Mason County, Washington, doesn’t have a whole bunch of people, but what it does have is a whole lot of less-crowded fishing that’s still close enough to Olympia, Bremerton and Tacoma.
Mason County wraps around the southern parts of Puget Sound and Hood Canal, and the rivers that rush into them. It reaches into the Olympic Peninsula and includes hundreds of freshwater lakes and reservoirs.
Many of those waterways are full of fish, especially its impressive array of lakes.
The county seat of Shelton is the only incorporated city in Mason County, and a fair bit of the county’s population lives nearby, or closer to Olympia, and also in smaller communities dotting the edges of Hood Canal and Puget Sound.
The county stretches up into smaller parts of the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, several state parks, native lands, and a couple of large islands.
Here’s an alphabetical glance at some of the best fishing spots in Mason County, with links to more detailed information as available.
This lake on the Tahuya Peninsula is only about 10 acres in size but can fish well for trout, especially when it opens in late April and has recently been stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.
Anglers also report plenty of bluegill, probably on the small side.
It’s fairly remote and you probably will only have a few other anglers at the lake.
Benson Lake is generously stocked with hatchery rainbow trout a couple of times for the late April opener and into May, and spring fishing is best. The lake also is planted with trout fry in the fall that are ready to catch the following season.
Benson Lake also has largemouth bass that will keep something biting through summer and into fall, even if the trout fishing tapers off a bit.
Benson Lake is located just east of the much larger Mason Lake and has a boat launch and a small bit of bank fishing at a WDFW access on the east side, right off E. Benson Lake Road.
A boat is a major benefit here because much of the shoreline is surrounded by private homes.
Let’s start with this: Cady Lake has rainbow trout to 30 inches.
But it’s not easy.
Cady Lake is a fly fishing-only and strictly catch-and-release lake located on the Tahuya Peninsula.
WDFW stocks the 15-acre lake with a small number of bigger trout each year. Resident coastal cutthroat are also present, and there have been brown trout, at least in the past.
There is a gravel boat launch on the northeast shore provided courtesy of Cady Lake Manor Bed and Breakfast.
You’ll need a small boat or float tube to fish here.
This is a generously stocked 100-acre rainbow trout lake located in the North Mason area a short drive of both Bremerton and Shelton in either direction.
The lake is stocked with catchable and fry rainbow trout, plus a few larger cutthroat and rainbow trout.
Trout fishing is best in spring when the water is cool and the fish numbers are at their peak, but there is water to 50 feet deep where anglers can find cold water fish into the summer.
Devereaux Lake also offers some other types of fishing, including kokanee, largemouth bass and yellow perch.
There is a WDFW access with a concrete boat ramp, where you’ll also find bank access. It’s on the east side on E. Devereaux Lake Road just off State Route 3.
This small Hood Canal tributary stream is located on the Tahuya Peninsula, less than an hour from Bremerton and Gig Harbor, is mostly fished for a moderate coho salmon fishery in the fall, when several hundred of these silvers may be taken.
There also are some cutthroat trout, including sea-runs, but they must released.
Pay careful attention to seasonal regulations, including on the lower river where most salmon are caught.
Don Lake (Clara Lake)
This small Tahuya Peninsula lake, also known as Clara Lake in some WDFW resources, is planted with a moderate number of rainbow trout every spring, when fishing will be best.
There is good bank access and you can launch a small boat on the 17-acre lake. Come in from NE Hahobas Road on the east side, about 45 minutes from Bremerton and almost an hour coming from Shelton.
Hamma Hamma River
This lowest few miles of this Hood Canal tributary once got some attention for fall chum salmon fishing, but it is now only open under permanent regulations during a summer season.
There is a little bit of catch and release fishing for the cutthroat trout (including some early sea-runs) and possibly wild rainbow trout (or young wild steelhead) you’ll find in the summer.
Some anglers have reported catching brook trout in the stream, including posting photos. You could legally harvest brook trout, but not native trout.
