Moses Lake in May – Part 1

When it comes down to it, few if any lakes or rivers in the Northwest offer the opportunity to catch a Largemouth and/or Smallmouth of a lifetime on the same day, in the same part of the lake on any given cast.

It is an easy lake to boat and navigate, with a good mix of structure and cover options. But most or all, Moses Lake supports plus-sized Largemouth and Smallmouth that can really create some special memories and the month of May is the best time of year to be there for both numbers and size.

Lake Characteristics

Moses Lake sits just north of Potholes Reservoir with only a couple of gates separating the two. Crab Creek feeds both and is the main influx of water for both.

Moses Lake is a relatively small body of water, checking in at just 6,800 acres and relatively shallow with an average depth of around 18 ft.

Moses Lake is, at its core, a lake feed by a couple of creeks, held back at the south end of the lake. So while it is a natural lake, it is controlled and managed as a reservoir. As a reservoir, water levels can and do fluctuate throughout the year. However, for most of the fishing season (spring, summer, and fall) Moses is as stable as you are going to find, with variations measured in inches.

Typical water levels throughout the year at Moses Lake

The lake consist of several arms or “horns” as they are referred to on maps. Each of these horns offer a slice of backwater environments, where water temperature, clarity and phase of the spawn can differ (more on that later) from the “main” lake or main steam of Moses.

Sectional Breakdown

Most all of the areas on Moses will hold both Largemouth (LM) and Smallmouth (SM), so you can’t characterize the lake by species. There are some generalities that you can take from a sectional approach to breaking down Moses Lake, so let’s look at some of those.

A look at the whole of Moses Lake

North End

The extreme north end of Moses is feed by Rocky Ford Creek and is both narrow and shallow. As is most of Moses, this far north in is mainly characterized by a rocky shoreline that is rimmed with tulles and cattails. There is some submerged vegetation that grows in the 4-8′ zones that starts to become apparent in May.

Both LM and SM can be had in the far north end, but there isn’t much water to share.
The next section down features a small peninsula/point/pocket and more tulles and rocks. Depths start to increase a bunch in this section.

There are a smattering of docks, small pumping carve outs to fish through this section, but overall things feel less inhabited and developed on this end of the lake. Generally, the far north end has a bit of stain to it, but I have seen it pretty clear at times with 3 ft of visibility or more.

North Bends

The next section up north features two major bends in the lake and the first collection of houses and docks. The same composition of tulles and rocks with some sand and mud in between. The shoreline overall is more broken between docks, tulles, and rocky outcroppings, points, and pockets. Flats become more expansive and the distinction between what is shallow and deep becomes more obvious.

The first bend takes the lake into an east-west orientation as the lake gradually begins to deepen and widen.
The second bend turns down south and enters the main part of the lake

Main Lake

The main stem of Moses runs north-south and begins to look and feel more like a real lake. Depths increase into the 20 ft. + range and backwater cuts and shoreline flats both feel more substantial. We also start seeing some islands through this section, which add a bit of flavor.

The main stem of Moses, running north-south. This section included an island a couple of backwater cuts.
A mid-lake overview showing each of the 3 “horns” (arms) of the lake. Each horn is its own little section of the lake with different water conditions (clarity and temp.) and different phases of the spawn.
The south end of Moses. The most diverse section of the lake, with a little bit of everything to offer.

Coming up…

Part 2 – Moses Lake Structure/Cover

Part 3 – Spawning Stages

Part 4 – Gear

Part 5 – Techniques/Tactics

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *