Smallmouth fishing on the Snake River usually starts being productive in April with some pre-spawn fish being caught in the warming waters along the bluffs and shallower waters in the impounded area around Lewiston/Clarkston. The areas that are best early are those that receive the most afternoon sun and are sheltered from heavy water flows.
Fishing really heats up with spring weather and can be fantastic by mid May and early June. This increased activity is due to warmer water, smolt out migration and the increasing activity of crawfish.
It is not uncommon to catch dozens of bass during a day in this very fish active period of time. Many will be in the 8 to 12 inch size with some really nice fish to about 24 inches being caught on occasion.
On light tackle even a 10 inch Smallmouth bass can be an impressive fighter and the larger fish can be a real challenge, especially on light tackle.
Many avid local bass anglers start fishing early in the spring for the large pre-spawn bass. For those who are persistent and knowledgeable finding the 5 pound plus Smallmouth is not an uncommon feat. Granted these larger fish are not an every day occurrence but they are caught often enough to keep anglers working the river in most conditions.
The free flowing river has a stable population of all size classes of Smallmouth bass and they may be found on every cut line and off every point. Spinners, small plugs and tube baits are great producers, especially during the earlier months when the fish are very active throughout much of the day and are quite aggressive.
As the water temperatures start warming with the summer sun, fishing early in the morning and later in the day can still be very productive. You also need to consider the changing prey and adjust your bait choices accordingly.
For the bank angler there is road access along the Washington shore line for approximately 26 miles to the mouth of the Grande Ronde. This area has numerous access areas which provide good fishing opportunities.
The Lewis Clark area is another great place to find smallmouth bass in large numbers. The habitat in this portion of the river consists of rip rap and shoals. The primary food in this area after the smolt migration is crayfish which are in abundance. The entire area below Asotin to Lower Granite Dam presents one long area of rip rap or rock bluffs and ledges that contain a tremendous source of food and provides bass great ambush places for feeding.
The baits that work up river work equally well in the reservoir waters. Always remember to adjust the lure color and size to water and light conditions.
Methods include drifting the free flowing bank habitat and working the rip rap in the reservoir. We do some limited top water depending on general fishing conditions but mostly working soft plastics which is an extremely effective method of catching Smallmouth bass.