Due southeast of Tacoma, Kapowsin Lake is a fairly large lake with Pierce County’s largest annual stocking of rainbow trout.
The lake has good opportunities to fish for largemouth bass and rock bass, too, as well as schooling game fish like black crappie and yellow perch.
Trout and Salmon Fishing
At about 500 acres, Kapowsin Lake can support a sizable number of rainbow trout.
At our most recent check, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stocking plan called for 31,000 catchable trout to be planted in March, plus 650 “jumbo” trout in October.
Anglers can fish from the shore near Orville Road, which runs along the lake’s north side.
Hook-and-bobber setups with bait are a good way to bring in rainbow trout, which often look for meals at the surface and are drawn to bright patterns. Fish closer to the bottom if bobber fishing isn’t working.
From April to mid-June, fishing prospects for rainbow trout are good to excellent at Kapowsin Lake.
By the summer solstice, the season has typically turned off a bit.
Kapowsin Lake is also a rearing ground for coho salmon. The lake isn’t a major fishery for coho, but anglers may encounter them.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
Kapowsin Lake has a thriving yellow perch fishery.
Excellent fishing prospects are available in July and August, but May and June are also good months for perch.
Yellow perch are brightly colored and tend to gather in schools, making them relatively easy to catch for beginning anglers once you find some. If you start getting bites at one spot, you’ll almost certainly get more.
Small hooks with worms and other natural bait are generally the best way to go.
When the weather turns cold, yellow perch feed almost exclusively off the lake bottom.
Another schooling fish popular with anglers, black crappie, can also be encountered at Kapowsin Lake. The season for crappie typically picks up toward the end of April or May, continuing into October.
Try using a crappie jig, which are made especially for these minnow-loving species but also occasionally catch other fish as well. Suspending this jig below a bobber often works very well.
Black crappie may be found in the shallows, especially during their spring spawn. In high summer, they’ll often move into deeper waters.
Bass angling is also viable at Kapowsin Lake.
Fish for largemouth bass at Kapowsin Lake from May through July. September is also a good month.
Rock bass (actually a sunfish) have their high season at Kapowsin Lake in June and July.
Where is Kapowsin Lake?
Kapowsin Highway, Orting Kapowsin Highway and Orville Road meet at a junction in rural Pierce County. Kapowsin Ale House & Grill is a convenient landmark at this intersection just west of Kapowsin Lake.
Boat and shoreline access are available on the north side of Kapowsin Lake from Orville Road, which turns east at this junction.
From the north, you can take either state Highway 161 or Highway 162 to Orville Road. Kapowsin Highway, also signed as 304th Avenue East, meets state Highway 7 to the west of those smaller roads.
From Tacoma, Kapowsin Lake is about a 45-minute drive. From Olympia, it’s closer to an hour.
The lake is open to fishing year-round.