Fishing Lakes in Washington

A mountainous lake with Mt. Rainer in the background, on a summer day.
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Discover the hidden gems nestled within the picturesque landscapes of Washington as we embark on a journey through its remarkable fishing lakes. With their serene beauty and abundant fish populations, these lakes provide an irresistible lure for avid anglers and nature enthusiasts alike. From the tranquil shores of Lake Chelan to the rugged charm of Lake Ozette, each destination offers a unique fishing experience, accompanied by breathtaking scenery that will leave you in awe.

Best Fishing Lakes in Washington

Washington boasts a plethora of stunning fishing lakes, and here are a few of the top picks:

  1. Lake Chelan: Known for its clear blue waters, Lake Chelan offers excellent fishing opportunities for trout, salmon, and kokanee. It’s also the largest lake in the state.
  2. Lake Washington: Located near Seattle, Lake Washington is a popular spot for fishing. It’s home to various fish species, including salmon, trout, bass, and perch.
  3. Lake Roosevelt: Formed by the Grand Coulee Dam, Lake Roosevelt stretches over 150 miles and is renowned for its diverse fish population. Anglers can catch trout, walleye, kokanee, and sturgeon here.
  4. Lake Wenatchee: Situated in the Cascade Mountains, Lake Wenatchee is famous for its excellent salmon and trout fishing. It’s a picturesque spot surrounded by forests and mountains.
  5. Banks Lake: Offering ample opportunities for both shore and boat fishing, Banks Lake is a popular choice for anglers. It’s known for its large-mouth bass, walleye, and rainbow trout.
  6. Lake Sammamish: Located east of Seattle, Lake Sammamish provides excellent fishing for a variety of species, including salmon, trout, bass, and perch.
  7. Lake Cushman: Nestled in the Olympic Peninsula, Lake Cushman is a scenic lake that attracts anglers with its healthy population of trout, kokanee, and bass.
  8. Lake Padden: Situated near Bellingham, Lake Padden is a serene lake that offers fishing for trout, bass, and panfish. It’s a great spot for a peaceful day of angling.

These are just a few of the best fishing lakes in Washington. The state is known for its abundant water bodies and diverse fish species, making it a haven for anglers of all levels.

Washington State Fishing Secrets

Species of Fish Can You Catch While Fishing Washington Lakes

When fishing in the lakes of Washington, you can expect to catch a wide variety of fish species. Some of the common fish you may encounter include:

  1. Trout: Washington lakes are abundant with various species of trout, including rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout. These prized game fish provide thrilling angling experiences.
  2. Salmon: Washington is renowned for its salmon runs. Depending on the season and location, you can target different species such as Chinook (king), Coho (silver), Sockeye (red), Pink, and Chum salmon.
  3. Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found in many Washington lakes. These predatory fish offer exciting action for anglers and are known for their aggressive strikes.
  4. Panfish: Lakes in Washington are home to various panfish species, including bluegill, crappie, and perch. These smaller fish are perfect for beginners or those seeking a more relaxed fishing experience.
  5. Walleye: Some lakes in Washington, such as Lake Roosevelt and Banks Lake, boast healthy populations of walleye. These elusive fish are prized for their delicious flesh and challenging nature.
  6. Kokanee: Kokanee salmon, a landlocked form of sockeye salmon, are prevalent in several lakes across the state. Anglers target kokanee for their vibrant colors and scrappy fights.

These are just a few examples of the fish species you can catch while fishing in Washington lakes. The state’s diverse aquatic ecosystems ensure that ang

Best Time of Day and Months for Washington Lake Fishing

The best time of day and months for lake fishing in Washington can vary depending on the specific lake and target fish species. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:

Time of Day:

  1. Early Morning: Dawn and the first few hours after sunrise are often productive for fishing in Washington lakes. Fish are typically more active during this time as they feed on insects and other prey.
  2. Evening: The period before sunset and a few hours after can also be fruitful for lake fishing. Many fish species become more active during this time, making it an excellent opportunity to cast your line.


  1. Spring: Spring months, particularly April and May, are generally favorable for lake fishing in Washington. As the weather warms up, fish become more active after the winter season. This is a great time to target species like trout, bass, and panfish.
  2. Summer: Summer months, from June to August, offer prime fishing conditions in Washington lakes. Fish are more active due to the warmer water temperatures. This is an excellent time for various species, including trout, salmon, bass, and walleye.
  3. Fall: Fall, particularly September, and October, can provide exceptional fishing opportunities in Washington lakes. Fish are actively feeding in preparation for winter, and the cooler temperatures make them more active. Salmon, trout, and bass fishing can be particularly rewarding during this time.

It’s important to note that weather patterns,  water conditions, and specific lake ecosystems can influence fishing success. It’s always a good idea to research or consult with local fishing resources, such as fishing reports or guides.

Washington State Fishing Secrets

Best Gear for Fishing Washington Lakes

Having the right gear can greatly enhance your angling experience. Here are some essential gear items to consider:

  1. Fishing Rod and Reel: Invest in a high-quality fishing rod and reel suitable for the fish species you plan to target. For general lake fishing in Washington, a medium setup with a baitcasting reel is adequate and reliable.
  2. Fishing Line: Choose a fishing line with adequate strength and durability. Monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided lines are popular choices for different fishing situations. Make sure to select the line weight appropriate for your target fish.
  3. Hooks and Terminal Tackle: Carry a variety of hooks in different sizes, as well as essential terminal tackle such as swivels, sinkers, and bobbers. This allows you to adapt to different fishing techniques and conditions.
  4. Lures and Baits: Washington lakes offer a wide range of fishing opportunities, so it’s helpful to have an assortment of lures and baits in your tackle box. Popular choices include spoons, spinners, soft plastic worms, crankbaits, and live bait like worms or minnows.
  5. Tackle Box and Storage: Keep your gear organized and easily accessible with a tackle box or backpack. It should have compartments to store your hooks, lures, and other small accessories. Consider including a waterproof container for sensitive items like electronics or valuables.
  6. Fishing Accessories: Don’t forget essential accessories such as fishing pliers, line clippers, a landing net, and a fish gripper for safe handling of your catches. Additionally, sunscreen, insect repellent, and appropriate clothing are essential for comfort during your fishing trips.
  7. Safety Equipment: Prioritize safety by carrying a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket, especially if you’re fishing from a boat or in areas with strong currents. It’s also wise to have a first aid kit and a means of communication, such as a cell phone or marine radio.

Check the fishing regulations for the specific lake you plan to fish, as some lakes may have specific gear restrictions or bait regulations. Being well-prepared with the right gear will increase your chances of success and make your Washington lake fishing experience enjoyable.

Best Baits and Lures for Washington Fishing Lakes

The choice of baits and lures can greatly influence your success. Here are some popular baits and lures that are effective in Washington fishing lakes:

  1. PowerBait and Salmon Eggs: PowerBait and salmon eggs are excellent choices for trout fishing in Washington lakes. These scented baits are highly attractive to trout and can be used with various techniques, such as fishing with a slip sinker or a bobber.
  2. Worms: Live worms, such as nightcrawlers or red worms, are versatile baits that attract a wide range of fish species in Washington lakes. They are particularly effective for catching panfish, bass, and even trout.
  3. Spinners: Spinners, such as Mepps or Rooster Tails, are popular lures that imitate small baitfish or insects. They work well for targeting trout, bass, and panfish in Washington lakes. Vary the size and color of the spinner based on the fishing conditions and the preferences of the fish.
  4. Crankbaits: Crankbaits, which mimic injured baitfish, are great lures for targeting bass, walleye, and other predatory fish in Washington lakes. Opt for different diving depths and colors to match the conditions and the fish’s preferences.
  5. Jigs: Jigs are versatile lures that can be used for a variety of fish species in Washington lakes. Pair them with soft plastic grubs, twister tails, or other trailer baits to enhance their appeal. Jigging can be particularly effective for catching bass, walleye, and trout.
  6. Topwater Baits: Topwater lures, such as poppers or buzzbaits, can provide exciting action when targeting bass and other surface-feeding fish in Washington lakes. Use them during low-light conditions or when fish are actively feeding on the water’s surface.
  7. Tube Baits and Creature Baits: Tube baits and creature baits, rigged on a jig head or Texas-rigged, are effective for catching bass in Washington lakes. Their lifelike appearance and subtle movements make them enticing to bass in various situations.

