Potholes Reservoir, Washington State

It is now generally agreed that between 15,000 and 12,800 years ago more than 40 tremendous deluges of almost inconceivable force and dimensions swept across large parts of the Columbia River drainage.  They were the greatest scientifically documented floods known to have occurred in North America. Nearly 16,000 square miles were inundated to depths of hundreds of feet.  Swollen by the flood waters, the Columbia grew to contain ten times the flow of all the rivers in the world today and 60 times the flow of the Amazon River.  Potholes Reservoir was scoured out by these floods.

This is a very diverse eco system with more than 20,000 surface acres and many miles of shoreline. The northern part of this impoundment is flooded sand dunes and willow trees. The black sand of the dunes warms into the 50s in February giving us a head start on the rest of the State for our bass fishing. Once hailed as the number 1 Bass lake in Washington State, Potholes is now known more for its large population of Walleyes. One of the main structures of the dunes are the beaver huts, find them and you will find bass.  Largemouth of 9 lbs are possible. Spinnerbaits and plastics are the top producers in the spring but in the hot summer months topwater baits are the ticket. The depths of the dunes vary from around 30 feet to a couple of inches. Largemouth, walleyes and panfish are most often found in this area.

On the west end of the lake is were the Winchester waistway pours into the lake. This is a small creek that brings in water from more than 15 miles away. This area is like the dunes but not as vast; this is a good spot for largemouth, panfish and channel cats. It also is a good location for fishing those windy days.

The south bank of the main lake is three and a half miles of riprap. This has a steep drop to 50 feet. Fishing curlytail grubs, tubes and crankbaits along the riprap can and does produce some smallmouth to 7 lbs. There is a big flat that runs out into the main lake about a half mile or so. This is good for big smallmouth and walleyes in the winter months. Blaidbaits and the ole jig and pig work well for these deeper fish.

The Lind Coulee comes into the lake from the east. This is a spring fed creek that starts 20 miles from the lake. Smallmouth, walleyes, channel cats and panfish hold in the coulee. Long steep points and deep water abound in this area of the lake.

On the north shore of the main lake is Medicare beach. Around 4 miles long this beach gets allot of bank fishers.  They can drive there motorhomes to within a stones through from the water.  Most set up there lawn chairs at the waters edge and catch smallmouth, walleyes, cats and some dandy rainbows to 6 lbs.

May 18th 1980 was a bad day for this area.  Mount St Helens dropped 6 inches of ash in the lake.  Spawning beds where covered and the panfish seem to have taken it the worst.  Before 1980 2lb crappies drew folks from all over the State and now we are starting to see them again but there was a 5 year period that we did not see a single crappie.  Our perch seem to be having a harder time of it.  Since 1980 we have more predators in the area than we did then.  Cormorants, pelicans and the walleyes have moved in and every time they start getting a good population, humans wipe them out again.  There is a habitat enhancement project that has started putting in artificial reefs into the lake in hopes of rectifying this problem.

There are two resorts on the lake, one is at Perch point.  There is not much there but some tackle and cold drinks and a trail to the lake.  This is on the north side.  The other one is on the south.  It has all the goodies.  Cabins, camper spots and a tent area. A tackleshop, groceries, restaurant and a laundromat, boat ramp and docks.  This resort also has a net pen project that they have been doing for some time now.  They are given several thousand rainbow fingerlings in the fall and raise them up to around 10 inches or so by release date in the spring.  Many of these fish are just food for the walleyes but some do survive to become wallhangers.

Potholes is located 17 miles south of Moses Lake, Washington. Take I-90 to highway 17 south then east on highway 262.  There are many camping spots all around the lake.  You can go to the resort for what I call soft camping or you can rough it and camp away from the crowds at one of the many primitive sites.

Pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and deer can be found all around Potholes. Most of it is open land.  There are guides that work out of the big resort for those who wish to hire one for fishing, hunting and bird watching.

Brad Meeds (YellowBear)

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