Fishing at Clear Lake Near Yelm

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What Clear Lake in Thurston County lacks in naming originality, it makes up for with good trout and kokanee fishing, as well as opportunities to catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass during the warmer months.

Situated in a mostly rural area near Yelm, which is a reasonable drive south from Tacoma or southwest from Olympia, Clear Lake has good boat and bank-fishing access on its southern end while much of the rest of the lake is surrounded by homes and inaccessible without a boat.

The fishing season opens every year on the fourth Saturday of April. Its last day is Halloween.

Trout Fishing

Every April and May, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks Clear Lake with a total of about 16,000 rainbow trout.

Still-fishing with bait (under a bobber or near the bottom) is the easiest way to catch trout from the bank, while boaters often troll lures and bait (or combinations) to reach lots of fish.

Casting lures or fly fishing are other options.

Read our Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips to brush up on this kind of fishing.

Trout fishing should be good from the opener and through May and into June. (use the links below to check for specifics about this year’s trout stocking.)

Trout fishing will tend to slow down as the water warms into mid- and late summer, but anglers plying the cooler depths should catch fish, both trout and kokanee.

Kokanee Fishing

Clear Lake also has been stocked with kokanee.

Fishing prospects sometimes start out are so-so during the spring, but they get better later in the season, when boaters troll in the deeper parts of the lake with down-riggers or plenty of weight.

Small spoons and spinners are recommended lures for kokanee. These fish have small, soft mouths, so use a snubber or very soft rod. If you’re baiting a hook, consider going as small as a size-12 hook.

Bass and Panfish Fishing

Clear Lake supports both largemouth and smallmouth bass, with naturally reproducing populations. Fishing opportunities for bass and other warmwater fish are often best in the summer months.

Bass are bass, just as trout are trout.

Bear in mind the most essential differences between largemouth and smallmouth bass for fishing — largemouth bass have larger mouths, so use larger lures than you would for targeting smallmouth.

Largemouth often like woody or softer structures, such as docks, fallen trees and aquatic plants, and they will more often venture into cove areas.

Smallmouths gravitate toward harder structures like rocks but are often found holding off points and in the same spots as largemouth in a relatively small lake like Clear.

Clear Lake also has a population of green sunfish, which can be found near shore and are fun for kids to catch with a worm fished under a bobber.

Where is Clear Lake?

Clear Lake is located about 12 miles southeast of the community of Yelm.

From Olympia, take State Highway 510 to Yelm and then continue on Bald Hill Road out to the lake.

From Tacoma, take state Highway 7 south onto state Highway 507. The highway will meet Vail Road Southeast near Yelm. Turn south onto Vail Road, then left onto Bald Hill Road. Follow the road to the lake.

Clear Lake is about a 45-minute drive from Olympia and a little farther from Tacoma.

There are restroom facilities on-site. The major public fishing area is right by the boat launch. Shore access is good right there but somewhat limited, so boat anglers have a significant advantage at Clear Lake.

Washington Resources

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