Match your bait or lure selection to the fish species you’re targeting and the conditions of the lake. It’s also essential to experiment with different colors, sizes, and retrieval techniques to find what works best on a given day.

Washington State Fishing Secrets

Best Guides and Charters for Fishing in Washington Lakes

Hiring a guide or charter service can greatly enhance your experience and increase your chances of success. Here are some well-regarded guides and charters for fishing in Washington lakes:

  1. All Rivers & Saltwater Charters: Based in Seattle, All Rivers & Saltwater Charters offers guided fishing trips on Washington lakes and rivers. They specialize in salmon, trout, and steelhead fishing and have experienced guides who are knowledgeable about local waters.
  2. A Spot Tail Salmon Guide: Located in Seattle, A Spot Tail Salmon Guide focuses on salmon fishing in the Puget Sound and surrounding lakes. Their guides have extensive knowledge of the area and offer a personalized fishing experience.
  3. Adventure Fishing Charters: Adventure Fishing Charters operates out of the San Juan Islands and offers guided fishing trips for salmon, lingcod, and halibut. Their experienced guides are skilled in both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
  4. Bass on the Fly Guide Service: If you’re interested in bass fishing in Washington lakes, Bass on the Fly Guide Service is a reputable option. They specialize in fly fishing for bass and offer guided trips on various lakes across the state.
  5. Moses Lake Fishing Guide: Located in central Washington, Moses Lake Fishing Guide provides guided fishing trips on Moses Lake, known for its excellent bass and walleye fishing. Their knowledgeable guides can help you target these species effectively.
  6. Reel Obsession Sport Fishing: Reel Obsession Sport Fishing operates out of the Columbia River Gorge and offers guided fishing trips for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. Their experienced guides are familiar with the unique fishing opportunities on the Columbia River.

Consider factors such as their expertise, reputation, customer reviews, and the specific fish species and lakes you’re interested in. It’s also a good idea to inquire about rates, availability, and any additional services they offer.

Popular Fishing Tournaments and Events in Washington Lakes

Washington lakes host a variety of popular fishing tournaments and events throughout the year. These events attract anglers from all over and provide opportunities for friendly competition and camaraderie. Here are some well-known fishing tournaments and events held in Washington lakes:

  1. Northwest Salmon Derby Series: The Northwest Salmon Derby Series is a series of fishing derbies held across various lakes and rivers in Washington. These derbies focus on salmon fishing and offer cash prizes for the largest fish caught.
  2. Lake Chelan International Jet Ski Fishing Derby: This unique event takes place on Lake Chelan and combines the excitement of jet skiing with fishing. Participants compete to catch the largest fish while riding jet skis, adding an extra level of thrill to the competition.
  3. Potholes Open Bass Tournament: Held at Potholes Reservoir in eastern Washington, this bass fishing tournament attracts anglers of all skill levels. Participants compete to catch the heaviest combined weight of bass, with cash prizes and trophies awarded to the top finishers.
  4. Klink’s Williams Lake Resort Trout Derby: Williams Lake Resort hosts an annual trout derby, where anglers gather to catch trout and compete for prizes. This family-friendly event offers various categories and age divisions, ensuring everyone has a chance to participate.
  5. Banks Lake Triple Fish Challenge: The Banks Lake Triple Fish Challenge is a multi-species fishing tournament held on Banks Lake. Anglers target bass, walleye, and trout in this event, showcasing their versatility and skill across different species.
  6. Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby: Lake Stevens is well-known for its kokanee salmon population, and the Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby celebrates this species. Anglers compete to catch the largest kokanee, with prizes awarded based on weight and length categories.
  7. Lake Washington Sockeye Open: Lake Washington is famous for its sockeye salmon runs, and the Lake Washington Sockeye Open is a popular tournament that focuses on this species. Anglers target sockeye salmon and compete for prizes based on weight and quantity caught.

These are just a few examples of the fishing tournaments and events that take place in Washington lakes. It’s always a good idea to stay updated on the latest fishing events.

