One of the most accessible trout ponds from the Seattle area, Cottage Lake is annually stocked with some 12,000 rainbow trout for the start of the fishing season.
The season opens the fourth Saturday of April and continues until Halloween.
For trout, the best fishing comes early in the season. As the year progresses, though, largemouth bass become a good opportunity.
This 63-acre lake is located just east of Woodinville, on the outskirts of the Seattle area. It’s accessible from a park managed by King County.
Cottage Lake is best known as a trout pond.
It’s stocked in April with rainbow trout, and it also has a resident population of coastal cutthroat trout popular with many anglers.
Hatchery-raised trout tend to be easier to catch than their wild-reared brethren. Still-fishing works well, as does trolling out on the open water with a small boat.
Fishing bait under a bobber can be a good way to catch trout, both rainbow and cutthroat. Trout often prey on insects at or near the surface of the water, so that’s where they might expect to find their next meal.
Fly fishing is also a popular method for catching trout. Use an imitation nymph or another eye-catching fly pattern.
For more hints for catching these fish, read our simple guide: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Prospects for rainbow trout are best through May.
Trout don’t like warm water, and those that survive the early fishing pressure will head for the depths or shady areas during the summer.
Trout still in the lake by fall aren’t as plentiful, but they tend to run larger and have pinker flesh after months of wild living. Cooler fall temperatures should spur the surviving trout to feed more aggressively, making them easier to catch again.
Cutthroat trout reproduce naturally here but are rarer than rainbow trout at Cottage Lake.
July and August are poor months to fish for cutthroat, but the rest of the season offers at least fair prospects.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
The most notable non-trout fishery at Cottage Lake is largemouth bass.
The bass season is approximately inverse to the trout season. They become more active as the weather warms, although like trout, they at times will venture down into the depths in the heat of the day.
Often the best opportunities to fish for bass are in the morning or evening.
Use a larger lure than you would for most similarly sized fish. Lures that imitate smaller fish, crayfish, frogs or other prey are often effective. Or some lures just provoke an aggressive response from these alpha predators.
If you’re planning to catch and release, don’t use a baited hook — bass have a tendency to swallow them, which is often fatal to these long-living trophy fish, which many anglers release after snapping a quick photo.
Other warmwater fish you may encounter at Cottage Lake include a couple species of schooling fish, yellow perch and black crappie, which are fun to catch and tasty to eat.
Look for groups of fish when seeking perch or crappie, since they’ll often move together. If you start getting bites in one spot, you’ll very likely get more until the school moves on.
Crappie often strike crappie jigs, and if you put a little piece of worm or other natural bait (or a Berkley Crappie Nibble) on the hook, it should appeal to perch as well.
There also are some brown bullheads.
Like other catfish, brown bullheads tend to scavenge for food at or near the bottom of the lake.
Try a sliding sinker that allows the fish to take the bait without feeling the weight, using a rig similar to what some trout anglers employ when fishing bait near the bottom.
Catfish will eat basically anything. Chicken livers are a time-tested bait because of their specific appeal to these barbeled bottom-feeders, but bullheads are not going to be picky and will gobble up worms, pieces of cut fish, prepared catfish dough baits (a.k.a. “stink bait”) and more.
Where is Cottage Lake?
Cottage Lake is on the northeastern outskirts of the Seattle metropolitan area, just east of Woodinville and north of Redmond.
If you’re on state Highway 522, take the exit for Northeast 195th Street, then head east (the road eventually changes to Northeast Woodinville Duvall Road) to Cottage Lake Park.
From the south, take Avondale Road Northeast to Woodinville Duvall Road and then turn left.
Be advised that Cottage Lake experiences widespread algal blooms, especially in mid- to late summer or early fall.
You can still fish through most algal blooms, although there are some tricks to it.
Friends of Cottage Lake helps monitor the lake’s health.
Cottage Lake does have a public boat launch, but there is no ramp, so watercraft must be able to launch from shore.
There is also a fishing pier and decent shoreline access from the park.
Cottage Lake Park has a swimming area, and while summertime swimmers shouldn’t interfere with your fishing, check your surroundings and be courteous of other lake users.
Cottage Lake Park features common park amenities, such as trails, picnic areas and playgrounds, making this lake a good place for a family excursion.
Other than the park, most of Cottage Lake’s shoreline is surrounded by private homes, so a boat is handy if you want to fish the majority of the lake.