Salmon Creek Park

Salmon Creek Park, in Clark County, Washington, is loaded with small ponds. Some hold hardly any fish, others have all kinds of different species. The main pond, referred to as Klineline Pond, gets stocked with loads of rainbow trout every year and subsequently receives insanely heavy fishing pressure. There also is a lot of bluegills and other sunfish in it, and some huge bass, but they are quite hard to reach.

I love exploring Salmon Creek and the ponds in the park. I've found some spots with loads of bass eager to bite. Most are dinks, like this guy, not much bigger than the Yum Dinger I got it on. Still, they put up a nice fight on light tackle, and there are some much bigger specimens available too. Most of the ponds are really weedy, so you really have to work to present your lure to the fish. Here's a report from one of my most recent trips:

Another 45 minutes to spare for some fishing in the evening. The closet spot was the Salmon Creek Park ponds, so I grabbed the gear (two rods, one tacklebox, plus the ever-present camera) and headed out. Got there an hour before sunset, booked it to the ponds. This park has lots of ponds, some completely empty, some loaded with bass, and most of them overfished by the bait-and-wait rainbow trout crowd. Having been introduced to fishing through a Powerbait dunking session, I can't turn up my nose too much at this type of fishing. Still, there's something about the constant adventurer and hunting with active bass angling that totally blows stocker trout fishing away.

I rigged one rod with my favorite Yum Dinger Watermelon-colored Senko clone, Texas rig. Cast, let it sit, then my line zips away as something picks it up. Set the hook, get one headshake, and its gone. This always happens at this spot on this particular pond. I'm convinced its a bunch of big 'gills that like messing with me. So, determined to show them who's boss, I change rigs on my light rod, putting on a jighead with a Berkely GULP minnow, wacky rig. Cast out, boom, fish on. I set the hook hard, and started fighting him, can't really tell what he is, might even be a bass, he is actually taking a little drag out...and he spits the hook. That should have been my sign to switch hooks to something sharper, but I got lazy.

After a few more fruitless casts in that spot, I move on to my usual section of the pond. This area has the largest clearing in the algae of then entire pond, and loads of little bass stack up in here. I'm still working the Berkely GULP, I get a few hits, but nothing solid. The jighead I'm using is a little overkill on a 4lb test line, and I can really cast it far. I finally lose the lure (but not the jighead) as it slides off into some weeds (the Gulp lures are really great, but come off easily). So, I grab the Yum Dinger I used earlier, and rig it Texas rig, on the jighead. A little unconventional, but so who cares, right?

I nail one 1/2lber on the Dinger, and lose a second after it goes airborne. My 45 minutes of fishing has gone way longer than expected, and, after checking the cell, I find that my stupid cell alarm failed to go off. Now I'm running late, and only 1 dink to show for my efforts. I switch the Dinger to a wacky rig setup on the jig, and make a few more casts...nothing. So, I flip the lure out a few yards from the shore, into an open area of the weeds, and start twitching it, working it back to the shore. 5 seconds into this, and a MASSIVE largemouth comes out from underneath the weeds, ambushes the Dinger in mid-twitch, and, lure in mouth, rushes back into the weeds. WHAT? I'm stunned, but I manage to set the hook, hard, thinking at the same time that I don't stand a chance against this beast. I'm running 4lb test line on a super small rod/reel (spinning), and this pond is covered is thick, heavy weeds. When I set the hook, the fish feels like a dead weight at first, then takes off deeper into the weeds. I'm ecstatic that I've actually hooked up with such a fish...then my line comes shooting back at me, lure included, as the stupid jig I was using comes unbuttoned. Crap. Every person in the park must have heard my howls of rage. Still, the adrenaline rush from seeing and hooking into something that big was awesome. I grab my gear, make one last toss at the fish (it's long gone), and leave the park.

So, I will remember today as the first time I hooked a monster largemouth in Washington state. Sure, it is super annoying to lose such a beast, but it is gratifying to see such a behemoth actually go for my lure presentation (Confidence level up!). I'll be prepared next time, with heavier line, a sharper hook, and better reflexes. Watch out, leviathan-I shall return.
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Be nice.