Welcome to the Evergreen State, a gem of the Pacific Coast teeming with outdoor opportunities and boasting a vast array of fishing locales.
From salmon fishing along the mighty Columbia River to rainbow trout fishing on the Skagit River, Washington never disappoints. This article will guide you to the 11 best fishing lakes in the state, ensuring your next fishing trip is unforgettable.
11 Best Fishing Lakes in Washington State
1. Lake Washington: A Fishing Paradise in King County
Encompassed within King County, Lake Washington has long held the interest of both recreational and professional anglers. Its reputation as one of the best places for smallmouth bass and cutthroat trout fishing is well-earned, solidified by countless fishing expeditions that yielded impressive catches.
A Diverse Ecosystem and Ideal Fishing Times
The lake offers a vibrant ecosystem and diverse species that thrive in its clean, well-oxygenated waters. While smallmouth bass and cutthroat trout are the show’s stars, Lake Washington is also home to various other fish species, making it a delightful spot for anglers with different interests.
One of the reasons why Lake Washington is so popular among fishing enthusiasts is the best time for fishing.
The early morning hours present a fantastic opportunity for fishing, as the lake’s shallow water bustles with activity. Fish, seeking their morning meal, venture into the shallow waters, creating an ideal environment for anglers to make their best catch.
Ease of Public Access and Availability of Marinas
Lake Washington ensures easy public access, a boon for fishermen eager to dive into the experience without undue delay. The lake features multiple boat launches and fishing piers.
The boat launches are well-distributed around the lake, allowing anglers to choose their preferred fishing spot, while the fishing piers provide an excellent platform for those who prefer to fish from the shore.
Adding to Lake Washington’s appeal are the marinas scattered around the lake, which serve various purposes.
These include docking and storage, refueling, fishing gear, and bait supply. Some popular marinas include the Newport Yacht Basin, Meydenbauer Bay Marina, and Leschi Marina. These facilities enhance the overall fishing experience by offering convenient services and amenities.
Best Fishing Spots and Marinas on Lake Washington
|Best Fishing Spots
|Matthews Beach Park
|Newport Yacht Basin
|Kirkland Marina Park
|Carillon Point Marina
|Mercer Island’s Luther Burbank Park
|Mercer Island Boat Launch
2. Lake Chelan: The Crown Jewel of North Cascades National Park
You’ll find Lake Chelan, a freshwater expanse boasting rich biodiversity at the core of North Cascades National Park. This lake is globally renowned for its lake trout and Chinook salmon populations, making it a highly sought-after spot for angling enthusiasts.
An Unmatched Biodiversity and Prime Fishing Seasons
Lake Chelan’s depth and pristine condition create an excellent habitat for various species. While lake trout and Chinook salmon are the primary attractions, the lake also houses many other species, providing a diverse angling experience.
The lake truly comes alive during summer, with the warming water bringing the trout and salmon closer to the surface. It’s during this season that the lake’s fishing activity peaks.
The Importance of Local Guidance and Legal Requirements
With Lake Chelan’s vastness and diverse ecosystem, it can be beneficial to enlist the help of a local guide or a fishing guide. These experts, familiar with the lake’s intricacies, can lead you to the best spots, increasing your chances of a successful catch.
Fishing Spots and Marinas on Lake Chelan
|Best Fishing Spots
|Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park
|Lake Chelan Marina
|Chelan Riverwalk Marina
|Don Morse Park Marina
|Manson Bay Marina
|Prince Creek Marina
3. Banks Lake: Eastern Washington’s Fishing Gem
Nestled in Eastern Washington, Banks Lake offers an unparalleled fishing experience for novice and expert anglers.
Renowned for its bountiful rainbow trout and smallmouth bass, this large lake is a fishing enthusiast’s haven. Its expansive shoreline is among the most extensive in the state, positioning Banks Lake as one of the top fishing locations in Washington.
A Vibrant Ecosystem and Optimal Fishing Seasons
Banks Lake’s clean waters and diverse underwater terrain create a hospitable environment for various fish species, with rainbow trout and smallmouth bass reigning supreme.
These species and others thrive in the lake’s conditions, making Banks Lake an exciting spot for anglers eager to reel in a diverse range of catches.
