Namesake of an unincorporated community of about 200 people northwest of Arlington, Washington, Lake McMurray is a very good trout lake that also has some excellent bass fishing.
State game authorities stock Lake McMurray every spring with catchable rainbow trout. The lake also has a resident largemouth bass population and smaller populations of black crappie, cutthroat trout and yellow perch.
The lake is managed seasonally, with fishing opening to the public on the fourth Saturday of April and closing at the end of October every year.
There is an 8 mph speed limit on the lake and the boat launch is gravel, so this isn’t the place to take your high-performance motorboats. Parking on-site is limited.
Rainbow trout prospects are excellent at Lake McMurray from Opening Day through May.
After dying down over the summer, trout fishing prospects pick up again in September and October with cooler weather.
The recent state stocking plan called for 13,000 rainbow trout to be planted ahead by April. For a quiet lake of about 150 acres, that’s a decent number of fish.
Stocked rainbow trout are a great fish for amateur anglers. Raised in hatcheries, they don’t exactly have finely honed survival instincts, which makes fishing for them a relative breeze.
From the bank or boat, still fishing with a hook, some bait and a bobber is a time-tested method. Fly fishing is also popular.
But trolling from a boat is perhaps the best way to fish for trout on Lake McMurray, especially since the lake lacks a fishing pier and shoreline access is limited.
You may also encounter coastal cutthroat trout, although they have a significantly smaller population in the lake and are not stocked like rainbow trout.
They effectively share a season with their rainbow trout cousins, and fishing techniques for them are similar.
For more details about this type of fishing, read our simple guide, Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Lake McMurray’s other notable game fish is the popular largemouth bass.
The bass fishing starts to get good in May, but June rates as the best month for it on Lake McMurray. July, August and September also offer good prospects.
Bass are at their most active in the mornings and evenings, since they dislike heat and direct sunlight. You may be able to find bass hiding in the shade during the afternoon, but they’re not as likely to go after a lure in the bright light.
Using any of a large number of bass lures is ideal when fishing for bass, unless you’re planning to take what you catch. If you’re going to release your catch, we suggest avoiding fishing with bait such as a nightcrawler, because bass tend to swallow these deeply, often resulting in fatal injuries.
You may also encounter yellow perch or black crappie in Lake McMurray.
Both of these are schooling fish that tend to be at their most active in the summer, like largemouth bass. They are typically smaller than bass or trout but can be caught in significant numbers with patience.
More information: Bass Fishing: Simple How-To Techniques and Tips
Where is Lake McMurray?
Lake McMurray is to the north side of the tiny village that bears its name, and just off to the side of Highway 9 in between Arlington and Sedro-Wooley. Highway 534 links it to Interstate 5, which runs several miles to the west.
With good traffic, it’s about an hour’s drive north of Seattle or 45 minutes south from Bellingham. It’s comparatively closer to Everett, about a 40- to 45-minute drive.
Water access is on the south side of the lake. A gravel boat launch is maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Parking is limited, so anglers are recommended to arrive early in the day, especially during peak season.