Kitsap County, a short ferry ride across Puget Sound from Seattle, is largely defined by the saltwater that surrounds its major land masses, the Kitsap Peninsula and Bainbridge Island.
Kitsap County has more than 250 miles of saltwater shoreline around Puget Sound and Hood Canal, providing a sometimes-complicated mix of fishing and shellfishing opportunities in the region.
Salmon and sea-run trout pass through the area within reach of Kitsap County ports, and crabs, shrimp, clams and oysters inhabit the waters of Puget Sound and Hood Canal and may be harvested when and where permitted.
Of particular interest, the Admiralty Inlet management area can have very good saltwater salmon fishing, with Chinook passing through in good numbers in August and sometimes high numbers of coho, likely peaking in September.
A modest pink salmon fishery may also occur in odd-numbered years, likely peaking in August when the run is worth fishing.
Hood Canal on the other side offers moderate fisheries for migrating Chinook and coho salmon, plus some of the state’s best chum salmon fishing later on in the fall.
There also are some seasonal and permanent closures due to toxins in some shellfish species and due to protections on some other fish and shellfish, so always check regulations and health advisories carefully.
We’d point shellfishing enthusiasts to Port Gamble on the northwest side of the peninsula, where you can pick lots of oysters and dig several species of clams in good numbers.
Freshwater lakes by contrast are more straight-forward and listed separately in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual regulations whenever they deviate from statewide rules.
In fact, Kitsap County has a fair bit of freshwater fishing in several excellent lakes well-stocked with trout and also home to bass and other game fish, and this article will focus on those while future coverage will include broader Puget Sound and Hood Canal saltwater fishing and shellfishing options.
Kitsap is one of Washington’s smallest counties by land area but has a good-sized population nearing 300,000, with most people living in the central part of the county around Bremerton, Port Orchard and Silverdale.
Other cities in the county include the city of Bainbridge Island on the well-known island of the same name, just off the east bank of Kitsap Peninsula, and Poulsbo in north Kitsap County.
What follows is a quick look at some of the (mostly freshwater) fishing options in Kitsap County, along with links to more detailed information about some spots.
Before we get there, it’s clear that Kitsap County is at the middle of a much larger area with countless places to drop a line.
When you get to the end of the Kitsap fishing spots, stick around to check out the “Fishing in Neighboring Counties” listing that will get you to honey holes throughout the Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula areas.
This smallish lake (just under 20 acres) is where to go if you want to catch trout on the northern Kitsap Peninsula.
It is stocked with a fair number of hatchery rainbow trout during April and May, possibly with a few larger “trophy” trout thrown in for fun.
Fishing season opens on the fourth Saturday in April and trout fishing will be best through May or into early June before slowing for summer.
Buck Lake is located near the northern tip of Kitsap Peninsula in the Hansville area. It’s about a half hour’s drive from Poulsbo or 45 minutes from Bremerton.
From Hansville Road NE, take Buck Lake Road west to Buck Lake County Park for lots of bank access and nice day-use amenities for a family trip.
WDFW maintains an access that includes a boat launch the east side of the lake, on the north side of the county park.
This south county lake is about 40 acres in size and popularly fished during the spring for stocked rainbow trout.
Horseshoe lake is stocked with around 3,000 catchable rainbow trout per year, before the late April opener and likely again in May. A smaller number of larger “trophy” trout are also likely to be planted.
April and May will be the top months for catching trout limits, with trout fishing slowing into June and likely poor by the time the hottest months arrive, warming this shallow lake a bit too much for trout.
This Horseshoe Lake (a common lake name in Washington) also has a good population of bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish.
These panfish are fun to catch with small natural baits or flies.
Sunfish start biting best in June, when the trout fishing is fading, and continue providing lots of action throughout summer into the first weeks of fall before colder weather and lake closure put an end to it.
Horseshoe Lake also has a decent population of largemouth bass, which strike lures that look like prey including smaller fish, crayfish and frogs.
Horseshoe Lake Park off Sidney Road SW provides some good bank access as well as a wealth of other park amenities open for daytime use.
You also can launch a boat at the WDFW access just north of the park.
The lake is about 20 minutes south of Port Orchard, five minutes west of SR 16 near Burley. It’s a similar drive time heading north from Gig Harbor.
This Silverdale-area lake is popularly fished in the spring but also has some good fall fishing when it’s stocked again with some larger hatchery trout.
While most of the trout stocked here are hatchery rainbows, WDFW also will sometimes supplement the plants with hatchery-reared coastal cutthroat trout. You may also catch resident cutthroats, but in small numbers compared to the rainbows.
There also are some largemouth bass in Island Lake and likely a few other warmwater fish, such as bullhead catfish. These species bite best starting in mid-spring, through summer and into early fall.
There is excellent seasonal access at Island Lake Park, including bank fishing and a fishing pier, along with swimming, picnicking and other park activities at the lake, which is just over 40 acres.
At this writing, access at the park is limited for the colder half of the year, and the restrooms are probably locked. (Go to Island Lake Park for current details.)