There has been an effort to bolster summer chum salmon here as well.
This little (11 acres) lake 15 minutes north of Shelton is usually stocked with several hundred hatchery rainbow trout in about April, when fishing will be best.
It’s often known as Old Hatchery Lake and is located off Old Hatchery Lane a little south of the Skokomish River.
This 70-acre lake on the Tahuya Peninsula is stocked with thousands of rainbow trout each spring, making for some excellent fishing at that time of the year.
There also should be some pumpkinseed sunfish and perhaps some coho or kokanee, depending on your source, but stocker trout are the big show here.
This is mostly a boat show, as there is a WDFW boat launch good for small boats but very little bank access. Lots of private homes circle the lake.
Haven Lake is located a little more than a half hour’s drive from Bremerton, or a little farther from Gig Harbor or Shelton.
Hood Canal and Puget Sound
The famous leg-shaped appendage of Puget Sound stretches far down into Mason County and is known for fishing and shellfishing.
Mason County also takes in other parts of the southern Puget Sound offering some shellfishing and sport fishing options.
Like many places in Washington, fishing for salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout in these saltwater spots isn’t as good as it was historically, but watch for opportunities in the late summer into fall.
Many people associate Hood Canal with chum salmon fishing, particularly around Hoodsport, where there is a hatchery and a reputation for combat fishing in the late fall when these snaggle-toothed salmon return in the best numbers.
Shellfish here include oysters, crabs, clams and shrimp, but watch seasons and open areas closely before harvesting.
Besides Hoodsport, there are water access points and various other amenities at several state parks. Popular state parks right on Hood Canal are at Fudge Point, Lilliwaup, Potlatch and Twanoh.
See WDFW’s listing of public clam, mussel and oyster beaches, which you can narrow down to only Mason County and still have a substantial number of options.
Just 9 acres and a little bit off the radar on Tahuya Peninsula, Howell Lake is stocked with a modest number of pan-sized hatchery rainbow trout every spring.
The lake is located south of NE Belfair-Tahuya Road just west of the North Mason Regional Fire Authority station on the other side of the road.
There are trails that provide bank fishing access.
Blame the northern pikeminnow overrunning the place, because Isabella Lake is no longer stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.
Too bad, because this nice-sized lake (a bit over 200 acres) has decent fishing access and is just 10 minutes south of Shelton and less than a half hour’s drive from Olympia.
And it’s not a lost cause: There are some pretty nice cutthroat trout in the lake, even if not large numbers.
Also, you can certainly find some pretty good warmwater fishing here, including largemouth bass, yellow perch and brown bullhead catfish.
There is a WDFW access with a gravel boat launch along the south shore, off W. Delight Park Road, that’s the place to start for launching a small trailer boat, canoe or similar craft. Lake Isabella State Park has undeveloped access nearby.
This Island Lake (there’s a smaller lake with the same name in neighboring Kitsap County) is located right at the northern edge of Shelton and isn’t on an island but has one in the middle.
Island Lake provides excellent trout fishing, thanks to WDFW’s generous stocking in the spring and again in the fall each year. Some of those fish will be the state’s larger “jumbo” trout.
Island Lake’s trout fishery is further augmented by a good planting of rainbow trout fry that grow into harvestable trout on site.
Island Lake also offers a respectable bass fishery for both largemouth and smallmouth, and there are lots of tasty yellow perch and some bullhead catfish to catch.
WDFW has a small boat launch access area on the west side of the lake off E. Island Lake Drive. Much of the lake is surrounded by private homes.
This is another small Tahuya Peninsula lake stocked with a small number of hatchery rainbow trout in the spring.
The 9-acre lake is located just off NE Belfair Tahuya Road just a couple miles north of the community of Tahuya.
There is a small chum salmon fishery in a small section near U.S. 101 where this stream dumps into Totten Inlet in the southern Sound.
Catches have been modest in recent years and occur in October and November, fairly close to the time that lower part of the stream closes.
The rest of Kennedy Creek is fished some for catch-and-release cutthroat and wild rainbow trout.
