The 10 Best Fishing Lakes in Washington State (And the Types of Fish to Expect!)

Written by Lev Baker
Updated: July 3, 2023
© Fen Kuntz/
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Green Lake doesn’t permit motorized watercraft or have boat ramps for launching trailered boats.

Fishing enthusiasts in Washington State are blessed with having some of the nation’s most amazing fishable waters in their backyard. With a staggering selection of over 8,000 lakes to explore, the Evergreen State is truly an angler’s paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, get ready to cast your line and embark on an unforgettable fishing expedition.

So, grab your gear, and let’s dive into the absolute best fishing lakes in Washington State.

1. Green Lake

Green lake trail in Seattle.
Green Lake is located right in the Seattle area!


If you’re a sport angler in the Seattle area, you might consider Green Lake as your personal slice of heaven.

This beautiful lake offers a generous surface area of 259 acres. Woodland Park to the south and Green Lake Park to the north surround the lake. The best part is that you can access the shoreline from anywhere around the lake, with fishing piers and the opportunity to fish from the bank.

Green Lake doesn’t permit motorized watercraft or have boat ramps for launching trailered boats. You can still launch boat toppers from the shore, though. Just remember to bring only what you can comfortably carry to the bank. Additionally, the area around the lake is equipped with various amenities. Those include restaurants, cafes, bars, and taphouses, ensuring that you have a comfortable fishing experience.

It’s worth noting that swimming is also allowed at Green Lake, so it’s essential to be mindful of other park users and swimmers while you’re fishing nearby. 

The lake itself receives annual stockings of over 30,000 rainbow trout, making it a fishing hotspot throughout the year. So, whether you’re fishing for largemouth bass, brown trout, rainbow trout, common carp, rock bass, brown bullhead, pumpkinseed sunfish, or channel catfish, Green Lake offers a year-round fishing season with consistently good catches.

 So grab your gear and enjoy a day of fishing in this urban oasis!

2. Lake Kapowsin

Spring blossoms line Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle, Washington.
As it spans about 500 acres, Lake Kapowsin is an excellent fishing spot near Mount Ranier.


Lake Kapowsin is one of the best fishing lakes in Washington. Spanning approximately 500 acres, it’s perfect for anglers looking to catch rainbow trout in Washington. With Mount Ranier and the Cascade Mountains in the background, Lake Kapowsin is a natural wonder.

A popular spot for hunting, fishing, and boating enthusiasts, this destination attracts visitors with its lush vegetated shorelines and diverse natural habitat. To reach the lake, head towards Orville Road on the north side and continue east as the road bends. For convenient access, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has developed a well-designed boat launch. For the ultimate adventurous fishing adventure, consider using a kayak.

Moreover, the lake offers a wealth of shrubs and emergent wetlands at both its northern and southern ends. 

The diversity of fish species in Lake Kapowsin is remarkable. At Lake Kapowsin, you’ll discover a fantastic variety of sport fish to enhance your fishing experience. 

The lake is teeming with cutthroat salmon, yellow perch, steelhead, rainbow trout, walleye, coho salmon, largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill, black crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, and bullhead catfish. No matter your preference, there’s a fish waiting for you to reel in and add some excitement to your day on the water!

3. Lake Washington

USA, Washington State, Bellevue. Newport Shores neighborhood, Lake Washington and floating bridge in autumn, with Seattle in distance.
Lake Washington is the second largest lake in Washington State, located right in Seattle.

©Danita Delimont/

The second largest natural lake in the State of Washington, Lake Washington, is a scenic body of water nestled right within the bustling metropolis of Seattle.

With its vast expanse spanning 22,000 acres in northwest Washington, it offers a refreshing escape from city life. Nestled between Seattle on the west and Bellevue on the east, this captivating lake boasts over 80 miles of shoreline adorned with bustling boat docks, beckoning avid anglers to its waters. 

Many marinas and boat launch ramps cater to boating enthusiasts. Don’t have a boat of your own? There are various rental options abound, ranging from canoes, pleasure boats, and kayaks to pontoons and fishing boats. Camping facilities are limited to a couple of nearby campgrounds and RV parks. Nearby towns, though, offer plenty of choices for accommodation.

When it comes to fishing, Lake Washington offers an impressive array of species to target. Anglers can test their skills in pursuing steelhead, black crappie, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, green sunfish, cutthroat trout, sockeye salmon, pumpkinseed sunfish, coho salmon, chinook salmon, kokanee salmon, and largemouth bass.

The possibilities are as vast as the lake itself. That makes it a perfect place for anglers of all preferences and expertise levels.

4. American Lake

Photograph of a great blue heron flying over the water at American Lake in Lakewood, WA.
American Lake is a natural wonderland south of Tacoma in Washington.

©Derrick Engel/

Located near Tacoma, WA, American Lake is a sprawling body of water spanning approximately 1,100 acres. American Lake has more than enough space for anglers to explore and get in touch with nature while trying to reel in their favored fish species. Many hail it as one of Pierce County’s beloved fishing destinations. It offers abundant opportunities to catch impressive trout, kokanee, bass, and panfish.