On the north side of Silverdale, use Bennington and Island Lake roads to reach the county park.
One of the largest and closest lakes to Bremerton, 240-acre Kitsap Lake is open to fishing year-round and produces well during the cool seasons.
Kitsap Lake is stocked with roughly 9,000 trout during the year, with large plantings often occurring both around March for spring fishing and then again with one or more plants around September and October to boost fall and winter angling.
Better yet, recently all of the trout stocked here are WDFW’s larger “trophy” trout, so this is a great place to catch a stringer of hefty fish.
When the trout fishing slows for summer, you still can find good fishing here in the form of nice populations of largemouth bass and bluegill.
This small South Kitsap walk-in lake is a good destination for fly anglers, because selective gear regulations prohibit bait-fishing and require barbless, single-point hooks. Lures that meet the hook requirements also may be used.
Also, catch-and-release rules allow trout to grow bigger and wilder and more fun to catch.
Koeneman, also known as Lake Koeneman and Fern Lake, is primarily stocked with rainbow trout fry during the fall, when fishing is prohibited at this seasonal fishery. That gives a chance for these fish to acclimate and grow on natural foods.
Those trout may be joined by some larger ones stocked in the late winter.
There also are some warmwater species including largemouth bass in the 19-acre lake, but trout are the main attraction.
You’ll have to work for this one a bit, especially if bringing your float tube and gear, as Koeneman is reached by hiking about a mile from a trailhead near Carney Lake. Carney Lake is about a half hour’s drive from either Bremerton or Gig Harbor.
Kitsap County’s largest lake is also perhaps its best warmwater fishery, with good angling for largemouth bass and panfish.
Long Lake isn’t stocked with trout these days, although you might be able to catch a resident cutthroat trout or two here, especially during the spring.
The shallow 320-acre lake just southeast of Port Orchard lives up to its name by being close to two miles long but relatively narrow.
It provides great habitat for largemouth bass, which have been caught to 9 pounds here.
Other popular game fish available in good numbers including yellow perch, black crappie and bluegill, which like the bass will bite best starting in spring and into summer and early fall.
Much of the shoreline is lined with private homes, especially in the middle section, but Long Lake Park on the north end offers good access (including a fishing pier) and amenities for your visit.
Boaters should instead head to the WDFW boat launch near mid-lake on the west bank, just off Clover Valley Road SE. Take SE Brook Street to the launch.
The lake can get pretty weedy, especially later in the warm season.
This lake of roughly 85 acres near the Mason County line offers excellent early season fishing for stocked rainbow trout.
The lake has good boat access, which will improve your odds at catching your share of more than 6,000 trout typically planted in April and May.
Mission Lake is located close to similar fisheries at Tiger and Panther lakes. (See Panther Lake below for a link to additional information.)
This 100-acre lake straddling the Mason County line gets planted with a ton (well, more than 8,000 at last check) of hatchery rainbow trout during April and May.
This lake is among a trio of excellent spring trout-fishing spots southwest of Bremerton that also includes Mission and Tiger lakes.
This 111-acre lake is thoroughly planted with hatchery rainbow trout during April and May, when fishing will be best.
The easy fishing makes this a popular (and sometimes crowded) fishing hole close to home for many Kitsap County residents.
Wildcat also has some cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish and has at times had land-locked coho salmon.
More: Wildcat Lake Fishing
This 36-acre South Kitsap Lake is nicely stocked with nice-sized hatchery rainbow trout and is a very good spot to spend a spring day or fall day.
It is stocked most heavily with a few thousand trout in the spring, around April, and fishing will hold up well through May and possibly into June. A small number of those spring trout are likely to be bigger “trophy” trout for the occasional thrill.
The lake also might be scheduled for a September stocking with hundreds of those larger trout, making this a great early fall bet when that happens, so check the links below for current stocking plans.
You might also catch some warmwater fish, such as largemouth bass and bullhead catfish. Fishing for those is best in warmer months.
The lake, which is named for its upside-down “Y” shape, is located just off Carney Lake Road, about a mile north of Carney Lake.
There is a residential community around most of the lake that limits bank fishing, but there’s a WDFW access and boat launch at the southern end on Wye Lake Boulevard SW.
It’s about a 25-minute drive southwest from Bremerton or a similar drive time heading northwest from Gig Harbor.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Island County: To the north, Whidbey Island in particular has a wealth of saltwater fishing options in addition to some very nice trout lakes.
Snohomish County: To the northeast, lots of lakes filled with trout and other game fish, plus salmon and steelhead rivers near Everett.
King County: To the east, the home of Seattle may have lots of people but it also has scores of excellent fishing lakes and streams from the city to the high country.
Pierce County: To the southeast, from salmon and trout near Tacoma to hike-in lakes in the high mountains, surprising number of fishing spots for such a populous county.
Mason County: To the southwest, lots of trout, bass and kokanee in lakes, plus access to the lower Puget Sound including Hood Canal.
Clallam and Jefferson Counties: To the northwest, 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.