The lower stream is located between Olympia and Shelton.
This is the biggest body of freshwater in Mason County, but it’s not necessarily the easiest to fish.
The lake west of Hoodsport, on the North Fork Skokomish River, is home to two kinds of land-locked salmon, kokanee (sockeye) and Chinook, but rules have changed and the only salmon you can keep is the kokanee.
Kokanee aren’t stocked here but provide a summertime fishery for boaters.
Also, WDFW no longer stocks Cushman with trout, instead focusing them on Lake Kokanee downriver. (See separate listing.)
There are some pretty nice cutthroat trout in the reservoir, if you can located them across the roughly 4,000 acres. Fall is a good time to go after cutthroat. Some sources mention brook trout as well.
There also is a modest warmwater fishery, namely largemouth and smallmouth bass.
There are a couple of public access points on the southern end.
This smallish reservoir just below the much larger Lake Cushman is by far the better bet of the two if you’re looking to limit out on trout just about any time of the year.
Lake Kokanee, located minutes from the Hood Canal at Hoodsport, also has some of its namesake kokanee.
More: Lake Kokanee Fishing
This Shelton-area lake is heavily stocked with thousands of hatchery rainbow trout around the late April opener, and spring fishing here is pretty easy for a few months if you have a boat.
When the summer heat comes on and the trout fishing has cooled, there are still fishing options at this 130-acre lake, including largemouth bass and yellow perch.
Boat fishing is your best bet as private homes cover most of the shoreline areas.
WDFW maintains an access with a concrete ramp and a small bit of bank fishing access in the southwestern part of the lake, just off E. St. Andrews Drive near the Lake Limerick Country Club.
It’s only seven miles northeast of Shelton and 35 minutes from Olympia.
Mason County’s Lost Lake (there are many in Washington) is quite the honey hole for stocked trout.
This 122-acre lake southwest of Shelton is heavily planted with hatchery rainbow trout in the spring and gets even more fish in the fall.
A very high number of the fish planted at Lost Lake are larger trout, including lots of rainbows and a small number of cutthroat trout.
And then we haven’t even mentioned that even more trout are planted in the form of young rainbow fry that grow into keepers at the lake.
On top of all those trout, there are some kokanee and both largemouth and smallmouth bass in the lake.
There is a WDFW access on the northeast side of the lake, reached off W. Lost Lake Road.
The lake is far from lost, only about a 20-minute drive from Shelton and maybe twice that from Olympia. Coming from the other way, figure about a half hour of driving northeast once you reach Elma.
This lake on the Tahuya Peninsula is reasonably well stocked with hatchery rainbow trout during the spring months.
This lake is fairly deep and trout fishing holds up well during spring before tapering off quite a bit in the heat of summer.
The lake, which is open seasonally starting in late April, is about 22 acres and somewhat developed with homes. A boat is very helpful.
Reach the lake taking NE Belfair Tahuya Road to NE Lakeshore Drive. There is a WDFW access and boat launch on the northwest side of the lake.
It’s only about three miles north of the Tahuya community but nearly an hour coming from more populated areas like Bremerton, Gig Harbor or Shelton.
One of the county’s biggest lakes, and only about 20 minutes from Shelton, Mason Lake is not as beloved by anglers as many of its smaller counterparts.
One big reason for that is that WDFW does not stock the nearly 1,000-acre lake with trout, so anglers mostly turn to summertime fishing for kokanee and a self-sustaining collection of other game fish.
Also, power boaters really like Mason’s wide-open waters, so there’s plenty of activity that anglers and fish don’t always appreciate.
Try getting out early and trolling for kokanee during the summer and early fall, when they might run fairly deep.
There is plenty of water in the 80-foot range through much of the middle section, and a smaller hole down to 90 feet near the midpoint.
Fish closer to shore for largemouth bass, yellow perch and brown bullhead catfish.
There might be an occasional trout in the mix, and northern pikeminnow also inhabit Mason Lake.