The best periods to visit Banks Lake are late spring and early fall. During these times, the fish are most active due to the moderate water temperatures. These periods witness a significant upswing in fishing activity as anglers gather to exploit the prime conditions.
An Expansive Fishing Landscape: Banks Lake
Banks Lake is huge, offering miles of shoreline that provide diverse fishing spots. Anglers can choose from various settings, from the calm shores to deeper water areas, depending on their preference and the type of fish they aim to catch.
Best fishing spots on Banks Lake and the nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Coulee City Community Park
|Coulee Playland Resort
|Electric City’s North Dam Park
|Banks Lake Boat Rentals
|Steamboat Rock State Park
|Sunbanks Lake Resort Marina
|Devils Punch Bowl
|Grand Coulee Marina
3. Lake Sammamish: A Trout Fishing Mecca East of Seattle
Located just east of Seattle, Lake Sammamish has become Washington’s top-tier trout fishing destination.
Particularly known for its brown trout and cutthroat trout, the lake offers year-round fishing opportunities that delight anglers of all skill levels.
A Bustling Ecosystem and Year-Round Fishing Opportunities
Lake Sammamish stands out for its rich biodiversity, with a healthy brown trout and cutthroat trout population.
These species are exciting and challenging to catch, making them an alluring target for many anglers. Moreover, their substantial presence in the lake adds to Lake Sammamish’s top trout fishing location appeal.
One of the unique aspects of Lake Sammamish is that it offers great sport throughout the year.
Although the activity and behavior of fish vary according to the seasons, opportunities for successful fishing trips persist year-round. This consistent availability of fish makes Lake Sammamish a favorite among local and visiting anglers.
Ease of Access and Angler-Friendly Amenities
Lake Sammamish boasts easy access, with several routes leading to this beautiful body of water. This ease of access, combined with the lake’s size and facilities, makes it an attractive fishing destination.
Boat ramps are conveniently located around the lake, accommodating anglers who prefer to venture onto the open waters. These ramps are generally spacious and well-maintained, facilitating a smooth launch.
Best fishing spots and nearby marinas on Lake Sammamish
|Best Fishing Spots
|Lake Sammamish State Park
|Issaquah Paddle Sports
|Pine Lake Boat Launch
|Beaver Lake Boat Launch
|Inglewood Hill Boat Launch
|Vasa Park Resort
5. Lake Roosevelt: A Premier Destination on the Upper Columbia River
Situated along the course of the Upper Columbia River, Lake Roosevelt is a premier destination for fishing enthusiasts seeking largemouth bass and rainbow trout.
This deep-water lake, named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt, stands out for its ample opportunities to reel in big fish, offering an exciting challenge for anglers.
Home to Largemouth Bass and Rainbow Trout: Lake Roosevelt’s Unique Ecosystem
Largemouth bass and rainbow trout population enrich Lake Roosevelt’s biodiversity. These species thrive in the lake’s deep, well-oxygenated waters, providing rewarding catch opportunities for anglers.
Given the lake’s depth, the fish found here tend to be larger than average, offering fantastic opportunities for anglers looking for a big catch. This aspect has made Lake Roosevelt a must-visit spot for anyone seeking the thrill of reeling in big fish.
Optimal Fishing Time: Early Morning in the Summer Months
The early morning hours during summer are the best times to fish in Lake Roosevelt. During these hours, the lake’s fish are most active, coming closer to the surface to feed.
This increased activity near the surface, combined with the cooler temperatures of the early morning, make this the ideal time for a successful fishing expedition.
Best fishing spots on Lake Roosevelt and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Lake Roosevelt Vacations Marina
|Spring Canyon Boat Launch
|Seven Bays Marina
|Keller Ferry Marina
|Evans Boat Launch
6. Potholes Reservoir: Eastern Washington’s Fishing Paradise
Located in Eastern Washington, Potholes Reservoir is a sought-after destination for avid anglers. The reservoir is popular for its species diversity, including yellow perch, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass.
Its distinctive landscape features deep lakes and shallow water areas, offering a variety of good spots for fishing enthusiasts to explore and enjoy.
