When anglers talk about Coastal Washington, rivers typically dominate the conversation, and for good reason. In winter, steelhead return to streams from Willapa Bay’s Bear River to the multisyllabic Soo’es and Wa’atch rivers of the Mahkah Passage. Summer Steelhead spawn in the uppermost reaches of the Chehalis, and Coastal Cutthroat utilize even the smallest cedar stained creeks to bring forth the next generation. Lost in this diverse collection of fisheries lay a plethora of stillwater opportunities.
Most of our local lakes will be opening this saturday, and it's a kind of sin to miss the annual lake opener. amongst the vast collection of water-filled depressions in the landscape of our coast a flavor of stillwater exists for every kind fisherman.
The lakes that have a dependable return of sockeye salmon hold a special place in my heart. The sockeye fry are preyed upon heavily by adfluvial trout and char whenever they are present in a system. This offers a great chance to troll fry patterns, my favorite method of taking adfluvial coastal cutts. Hit the sockeye lakes mid may through june, troll drop offs and deep water structure. Lake Quinault is the best lake for this, but it is closed to non tribal fishing this year. Lake Ozette remains a solid choice, but any lake with a run of sockeye or a population of kokanee will produce for trolling fly fisherman.
The high lakes of the Olympic Mountains offer wild, if not native, trout and truly breathtaking views. The trout rarely reach 14 inches and all of these lakes take some leg work to reach, but this is offset by gorgeous alpine terrain, diverse wildlife, and a feeling of solitude that you have to experience to appreciate. I usually use a clear intermediate line, but a floating line will work fine. Fish nondescript wet flies and nymphs, and always carry a couple small olive buggers and a few midge pupa just in case. Don’t forget to look up, when you do I am willing to bet that a feeling of awe will follow shortly.
The WDFW stocks several lakes with “Triploids.” These infertile rainbows feed voraciously and can grow quite large. Failor, Aberdeen, and Sylvia are the triploid lakes I am most familiar with, but several others receive plants. The earlier in the year you fish these lakes the better chance you have of landing a monster artificial trout. A word of caution, a lot of anglers know about these fish, so don’t expect to be alone.
Though definitely not our forte, you can find some warmwater fishing in coastal Washington. Lakes like the Olympia area’s Black Lake, Elma’s Vance Creek Ponds, and the collection of small lakes on the Long Beach Peninsula all contain Largemouth Bass. Cast deer hair poppers and large wooly buggers into thick cover to tempt these fish.
I’ll be hiking up a creek bed to try and locate a mountain lake in the Quinault Basin that I have fished a few times in the past. With Lake Quinault not opening fishing it would seem too anti climactic to me. Wherever you are this saturday, I’ll be wishing you tight lines and blue skies.