Fishing the Seep Lakes: Find Tons of Fat Trout

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The Seep Lakes Area south of Potholes Reservoir were formed when rising waters from the massive irrigation project filled natural potholes and canyons with cool, rich water.

Of interest to anglers, it turns out those mostly small and medium-sized seep lakes are like fish factories.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks many of the lakes, mostly with young rainbow trout that quickly grow into fat fighters in the insect-rich waters of the seep lakes.

Washington has a fair number of seep lakes in other locations, including on other sides of Potholes Reservoir.

This article has a laser focus on the single biggest concentration of seep lakes, found south of O’Sullivan Dam, primarily in Grant County but spilling over into western Adams County.

For information on major seep lakes in the wider region, and many other fantastic fishing spots nearby, please check out our article about fishing in Grant and Adams counties.

Most of the stocked and more accessible seep lakes we describe here are located either in WDFW’s Columbia Basin Wildlife Area’s Seep Lakes Unit or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

The fishing falls under state regulations, but use the links above if you need additional information about access, camping and non-fishing regulations.

Be sure to check out the regulations before fishing, especially if you’re visiting after Halloween and before the traditional lake April opener.

There are both year-round and seasonal lakes within this Seep Lakes area.

This article doesn’t cover every lake in the Seep Lakes area, but we’ve tried to compile the ones that are regularly stocked with trout or are otherwise known for offering good fishing opportunity.

We’ve listed them alphabetically to help you keep track of the many lakes.

Once you’ve found a few that you’d like to fish in the future, we’ll provide you a link to an excellent map of the area.

Blythe Lake

This 30-plus acre lake close below Potholes Reservoir is primarily fished for rainbow trout, which are stocked both as catchables and as baby fish each spring.

Good-sized rainbows into the 20-inch range are caught at Blythe Lake, although fishing success can vary year to year.

There’s a decent bit of shore access, but you’ll likely do better with a float tube or small watercraft to reach more fish.

Getting to Blythe Lake requires a short walk in from the Corral Lake access (see separate listing).

Canal Lake

This moderate-sized lake is primarily fished for the good numbers of hatchery rainbow trout that are stocked here each year, including about 3,000 catchables and lots and lots of young trout.

This lake has been rehabilitated in the past to remove nongame fish hurting its productivity for trout, and catch rates can be good for rainbows.

There are some bank fishing spots but a boat will allow you to reach more fish.

It’s in the Heart, Canal and Windmill Lakes access area a short distance off Seep Lakes Road.

Cattail Lake

This smallish lake is located within the Pillar-Widgeon group of small lakes that can all be fished in the same stop.

Cattail is stocked with a couple thousand young rainbow trout each year, which grow to keeper size by the following season.

Canal and neighboring lakes are located just south of the larger Soda Lake and north of Hampton Lake.

Chukar Lake

This lake of about a dozen acres is most often fished for rainbow trout, which are stocked as young fish in the spring and reach keeper size the following year.

Chukar Lake is in a group of spots with Corral and Blythe lakes.

You’ll need to either walk in from the Corral Lake parking area, or you can even paddle or kick your float tube down from Corral and Blythe lakes to reach it, fishing along the way and hopping out to walk the arid land separating the lakes.

There are primarily fish in the 12-inch range, but those that survive several seasons can approach 20 inches.

Coot Lake

This is a small lake in the area that is stocked with a modest number of young hatchery rainbow trout.

It is located off the Lower Hampton Lake Access very close to North Teal Lake and south of Long Lake, and potentially worth some casts while accessing those better known spots.

Corral Lake

This is a very popular seep lake because it is generously stocked with catchable rainbow trout both in the spring and again in the fall.

Corral Lake’s trout population also is supplemented by the planting of many thousands of younger trout.

There are good numbers of pan-sized trout as well as fish reaching into the 20-inch range.

Shoreline access is somewhat limited. Float tubes and small watercraft tend to up your catch rates considerably here.

Corral Lake is located just below O’Sullivan Dam that forms Potholes Reservoir. Take the access road off O’Sullivan Dam Road (Highway 262).

Falcon Lakes

These two small lakes, just an acre or two each, are located right below Potholes Reservoir and are planted with modest numbers of young rainbow trout.

