Good trout fishing in the winter, spring and early summer — that’s what Spearfish Lake in Klickitat County offers.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plants rainbow trout in the lake several times each year. Catchable rainbow trout abound from the opening day of the season.
Both species of bass as well as crappie, bluegill and brown bullhead also naturally occur and might be worth your attention here.
At 22 acres, but sometimes less, regularly stocked and boasting good walking access around the lake shore, Spearfish Lake is an approachable place for beginning anglers and anyone who wants a good shot at catching fish.
In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which maintains the area as part of The Dalles Dam complex — has even hosted kids’ fishing events at Spearfish Lake.
Rainbow trout are stocked frequently. Catchable trout are put into the lake in December and January, and then again from April to June.
In a year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife may put well over 10,000 catchable rainbow trout into Spearfish Lake.
Spearfish Lake offers great shore access around the entire perimeter of the lake. If you’d like to go out on the water, there is a boat ramp.
Trout are willing biters, whether you like to fish with bait, lures or artificial flies. If you’d like to brush up on trout-fishing methods, try our article Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
The very best time to fish for trout at Spearfish Lake is from April to June, when the lake is being regularly restocked and the spring weather can be quite pleasant.
The fishing is also excellent in January and February, when more trout are added, but you might have to choose your days a bit more carefully as the eastern Columbia River Gorge often is quite frigid during the winter.
This region can be quite hot during the summers, and trout don’t thrive in warmer water, so figure on getting your trout fishing in during the cooler months, especially in the days and weeks after the lake is stocked.
Use the resources at the bottom of this page to help time your trip.
Other Spearfish Lake Fishing
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains Spearfish Lake as a trout lake. But anglers may also encounter warmwater fish, especially starting in the spring and continuing through summer and into early fall before the weather turn cold.
As with other lakes near the Columbia River, Spearfish has populations of both smallmouth and largemouth bass, which skilled anglers catch (and typically release) using lures that imitate smaller fish, crayfish and other forage.
There also are some crappie in the lake, and for a fun day in the spring or summer, bluegill are a treat for anglers young and not-so-young.
Fishing for bluegill isn’t exactly like fishing for bass. Bluegill have small mouths, so try a small hook (size 12 or so should do).
Bluegill also build nests on the lakebed in shallower areas during the spring, and they can aggressively defend those nests and will strike out at passing lures such as small spinners.
The traditional way to catch bluegill is with live bait, such as a worm or a cricket. But fly-fishing is also a viable technique for bluegill, which feed primarily on insects, and these fish put up an impressive fight for their size.
Bullhead catfish also are present and will take bait fished on the bottom. Simple worms, cut fish, a piece of chicken liver or prepared “stink baits” will usually do the job.
Where is Spearfish Lake?
While Spearfish Lake is a naturally occurring body of water, it owes its current depth to The Dalles Dam being built in the mid-1950s. The dam’s construction raised the adjacent Dalles Pool reservoir on the Columbia River and along with it the water level seeping into the lake.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been keeping it stocked as a rainbow trout lake since the ’50s.
Spearfish Lake is a few minutes’ drive from The Dalles. Coming north from Oregon, which might also be the fastest route from Vancouver, take U.S. Highway 197 and cross The Dalles Bridge. Then take a right onto East Dock Road and follow it to Spearfish Park at the southern end of the lake.
If you’re coming from White Salmon or points further west on the Washington side of the river, take state Highway 14 to the junction with U.S. Highway 197, just east of Dallesport. Turn right onto Highway 197 and follow the highway south to East Dock Road.
The drive from Vancouver is about an hour and a half on Interstate 84 in Oregon and usually takes a little longer on the winding State Route 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.
From Dallesport, the lake is practically in your backyard. Dallesport Road adjoins U.S. Highway 197 just south of the East Dock Road intersection. Tidyman Road meets Highway 197 about a mile and a high north of East Dock Road.