – Han has caught several other decent winter smallies while jigging or blade baiting.