A Diversity of Species: Potholes Reservoir’s Aquatic Ecosystem
Potholes Reservoir boasts a rich aquatic ecosystem with various species attracting anglers. The yellow perch, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass are particularly prevalent here.
Each species offers unique challenges and rewards for anglers, contributing to a versatile and exciting fishing experience.
A Unique Landscape: Deep Lakes and Shallow Waters
Potholes Reservoir stands out with its unique landscape, blending deep lakes and shallow water areas. This varied topography allows for diverse fishing opportunities. Whether you prefer to fish in deep waters for larger, elusive catches, or enjoy the convenience of fishing in shallow waters teeming with active fish, Potholes Reservoir has it all.
Best fishing spots on Potholes Reservoir and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|MarDon Resort Area
|MarDon Resort Marina
|Potholes State Park
|Lind Coulee Boat Launch
|Medicare Beach Boat Launch
7. Lake Wenatchee: A Treasure near the Eastern Slopes of the Olympic National Park
Nestled near the eastern slopes of the Olympic National Park, Lake Wenatchee is an extraordinary destination for fishing enthusiasts. Known for its healthy sockeye salmon and lake trout populations, it becomes a local favorite during the summer months when the fish are most active.
Thriving Ecosystem: Sockeye Salmon and Lake Trout
Lake Wenatchee is home to various fish species, with sockeye salmon and lake trout being the most sought-after. These species thrive in the lake’s clear waters, providing fantastic opportunities for anglers.
The lake’s bounty is most evident during the summer, as warmer temperatures boost fish activity, resulting in an exciting fishing experience.
Summer Months: A Prime Time for Fishing
The summer months see Lake Wenatchee teeming with activity, with fish and anglers particularly active.
As temperatures rise, the fish become more active, offering fantastic opportunities for anglers. Locals and tourists flock to the lake during this time, eager to partake in Lake Wenatchee’s rich fishing experience.
Compliance with Washington Department of Fish Regulations
Anglers visiting Lake Wenatchee should be aware of the regulations enforced by the Washington Department of Fish. One of these is the requirement to carry a catch record card when fishing.
This card tracks an angler’s catch and is a crucial part of the state’s efforts to manage fish populations sustainably.
Best fishing spots on Lake Wenatchee and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Lake Wenatchee State Park
|Lake Wenatchee State Park Boat Ramp
|Fish Lake Boat Launch
|White River Boat Launch
|Little Wenatchee River
|Little Wenatchee Boat Launch
|Nason Creek Campground
8. Moses Lake: A Top Pick in the Heart of Eastern Washington
In Eastern Washington’s heart, Moses Lake is a favorite among local guides and enthusiastic anglers. This popular destination is best known for its largemouth bass population, attracting fishing aficionados from near and far.
The lake is exceptionally bustling during the late summer, with early mornings offering the best chances for a rewarding catch.
Home to Largemouth Bass
Moses Lake has a thriving largemouth bass population, contributing significantly to its status as a sought-after fishing spot. This species, renowned for their size and fighting spirit, presents a thrilling challenge for anglers, enhancing the fishing experience that Moses Lake offers.
Best Months for Fishing: Late Summer
The late summer months mark the prime time for fishing in Moses Lake. During this period, the largemouth bass become particularly active, increasing anglers’ chances of securing a noteworthy catch. The early morning hours are ideal, as the water is cooler and fish are closer to the surface, feeding.
Public Access Areas and Open Waters
Accessing Moses Lake is a breeze, thanks to its numerous public access areas. These areas provide easy entry to the open waters, making the lake accessible to anglers of all ages and skill levels.
These access points often come with amenities like parking and restrooms, further facilitating a comfortable fishing experience.
Best fishing spots on Moses Lake and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Blue Heron Park
|Blue Heron Marina
|Moses Lake Marina
|McCosh Park Dock
|Northend Boat Launch
9. Riffe Lake: A Hidden Gem in Western Washington
Located in Western Washington, Riffe Lake is an exceptional location for Chinook salmon and coho salmon fishing. This destination, while last on our list, is by no means the least in terms of its fishing appeal.
Riffe Lake is a superb spot for winter fishing and offers convenient boat launch facilities. Early fall marks one of the best seasons to enjoy its aquatic riches.
Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon: The Stars of Riffe Lake
Riffe Lake is celebrated for its populations of Chinook salmon and coho salmon. These species offer a rewarding challenge for anglers, with their size and fighting spirit contributing to an exhilarating fishing experience.
The presence of these two species positions Riffe Lake as a must-visit location for salmon enthusiasts.
Winter Months: An Excellent Time for Fishing
Unlike many other fishing destinations, Riffe Lake truly comes alive during winter. The cooler temperatures see the lake’s salmon becoming more active, offering exciting opportunities for anglers.
Despite the chill, the thrill of reeling in a hard-fighting Chinook or coho salmon makes braving the cold well worth it.
Boat Launch and the Best Season: Early Fall
For those who prefer to fish from a boat, Riffe Lake offers a convenient boat launch facility. This facility provides easy access to the lake, making for a seamless start to your fishing adventure.
While the lake offers great year-round fishing, early fall is one of the best seasons to fish here. The salmon are plentiful and active during this period, making for a productive fishing experience.
Best fishing spots on Riffe Lake and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Taidnapam Fishing Bridge
|Kosmos Boat Launch
|Riffe Lake Campground
|Riffe Lake Boat Launch
|Glenoma Boat Launch
Fishing Guide: Best Bass Fishing in Oregon
10. American Lake: A Prized Destination in Washington State
American Lake, located in Washington State, is impressive for casual and seasoned anglers.
Its thriving fish populations offer fantastic largemouth bass and rainbow trout fishing opportunities. It is well-equipped with public access areas and boat launch facilities, and the lake is particularly inviting during the late spring and early fall.
Thriving Populations: Largemouth Bass and Rainbow Trout
The healthy populations of largemouth bass and rainbow trout highlight American Lake. These species present unique challenges for anglers, adding a thrilling aspect to the fishing experience.
Whether you’re chasing the elusive largemouth bass or the sprightly rainbow trout, American Lake promises a rewarding fishing adventure.
Optimal Fishing Seasons: Late Spring and Early Fall
While fishing is viable throughout the year at American Lake, the late spring and early fall seasons are particularly promising.
During these periods, the water temperature is just right, encouraging the fish to be more active. Whether you’re an early bird or a sunset angler, these seasons provide ample opportunities for a fruitful catch.
Easy Access and Boat Launch Facilities
With its public access areas, American Lake is easily accessible to all. These areas provide easy entry to the lake’s open waters, making it convenient for anglers of all experience levels.
The lake’s boat launch facilities also provide easy water access for those who prefer to fish from a boat, further enhancing the fishing experience.
Best fishing spots on American Lake and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Bill’s Boathouse Marina
|Sunnyside Beach Park
|Sunnyside Boat Launch
|Harry Todd Park
|Harry Todd Park Boat Launch
|American Lake Park
|American Lake Marina
|Silcox Island Public Dock
11. Green Lake: A Picturesque Urban Oasis in Washington State
Situated in the heart of urban Seattle in King County, Green Lake offers an unexpected yet exciting fishing experience. Its reputation as a fantastic spot for fishing for rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and largemouth bass has made it a popular location for local and visiting anglers.
The lake is easily accessible with several public access points, making it an ideal spot for a day out fishing, particularly in the late spring and early fall.
The Residents of Green Lake: Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and Largemouth Bass
Green Lake is home to several species of fish that offer an exhilarating fishing experience. The lake’s thriving populations of rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and largemouth bass present an exciting challenge to anglers of all levels.
The diversity of species in Green Lake guarantees an exciting and varied fishing experience every time.
Prime Fishing Time: Late Spring and Early Fall
While Green Lake offers year-round fishing, the best times to cast your line are in the late spring and early fall.
The fish are most active during these periods, leading to higher catch rates and a more rewarding fishing experience. Early mornings and late afternoons are typically the most productive times.
Convenient Public Access
Green Lake is conveniently nestled within the city, and as such, it has numerous public access points that make it a breeze to reach the water. These access points are usually well-maintained and equipped with amenities like restrooms and picnic areas, making your fishing trip comfortable and enjoyable.
