Located in a town of the same name just a few miles south of Pacific Lutheran University, Spanaway Lake offers excellent fishing for rock bass and good opportunities to reel in stocked rainbow trout.
The lake is home to at least three bass species popular with sport anglers. There are other warmwater fish to be found at Spanaway Lake as well, most prominently yellow perch and black crappie.
Rainbow trout are typically stocked at Spanaway Lake in good numbers in the spring.
In our most recent check, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked all 18,000 trout it had planned to stock at Spanaway Lake for the year during March.
Hatchery trout tend to be easier to catch than trout that spend much of their life cycle in the wild.
Try still fishing with an earthworm or other bait, or trolling with some basic lures. A red-and-white bobber is very useful for getting the attention of trout feeding near the surface.
Read our guide Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips for more ideas.
The best fishing prospects for rainbow trout are from March through May, but anglers can catch some trout here well into summer.
At about 250 acres, Spanaway Lake is midsize. Although the state puts a good number of trout into the lake every year, unlike some other lakes in the area, they have room to spread out.
Bass and Panfish Fishing
Some anglers would say maybe the best fishing at Spanaway Lake is for bass.
And while largemouth bass are the stars at many low-elevation lakes, Spanaway Lake is regarded as one of western Washington’s best for rock bass, which is technically a sunfish but has a diet similar to a smaller bass.
Use smaller lures for rock bass, which don’t grow to the size of largemouth. Live bait, such as earthworms and wax worms, also often find success.
Largemouth bass do maintain a population at Spanaway Lake.
Large hooks are best for these fish’s characteristic big mouths.
If you’re planning to catch and release, use an artificial lure instead, as bass will often just hoover in a baited hook — which can be fatal.
Spanaway Lake is also home to smallmouth bass. As you might gather from the name, smallmouth bass have smaller mouths than largemouth bass, and anglers will do better with a mid-sized lure or hook.
Lures that imitate crayfish can be particularly good for smallmouths.
Fishing for bass and yellow perch is often best in the late spring and summer months.
Black crappie can be found in spring and summer as well, but anglers often do better for crappie here in September, October and November.
Perch and crappie are schooling fish and may be encountered in numbers.
These warmwater fish have smaller mouths than bass, so use little hooks or lures. Both make for excellent eating.
Where is Spanaway Lake?
Spanaway Lake is the single largest feature of the community of Spanaway, at the southern outskirts of the Tacoma-Lakewood area, only about a 20-minute drive from Tacoma and a half hour from Olympia.
Take state Highway 7 due south to Spanaway from Tacoma.
From the Interstate 5, drivers can come east from the vicinity of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or reach the lake from the south via state highways 507 and 7.
Spanaway Lake is easily accessed through Spanaway Park, a 135-acre park managed by Pierce County. There is a boat launch with a recently renovated ramp.
Shoreline access at Spanaway Lake Park is good as well.
Other park amenities include ADA-compliant restrooms and playground equipment, as well as sport courts, a picnic area and walking trails.
Be advised that Spanaway Lake Park is a popular swimming destination, too. Swimming areas are roped off for safety. Even still, if you’re boating, check your surroundings and be aware of swimmers.
Non-motorized boat rentals are available at Spanaway Lake Park.
The park typically opens at 7:30 a.m. and closes at dusk.