Due southeast of Tacoma, Lake Kapowsin 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.
At about 500 acres, Lake Kapowsin 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 activity and bright patterns.
Fish deeper if bobber fishing isn’t working, which often happens in warmer weather. A popular technique is floating some Berkley PowerBait about 24 inches above the bottom.
From April to mid-June, fishing prospects for rainbow trout are good to excellent at Lake Kapowsin.
By the summer solstice, the season has typically turned off a bit.
To bring your A Game to Lake Kapowsin, read our simple guide to trout fishing techniques and tips.
Lake Kapowsin is also a rearing ground for coho salmon. The lake isn’t a fishery for coho, but anglers may encounter them. Let them go unharmed.
Lake Kapowsin is full of stumps and logs and weeds and other prime bass-holding structures along its mostly undeveloped shoreline.
This is a nice lake if you like action, because there are good numbers of bass though most will be on the modest size. There are some chunkier ones out there if you can fool them, though.
We’ve included Lake Kapowsin on our complete round-up of the best largemouth bass fishing spots in every region in Washington.
The best numbers of largemouth bass will generally be caught starting in May through September, perhaps with a bit of a late-summer lull in hot weather.
Early spring bass fishing often results in fewer bass but some quality fish could come out by March or April as the largest specimens start to get ready for the coming spawn.
Try rigging some weedless soft plastics like Senkos or grubs around the wood structures, or try to entice an electric summertime smash on a topwater bait.
For more tips, read our bass fishing how-to article chock full of the best techniques.
Largemouth bass anglers may occasionally hook a rock bass, which is actually more closely related to a bluegill.
Despite their small size, rock bass often have a major chip on their shoulders and will strike lures that seem too big for them.
Rock bass are easiest to catch in the early summer.
Perch and Crappie Fishing
Lake Kapowsin 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 and these tasty panfish can be caught pretty much year-round.
Yellow perch are a smaller relative of walleye that 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 for perch, which are most often found closer to the bottom.
Pick up a bunch of yellow perch fishing tips and techniques in our how-to article.
Another schooling fish popular with anglers, black crappie, can also be encountered at Lake Kapowsin, although crappie populations tend to wax and wane from year to year.
The best fishing for crappie typically picks up toward the end of April or May, continuing into October. Like perch, they will bite all year but you may need to slow your presentation in colder water.
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 are structure-loving fish, so look around submerged branches and logs and other hiding spots until you find a school of them, then work that school as long as you can stay with it.
Crappie often will be found in the shallows during their spring spawn, when they are concentrated, aggressive and easiest to catch.
In high summer or in the cold months, they’ll often move into deeper waters where they are harder to find but will bite if you can pinpoint them.
Learn more about the simple and effective ways to catch crappie.
Where is Lake Kapowsin?
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 Lake Kapowsin.
Boat and shoreline access are available on the north side of Lake Kapowsin from Orville Road, which turns east at this junction. There is a nicely developed WDFW boat launch right off the road.
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, Lake Kapowsin is about a 45-minute drive. From Olympia, it’s closer to an hour.
The lake is open to fishing year-round.