The lake’s proximity to the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellvue metropolitan area, a region home to nearly six million people, ensures that anglers won’t be the only ones seeking its fruitful waters when the fish are biting. 

There are several accessible spots for bank fishing, including the launch area and various parks dotted around the lake. Notable locations include Shoreline Park in the JBLM on the southwest side, a few options at Harry Todd Park in the Tillicum area, and American Lake Park on the north shore.

In addition to excellent fishing prospects, these parks boast a range of amenities to enhance visitors’ experiences. Alongside angling, individuals can indulge in swimming, picnicking, playgrounds, and convenient restroom facilities.

American Lake remains open year-round, allowing fishing enthusiasts to enjoy its bounties in every season. 

Stocked rainbow trout and kokanee present great harvest opportunities. Meanwhile, naturally reproducing populations of brown bullhead catfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, largemouth bass, and coastal cutthroat further contribute to the lake’s diverse ecosystem.

5. Banks Lake

Banks lake and the walls of Grand Coulee in Steamboat Rock state park in Eastern Washington state, USA
As a massive lake with lots of shorelines, Banks Lake is popular with local fishermen in central Washington State.


Banks Lake is a beloved destination for local fishermen in central Washington throughout the year. This expansive lake spans an impressive 26,900 surface acres and boasts an extensive 135-mile shoreline. Its space provides ample room opportunities for anglers to cast their lines.

One of the highlights of Banks Lake is its capacity for ice fishing during cold winters when the lake freezes over. Anglers eagerly take advantage of this unique experience. Additionally, the lake offers numerous public access areas along its banks, allowing for convenient fishing opportunities. 

Whether you prefer fishing from the shore or venturing out onto the water, Banks Lake has you covered. Boat launch ramps, campgrounds, RV parks, and rental services for kayaks, canoes, and boats are readily available to enhance your fishing experience.

Smallmouth bass and walleye reign as the most sought-after species in Banks Lake, drawing in avid anglers. However, lake whitefish also boasts a dedicated following among fishermen appreciating its plentiful numbers. Other species, such as panfish, rainbow trout, and kokanee, can also be successfully caught in this diverse reservoir.

With a combination of scenic beauty, abundant fish species, and a range of amenities, including restaurants and stores, Banks Lake is a must-visit fishing destination in central Washington.

6. Lake Sammamish

Lake Sammamish is only located around 10 miles from downtown Seattle!

©Michael J Magee/

Another hidden gem in the state of Washington is Lake Sammamish. Lake Sammamish is an ideal fishing spot, boasting a generous expanse of 4,900 acres and approximately 20 miles of picturesque shoreline; this pristine lake offers prime opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. 

This lake is located just east of Bellvue and about 10 miles from downtown Seattle. With its convenient location and access point through Lake Sammamish State Park, it’s no wonder this location has become very popular among local anglers.

While private resorts offer a few other boat ramps, the public boat launch ramp at Lake Sammamish State Park facilitates the main launching point for fishing boats. The park also has plenty of shoreline fishing opportunities for those who prefer bank fishing. Additionally, canoe and kayak enthusiasts can conveniently portage their vessels from the park. Although the lake does not house a marina, camping options are available, allowing visitors to extend their stay and immerse themselves fully in the fishing experience.

Situated merely 30 feet above sea level, Lake Sammamish provides a favorable environment for an assortment of cold-water and warm-water fish species. 

Whether you’re seeking the thrill of reeling in brown bullhead, chinook salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, coho salmon, kokanee, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, signal crayfish, smallmouth bass, sockeye salmon, threespine stickleback, or yellow perch, this lake promises an abundance of possibilities.

7. Potholes Reservoir

Central Washington offers Potholes Reservoir, another excellent fishing lake.

©Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Potholes Reservoir is an outstanding destination for anglers in search of trophy-sized largemouth bass and a delicious freshwater feast. This 28,000-acre reservoir in central Washington offers an abundance of fishing opportunities. 

Renowned as one of the finest bass fisheries in the region, Potholes Reservoir is cherished for its largemouth and smallmouth bass populations. But the fishing experience doesn’t end there; this reservoir also offers great trout fishing, excellent panfish angling, and the chance to reel in other exciting species.

Whether you prefer a state park, developed public access areas, or a private resort, Potholes has you covered with a variety of amenities to enhance your fishing trip. Sitting at an elevation of 1,043 feet above sea level, the reservoir occasionally freezes over during the colder months, creating exciting ice fishing opportunities for walleye, perch, and trout. Generally, the best time to plan your visit is between April and September.

To make your fishing experience more hassle-free, there are boat launch ramps, boat rental options, camping facilities, and convenience stores nearby. Potholes Reservoir is also located around 13 miles from Moses Lake, which is the most significant population center in the region.