East and West Falcon Lakes are located immediately below O’Sullivan Dam Road.

Gadwall Lake

This approximately 5-acre lake in the Pillar-Wigeon Lake Chain is stocked with a modest number of young rainbow trout.

See the Pillar Lake entry for more information.

Goldeneye Lake

This narrow lake of about 20 acres is located just south of O’Sullivan Dam (Potholes Reservoir) and is stocked with quite a few juvenile rainbow trout.

It is located near the Marsh Unit 1 trail, downstream from the Falcon and Heron lakes closer to the dam.

Goose Lakes

These two good-sized seep lakes are located near the west side of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

Upper Goose is the larger of the two at more than 100 acres and also the one that is regularly planted with large numbers of young rainbow trout.

Both lakes also can have good fishing for bass, walleye and sometimes panfish that might include crappie, bluegill and perch.

Upper Goose Lake is most easily reached from Upper Goose Lake Access, southwest of Soda Lake.

Lower Goose is about half the size of the upper lake but may also support some channel catfish and has an unimproved boat launch on the west side that’s likely good enough to put in a decent-sized boat. Reach that west end via Kulm Road SE.

Hampton Lakes

This pair of seep lakes west of Long Lake are stocked with thousands of young rainbow trout that grow into good-sized fish in the fertile water.

You can drive to a parking area right at Lower Hampton Lake from an access road named after it.

Lower Hampton is the smaller of the two at about 20 acres.

Upper Hampton, which is about 50 acres, requires a short walk in from Lower Hampton Lake or from other lakes and roads in the vicinity.

Both lakes previously have been treated to kill off pumpkinseed sunfish that were taking too big a bite out of the food chain.

Heart Lake

This lake of under 20 acres is nicely stocked with both catchable and young rainbow trout.

It is located near the larger Canal and Windmill Lakes. See the Canal Lake entry for more.

Heron Lakes

These are a couple of ponds, really, not much more than an acre each and separated by an access road just beneath O’Sullivan Dam.

The lakes are each stocked with several hundred young rainbow trout and you can easily fish both to see what’s biting in a fairly quick stop.

Hourglass Lake

This tiny lake is located with Wigeon and other somewhat larger lakes clustered together just north of Hampton Lake.

This lake, with its namesake shape, is stocked with several hundred young rainbow trout and might be fished as part of a stop to fish in the Pillar-Wigeon chain of lakes.

It’s one of the harder lakes in this cluster to fish, but maybe that will make it worth your trouble?

See the Pillar Lake entry for more location information.

Janet Lake

This is a decently stocked rainbow trout lake south of Katy Lake and north of the much larger Long Lake in the Seep Lakes Area.

June Lake

This is a smallish and modestly stocked rainbow trout lake reached from the west side past Marco Polo Lake or from the Windmill Lakes area to the east.

This might be an under-the-radar stop worth a few casts while in the vicinity.

Lemna Lake

This is a tiny lake in the Pillar-Widgeon Lake Chain that at times has been stocked with trout, like others in the chain.

See the Pillar Lake entry for more information about this lake chain.

Lois Lake

This small lake is moderately stocked with young rainbow trout.

It is located roughly between the Warden and Windmill lakes areas in the state’s Seep Lakes Area.

Long Lake

This approximately 75-acre lake is in the seep lake area but also is essentially a wide spot in the Potholes Irrigation Canal.

It’s stocked with young rainbow trout that grow up to become keepers.

The lake also is fished for a variety of warmwater fishing including smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and several types of panfish, all of which tend to follow the waterway out of Potholes Reservoir and down the canal and connected lakes.

There is good public access via Seep Lakes Road and you can launch a boat.

Pillar Lake

This approximately 10-acre lake is on the north end of a group of seep lakes often called the Pillar-Wigeon Lake Chain.

As with other lakes in the chain, Pillar is stocked with decent numbers of young rainbow trout that grow into keeper sizes here.

WDFW recommends you come prepared to try out a handful of the lakes in this group, as any one or two of them might be especially productive at any given time.

The group of lakes is located just west of the Potholes Irrigation Canal and between Soda Lake on the north and Hampton and Long lakes to the south.