Washington State Fishing Secrets

Fishing Regulations and Licenses for Washington Lakes

It’s important to adhere to the state’s fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses. Here is some general information about fishing regulations and licenses for Washington lakes:

  1. Fishing Licenses: Most anglers aged 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license to fish in Washington lakes. Licenses can be obtained online through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website or from authorized license vendors across the state. Different license options are available, including freshwater licenses, combination licenses, and one-day licenses for non-residents.
  2. Fishing Seasons and Limits: Washington lakes have specific fishing seasons and daily catch limits for different fish species. It’s crucial to check the WDFW fishing regulations pamphlet or the WDFW website for the most up-to-date information on season dates, size limits, and daily bag limits for the lake and species you plan to fish.
  3. Special Regulations: Some Washington lakes may have additional special regulations, such as catch-and-release areas, selective gear rules, or specific gear restrictions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with any special regulations that apply to the lake you’re fishing.
  4. Endangered Species: Certain fish species, such as bull trout, steelhead, and certain salmon populations, may be protected as endangered or threatened species in Washington lakes. Special regulations and conservation measures may apply to these species, including catch-and-release requirements or specific fishing closures.
  5. Fish Consumption Advisories: The Washington Department of Health issues fish consumption advisories for certain lakes and fish species due to potential contaminants. These advisories provide information on safe consumption levels and restrictions. It’s advisable to check the current fish consumption advisories for the lake you’re fishing before consuming the fish.
  6. Reporting Requirements: Some fishing activities in Washington lakes require anglers to report their catch, such as for salmon and steelhead. Anglers may need to record their catch on a Catch Record Card and report it to the WDFW as required by specific regulations.

Regulations can change, and specific lakes may have additional rules or restrictions. Therefore, it’s always recommended to review the current fishing regulations and licensing requirements provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife before fishing in any Washington lake.

Best Places to Stay for Washington Lake Fishing

Washington State Fishing Secrets

Tips and Tricks for Successful Fishing in Washington Lakes

Here are some tips and tricks for successful fishing in Washington lakes:

  1. Research the Lake: Learn about the lake’s characteristics, including its depth, structure, and the species of fish that inhabit it. This information will help you choose the right fishing techniques and equipment.
  2. Time Your Fishing: Pay attention to the best times of the day and the seasons when fish are most active in Washington lakes. Early morning and late evening are often productive periods, and certain seasons may offer better opportunities for specific fish species.
  3. Use the Right Bait and Lures: Select bait and lures that mimic the natural food sources of the fish you’re targeting. Experiment with different options, such as worms, minnows, or artificial lures, to find what works best in the particular lake you’re fishing.
  4. Explore Different Depths: Fish can be found at various depths in Washington lakes. Experiment with different fishing depths by adjusting your bait or using techniques like trolling or bottom fishing to increase your chances of success.
  5. Observe the Surroundings: Pay attention to the lake’s surroundings, such as areas with vegetation, submerged structures, or drop-offs. These can be hotspots for fish, providing cover and food sources.
  6. Practice Patience and Stealth: Fishing in Washington lakes often requires patience and a stealthy approach. Avoid making excessive noise, cast your line gently, and be patient while waiting for bites.
  7. Stay Versatile: Be prepared to adapt your fishing techniques based on the conditions and the behavior of the fish. If one approach doesn’t yield results, don’t hesitate to switch to a different technique or location.
  8. Follow Fishing Regulations: Always abide by the fishing regulations and licensing requirements set by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Respect catch limits, size restrictions, and any specific rules for the lake you’re fishing in.

By incorporating these tips and tricks into your fishing strategy, you’ll increase your chances of success while enjoying the beauty of Washington’s lakes. Happy fishing!


In conclusion, Washington’s fishing lakes offer a captivating escape into nature’s embrace, where the thrill of the catch intertwines with the serenity of breathtaking landscapes. Whether you seek the tranquility of remote mountain lakes or the vibrant energy of bustling reservoirs, this state has something to offer every angler’s heart. From reeling in trophy-sized trout to battling feisty salmon, the opportunities for unforgettable fishing experiences are endless. So grab your rod, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Washington’s fishing lakes.

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