A busy weekend at Potholes Reservoir

Matt Krumdiack and Tag Watson, the winners of the Old Farts Bass Tournament. Courtesy Banks Lake Bass Club

Levi Meseberg fished the tournament with his daughter, Lilee. Courtesy MarDon Resort

The weekend of September 17 and 18 was a very busy one at MarDon Resort at Potholes Reservoir. Four fishing tournaments took place there, and at 6 a.m. there was a long line of trucks with boat trailers waiting to launch at the resort. One of the tournaments was a high school bass fishing tournament, another was the Mt. St. Helens Bass Masters club tournament and the third was the one I was fishing in with my best friend Rusty Johnston, the Old Farts Bass Tournament. Put on by the Banks Lake Bass Club every September, at least one angler on each team has to over 40 years old. This is an open tournament (meaning anyone can enter) and $400 of proceeds from this year’s event will be used to provide a scholarship for a local student.

It was a beautiful morning. The temperature was around 50 degrees and the skies were partly cloudy with only mild wins. Rusty and I had fished the reservoir a week earlier in an effort to figure our where the fish were and found the water levels had changed dramatically since our last time on the water in June when the reservoir was at full pool. Since then, work was being done to improve a public boat launch on the east side of O’Sullivan Dam and in order to do this the water levels were dropped nearly 23 feet. This meant the entire sand dunes portion of the reservoir was inaccessible, and the lake was fishing pretty small.

Despite this we had good success finding and catching bass at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway, near the face of the sand dunes, and off the rip rap at O’Sullivan Dam. Better still, we were the first boat out for the tournament and actually got to the spot we wanted at the mouth of Frenchman’s Wasteway before anyone else did.

Things started off promising. We were after a shared limit of five bass, with the heaviest limit weighed in winning the one-day tournament. I caught a two-pound bass right off the bat that went into the livewell and then hooked into a very big fish that I thought for sure was going to be a huge smallmouth bass. Alas, it was a six-pound walleye! An impressive fish, but not what we were looking for during a bass tournament. After that the bite died down and we didn’t catch anything else for 90 minutes.

We decided to try fishing off one of the sunken humps near the face of the sand dunes, something many of the contestants were doing. Rusty caught a keeper but that was the only bite we got. From there we went towards Medicare Beach on the east side of the lake where I caught another keeper but that was the only fish we got there.

Finally, we fished crankbaits off the face of O’Sullivan Dam, something that worked very well a week earlier. Unfortunately, the only fish I caught was another walleye but Rusty caught several keepers using a black and chrome Berkley Flicker Shad crankbait. By the end of the day, we had caught seven bass weighing two pounds or better. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any bass that weighed over three pounds and our final weigh in was just under 11 pounds for our five fish.

Most of the other contestants had a day similar to ours but some of the anglers, as always, figured things out. That included the team of Tag Watson and Matt Krumdiack who came over from Bellingham to fish this tournament. Using big soft plastics from a company called Magnum Baits, their five fish weighed in at 20.95 pounds, besting the next team by almost four pounds. Matt also caught the big bass of the Old Farts Tournament, a 4.82-pound largemouth bass. Between the first-place finish and biggest bass caught, the two went home with a check for $1620.

As for the fourth tournament, this one is something special because no boat is required. It’s the annual MarDon Resort Dock Tournament, taking place on and around the marina at MarDon Resort. It kicks off Friday night and runs thru Sunday morning and the anglers catching the largest two fish out of ten different species wins cash prizes. This year’s first place winners were:

Perch - K. Daughtry

Bluegill – N. Melburn

Pumpkinseed – G. Goss

Crappie – Rolondo Duddly

Walleye – Kevin Kay (6-pounds)

Largemouth bass – Greg Watson (3.9 pounds)

Smallmouth bass – Chris Sliker (3.4 pounds)

Rainbow trout – none weighed in

Carp – Kevin Kay (14.4 pounds)

Bullhead – Z. Taketa


And then there was the biggest fish caught off the docks during the tournament, a channel catfish reeled in by I. Harris that weighed in at just under 17 ½ pounds.


Fishing for bass, walleye and other species should continue to be good through October. If you are looking for a place to stay (and eat and stock up on fishing tackle) go to www.mardonresort.com.  Potholes State Park is an option as well and also has a useable boat launch.

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com



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