Washington’s largest island, Whidbey Island, offers a diverse range of fishing and shellfishing, from salmon and crabs in Puget Sound to trout and bass in its freshwater lakes.
Camano Island, the other major isle in Island County, is still a relatively large island but offers fewer public fishing options, so much of this article pertains to Whidbey Island, which attracts more day-use and overnight visitors.
There are a handful of smaller islands in the county as well.
Most of Island County’s modest population also lives on Whidbey, including in cities such as Oak Harbor and Coupeville. Other communities on the islands include the city of Langley and communities such as Clinton, Freeland and Whidbey Island Station.
Whidbey Island is connected to the mainland by a bridge over Deception Pass at the northern tip onto Fildalgo Island (Anacortes), which is in turn has bridge connections to the mainland west of Mount Vernon.
The other popular way to reach Whidbey Island is by a Washington State Ferries route between Mukilteo (near Everett) to the south tip of Whidbey Island at Clinton.
Camano is the community center of Camano Island, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge west of Stanwood.
What follows is a quick look at some of the major fishing opportunities in Island County, with links to more detailed information as appropriate.
Before we get there, there are even more fishing opportunities for those casting their lines off the island.
Once you’ve explored all of what Whidbey Island has to offer in terms of fish and shellfish, we’d suggest checking out the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” feature below the local waters listing.
Using that feature, a click or two will help you find the best fishing spots just a short drive away, including many types of fishing not commonly found on the island.
Admiralty Bay Ponds
These two tiny ponds immediately next to Admiralty Bay have been stocked with trout in the past, but recent checks haven’t shown the ponds on the WDFW’s schedule.
The ponds may still have some coastal cutthroat trout in them.
The East and West Ponds are only about 2 acres each, give or take a little, and are located right along State Route 20 at the entrance to Fort Casey Historical State Park in the central part of the island.
This popular fishing lake near the campground at Deception Pass State Park is open all year and nicely stocked with both rainbow and brown trout.
While you can catch them all year, trout fishing is best for a few months in spring after some 10,000 catchable trout are added (about April) and then again in the fall, when WDFW is likely to stocking larger “jumbo” trout.
In addition to the trout, Cranberry Lake’s resident populations of largemouth bass and yellow perch can make nice fisheries, especially during warmer months.
Shoreline access is good and includes a fishing pier on the east shore of this roughly 130-acre lake.
You can launch a small boat from an undeveloped gravel launch but no gas motors are allowed.
This smallish lake with a common name, just a mile from the Clinton ferry terminal at the south end of Whidbey Island, is generously stocked for its 80 or so acres.
Whidbey Island’s Deer Lake in recent years has been planted with about 8,000 catchable rainbows for its late April opener, while also getting an annual stocking of young cutthroat trout that grow during the off season.
Besides the trout, Deer Lake is home to largemouth bass, some of which reach good size.
WDFW manages an access on the northeast corner of the lake, including a gravel boat ramp.
This small South Whidbey-area lake is only open half the year, but you can count on some pretty good trout fishing when it is.
Goss Lake is stocked with about 4,000 catchable-size rainbow trout for the late April opener.
The home-lined lake also is stocked with at least twice that many small cutthroat, which finish growing to keeper sizes and beyond in the 55-acre lake.
Fishing should be excellent in the spring. Catch rates surely will slow during summer, but trout of both species that survive into the fall will start biting better when the waters cool before the fall closure. Some of those will be larger fish, plus lakes tend to be less crowded during the autumn.
There is public access at a county park property on the northeast side, including a simple sand and gravel boat launch, off Lakeside Road.
Goss Lake is just north of Lone Lake (see listing below) and both lakes are in the interior of the southern island roughly between Langley and Freeland.
This South Whidbey lake is managed for trophy trout fishing, with selective gear rules and an extremely narrow bag limit.
The 90-acre lightly developed lake is popular for fly fishing, although conventional angling with lures also is allowed. All hooks must be barbless with single points.
The daily limit is one trout at least 18 inches in length, and many anglers release everything, so trout harvests are minimal here.
Lone Lake isn’t as heavily stocked as some lakes, given the lower harvests, but it does get some 3,000 catchable size rainbows in the early spring.
The survivors in that group will put on good size in the lake, with 16-inchers fairly common.
WDFW biologists suggest fly patterns including leeches, chironomids and bloodworms for trout.
Lone Lake also is home to warmwater species including largemouth bass, yellow perch and brown bullhead catfish. There also are grass carp that state officials encourage you to keep.
The largemouth in particular can be caught on lures and flies.
Access is from the Lone Lake County Park and a concrete WDFW boat launch at the north end, off Lone Lake Road.
Whidbey Island has some excellent fishing beaches on its western shores, where salmon and steelhead pass within casting range.
There are plenty of public access points for beach fishing, including Deception Pass, Fort Ebey and Fort Casey. Admiralty, Mutiny and Useless bays have other good spots.
Raking or jigging for surf smelt (and some herring jigging) is also possible in several places in the county, including Cornet Bay State Park and Coupeville. Cutthroat trout may be caught in some areas as well, as well as various flatfishes, perch, and other saltwater game fish.
Clamming, crabbing and oyster picking are other options in the islands.
West Penn Cove is a popular bay clamming area on the inside of the island, with excellent numbers of butter clams, some cockles and a smattering of other clams. You’ll also find good numbers of oysters here.
Freeland County Park has mostly butter, manila and littleneck clams.
Boaters pick up plenty of salmon in the Admiralty Inlet management area west of much of the island. Fishing for migratory salmon moving through the region tends to peak in the summer, with July often very good for Chinook and August perhaps better for coho.
Chinook that stay in Puget Sound and nearby waters, locally known as blackmouth, are often caught in this area during winter and early spring.
Be sure to read regulations carefully for open seasons and other information before fishing or shellfishing.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
San Juan County: To the northwest, the San Juan Islands have lots of access to saltwater salmon, crabs, shrimp and more, plus some surprising trout lakes.
Skagit County: To the northeast, the Skagit River and streams, lakes and saltwater with salmon, trout, shellfish and plenty more to catch.
Snohomish County: To the east, lots of lakes filled with trout and other game fish, plus salmon and steelhead rivers near Everett.
Kitsap County: To the south, the Kitsap Peninsula has quite a few nicely stocked trout lakes as well as access to much of the South Puget Sound and Hood Canal.
Clallam and Jefferson Counties: To the west, the Olympic Peninsula offers some of the state’s best steelhead and salmon fishing in rivers and saltwater, and mountain lakes have trout and more.