Harts Lake in southern Pierce County is a good all-around fishing hole, with stocked trout and plenty of bass and panfish to keep the action going.
The round lake, about 110 acres in size, is open all year but will fish best beginning in spring.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife generously stocks the lake with thousands of rainbow trout each year.
The bulk of the trout will be pan-sized catchables planted in the spring (probably about April), and fishing will be best after those fish are added to this round lake.
However, WDFW also has often made a fall planting here with perhaps 500 larger “jumbo” trout during the fall. Around October is a fair bet, but use the links at the bottom of this page for updated stocking information.
The trout that survive the summer months also will be active and feeding more heavily as the water cools in the fall. They are likely to move back into shallower water and feed on insects before the water gets too cold.
Trout will fall to the usual tactics here, including still-fishing with natural and artificial baits and trolling lures, baits or combinations.
Casting lures or flies also can be effective.
For more details on how to catch these fish, read through our simple guide: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Other fish you are likely to catch here include largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish, and bullhead catfish.
WDFW also has stocked channel catfish at Harts Lake, but it appears that hasn’t occurred in recent seasons.
The shallow parts of the lake can be weedy as the water warms up in late summer and early fall.
The lake has some decent depths of over 50 feet, where trout may retreat when the surface gets too warm for them, but the deep spots are pretty much confined to the middle of the lake.
WDFW maintains a boat launch on the east side of the lake off Templin Road S, reached via Harts Lake Road S.
The access area has just enough bank access for some anglers to cast for trout, but a boat is a definite advantage at Harts.
If you have a home on wheels, Flynn’s Harts Lake Resort & RV Park is right next to the WDFW access. They also rent boats, sell supplies and have a fishing dock.
To reach the lake from the McKenna area, take Harts Lake Road (aka Harts Lake Loop Road) about six miles (10 minutes) southeast. It’s about 45 minutes due south of Tacoma or a similar driving heading southeast from Olympia.
Little Hart Lake (or just Little Lake) immediately south of the larger Harts (but a tenth its size) is very shallow, thickens with weeds later in the season, and may not produce much more than bullhead catfish.
A little farther southeast is one of at least two Tule Lakes in Pierce County. This one has a similar array of bass and panfish fishing opportunities as Harts Lake but at last check wasn’t on the state’s stocking schedule.