Outdoor Life Online Editor

It might not surprise you that the oldest bass club in the United States was founded way back in 1938. But if you think the good ol’ boys who banded together out of their love for bucketmouths hailed from the land of cotton, well, Bubba, guess again. Before grunge, lattes, dot.com flameouts and other well-known Seattle firsts, there was the Western Bass Club.

Celebrating its 54th birthday, the club remains committed to spreading the gospel of Micropterus throughout the Northwest. When it was launched, it was the only organized club in the United States dealing exclusively with bass, crappies, perch and other spiny ray fish.

In one of the club’s first conservation projects, in 1939, the members paid for and took delivery of a tankful of six-inch-long bass fingerlings that were planted in various waters around Washington state. Many of the bass in the region today are descendants of that initial stocking.

Those who scoff that you’re as likely to catch a Sasquatch as a trophy bass in the Northwest would choke on their chaw if they knew how good the fishing in the shadow of Mt. Rainier can be. Lake Washington’s 26,000 acres of water, surrounded by the sprawl of Seattle, cranks out largemouths up to seven pounds-but its year-round smallmouth fishing is what really shines. With five-pound (and bigger) bronzebacks in the offing any month of the year, and uncrowded fishing to boot, the members of the Western Bass Club are enjoying one of bass fishing’s best-kept secrets-a trophy fishery their club helped create more than 50 years ago.