Best fishing spots on Green Lake and nearby marinas:
|Best Fishing Spots
|Green Lake Marina
|Green Lake Boat Rental
|East Green Lake Beach
|East Green Lake Boat Launch
|West Green Lake Beach
|West Green Lake Boat Launch
|Green Lake Park
|Green Lake Park Boat Rental
Methodology for Choosing the Lakes
Choosing the best fishing spots in Washington involved careful consideration of several factors.
The variety of fish species, accessibility, amenities, seasonal availability, the quality of the fishing environment, user reviews, and ratings from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website played a critical role in the selection process.
Fishing Guide: Ocean Fishing vs Lake Fishing
Fishing Licenses and Regulations in Washington State
Fishing in Washington State requires adherence to certain rules and regulations to preserve the state’s aquatic resources and provide fair and equitable opportunities for all anglers. A critical part of this is the requirement for a valid fishing license.
In Washington State, anyone 15 years of age or older must have a fishing license to fish in the state’s freshwater and saltwater bodies.
Licenses can be purchased online from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, in person at a licensed dealer, or by phone. The license cost varies depending on the type of license, the applicant’s residency status, age, and the type of fish being targeted.
Types of Fishing Licenses
Several types of fishing licenses are available, including freshwater, saltwater, shellfish/seaweed, razor clam, combination licenses, and others. The specific license you need depends on the species you intend to fish for and where you plan to fish.
For example, a freshwater license allows you to fish for freshwater species in the lakes and rivers of Washington, while a saltwater license is needed for fishing in marine areas.
Complying with Washington State’s Fishing Regulations
In addition to having a valid license, anglers are expected to comply with the fishing regulations set forth by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
These rules cover a broad range of areas including, but not limited to, specific seasons when fishing is allowed, daily catch limits, size limits, gear restrictions, and the legal methods for taking fish.
These regulations may differ significantly between species and locations. For instance, specific lakes may have unique rules about the type and number of fish you can retain.
Hence, it’s essential to consult the current Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
The Role of Anglers in Conservation
Washington State’s fishing regulations aim to maintain sustainable fish populations and healthy ecosystems while providing quality recreational fishing opportunities.
By understanding and following these rules, anglers can contribute to conservation efforts, ensuring that the rich fishing tradition of Washington State continues for generations to come.
Fishing Guide: 10 Best Fishing Lakes in Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which lake in Washington is best for fishing rainbow trout?
Banks Lake, Lake Roosevelt, and Green Lake are renowned for abundant rainbow trout populations.
When is the best time to fish in Washington State?
The best time for fishing varies depending on the fish species and the specific lake. Generally, late spring and early fall are excellent times for fishing in most lakes. However, it’s always best to check the specific fishing rules for each lake, as some fish are more active during specific times of the year.
Do I need a license to fish in Washington State?
Yes, a valid fishing license is required to fish in Washington State for anyone aged 15 and above. Fishing licenses can be obtained online, in person at a license dealer, or by phone from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Where can I catch largemouth bass in Washington?
Largemouth bass are popular in many lakes in Washington. Moses Lake, Lake Roosevelt, and American Lake are some of the top choices for this species.
What kind of fish can I catch in Lake Chelan?
Lake Chelan is known for its lake trout and Chinook salmon populations, providing a diverse fishing experience.
Is boat fishing or shore fishing better in Washington State?
Both boat fishing and shore fishing can yield good catches in Washington. The choice depends largely on personal preference and the specific location. Many lakes, like Lake Washington and Green Lake have accessible shorelines, boat launches, and fishing piers, allowing for both boat and shore fishing.
What amenities can I expect at these fishing lakes in Washington?
Many of the top fishing lakes in Washington offer amenities such as restrooms, boat ramps, picnic areas, and marinas. Some also have boat rental facilities. However, the availability of amenities can vary from lake to lake.
What are the catch limits in Washington lakes?
Catch limits vary depending on the species of fish and the specific lake. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife publishes fishing regulations with specific catch limits. It’s important to check these before heading out on a fishing trip.
What’s the largest lake in Washington for fishing?
Lake Roosevelt, which is part of the Columbia River, is one of the largest lakes in Washington and offers fantastic fishing opportunities.