Washington offers many summer fishing destinations, and while there are the obvious places to tackle a fish, some folks prefer to seek out the less-traveled roads. Here are some off-the-beaten-path spots that are guaranteed to provide solitude and solid fishing. Explore some great fishing locations in Washington by interacting with the yellow dots on the map to the left.
Editor's note: Sport fishing for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod and all other bottomfish will remain open through Monday, Sept. 3 off North Coast at La Push and west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay as mentioned below. The fishery is generally open year-round. Here is a link to the state Fish and Wildlife news release.
Ross, Diablo and Gorge Lakes
Rainbow, cutthroat and bull trout
These are some of the most underutilized fishing lakes around, according to Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. Ross is home to big rainbow and cutthroat. Diablo has two big bays on the north side that offer good shoreline fishing. The trout at Gorge stay actively on the bite because of cooler, deeper water. Troll with gang flashers and Needlefish or Dick Nite type lures.
Where: There is a boat launch on the Canadian side of Ross Lake and rental boats and cabins available at Ross Lake Resort on the south end. Seattle City Light tugboat at Ross Dam ferries people twice daily to and from the resort. There are numerous campsites in the North Cascades National Park.
Diablo Lake, south off Ross, gets a nice plant of rainbow trout fry, but is the least productive of the three. There is a campground and boat launch at Colonial Creek Campground on the south end of the lake.
Gorge is the smallest of the three, although its fairly deep water (100-plus feet in places) offers anglers a chance to hook some big trout. There is a U.S. Forest Service campground and boat launch near the upper end of the lake.
When: Ross open until Oct. 31 but is a selective fishery so no bait allowed, only lures or flies with a single barbless hook. Diablo and Gorge are open year-round.
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Brook, rainbow, lake and tiger trout, plus kokanee and small mouth bass
This clear and cold lake is home to some large-sized lake trout. The bulk of the summer catch is brook trout. Use Power Bait or worms for bank fishing or troll pop gear with a worm for trout.
Where: The lake is one of the furthest drives for Western Washington anglers, but most rewarding in terms of a quality fishery, and is pretty much set out in the middle of nowhere and never crowded. This 160-acre lake is located northeast of Tonasket in Okanogan County, and is nestled in the beautiful rolling pine tree hills of the Okanogan National Forest. The Bonaparte Lake Resort has a boat launch, cabins, tent and RV campsites, tackle and groceries. The Bonaparte Lake Campground on U.S. Service Forest Service land has a boat launch and numerous campsites.
When: Open year-round. Lead sinkers and lead-contaminated lures banned. Only one-trout over 20 inches may be retained in a five-fish daily limit.
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Lenice, Nunnally, Merry Lakes
Rainbow, brown and tiger trout
Each lake is within walking distance, but you could find yourself huffing and puffing in the summer heat, and this is rattlesnake country. You could bring in a small boat but a float tube is a smarter option. Trout can be very large. One-fish daily limit. Huge bug hatches spring up in the lakes, and fishing is good well into summer.
Where: Lenice, Nunnally and Merry lakes are located in the desolate and dry shrub steppes of southeast Washington. The three walk-in lakes are located south of Vantage, off I-90 in Grant County.
When: March 31-Nov. 30. Daily limit is one trout with no minimum size limit. Internal combustion motors prohibited.
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Only about a dozen rivers and creeks are left that get planted with trout, says author Terry Rudnick. Skate gets about 7,500 rainbows annually, and "it is a ways up there in the woods," Rudnick says. "This stream fishery is just like the good old days, and can be good throughout the summer months." You can use just about any type of small fly, bait or lure with light tackle rod and reel setups.
Where: Skate Creek, which feeds into the Upper Cowlitz River west of Packwood, is one of the last catch-and-keep stream-side planted trout fisheries left in the state. To get there, drive east from Ashford for two miles on Highway 706, and head south on Forest Service Road 52 or take U.S. 12 to Packwood to FSR 52, which parallels the creek for several miles.
When: Open first Saturday in June through Oct. 31. Only one trout over 12 inches may be kept in a five-fish daily limit. Release cutthroat. Release rainbow trout except those with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar at the clipped fin.
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Neah Bay, Kalaloch Beach, La Push
Chinook and coho salmon, lingcod, kelp greenling, black rockfish and redtail surf perch
Each port has charters for newcomers. Troll with herring or plastic squids and lures, or drift with herring or leadheaded jigs. Neah Bay jetty is perfect from shore for bottomfish. A key to success in surf perch fishing is looking for depressions, drop offs and deeper cuts in the beaches where perch will school. Baits of choice are sand or ghost shrimp, sand crabs, mussels, clam necks, squid and pile worms. Use a long, stout fishing rod of 10 to 14 feet and a heavy spinning reel with 10- to 20-pound test fishing line.
Where: For those looking to escape city life, the northern Olympic Peninsula coastline is the furthest point on the saltwater fishing scene, and the three top picks are Neah Bay, La Push and Kalaloch Beach.
Dates: La Push, Neah Bay open daily through Sept. 23 for chinook and hatchery coho. Each port could close sooner if catch quotas are achieved. Surf perch is open through Monday, Sept. 3. Daily limit is 12 surf perch with no minimum size limit. Daily limit for shiner perch is 15.
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