Whatcom Lake Smallmouth Bass

Jiminsandiego

Active Member
I live in Anacortes and have been stillwater fishing (for trout). But now I plan on targeting Whatcom Lake for Smallmouth from a float tube. Apparently there are two boat launches and a trail head where I can put my tube in. I'm thinking poppers in black, green, or yellow. I studied crayfish fly tying a bit, but I'm not sure what pattern to start with. I'll have some semi seal leeches in yellow brown and black. I'm sure some members here could save me years of experimenting...As always, any input would be much appreciated.
 

Bryce Levin

Active Member
I am not a bass expert, but I believe the water temps need to come up to be prime popper conditions. Lake Whatcom is a cold lake. I had some success there last summer rippin some black leeches and yellow buggers around structures in the SE corner of the lake in a full sink. There is a ton of crawfish in the lake, so I am going to give that a shot a full sink this summer.

I can’t speak much on lake access, but there is Whatcom county parks and rec land off Blue Canyon Road that you could drop a float tube in, but not a formal launch I don’t think.

The last thing I’ll say is it is a big lake that can get heavy boat traffic and some chop on it when the wind picks up, so be careful about how far you venture... it could be a long kick back to the car.

Good luck!
 

troutpocket

Active Member
My folks live in Bham not far from the west end of the lake. That end gets real busy in good weather. But it’s big enough that there must be some areas that remain relatively quiet.

Im no bass expert but trout sized leech patterns have worked for me at lakes like Goodwin. I would think poppers in low light, leeches during the day would be a good strategy for starters.
 

kamishak steve

Active Member
In much of the country and even the eastern half of this state, poppers can work really well, but I've never found them to be especially effective on the Westside, at least not with adult fish or on pressured water. I think in part, larger lakes never get warm enough to really encourage the metabolic rates of bass to get that aggressive, and also, the increased pressure they see on lakes over here tends to make them less aggressive. Full sink lines with crayfish or minnow patterns will work well though. I have had especially good luck with sculpin imitations for big smallmouth.
On smaller shallow lakes, and especially with smaller fish, poppers will work well though.
 

MD

Active Member
WFF Supporter
First off, kinda funny how many of us are re-exploring our area. I live in Whatcom county and was looking for new lakes & ponds down your way. ;) Initially, I was kinda interested in Heart Lake but then the more I researched, it looks like it can get pretty crowded...so no thanks.

Regarding Lake Whatcom, my disclaimer is I haven't fly fished it in years. Like others have said, it can get pretty crazy with all the jet skis, ski boats, and whatever...but I don't think that will be an issue until it warms up more.

You might do a little research with the city if you plan to put in at Bloedel Donovan park ( the west end). For years they've been charging to inspect boats for invasive species like the zebra mussel. I don't know when that starts each season...but I think it includes any water craft.

There's a county park at the east end of the lake, on the north side and I can't remember if one can drive right down to the lake. There is, however, the main trailhead parking, but you'll have to walk a quarter mile or so to get to the lake.

I believe there's another small county park next to the fire hall at the very southern tip with direct access to the lake...but I've never used it.

My recollection is there are three main parts or bodies to the lake. You can probably still find a bathymetric map somewhere on line. Many areas of the lake in the middle and east end are quite deep....like 300' plus. There are silvers and cut throat, I believe, but I always found them deep by fly fishing standards...35+ feet.

Homes line the western half or third of the lake....so lots of docks and structure, if that's what you're looking for. The eastern portion is less populated and more wooded....it's also the deeper part and and don't know if there are shelves along the shore or if it follows the slope and just goes down. I can only guess the very southern end shallows out...which is where there are more homes lining the shore.

I've heard the bass fishing can be good. My barber was a semi competitive bass fisher back in the day and spoke highly of Whatcom...but of course he never said where ;)

You might reach out to Scott at Confluence...one of their last blogs was all about warm water fishies in the area.

Have fun where ever you end up. It's a huge lake to explore.

Mike d
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
If smallmouth, I’d look for rocky areas and concentrate on shallow areas that are getting the most sun during the day.
Smallies will hit poppers. Adjust your retrieve until you find out what works. Sometimes just letting it sit will draw strikes versus twitching or stripping it in.
I have one lake I fish them that has a rocky shoal that drops off to 70+ feet.
There are some big underwater boulders and they are magnets for smallies.
If you have really bright midday sun, consider fishing the shade side of structure such as docks etc.
SF

 

Jiminsandiego

Active Member
Wow. Thanks for the input folks. The regulation say that float tubes do not need inspections. There is indeed a trailhead past Agate cove where the parking is very near the shore and two boat ramps at opposite ends of the lake. Crawfish patterns using brown bunny strips (as claws) plastic eyes and rubber legs seem to look good in the tying videos. I'm wondering what kind of baitfish flies I should try. Any tips would be great.
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
WFF Supporter
Wow. Thanks for the input folks. The regulation say that float tubes do not need inspections. There is indeed a trailhead past Agate cove where the parking is very near the shore and two boat ramps at opposite ends of the lake. Crawfish patterns using brown bunny strips (as claws) plastic eyes and rubber legs seem to look good in the tying videos. I'm wondering what kind of baitfish flies I should try. Any tips would be great.
Sculpins, and clousers in olive and yellow, brown and yellow, something that would imitate a small kokanee.
Top water works early and late.
 

bakerite

Active Member
Clousers! Where I fish (snake impoundments) there are lots of smallies and it seems that they either ignore top water bugs or are all over them but Clousers always work. Buggers do too, but I like the hook riding up and the action of the Clousers. In my experience with bass it’s mostly trying to figure out how to get the larger ones or past the little guys. Sometimes hanging a dropper off your popper is very effective.
 

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