Mineral Lake may not be the coziest fishing hole in western Washington, but when the sun is shining, it might be one of the most scenic.
Mineral Lake lies just a short drive from Mount Rainier National Park, and from the lake, you can get a good look at the Pacific Northwest’s highest peak. Of course, you’re there to fish the lake, and a bountiful lake it is.
Mineral Lake is stocked with large numbers of catchable rainbow and brown trout as well as even larger numbers of rainbow fry.
The rainbow trout stocked as fry live out much of their life cycle in the waters of the lake, rather than at a hatchery. That means a natural diet and plenty of room, which many veteran anglers will tell you makes for a tasty fish.
The lake also has a resident population of coastal cutthroat trout, prized by many an angler for their dramatic coloration and delicious flesh, as well as largemouth bass.
This should give you some idea of why Mineral Lake is so popular: It’s typical for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stocking plan to call for 100,000 fry or fingerling rainbow trout — small, juvenile fish, which will grow to full adult size — to be planted in Mineral Lake.
And that’s not it. WDFW also usually stocks Mineral lake with more than 30,000 catchable rainbows (often including some “jumbo” trout) and a good dose of catchable brown trout.
The 275-acre lake is teeming with trout. Naturally, it’s also frequently teeming with people fishing for trout.
Pack a lunch and bring your patience, especially if you’re planning to take a boat out onto the lake.
Rainbow trout generally live about four to six years in the wild, with a distinct life cycle.
Fry are planted in the fall to start putting on size while the lake is closed to fishing. Catchable adults are generally planted in the spring, somewhat timed with the season opener in April.
Along with the planted rainbows and brown trout, anglers may also encounter cutthroat trout living in Mineral Lake.
Cutthroat trout are especially popular with fly anglers, although an angler using bait or lures can also reel them in as well.
Anglers also sometimes catch largemouth bass at Mineral Lake, but trout are the main pursuit here.
Tips for Fishing
The fishing season opens the fourth Saturday of April and runs through the end of September.
Mineral Lake is generally considered one of the best lakes in Washington for trout fishing. That means patience is the order of the day.
The lake is thoroughly stocked with trout, so prospects are high that you’ll have a good day of fishing. That, along with its accessibility and amenities, makes it a major draw.
Remember, it’s a decent-sized lake, there are plenty of fish, and there are worse things in the world than sharing.
The state maintains a small concrete boat launch. You may have to wait your turn to put your craft in the water.
Shore access is good in a few spots but limited elsewhere. Much of the shore fishing at Mineral Lake is conducted from public docks at the west end of the lake, or from Mineral Lake Lodge.
There are good amenities at Mineral Lake, including on-site restrooms and parking. The lake itself is just north of the small community of Mineral, which means there’s also food, drink and lodging nearby.
Where is Mineral Lake?
Mineral Lake is about an hour’s drive south from Tacoma on state Highway 7. The lake and town of Mineral are just east of the highway south of Elbe. Take Mineral Hill Road southeast to Mineral Lake off Highway 7.
If you’re coming from the south, you can turn off Highway 7 onto Mineral Road South or Mineral Road North. The two roads join up in the town of Mineral, forming a loop.
From Vancouver, it’s about a two-hour drive; from Longview, it’s closer to one and a half.
Mineral itself is an unincorporated community that’s home to about 200 people, with enough accommodations for the population to more than triple on opening day of the fishing season.
While it was originally founded as a mining town, those days are long since over. Mineral is best known today for trout fishing and tourism.