BASSSAlthough he’s been fishing his entire life — since he was two years old, anyway — Austin Redding (@PNWBassin on Instagram) didn’t start chasing bass until about three years ago.
The Central Washington University freshman has been exploring the lakes and rivers of his home state, which is not particularly known for bass fishing.
“Even though we have decent bass fishing here — especially east of the mountains — it’s not a really popular sport, yet,” Austin says.
Austin didn’t even realize they had high school bass tournaments in Washington until his senior year in high school. But when he did, he grabbed a co-angler and hit the water.
“We had first, second and third place finishes and won Angler of the Year for the state of Washington,” he says.
The lakes that Austin prefers to fish — like those near his hometown of Puyallup, Washington: Spanaway and American Lakes, as well as Lake Washington — are prime habitat for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Austin has a hard time choosing between the two, but leans a little more toward largemouth.
“I love smallmouths for their fight,” he says. “But I love largemouths for their size.”
Jigging is Austin’s go-to technique. His favorite rig? Austin likes a sand-tone jig with a Strike King Rage Craw on top. Sometimes, when he’s targeting smallmouth, he’ll add a drop shot and bang the rig along steep ledges.
For gear, he uses a medium-heavy, 7’-2” 1/4 to 1 ounce jig rod.
“Nothing too heavy, though,” Austin says.
Scouting a fishing spot is considerably more subjective.
“It depends on the lake,” he says. “I look for cover and stucture. If nothing is obvious I look for docks that I can toss a jig under.”
Surprisingly (or maybe not these days), one of Austin’s motivations for bass fishing was social media.
“When I started my Instagram account in 2014, it was focused on hunting,” he said. “But when I started putting up fishing posts, it kind of took off.”
It sure did — to the tune of almost 50,000 followers only four years later.
Now Austin has also started a YouTube channel dedicated to bass fishing tips and techniques — and to the bass in Washington State’s waters.
Ultimately, though, it’s the chance at the big fish that drives Austin. His personal best, so far, was a monster largemouth that weighed in at seven pounds, eleven ounces.
“It was the middle of December on this small pond,” he says. “I cast into some cover, next to a small log and he hit it. It was my first cast.”
And that’s why Austin gets out on the water.
“I got to get out and get another huge fish,” he says. “I’m still looking for that double-digit bass.”