Potholes Reservoir offers plenty of shallow water and shoreline access, catering to anglers who prefer bank fishing or enjoy canoeing and kayaking.

When it comes to the targeted species, Potholes have a diverse range to tempt any angler. You can try your luck with smallmouth bass, walleye,  black crappie, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, and whitefish. 

8. Roosevelt Lake

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in Washington State
If you’re in the northeastern part of the state, Roosevelt Lake is a perfect natural lake for fishing.


Roosevelt Lake is nestled in the picturesque northeastern part of Washington and offers an abundance of opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. Spanning a massive 79,000 acres and situated at an elevation of 1,288 feet above sea level, this stunning reservoir is conveniently accessible from all directions. 

With an expansive 600 miles of shoreline, you have the freedom to explore Roosevelt Lake either by boat or by casting your line from the bank. The massive lake offers a wealth of options, providing numerous public boat ramps and access points along the shoreline. These access points can be found at campgrounds, parks, and select roads, ensuring that you have convenient entry to the water regardless of your preferred fishing style.

Throughout the year, you’ll be delighted to find an impressive variety of fish species dwelling within its waters. Springtime brings the opportunity to reel in trout, kokanee, and burbot. As summer rolls around, smallmouth bass and walleye take center stage, providing a thrilling challenge for fishing enthusiasts. And when September arrives, trout once again become the catch of the day.

Conveniently located marinas, boat rental services, stores, and other facilities ensure that you have everything you need for a successful and enjoyable outing. 

9. Lake Chelan 

Mountains near Lake Chelan
Washington’s largest lake, Lake Chelan, is located in the beautiful Cascade Mountain range.

©Fen Kuntz/

Lake Chelan is a paradise for camping, boating, and fishing enthusiasts. This dream destination spans an impressive 33,000 acres, offering ample opportunities for swimming, fishing, and a wide array of other recreational activities.

As the largest natural lake in Washington, Lake Chelan stretches over 50 miles from the town of Chelan to Stehekin, boasting a stunning shoreline of approximately 140 miles. While most parts of the shore are inaccessible for fishing from land, anglers can cast their lines and launch canoes or kayaks at designated spots, including campgrounds, parks, and along Lakeshore Drive. 

Lake Chelan is impressively deep, with the deepest part of the lake being more than 1,400 feet! That’s almost as deep as the Empire State Building is tall!

The lake offers marinas, boat rentals, restaurants, stores, and various accommodation options such as lodging, camping, and RV parks.

The diverse aquatic ecosystem of Lake Chelan is home to an abundance of fish species. Whether you’re targeting chinook salmon, largemouth bass, or rainbow trout, the lake offers a rewarding angling experience. 

Other species found in these waters include burbot, bridgelip sucker, chiselmouth, lake trout,  kokanee, largescale sucker, pygmy whitefish, westslope cutthroat trout, peamouth, signal crayfish, tench, threespine stickleback, smallmouth bass, and northern pikeminnow.

10. Lake Umatilla

Umatilla Rock at Sun Lakes State Park in Washington
Visitors can find Lake Umatilla near Umatilla Wildlife Refuge and Umatilla National Forest.

©CL Shebley/

Lake Umatilla stretches for an impressive 110 miles in southern Washington near the Oregon border. Lake Umatilla offers anglers a vast and exciting fishery teeming with diverse fish species. With its expansive 48,000-acre size and over 220 miles of picturesque shoreline, this lake provides ample opportunities for fishing enthusiasts to cast their lines. Its deeper river channel, ledges, and humps are favorite hideouts among various fish species.

Situated at an elevation of 268 feet above sea level, this section of the Columbia River is accessible from both Oregon and Washington, featuring numerous boat launch ramps in each state. While boat rentals are not available here, visitors are encouraged to bring their own canoes, kayaks, family boats, or fishing boats to fully enjoy the exceptional fishing experience in southern Washington.

Anglers can expect to encounter an array of captivating fish species in Lake Umatilla. They can target largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, which are known for their thrilling fights. Channel catfish, black crappie, and white crappie also inhabit these waters, providing anglers with diverse catches. Additionally, walleye, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, and yellow perch offer further excitement for those seeking a fruitful fishing expedition.

For avid anglers yearning for a challenge, Lake Umatilla is home to prized species such as chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. These remarkable fish present anglers with an opportunity to test their skills and potentially reel in a trophy catch.

Summary of the Best Fishing Lakes in Washington

1Green LakeSeattle
2Lake KapowsinPierce County
3Lake WashingtonKing County
4American LakePierce County
5Banks Lake Grant & Douglas Counties
6Lake SammamishKing County
7Potholes ReservoirGrant County
8Roosevelt LakeLincoln, Grant, Stevens & Ferry Counties
9Lake ChelanChelan County
10Lake UmatillaKlickitat & Benton Counties

The Featured Image

Mountains near Lake Chelan
© Fen Kuntz/

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About the Author

I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. My two biggest loves in the world are music and animals. I have even gone on to start my own personal blog called Frontman Philosophy. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.

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