It doesn’t have the catchiest name, but South Lewis County Park Pond isn’t a bad place to catch a fish.
It’s a modest pond — once a gravel pit, now filled in with water, it covers about 17 acres of South Lewis County Park near Toledo.
Anglers can fish the pond from the shore, from a fishing pier or out on the open water.
From March to May, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks several thousand catchable rainbow trout in the pond.
The pond is also home to bluegill, black crappie and largemouth bass, and potentially some cutthroat trout.
Washington game authorities keep South Lewis County Park Pond stocked under an agreement with Tacoma Power.
The electric company took away valuable fish habitat when it installed hydroelectric dams on the nearby Cowlitz River, so it made an agreement with the state to mitigate the loss of habitat.
The state’s annual stocking plan typically calls for about 8,000 catchable rainbow trout to be stocked in South Lewis County Park Pond, often between March and May, when catches will be at a peak in this year-round fishery.
WDFW also is likely to stock a few thousand “jumbo” trout, most likely in the fall and spring.
That’s a very good number of game fish for a relatively small body of water. Use the links below to find more specific stocking times.
Cutthroat trout may also inhabit South Lewis County Park Pond and are native to the adjacent Cowlitz River.
Especially popular for fly-fishing, cutthroat trout are prized for their dramatic appearance, with a crimson swatch of color beneath their mouths.
Hatchery fish at South Lewis County Park Pond tend to respond best to brightly colored PowerBaits, but lures and flies also will catch some fish.
If you need to brush up on your skills, read our article Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips for some pointers.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
As the days grow long and the sun grows hot, warming waters bring out fish like bass and bluegill.
South Lewis County Park Pond has resident populations of bluegill, black crappie and largemouth bass.
Of the sunfish, black crappie tend to spawn earliest, and by summer, they often take to cooler, deeper waters.
Crappie often prefer slow-moving lures. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends curly-tailed grubs or small plastic tube jigs for the best results.
Largemouth bass, true to their name, are larger fish with larger mouths, so larger lures imitating smaller fish or crayfish are often employed.
Bank fishing for bass is often best early or late in the day, as they tend to retreat into deeper waters in the bright sun.
Bluegill have small mouths and are tough to catch with large hooks.
Baits such as a small worm or piece of nightcrawler, a mealworm or a cricket are all effective for these insect-loving fish.won’t bite on large hooks. Make sure the bait is secure on the hook, as bluegill are notorious for stealing bait away if they can take it.
Tips for Fishing at South Lewis County Park Pond
South Lewis County Park Pond is open for fishing year-round.
The pond has a public boat launch. There are also fishing piers, and there’s ample shore access at the park, which even has a beach area.
With the pond’s ease of access, just across the Cowlitz River from the city of Toledo and not far east of Interstate 5, it’s an attractive fishing spot.
A youth fishing derby is held annually in May, and fishing can be suspended at the pond for two weeks before that.
Be advised that grass carp also are stocked at South Lewis County Park Pond.
These carp are used to control invasive aquatic vegetation in this and other Washington waters, and it is illegal to take them. If you inadvertently reel one in, you should be able to recognize it and release it unharmed.
Where is South Lewis County Park Pond?
South Lewis County Park Pond is located at South Lewis County Park, sometimes called South County Park or South County Regional Park.
The park is just south of Toledo, across the Cowlitz River.
From Toledo, take state Highway 505 across the Cowlitz River and turn right onto Ray Road.
If you’re coming from the south, you can also take exit 57 off Interstate 5, then take a left onto Jackson Highway South. Follow the winding highway north to Ray Road, then turn left and head up to the park.