Fishing at North Lake in Federal Way

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North Lake in the community of Federal Way offers seasonal fishing opportunities for rainbow trout and largemouth bass.

The season opens on the fourth Saturday of April and continues through October.

For trout fishing, spring will be the best time for a good haul.

For bass fishing, late spring through the summer months provide the best opportunity.

Trout Fishing

At about 55 acres, North Lake isn’t one of the region’s larger lakes, but it receives quite a decent number of stocked, catchable rainbow trout every spring — typically close to 10,000, planted in time for opening day.

With that level of density, fishing from a boat or the fishing pier can be quite productive.

Still-fishing is almost always a viable technique to catch hatchery-reared rainbow trout. Trout are also popular targets for lure and fly anglers.

If you’d like some more hints about catching these fish, read about some of the easiest options in Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.

May is the best full month for trout fishing at North Lake.

Opportunities gradually decline into summer, as trout strongly prefer cooler waters and won’t bite as actively in the warmer weather.

There typically aren’t many trout left in the lake by fall, but those few that have evaded the baits and lures and survived the summer months will often be of the highest quality, having had that time to eat a natural diet and live in natural habitat.

Also, trout naturally try to put on weight when the sense winter is approaching so the patient angler may be rewarded with some fine fish.

Bass Fishing

The other fishery of note at North Lake is largemouth bass, and these popular trophy fish can reach good size in this small lake.

The bass season tends to pick up as the trout season is winding down from the heady highs of April and May, as these fish become more active in the summer months.

Largemouth bass opportunities are best from May through September.

Most anglers prefer fishing in the morning or evening, even after sunset, although midday fishing can still be productive with patient finesse fishing, especially in shady or deeper areas.

While they’re not always choosy about baits and will attack just about any lure that looks like one of their favored prey —think small fish, frogs, worms and crayfish — bass are notorious for slurping down natural baits such as nightcrawlers, hook and all.

If you’re planning to toss back your catch to fight again, using an artificial lure will make it less likely fatally injure the bass when it takes it.

Largemouth bass are quite structure-oriented, because they like to hide and ambush passing prey.

The docks associated with homes on the east side of the lake and the aquatic vegetation and other cover are some of the places to find them lurking.

North Lake also has a good population of yellow perch, a schooling fish that often bites well on worms, bits of nightcrawler or similar natural baits fished near the bottom.

Use a small hook and move until you find perch, then stick around as long as the school produces bites from these tasty panfish.

Where is North Lake?

North Lake is in the southern King County suburbs but only about 15 minutes northeast of Tacoma in Pierce County.

It’s technically located within Federal Way’s city limits but its on the other (east) side of Interstate 5 and also close to the next-door suburb of Auburn.

From Interstate 5, take exit 143 and head east on South 320th Street, then a quick right onto Weyerhaeuser Way South, which leads to the lake.

You can also get on Weyerhaeuser Way from state Highway 18, and just head north to the lake.

There is a short fishing pier and some other bank access at North Lake, as well as a developed concrete boat launch, all at the northern end of the lake off Weyerhauser Way.

The lake can get weedy later in the warm season.

There is no camping at the lake, although accommodations are available in the Federal Way and Auburn areas and along the I-5 corridor, all minutes from the lake.

Another local attraction is the Pacific Bonsai Museum, which is just southwest of North Lake and features an outdoor collection of bonsai trees from around the world.

Find more fishing spots in King County

Washington Resources

WDFW Fishing and Stocking Reports
WDFW Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service forecasts