Lake Washington

Lake Washington is located just east of Seattle and a boat launch ramp is only 10 minutes from my house. Its a huge natural lake surrounded by development, with a large island (Mercer Island) at the southern end and two floating bridges crossing it near the middle. It is roughly a narrow, oval-shaped lake running north and south, with numerous small bays and developed shoreline throughout. It is fed mainly by the Cedar River in the southeastern part of the lake and also by the Sammamish Slough at the north end. It drains into Puget Sound through the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Lake Union (a small bay, sorta like a small version of Detroit River/Lake St. Clair/St. Clair River). A set of locks, the Hiram Chittenden Locks, controls the amount of water escaping the lake and keeps the water level constant, while allowing commercial vessels and salmon both in and out.

There is a wide variety of fish that inhabit Lake Washington. Largemouth, smallmouth, and rock bass to start with. Many different forms of salmonids, both sea-run fish and freshwater fish. Perch, and most spiny rays also inhabit the lake, but I have never heard of a walleye being caught there. Walleyes are not native to this area and there are few places they are found, with the very notable exception of Potholes Reservior, which I believe now holds the world record for largest walleye. Other fish in Lake Washington include bottom feeders like peamouth chum, grass carp, bullheads, catfish, and I have heard of sturgeon being caught but have never seen one.

The lake is extremely deep in places and the mixture of cover that can be found in the lake is incredible. Bottom cover includes hundreds of docks with manmade fish structure placed around them, many shallow bays with bottoms of sand, gravel, rock, or vegetation, entire sunken forests...not stumps...whole trees, gradual and severe depth changes, ledges, contours, and even a shipwreck or two. Sounds like a bass anglers' paradise, huh? Well, there are a few drawbacks. First, these aint huge fish. The climate in Western Washington only allows for a short growing season for bass. There is also a lack of tributaries. Good bass lakes, like Dale Hollow in Tennessee, have many tributaries and Lake Washington has few due to the near total development of the shoreline. The current state records are 11 lbs 9 oz largemouth from Banks Lake (Eastern Washington) in 1977 and 8 lbs 12 oz smallmouth from the Columbia River, most likely also in Eastern Washington, in 1966. The longer, warmer summers in Eastern Washington allow for a better growing season for bass and the eastern lakes are far better than the western lakes for big fish. But hey, I live here so I fish here. If it was that important to me, I'd move to Georgia or Texas.


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