Park Lake Fishing: Catch Trout Limits in Central Washington

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Most years, centrally located Park Lake is a dynamite choice if your fishing goal is to limit out on trout, potentially including some large ones.

The big lake is one of several prime fishing spots in the Sun Lakes chain and plays host to a popular camping area within the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, where along with fishing you can camp and enjoy a variety of other activities in this recreation-filled area.

Park Lake, at about 330 acres, is smaller than neighboring Blue Lake located just across Park Lake Road.

But like that waterway, it’s generously stocked with tens of thousands of young rainbow trout that grow to chunky sizes in the rich lake.

Primarily those small rainbows arrive as juveniles but reach keeper sizes within their first year and lunker sizes after that.

And like Blue Lake, Park Lake also is stocked with smaller but catchable numbers of brown and tiger trout that help bring some extra trophy fisheries to the lake.

Additionally, the state stocks more moderate numbers of both brown and tiger trout.

Park Lake is managed strictly as a hatchery-boosted, harvest-oriented trout fishery without native trout, so there’s no reason to feel guilty if you want to take home a reasonable number of fish for dinner.

Both Park and Blue lakes are prone to occasional over-populating with warmwater species such as bass and panfish, and WDFW has tended to treat these lakes with naturally derived rotenone every 10 years or so to bring the lake back to full productivity for cold-water fish.

The treatments kill off all fish species in the lakes, which are then restocked with trout. Without the invasive species cutting into the food chain and also preying on smaller stocked trout, rapidly growing trout bounce back quickly here.

Park Lake starts out particularly good for trout fishing on opening day, which occurs on the fourth Saturday in April, and great fishing continues during the spring.

This is some good trout water and catches can be made all season, though you should expect limits to be harder to come by during the hot summer periods, when you may have to fish them in deeper and cooler water to have a decent chance.

The waning weeks before the season at Park Lake closes at the end of September can also bring on a renewed bite as trout naturally try to fatten up before winter.

Rainbow Trout Fishing

Rainbows are the volume fishery at Park Lake. They are what WDFW stocks the most and what anglers expect to catch in the highest numbers.

Rainbows are first and foremost insect eaters, although they have a varied diet that will change with the availability of different foods.

They also prefer cool water.

Both of those habits may bring them to the surface during the spring and again during the fall, when the water temperatures are tolerable and when there very well may be a hatch or two ringing the dinner bell.

Once the weather turns hot, the rainbows will gravitate toward the cooler and often deeper waters. You’ll need to follow them.

The deepest part of the lake, with areas at a little more than 80 feet, is just east of Big Rock Island, a short boat ride out from the state park.

There’s some 50-foot or slightly deeper water on the north and east side of the smaller island on the other end of the lake as well.

Trollers will do well here, dragging their favorite trout lures behind a dodger or a set of lake trolls to attract the trout.

Small spoons, spinners, hootchies and other lures are effective, and many anglers like to bait the lure hook or simply run a plain nightcrawler on a hook.

As the fish go deeper, effective trolling may require adding weight or using weighted line, or using a down rigger, to reach the majority of fish.

When the fish are still closer to the surface in the early season, it can work very well to slowly troll with just a Flatfish-style lure, a Rooster Tail spinner or plain wet fly without all of the hardware.

Bank anglers (as well as many boat anglers) will find success casting with bait, either below a bobber when trout are active near the surface, or just off the bottom.

Bank fishing is likely to get tougher during the mid-summer months, when trout may be out of casting range in many spots.

Brown Trout Fishing

Brown trout also are stocked young and when smaller will feed on insects much the same way other trout will.

The brown trout here also are planted as young fish and fatten up in the rich lake.

Browns will definitely show up in your catch now and then even when you are targeting rainbows.

However, brown trout are naturally inclined to prefer eating smaller fish, especially the larger browns.

Therefore, using lures such as crankbaits and swimsuits that imitate minnows, small rainbow trout or other forage fish can be quite successful.

It’ also worth noting that brown trout really prefer to feed at night and during low light conditions, so it’s best to target them when the sun is at least very low on the horizon.

Try trolling or casting just off the lake edges where the browns come out of deeper water to hunt small fish in shallower water at night. Fishing off points can also be good.

Fly anglers may want to fish larger streamers and other patterns that they can make look like small fish darting through the water.

Tiger Trout Fishing

Fishing for tiger trout is fairly similar to fishing for browns. After all, the tigers are a hatchery-bred hybrid of brown and brook trout that WDFW stocks in many lakes.

Tiger trout are sterile and therefore only available in lakes where they are stocked, including Park Lake.

Large tiger trout also feed heavily on smaller fish and often are stocked in lakes where they can help keep nuisance fish species in check. They are big predatory fish that are challenging and fun to catch.

As also is true with the browns, most tiger trout found at Park Lake won’t be monsters but will be in the 12- to 14-inch range.

Nevertheless, they can grow much larger if given the opportunity, although the periodic treatments at Park Lake that wipe out all fish every decade or so make true monsters less common.

How to Catch Trout

Do you still have some learning to do when it comes to this kind of angling? Take a quick read through our simple trout-fishing guide to learn the best ways to catch them.

Other Fish Species

As invasions of bass, perch and panfish worth their way into Blue and Park lakes from neighboring waters, you may occasionally catch some of these species.

Typical state regulations will apply here, but since these are the very fish species that WDFW wants to keep out, certainly feel free to keep a limit of these fish if you like eating them.

Planning Your Trip

Here are some of the details you can use to set up your fishing adventure.

Where is Park Lake?

Park Lake is in the Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park area of Grant County.

It’s located north of Soap Lake and closer to Coulee City, just south of the giant and excellent Banks Lake and among a number of fine fishing holes in the area.

Those lakes include neighboring Blue Lake for similar fishing options and also opportunities to land big Lahontan cutthroat trout at Lenore Lake and fantastic fly fishing at Dry Falls Lake.

Park Lake and neighboring fisheries are about three hours east of Seattle coming through Wenatchee, and roughly two hours from Spokane, Tri-Cities or Yakima. It’s about 45 minutes north of Moses Lake.

Fishing and Boating Access

Bank fishing spots are fairly easy to come by at Park Lake.

There is some nice deep water accessible from State Route 17 on the west side of the lake, as well as bank fishing at the state park and several private resorts.

The is a very popular boat fishing lake, and boaters will typically have the best catch rates, especially as the trout retreat to deeper water during hot weather.

You can launch and reserve moorage at the state park. Or, if you’re staying at a resort, most also have ramps.

Note that non-fishing boaters also come to Park Lake to play, so fishing is often best in the early mornings before the other boaters come out.

There are seasonal rules that restrict some water skiing activities during the best fishing months, so take note of those to avoid any issues.

Camping and Other Amenities

Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park is a destination in its own right.

The state park offers lots of camping as well as other amenities, such as swimming, hiking, bird and wildlife watching, and programs at a lakeside amphitheater. Dry Falls is quite a sight.

There also are several private resorts at Park Lake, with a roster of amenities of their own.

Sun Lakes Park Resort and The Cove at Sun Lakes are closer to the state park, while Sun Village Resort is at the southwest end between Park and Blue lakes, but with more access on Blue Lake.

Tour Grant County can provide additional ideas of things to do in this rich recreational region.

Park Lake Fishing Regulations

Park Lake is open for fishing from late April through September and follows typical state regulations in terms of harvest limits and tackle rules, including the ability to purchase an endorsement to fish with two rods.

Find more fishing spots in Grant County

Washington Resources

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