Mason Lake County Park at the north end offers a good boat launch and some bank access. There’s also a Mason Lake Recreation Area on the southwest shore.
This 35-acre lake in the hills above Hood Canal is currently stocked with a moderate number of rainbow trout fry in the all, so they can provide trout fishing when the lake opens in the spring.
Melbourne Lake also offers cutthroat trout fishing.
Figure 20-30 minutes driving inland from the Hoodsport or Hamma Hamma areas.
This is a very nicely stocked trout lake, and a good number of those fish will be larger than typical rainbows.
There also are some largemouth bass to catch.
Nahwatzel Lake is one of the better fishing holes in Mason County and located just 20 minutes west of Shelton.
More: Nahwatzel Lake Fishing
This is a small lake stocked with a modest number of rainbow and cutthroat trout, many of them planted as fry to grow up into keepers by the late April opener.
Osborn, also written as Osborne in some references, is located up into the hills above Hoodsport, in the Melbourne Lake area (see separate listing).
WDFW takes good care of the trout anglers here by planting the lake with some 9,000 hatchery rainbow trout each year, mostly in the spring.
While most of those trout will be typical catchables, a few larger stockers and holdover trout can produce some bigger fish.
Phillips Lake, covering just over 100 acres, also offers some warmwater fishing opportunities, including largemouth bass and bluegill.
Bank fishing is pretty limited by all of the homes developed along the shore, but there is a WDFW boat launch with a very small amount of bank access on the north end along E. Phillips Lake Loop Road.
A boat is a big help here.
Phillips Lake is located just south of Spencer Lake and is only about 15 minutes northeast of Shelton and 45 minutes from Olympia.
This is a shallow catch-and-release lake with three kinds of trout, a nice spot for fly anglers to try their craft.
Price Lake is located in the hills north of Hoodsport, basically between Hood Canal and the giant Lake Cushman reservoir.
While the 65-acre lake isn’t stocked, it has a collection including rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, all fly-loving fish, although other selective gear also is allowed.
You can’t use a gas motor (or even launch a big boat), but consider carrying in a kayak or float tube to reach more fish in the weedy but rich waters.
Price Lake is listed as Prices Lake in some WDFW resources (potentially including fishing regulations).
This 17-acre lake is another of the off-the-beaten path Tahuya Peninsula lakes that offers good early season fishing for the approximately 1,000 hatchery rainbow trout planted here.
There is a DNR access on the east bank off NE Hahobas Way.
The lake is just south of Aldrich Lake (also stocked) and roughly an hour from Bremerton, Gig Harbor or Shelton, depending on which direction you’re coming in from.
Satsop River, East Fork
This fork of the important Chehalis River tributary flows through the southwestern part of Mason County and is fished for coho and other salmon as well as cutthroat trout and winter steelhead.
Thanks to a salmon hatchery on the East Fork, coho fishing can be good here during the final three months of the year.
Coho fishing areas include below bridge at Shafer State Park to the mouth, and in a small area near the hatchery.
This traditional salmon-fishing destination is kind of a mess for sport anglers these days, with depressed runs and fishing access disputes.
Traditionally the lower reaches of this decent-sized river system, which enters Hood Canal in a delta located at the Great Bend, produced Chinook and chum salmon fishing opportunities worth talking about.
These days, not so much … but watch WDFW for seasonal changes that may offer opportunities.
Otherwise, it’s largely catch and release fishing for trout from Memorial Day weekend to Halloween.
This is an impressively stocked 200-plus acre lake close to home if you live in Shelton or Olympia.
Spencer Lake is absolutely loaded up with hatchery rainbow trout in the spring and reloaded in the fall for a year-round trout fishery that also includes some big cutthroat.
On top of that, Spencer Lake has some very nice fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass and yellow perch to keep your fishing pole busy.
The only real raps on Spencer is that it’s fairly developed and busy, and there isn’t a lot of bank fishing access, but if you have a boat this is one of the top-tier fishing spots in Mason County.
