Bass Fishing Near Portland? Try These 6 Sensational Spots

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People often ask where they can get into some great bass fishing near Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, in a region much better known for salmon and trout.

But there is still some excellent fishing for these green or brown fish.

The Greater Portland-Vancouver area has some premium spots to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Here are some of my favorites.

Largemouth Bass Fishing

Let’s start with the most popular gamefish in America, even if it’s not the most popular quarry in this region.

Henry Hagg Lake

Though perhaps better known for turning out several Oregon record smallmouth bass, hit the weed beds in the coves for some truly lunker largemouths approaching double-digits.

If you live in or around Portland, don’t sleep on Hagg Lake even though most of the boats you see heading up there are after stocked trout.

Spring is the best time to find bucketmouths in the shallows, where they aggressively feed and guard their nests. Throw something that will trigger that impulse, whether a spinnerbait, crankbait, Senko, or whatever you have confidence in.

Bluegill are nest-robbers, so a bluegill swimbait pitched into spawning zones could be your secret weapon.

Move to deeper areas of the coves or out to the nearby points during the heat of summer, fishing jigs, deep-diving cranks, or perhaps a chunky trout-patterned swimbait or crankbait to lure one large enough to gobble up some of Hagg’s planted rainbows.

More: Bass Fishing at Hagg Lake

Cullaby Lake

Although this shallow coastal lake is a bit of a drive to the coast between Seaside and Astoria, it’s worth it if you like good action on fair-sized largemouths.

A boat will come in handy here as you work the outside edges of lily pads, a few docks and other visible cover lining the lakeshore. There are two public areas where bank anglers can reach some pretty nice spots as well.

The usual bass lures should punch your ticket a few times here. On my next trip, I will definitely throw in some frogs to plop across the surface around the pads.

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Lacamas Lake

Over on the Washington side in the Camas area, Lacamas is something of a gem hidden in plain sight.

This suburban lake has been more popular whenever it got a planting of trout, but bassers know there are some tanks in there. Bank anglers can get in on the action at the public park, but kayakers and float tubers will have more targets.

These fish see lots of people on a relatively small lake, so add stealth to your tackle box.

More: Lacamas Lake Fishing

Silver Lake

Though a bit of a drive, a little beyond Longview, I’d peg Silver Lake as the best place to catch a double-digit bass within day-trip distance of Portland or Vancouver.

I used to live in Longview and have tested myself on Silver Lake with mixed results. The lake is shallow and loaded with structure, making it both a challenge and a joy to fish. There’s almost too many options. You like fishing the weeds? They’re everywhere. Ditto, docks.

With a reputation like that and being within striking distance of both Portland and Seattle, Silver Lake does see a lot of pressure. Try long casts and finesse techniques, but definitely come ready to mix it up until you press the strike button.

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Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass may be more popular nationally, but let’s face it: Oregon and Washington stack up much better nationally when you consider the quality of our smallmouth bass fishing.

And the Portland area is right in the thick of some thick brown-barred, red-eyed bass.

Columbia River

The Columbia River is a nationally ranked powerhouse among smallmouth bass fisheries. It hosts a bunch of tournaments, and those competitors boat a lot of 5-pounders, but because it’s so huge, it cannot be fished out.

As the largest river in the West, the Columbia’s size is both an asset and a curse. Speaking of curses, the wind can really kick up here at any time, but first light is your best bet for flat water. A stable boat with a decent-sized motor is a real advantage to cover lots of water, but there are parks, dams, and public pullouts with bank-fishing opportunities.

Work the rocky shores, shoals, and islands for the most success. Most of the best rocky cover is from the area right around Portland and Vancouver and upriver through the Columbia River Gorge and, frankly, clear up to the Canadian border. The river banks and bottom are much sandier downstream but still hold smallies.

Ned rigs, swim baits, jigs, diving or lipless crankbaits, and all other manner of bass lures can be the ticket. Bring a few you can fish with skill and confidence, and you’ll likely find something that connects to these hard-fighting fish.

Naturally, smallies will move shallower during the pre-spawn and spawning period in the spring but often will stage deeper during the depths of summer and winter. But they are rule-breakers, so try different spots until you pick up a pattern.

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Willamette River

The Lower Columbia River’s big tributary is loaded with smallmouth bass from Portland clear up into the Eugene area.

You can pick up some excellent smallmouth bass along the riprap and docks in downtown Portland, but I prefer the fishing above Willamette Falls in the West Linn to Newberg stretch, where there is both bank and boat access.

A real advantage to the Willamette over the Columbia is that it’s far more sheltered from the brutal winds that pester the Columbia. And there’s plenty of rocky structure in any section you decide to fish. Spend a little time, and you’ll amass enough go-to spots to keep you busy from spring through fall.

Whether you’re a finesse fisherman or fisherwoman or a crankbait power-caster, you’ll find willing fish here. I’ve had days where the Ned rig is unbeatable, but sometimes I just want to rip a crank or swimbait through here.

Some of the tributaries also have great smallmouth fishing, if you like fishing smaller streams. I’ve mostly fished the lower Tualatin and Yamhill rivers but many of the others have bass, at least in the lower reaches.

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Henry Hagg Lake

Yes, this is a repeat. But when a lake has put out multiple state-record smallmouth and is a quick drive west of Portland, how can you leave it off the list?

For smallmouths, try the rocky areas around points and along the rock-face dam, where I’ve trolled in the predawn dark with a guy who was bound and determined to break the state record (but never quite made it).

Ned, drop-shot, and other soft plastic rigs can be incredible here, as can swimbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

This is another spot where arriving at dawn can really help your odds. The lower lake from the boat ramps to the dam, which has lots of very nice smallmouth cover, gets overrun with powerboaters on nice days, so hit that area before the speed junkies arrive. Then switch to the upper lake, which has no-wake regulations.

Yes, you’re likely to catch a mixed bag here, with smallmouth bass more common but largemouths holding their own and often a bit larger in size.

More: Bass Fishing at Hagg Lake

More Nearby Bass Fishing

I cover some additional spots, including some lesser known fisheries, in this complete guide to bass fishing near Portland and Vancouver.

Oregon Resources

ODFW Weekly Fishing Report
ODFW Trout Stocking Schedule
Oregon Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service