A large and popular trout lake along U.S. Highway 2, just a few miles from the Idaho state line, Diamond Lake is well stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout.
Open year-round, Diamond Lake offers a good variety of fishing, from ice fishing in the winter to bass fishing in the summer, with prime trout opportunities between during the spring.
The 750-acre lake has an improved concrete boat ramp operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Shoreline access is limited but good near the boat ramp, on the lake’s south side near the highway, but a boat will be a real advantage in reaching more fish.
Trout Fishing at Diamond Lake
The WDFW keeps Diamond Lake nicely stocked with rainbow trout and brown trout.
At our most recent check, the state’s stocking schedule calls for nearly 39,000 “put, grow and take” rainbow trout to be planted in the spring, plus 350 “jumbo” size trout that month and another 30,000 younger fish in May and June.
Brown trout stocking is more modest, with 10,000 scheduled to go in the lake in the spring.
The smaller fish will grow into catchable sizes over the months, while some will reach larger sizes in a few years.
Rainbow trout can be caught all year but the very peak fishing is typically in the spring, before the hottest summer weather arrives. Prospects decline notably in the late summer before recovering somewhat in the fall.
Fall anglers may not encounter trout at the rate of spring anglers, but trout may be larger and fish that subsist on natural feed tend to taste better.
Rainbow trout can be caught using a variety of methods, and they’re relatively uncomplicated, making them popular with anglers of all abilities and especially approachable for beginners.
Especially in the spring and fall months, anything that draws trout’s attention toward the lake surface — a red-and-white bobber or a fly that “matches the hatch,” imitating their natural prey — can boost your chances of getting a bite.
Trolling lures, baits or combinations of both is another very effective way to catch trout, especially in large waters like Diamond Lake.
If you’re trying to catch trout in the summer, they may feed less on the surface, although you might still find them there early and late in the day.
During the bright light of day during the summer, expect to find trout in the lake’s depths, and fishing your baits and lures deeper is often the best approach.
Brown trout fishing may hold up well further into the summer, since they tolerate warm weather a bit better than rainbows.
Browns often grow larger than rainbow trout and the larger specimens especially will feed on smaller fish as well, so baits like spoons and Rapalas that imitate smaller fish can be very effective.
Brown trout can be tricky to catch, especially the wiser big ones.
Browns most actively feed during lower-light conditions, including at night. Fishing them early and late can often is often the best way to land a trophy.
For a whole lot more information about catching trout, read our simple guide to techniques and tips.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
Largemouth bass maintain a resident population in Diamond Lake.
Bass fishing here follows the classic “Goldilocks” pattern: Winter and early spring are too cold, high summer is too hot, late spring and summer mornings and evenings are just right.
When bass have their ideal temperature conditions and it’s feeding time, it’s not hard to find them in the shallows, and they’ll gulp down a wide variety of baits (famously, largemouth bass will eat just about anything they can swallow).
During hot and bright weather, they’re more lethargic, lurking in weedy areas or resting near the bottom, and it’s much harder to entice a bite.
To increase your chances of catching these fish, read about the best bass fishing techniques and tips.
Other popular game fish here include yellow perch, black crappie and pumpkinseed sunfish.
Yellow perch can be caught in numbers year-round. They’re a particularly popular target during ice fishing season, since plenty of these pan-sized schooling fish can be hauled up if you strike upon an area where they are feeding.
Read our yellow perch fishing tips to increase your catch.
Black crappie are another schooling fish, although they’re somewhat more seasonal.
The best time to fish for crappie is in the late spring when they are in shallower water for spawning season. Crappie will continue to be caught into the summer and fall, although likely in somewhat deeper water.
Crappie also can also be found during ice fishing, although often not in as great of numbers.
Read more about catching crappie with our techniques and tips.
Pumpkinseed sunfish are also available year-round, although they’re probably the toughest of this trio of schooling fish to catch during the winter.
These small but scrappy fish will forage closer to the shoreline in the spring and summer, especially around the time they spawn in June.
A variety of methods will catch sunfish, including bait under a bobber, fly fishing, and small lures.
Brown bullhead catfish can also be found at Diamond Lake.
While these cats don’t grow as large as the more prized channel catfish, fishing techniques are similar, as brown bullheads prowl along the lake bottom eating pretty much whatever they find, from live prey to dead critters.
Like other catfish, brown bullheads have a well-developed sense of smell.
Try using so-called stinkbaits or other smelly baits to entice bullheads. Chicken livers are always a classic bait for fishing for catfish, and a simple worm rig or cut bait will nearly always do the job.
Ice fishing for brown bullheads is tough. Prospects are much better in spring, summer and fall.
Where is Diamond Lake?
Diamond Lake is about an hour north of Spokane or roughly a 45-minute drive west from Sandpoint, Idaho.
The lake is located along the north side of U.S. Highway 2. Turn onto South Shore Diamond Lake Road, which runs parallel to the highway, to access the public boat launch operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fishing from the shoreline is also possible here.
There are also resorts at Diamond Lake. Much of the north shore is developed with homes and other structures.
Two-pole fishing is allowed at Diamond Lake.