More: Spencer Lake Fishing
This Tahuya Peninsula lake stands out from the many lakes in the region by being open all year long.
And it’s more heavily planted with rainbow trout than some of its smaller neighbors, getting a few thousand catchable rainbow trout in the early spring (and probably a smaller number of “jumbo” trout with them).
Tee Lake also is planted in the fall with rainbow trout fry that grow to catchable fish on site.
Fishing here also can be good for yellow perch and largemouth bass.
The 38-acre lake shaped like a T is just east of Dewatto and not far off NE Belfair Tahuya Road. There are plenty of homes on the lakeshore.
There is a gravel boat launch and limited bank access on the north end, reached from NE Tee Lake Road.
This is a decent-size lake with good trout fishing sitting on the boundary of Mason and Kitsap counties, just 25 minutes southwest of Bremerton.
Tiger Lake is open seasonally starting in late April and generously stocked with hatchery rainbow trout a couple of times each spring, when trout fishing is best.
Tiger Lake is a little over 100 acres and also has some fishing for cutthroat trout, largemouth bass and yellow perch.
While bank access is limited by private property, including lakeside homes, there is a WDFW access at the north end with a small amount of bank fishing and good boat access. It’s reached from NW Tiger Lake Road W.
Trails End Lake
This is an easy to reach spot near the toe of Hood Canal, between Belfair to the north and Mason Lake to the south.
Trails End Lake is open all year and quite nicely stocked with hatchery rainbow trout early in the spring. Most are typical pan-sized trout, with a few larger ones added to up the ante.
Trails End also is stocked each fall with hatchery rainbow trout fry that grow into keepers at the lake.
There also are some cutthroat trout here, and probably a few bullhead catfish.
There is a WDFW access including a gravel boat launch at the southern end of the lake, reached from E. Trails End Drive.
It’s about a 25-minute drive northeast of Shelton, or a bit farther heading south from Bremerton.
Here’s another Tahuya Peninsula lake best fished in the spring for several hundred stocked rainbow trout.
Also known as Big Twin Lake, fishing here is open year-round but the access gates are only open early in the spring season when fishing is best anyway. You’ll have a little walk at other times of the year.
There is a WDFW access on the south side where you can fish from the bank or launch a small watercraft.
It’s located northeast of the more developed and more heavily stocked Haven and Wooten lakes (see separate listings).
Neighboring Little Twin Lake isn’t stocked.
This small river that dumps into the very toe of Hood Canal at Belfair is primarily fished for cutthroat trout, including sea-runs.
Check the regulations because at this writing the lower river closes earlier is catch and release for cutthroat and wild rainbows, while there is some harvest opportunity if you can find larger trout higher up.
The river is closed during primary salmon and steelhead runs, which aren’t typically big here anyway.
This 8-acre lake tucked into woods just northwest of the Tahuya community is lightly stocked with hatchery rainbow trout for the April opener and is best fished then.
It’s also been known as Buck Lake in the past.
This 10-acre lake northwest of the Tahuya community (and near Wildberry Lake listed above) is lightly stocked with rainbow trout in April.
Spring is the most reliable time to fish for trout here, and you might also catch a year-round resident cutthroat trout or two.
This is a pretty reasonable spot to bank on catching limits of stocked rainbow trout during the spring and maybe early summer, because it’s stocked with hatchery fish by the thousands for the late April opener.
Wooten is likely to come on a bit before it closes at the end of October, but what you might catch in the fall are resident cutthroat trout, potentially in addition to some holdover rainbows.
Wooten is located in the lake-rich area of Tahuya Peninsula west of Belfair and immediately north of Haven Lake, a similar fishing option.
Like Haven, Wooten Lake is fairly developed along its shoreline but has good boat access via a WDFW public launch. It’s located on the south side of the lake along NE Mountain View Drive.
Figure on driving 40-45 minutes coming down from Bremerton or up from Shelton, and closer to an hour coming in from Gig Harbor and Tacoma.