Several roads will get you into the vicinity, especially around the larger lakes on either side, and the Pillar-Wigeon-Hampton Lake Trail’s various foot paths will take you to smaller lakes in the chain.

Poacher Lake

This is a smaller lake in the Pillar-Wigeon Lake Chain that also is stocked with young rainbow trout.

Fish it and several others during a single stop.

See the Pillar Lake entry above for more information.

Quail Lake

This 12-acre lake near Herman Lake is stocked with just enough young rainbow trout to keep it attractive to a fly fishing-only, catch-and-release crowd.

This can be a good early bet if you like fly fishing, with some trout to impressive sizes. Weeds later in the season might make things tougher.

This lake is one of a handful of seep lakes on the Adams County side of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

Sage Lakes

This pair of similar-sized smaller lakes, connected by a thin channel, are rich enough they can turn the small rainbows planted here into impressively big trout.

The lakes are located immediately north of Long Lake, and all three (if not others in the area, with just a little more effort) can easily be fished in the same outing until you find where the fish are biting best.

Sago, Shoveler and Snipe Lakes

These are more rainbow trout-stocked small lakes in the Pillar-Wigeon Lake Chain.

See the Pillar Lake entry in this article for more information.

Soda Lake

This is one of the larger lakes in the Seep Lakes region and is fed directly by Potholes Reservoir just a mile up the irrigation canal that flows through this area, bringing with it the bass, walleye and panfish found in the big reservoir and elsewhere through the massive system.

Meanwhile, the WDFW brings about 5,000 partially grown rainbow trout by truck to the lake during the fall.

The trout that survive predators put on size and are later caught as legal-sized fish, most often in the spring.

Bank and boat access is good, with drive-up spots on the north end off K.2 Road SE and on the south end from Soda Lake Road.

Teal Lakes

North and South Teal Lakes, located just south of Long Lake, have good access to help anglers get at the thousands of trout planted in the lakes as young fish that grow into keepers and beyond.

A small boat will serve you well on either lake, but both have reasonably good bank fishing possibilities as well.

Get to them via the Lower Hampton Lake Access.

Virgin Lake

This approximately 20-acre lake north of the Windmill Lakes is fairly well stocked with fingerling rainbow trout, which grow into keepers at the lake.

You can walk in from Road 10 SE.

Warden Lake

This large and accessible lake is one of the most popular fishing lakes among the seep lakes area, sitting just south of State Route 262 (O’Sullivan Dam Road) and quite nicely populated with trout.

Warden Lake has been a very good opening day and early season fishing spot for trout, especially the many rainbows and occasional tiger trout caught here, with some of either species reaching large sizes of 20 inches or so.

The lake is stocked with both species, including rainbows ranging from tens of thousands of fingerlings to more modest numbers of legal sizes.

Bank access is quite good and shoreline fishing can be more successful here than at some seep lakes.

However, boat fishing is even better, so if you have a watercraft, best to bring it along.

There is a north access from Warden Lake Access Road right off the highway west of the RV park. Another public access is located at the south end of the lake.

Widgeon Lake

One of the namesake lakes in the Pillar-Wigeon Chain Lakes system, and like the others stocked with young rainbow trout that grow into fat fighters.

See the Pillar Lake entry for more details.

Windmill Lakes

These lakes of varying sizes are located in the WDFW’s Seep Lakes Area, where like many other lakes they are well-planted with small rainbow trout that grow fast in rich waters to become keepers and even trophies.

Windmill Lake, the largest, is located directly north of Canal Lake. In fact, it is connected to Canal Lake and they share a public access area.

Canal is stocked in both spring and fall with catchable trout and also is planted with fairly good numbers of small trout.

North Windmill Lake is the next one to the north and is a mid-sized lake by seep lake standards.

North North Windmill is a puddle of a few acres by comparison but like the rest is stocked with trout, so you can easily fish all three, or other nearby lakes, during a fishing trip.

Road 10 SE runs closer to the northern Windmills.

Seep Lakes Map

Now that you’ve explored the fishing opportunities in the Seep Lakes, check out Mardon Resort’s excellent map of the seep lakes area around Potholes Reservoir.

Washington Resources

WDFW fishing and stocking reports
WDFW fishing regulations
National Weather Service forecasts