Blue Lake Fishing: Grant County Hot Spot for Rainbow Trout

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If you’re looking for a spot with fairly easy trout limits, especially around the opener, Blue Lake in Central Washington’s Sun Lakes area is a good bet.

There are plenty of lakes named Blue Lake in Washington, but this one in a chain of lakes along State Route 17 near Coulee City is one of the largest at over 500 acres and one of the most heavily stocked.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife typically stocks nearly 200,000 trout a year at this spot in the Sun Lakes chain. The majority are small rainbow trout that grow to keeper sizes by the following year, while carryovers can be quite a bit larger.

WDFW also plants smaller numbers of legal-sized rainbows and often handfuls of jumbo-sized trout to help supplement the numbers.

Additionally, the state stocks more moderate numbers of both brown and tiger trout.

Don’t expect to come to Blue Lake to catch a wide variety of fish, unlike many of the more famous lakes in Grant County.

Here WDFW occasionally chemically treats the lake with naturally derived rotenone, to remove unwanted bass and panfish species so that the stocked trout have Blue Lake’s rich food chain all to themselves, which makes it a top trout fishery.

In recent years, those species maintenance efforts tend to come around every decade or as unwanted fish including smallmouth bass and yellow perch find their way into the lake, despite a barrier at the lower end near Alkali Lake.

Without the effort, the non-native species compete with the trout for food, and larger predators also eat smaller trout.

The lake was last treated in 2016 when the fishery had fallen well off due to overabundance of the warmwater species.

When trout are the primary fish in the lake, fishing is the best on opening day in late April and into the spring, and trout limits are very common here at that time of the year.

However, trout fishing at Blue Lake stays at least good, and sometimes excellent, for the rest of the season. Early and late season are the best.

Rainbow Trout Fishing

The lake is best known for rainbow trout. Thanks to being stocked in the tens of thousands, rainbows are easy to catch and plentiful here.

Rainbows may be near the surface, especially when the water is cooler early in the season or when there is a hatch and fish come to the surface for the buffet.

Warmer weather will tend to drive rainbows into the cooler depths, and often the larger trout are feeding down there much of the time.

Wedding rings, hoochies and flies trolled behind dodgers are the top artificial lures here. Trolling with bait or a lure and bait combo are also good options.

The usual assortment of natural baits also brings in fish for the bank angler.

Fish your baits under a bright cork or bobber to get the attention of the trout when there is a good bite near the surface, or sink it near the bottom when the bite moves deeper.

Since the lake does have some deep spots and is big, some trout survive the season. They put on some weight during the winter and larger fish are caught here, although the most common catch are in the pan-sized or slightly larger range.

Brown Trout Fishing

The brown trout here also are planted as young fish and fatten up in the rich lake.

Browns, notoriously hard to catch, might run deeper than you’ll typically find rainbows.

Get your lures to 20 feet or deeper during the day, although they may come into shallower water to hunt, especially early and late in the day as browns prefer to hunt in low-light and nighttime conditions.

Browns, especially the lunkers, are more finicky feeders than rainbows.

The largest browns will often feed on smaller fish, which is one reason WDFW will often stock them in places where controlling unwanted fish is a goal.

Anglers will often use lures including crankbaits that resemble prey species, including smaller trout and other fish, as they target the larger brown trout.

Once you learn the lake’s geography, trolling the points is a very effective way to find browns.

You have to match the hatch when fly fishing, and larger patterns such as streamers may work if they imitate minnows.

Fly fishermen need sinking leaders to get down to the big ones.

Casting spinners, crankbaits and other lures into feeding areas may also catch browns.

Tiger Trout Fishing

Tiger trout are a hatchery-produced sterile hybrid of brown and brook trout that WDFW stocks in many lakes.

Much like the browns, larger tigers have a habit of eating smaller fish and in some waters help contain the numbers of nuisance species. They also are an excellent game fish.

Typical tigers at Blue Lake are under 14 inches and are likely to fall to most trout-fishing methods, but tigers up to four or five pounds are caught most years. Tigers have the potential to top 20 pounds in some waters.

Much like their brown trout kin, as they get bigger, tiger trout switch to primarily eating live prey. You need to make an active presentation to convince the big ones to strike.

For lots of easy suggestions to catch these and other trout species, try our guide, Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.

Other Fish Species

WDFW actively manages Blue Lake for trout.

At times you might catch various non-native warmwater species, including bass, yellow perch and other panfish.

The usual state regulations apply, but biologists would appreciate you keeping any of these species per the legal limits.

Planning Your Trip

Heading to Blue Lake in Grant County? Here is what you need to know.

Where is Blue Lake?

This Blue Lake is located in the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, an area just south of massive Banks Lake that is rich in a variety of fishing lakes.

Its close neighbor, Park Lake, offers nearly identical fishing opportunities. Other options include challenging fisheries such as chasing the Lahontan cutthroat trout at Lenore Lake and the fly-fishing mecca of Dry Falls Lake.

This excellent fishing destination area is about three hours driving east of Seattle through Ellensburg and then up past Ephrata. It’s about two hours heading west from Spokane.

Fishing and Boating Access

Both sides of the lake have steep drop-offs, while the ends are shallower.

Basalt ridges, haystacks and shelves can extend out from the shore a surprising distance in some places. If you are not familiar with the lake’s geography, move slowly to avoid boat damage.

Several small tributaries feed into the lake on the west side.

Bank access is fairly easy to find on Blue Lake, and especially in the early season they will do well. Try access the long sides for deeper water.

Boat anglers will have the best catch rates, especially once the water warms and fish move into deeper water.

WDFW maintains a launch on the east side along Lakeview Road NE, near the lake’s midpoint. With a boat, you can easily access the entire waterway from the public launch point.

Boaters will find the deepest areas of Blue Lake near the center channel, where it reaches depths of up to 65 feet at full pool.

Camping and Other Amenities

On the south end, Blue Lake Resort offers RV sites, tent camping with showers and a launch. It has cabins, boat rentals and a kids’ playground. Another facility, Coulee Lodge Resort, is located at the north end.

Park Lake immediately across Park Lake Road offers even more camping and overnight accommodations for people staying in the area, including Sun Lakes State Park Campground on the northeast end.

The trout fishing opportunities at slightly smaller Park Lake are comparable with Blue Lake.  

There are more camping, amenities and activities elsewhere in the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, a popular destination for anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Tour Grant County has a list of other attractions and things to see while in the area. 

Blue Lake Fishing Regulations

Blue Lake is open seasonally, from the last Saturday in April through September.

Otherwise, the lake follows typical state rules.

For those in a hurry to limit out, WDFW does allow anglers to use two fishing poles with the extra endorsement.

More Details

Blue Lake isn’t just popular with anglers. Summertime especially brings out the water skiers, personal watercraft, tubers and others, especially in the summer.

Fishing in the early mornings will help you avoid some of the noisiest activity.

Anglers may want to stick to the north or south ends when the power-boating crowd is active, because the water is shallower and boats drive more slowly.

Find more fishing spots in Grant County

Washington Resources

WDFW Fishing and Stocking Reports
WDFW Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service forecasts