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by Todd Wittwer

Fishing at Bass Lake has created lasting memories for many since the dam was built in 1896 and the Lake was named Crane Valley Reservoir. The Lake was known as Bass Lake only after having to be replanted by Bass Lake Lumber Company when they polluted the Lake, killing all of the fish many years ago.


BLLC restocked the Lake with Bass. Since then it's been stocked with Trout, Kokanee Salmon, Catfish, Crappie and Bluegill. The warm surface water of 75 to 78 degrees in the summer draws many boaters of all types including Salmon fishing boats with black booms hanging over the sides loaded with fishing poles driving slow in the deep end of the Lake. The black booms extending out from the boats are downriggers. They allow the fishermen to fish deep enough to catch the salmon and trout in the cold water 30-100 feet deep.


In 1982 when

Kokanee Salmon were introduced to the Lake it created a great summertime fishery, something the Lake needed to fill the gap when water temp prohibits Trout stocking. Summertime is Kokanee Salmon season and Bass Lake is home to some of the largest Kokanee in the state every year. One of the best Kokanee guides Todd Wittwer is right here on Bass Lake. Top notch Bass swim baits were designed and proven with Lake records right here in Bass Lake by Alan Borden now distributed by "Strike King”.  Plan a day or two of fishing on your next visit to Bass Lake. With bruiser Bass and king sized Kokanee, Bass Lake is full of great family fishing memories waiting for you.




The Lake is 4 1/2 miles long and less than 1/2 mile wide in most places lined by 5 MPH orange buoys all the way around during the summer. The Lake has a 5MPH speed limit until 8 AM allowing for a couple of hours of peaceful fishing anywhere on the Lake. The public boat ramp is located at the southeast end of the Lake right next to the dam. The Lake has four main bays and one straight with plenty of quiet coves load with warm water fish. The Forks Bay on the west end has an average 20' depth, the straight from the Pines to the Sheriff’s Tower averages 40 feet. From the Sheriff’s Tower to Fawn Point is 60' deep in the main channel with some points and rises. Fawn Point to the old dam on the point in front of Millers Landing is eighty feet deep on the average with some trees standing up to 50 feet tall that were not cut down before filling the Lake. The last big bay is in front of the Wishon Public Boat Ramp and the Dam where the Lake reaches just over 100 feet deep with lots of trees still standing under water. In this bay there are two Jet Ski areas, the one on the north side has lots of trees in and around it and is a good Kokanee holding area. Fishing in this area is good until 8am when the traffic starts and the jet skis take over just watch your depth around the trees. The 5 MPH area by the dam has less trees and that is where the Kokanee fishermen retreat after 8am when the traffic starts.




Bass - Fall, Spring


There are lots of Spotted and some Black Bass in the lake with a good number of fish over 7 pounds caught every year. The lake record is 15.17 lbs held by Alan Bordan, a local tackle manufacturer, caught on his own swim bait in March of 2004. Most local Bass fishermen only fish in the fall and spring when the lake is quite and waves aren't stirring up the shoreline. During the summer you will find fish around the docks and holding off shore in 15' to 30' of water. Drop-shotting, jigging and finesse-fishing works best during this time of year. For more info on Bass fishing during the different seasons try this link:

Bass Resource .com


Bluegill - All year

Bluegill can be found along most of the shoreline around the lake. Kids of all ages enjoy catching them off the docks. A small spinning rod or Snoopy pole with pieces of nightcrawlers, redworms, mealworms, grubs, or nymphs are all good bait for bluegill. Use a small hook, #10, and suspend the bait from a bobber. Fish the bottom in shallows and around the docks.


Crappie - Spring, Summer


A platter of fresh, flaky "white perch" is reason enough to spend a day on the water but the fishing is a reward in itself. The slower pace of dabbling jigs is a return to the kick-back days of summer vacation. A spinning rod loaded with six-pound line and a suitable spinner or jig is a productive way to fish for Crappie.


