Situated alongside a community by the same name, Offutt Lake in Washington is a year-round fishing spot featuring no fewer than three trout species, along with bass, perch and catfish populations.
There’s a state-operated boat launch at one end of the lake and a resort with boat rentals and a dock at the other end of Offutt Lake (sometimes spelled Offut).
If you’re going to Offutt Lake for the fishing, odds are good you’re fishing for trout.
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife keeps Offutt Lake stocked with rainbow trout.
WDFW stocks the lake with lots of trout that are ready to catch, including generous numbers of legal-sized fish and a fairly good number of “jumbo” trout.
Most of the rainbow trout in Offutt Lake, though, are fish that are put in the lake in October, while they’re still undersized.
This “put, grow and take” planting in the fall is intended to ensure plenty of mature, pink-fleshed rainbows to catch in the spring.
Anglers may also encounter resident cutthroat trout at Offutt Lake.
Named for the vibrant splash of red beneath their mouths, cutthroat trout are especially sought by fly anglers, but they can be caught with conventional setups just like rainbow trout.
The third species of trout found at Offutt Lake are brown trout.
Less dramatically colored than their rainbow and cutthroat cousins, brown trout can nonetheless make for fine eating. Brown trout are less common at Offutt Lake, especially compared to stocked rainbows.
March, April and May have excellent prospects for trout fishing at Offutt Lake, and fall should be worthwhile as well, especially after a fresh fish planting.
With a year-round season, pretty much any time is at least fair to fish for trout. In the winter, anglers might look for better weather windows to try their luck for smaller numbers of larger trout that survived the busier fishing seasons.
However, in the late fall and winter there likely will be lots of recently stocked smaller fish that haven’t had time to grow to legal size.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
Keep an eye out, especially in warmer weather, for largemouth bass at Offutt Lake.
If you’re fishing particularly for largemouth bass, you can use jigs, hard baits, spinnerbaits or a nightcrawler.
There are plenty of techniques, but for catch and release fishing with artificial lures is safer for the bass.
Remember that bass like the water warm, but they’ll retreat to deeper water in the heat and brightness of a summer day.
Bass-holding structure here includes lots of private docks for the homes on the north and south sides, weedy shallows at the east end and overhanging and fallen trees at the west end.
We found one source that mentioned smallmouth bass possibly inhabiting this lake as well, but WDFW and most sources focus on the largemouths, which are a significant fishery behind the trout and can get to trophy size at Offutt.
There are brown bullheads at Offutt Lake, too. These small catfish typically dredge the lake’s bottom for food.
Catfish are omnivores that are notoriously unfussy about what they’ll eat.
If you’re specifically angling for bullheads, cast deep and consider using a bait that won’t be as enticing to other fish. Chicken livers are a classic bait that most fish won’t touch but will attract catfish.
Yellow perch also inhabit Offutt Lake. These eye-catching golden-bronze panfish are very aggressive biters and like a variety of baits, including worms, maggots and shrimp, also fished close to the bottom but on smallish hooks.
Perch can be caught all year but typically are easiest to find in numbers during the summer months, when they’re actively moving to feed. Perch tend to move in schools, unlike bass and catfish, so if you catch one you may be able to quickly catch quite a few in the same location.
Tips for Fishing Offutt Lake
Offutt Lake Resort on the south side of the lake has boat docks and boat rentals.
The state of Washington maintains a boat launch on the opposite side of the lake, too. There’s shore access around the boat launch, as well as limited on-site parking and restroom facilities.
There is a 5 mph speed limit for boaters on the lake, which keeps power-boaters away and helps anglers on this nearly 200-acre lake. Be mindful of your surroundings and obey local speed restrictions.
The body of water called Offutt Lake is just north of a community also called Offutt Lake. There are fishing supplies available for purchase in town if you need to stock up or you forgot something at home.
Where is Offutt Lake?
Offutt Lake is south of Olympia and only about a mile east of Old Highway 99 Southeast.
From Olympia, take Capitol Way South or Henderson Boulevard Southeast, heading south out of town, onto Old Highway 99 Southeast. It’s about a 20-minute drive to the lake.
If you’re coming from the south, take Interstate 5 and get off at exit 88. Tenino Grand Mount Road Southwest eventually turns into Old Highway 99 Southeast. Follow the road north to the lake.
From Longview, it’s about an hour’s drive. From Vancouver, it’s closer to an hour and a half.
The road you’ll want to turn off from Old Highway 99 Southeast to get to Offutt Lake Resort, a popular spot for those fishing the lake, is (unpretentiously) called Offutt Lake Road Southeast. Turn east toward the lake.
There’s also public access maintained by the state on the north side of Offutt Lake, accessible from Waldrick Road Southeast.
The fastest way to get there is to take Waldrick Road Southeast from Old Highway 99 Southeast instead of Offutt Lake Road. From town, you can also stay east on Offutt Lake Road. It will eventually turn north and meet up with Waldrick Road Southeast.