Catfish - All year


Cats hold in big holes by day and move onto the flats above them and across from them by night. Anglers generally will do best by venturing out after hours and fishing flats with cut or stink baits. Catfish up to 22 pounds have been caught in Bass Lake.


Carp - Summer


Carp can be found in the top 5 feet of water roaming in schools. While carp may not be the greatest eating fish, they are truly great fighters. The carp in Bass Lake average around 6 pounds. The best baits by far are sweet corn and simple bread dough. The bread dough is made by moistening a few slices of any kind of bread with water and kneading it until it becomes the right texture to put on a hook. Always fish with some slack in your line and watch for any movement in the line. It is imperative that you have slack in the line because if the fish feels even the slightest resistance it will immediately drop the bait.




Rainbow Trout – Winter, Spring


The Department of Fish & Game plants Rainbow trout every other week from mid November through April pending water temp and other conditions. Most Rainbow fishing is done during the spring to early summer, then the water gets too warm and drives the remainder of the trout to deeper water or the creek areas with cool oxygenated water feeding in the lake. The first weekend in May the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce hosts one of California's highest possible payout trout derbies totaling $55,000. A chance of catching a $25,000 Tagged fish brings out men, women and children of all ages to enjoy a day or two of fishing on Bass Lake. Rainbows average 12 to 16 incheswith some hold over trout going 16-22 inches caught each year. Fishing from shore by the Sheriff’s tower, day use areas,  the Falls, Brown’s ditch and by the dam with floating bait or nightcrawlers can produce limits in the winter to early summer. Boat anglers will pull a wide variety of lures tipped with nightcrawlers behind a dodger and trolls in the top 20 feet of water. Once summer sets in and the lake temp goes up the fish go deeper for 58 degree and below water.


Kokanee Salmon - Spring, Summer


Kokanee takes the spotlight from June until mid September when the lake is busy with boaters of all kinds. Kokanee Salmon are known as one of the best tasting inland fish in the world. Kokanee Salmon a subspecies of Sockeye Salmon, evolved naturally after having been land locked thousands of year ago are Salmon planted each year in May as fingerlings to grow for three years before maturing. Kokanee do spawn in the lake but there is no documented survival, therefore, the lake relies on the DFG San Joaquin hatchery's annual planting. Bass Lake is rich with the Kokanee's natural food source: zoo plankton. Two year old fish, often referred to as juveniles or shakers, range from 9-13 inches and are released to protect the next year’s harvest.


They have bright silver sides with dark gray to blue on their back. Three year olds range from13-20 inches with brilliant silver on their sides and dark gray to blue on their back. As they reach maturity in late August early September, the color of both male and female changes to crimson. Male fish develop a long, hooked snout with large teeth. Also, they become humpbacked with a greenish head.Although the females don't change their shape, the color of their bodies and heads resembles that of the males.


Like all Salmon after spawning the fish die and feed the environment, mainly the trees and birds around the lake. Kokanee Salmon are an open water fish that can be caught by trolling from a boat with lead core line or downriggers to get to the depth they hold. Kokanee can be found from The Pines to the dam in water 40 feet and deeper. Kokanee have a soft mouth that hooks can tear free from easily, so a light action rod or snubbers are used with light steady pressure to land fish. Brightly colored lures tipped with "white shoe peg" corn behind a 4/0 dodger is the most productive method for taking Kokanee.


This fish takes special equipment to get to the proper depth and speed; they are not typically caught from boats not set up for Kokanee fishing. At the end of the season Kokanee school up very tight together and can be caught by jigging, in fact the lake record was broken many times aboard Todd Wittwer’s Guide Service boat during September 2005.


After measuring a lot of kokanee more than twenty inches aboard the guide boat in 2005 season, finally Bonnie Wittwer, the guide’s wife, caught the first 21 incher just to be beaten the next week by Marc Sobel, the host of this great website, with a 21 1/8" monster.

Topo Map of Bass Lake (size 119K)  

Boating Information


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