Sprague Lake Fishing: How to Catch Trout, Bass and More

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Sprague Lake offers anglers a rod-bending experience, whether fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout, bass or channel catfish.

The Eastern Washington lake is pretty shallow, with the deepest spots at around 20 feet, meaning the water warms each year, growing lots of insects for the fish to eat and grow nice and fat. 

Rainbows, Lahontan cutthroat, largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch and channel catfish are well represented throughout the lake.

Sprague Lake borders both Adams and Lincoln counties, but is a quick drive from Spokane on Interstate 90.

It’s a big lake, covering about 1,800 acres and stretching about 6 miles long, so there are plenty of places to fish.

The past hasn’t always been kind to this lake, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has conducted rotenone poisonings to try to get a handle excess unwanted fish, including carp.

The poisonings also eliminated a previous population of walleye, which fish surveys found in good numbers but anglers didn’t hook all that often.

The WDFW has put in a lot of work to turn this lake into an excellent trout and bass fishery, along with some other opportunities you will read about here.  

Rainbow trout have really taken hold in this lake, with the average catch being around 14-16 inches, and the Lahontans and bass can also reach good sizes.

Sprague is easily accessible for both boat and bank anglers, with fishing piers available for a fee at private resorts at each end of the lake. There are multiple boat launches along the lake with varying fees.

Trout Fishing

These days, trout are the biggest draw at this lake. Probably because they are stocked in huge numbers and they grow big here.

There have been several reports of rainbows over 20 inches, especially with both typical and triploid rainbows having been planted over the years. There are surely bigger rainbows in Sprague Lake, and Lahontan cutthroat trout provide a less-common fishing challenge.

Boat anglers tend to troll the lake for trout, with standard tackle.

Lures and spinners work well here, with or without a bit of bait on end.

Large fish cruise along the shoreline looking for food, so anglers in boats who decide not to troll tend to cast bait to shore to target the actively feeding fish.

If this is your approach, set a bobber at the proper depth to keep your bait just above the weed beds where cruising trout will find it. 

An excellent area to try is the cove on the northeast side by Sprague Lake Resort. Big trout are known to roam the area and can put up a fantastic fight. 

If trolling, make east-west swings back and forth across the lake.

Try using spoons, Rooster Tails and Flatfish with a bit of nightcrawler or salmon egg on the hook for some tasty fish snacks. 

You can also go with a silver willow leaf flasher and a Wedding Ring spinner. You’ll need a faster speed for this setup since the lake is pretty shallow for heavy rigs. 

Bank anglers will find success with the usual trout baits like Berkley PowerBait, worms, salmon eggs, and even marshmallows work.

Spinners cast from shore work as well. Since the fish cruise close to shore, you don’t need to cast halfway across the lake. Keep your casts fairly close, and you’ll find success.

Pick up a whole bunch more simple trout fishing techniques and tips.

Sprague Lake Fly Fishing for Trout

Chasing trout with a fly rod can be great here.

The lake has had pretty epic mayfly hatches, with trout feeding on every stage from nymphs to adults. Bring along several patterns of each stage. 

Fly fishing Sprague Lake gives you the rare ability to fish the entire water column since the lake isn’t super deep.

Several springs add nice cold water to the lake, which brings in the baitfish.

If you can target these areas with streamers, dragonflies or leech patterns, you might catch a monster trout.

For this approach, use a sinking line or a sink-tip line. That will get your offering to the right level.

A good approach here is the same as most lakes with trout. Small chironomids under an indicator on a floating line should do well.

In the summer, hit the area just outside of the reeds with a damsel pattern and a hopper as an indicator. You’ll either bring in a trout or a bass. 

Largemouth Bass Fishing

Largemouths have been recorded in the 1- to 2-pound range pretty commonly, with occasional bigger bass available.

In the spring, you may find some larger specimens during the spawn. Targeting bass from the shore or boat can both be productive. 

Boats will be able to get you closer to some of the underwater coverage where bass congregate.

Look for a structure consisting of fallen trees and rocks, then use the same techniques you do at other bass fisheries. Try finesse baits if crankbaits aren’t working. 

Along the reeds is a great place to target. Try sitting 10 yards out and casting horizontally to the reeds.

Once you find where the largemouth are hunting, you’re on. It can suddenly turn into an epic day of fishing.

From the bank, cast along the reeds with a square bill or a plastic bait. A moderate retrieve should do the trick.

We have a bunch of the best bass fishing techniques outlined in our how-to article.

Channel Catfish Fishing

The WDFW has periodically planted channel cats in the lake through the years.

There have been some caught in the 15-pound range over the years, and big cats should make a comeback after the treatments.

One of the best approaches for catfish here is to use a stinky bait and chuck it out there to sit on the bottom.

If you are fishing from a boat, you can cover more area and use cut bait. Jigging cut bait may be just the trick if still-fishing isn’t doing the job.

The catfish planting was intended to help develop the lake into a top-notch warm water fishery.

There is speculation about the number of cats in the lake, so be prepared for a long day if catching a channel cat is your end goal.

Of course, you’ll be sure to bring in the smaller brown bullheads in there while targeting the channels.

Also read: Learn how to catch more catfish

Bluegill, Crappie and Grass Pickerel Fishing

There are several more warm-water species here in varying numbers.

It’s possible to catch several bluegills one day and then not find them again for a few months. There are many birds at the lake, and rumor has it they may have decimated the bluegill population.

If targeting bluegill, use a 1/8 oz or ¼ ounce jig head tipped with a nightcrawler, or fish a plain worm or mealworm beneath a bobber.

Bluegill often hang out close to shore during the warm months, especially on the edges of weed beds, under docks and around other shady cover.

Crappie have been transplanted from Silver Lake in Cowlitz County over the years, including recently, in an effort to establish a self-sustaining population in Sprague.

The goal is to offer another game fish for anglers to target.

The transplanted fish are catchable sizes, though keeping them would impact the small population, so maybe catch and release these guys for a few seasons yet until some new generations boost the numbers.

As this writing, there is a combined 25-fish harvest limit for crappie and bluegill.

We have some simple fishing guides to catching crappie and bluegill.

Grass pickerel can be found in Sprague, with anglers occasionally bringing one to the net.

It’s easy to mistake one of these toothy fish as a baby pike due to their small size and elongated shape, but a full-grown grass pickerel is only 12 inches long or so.

But pickerel can be aggressive and may grab your lure while you’re fishing for something else, such as bass.

The most recent WDFW survey of the lake found some pretty big tench and a few carp mixed in with the abundant bass and trout.

Planning Your Trip

Don’t expect this to be a mountain lake rimmed in evergreen trees.

Sprague Lake is surrounded by wheat fields and even more wheat fields. After all, it’s partially located in Lincoln county, which is the second-largest producing county of wheat in the entire country. 

Where is Sprague Lake?

Sprague Lake is only 36 miles from Spokane on I-90, so it’s possible to run over for the day and be back home that evening if you’re in the area.

If not, there are private campgrounds at each end of the lake where you can camp out or stay in an RV.

The lake sits right along the interstate and railroad tracks, so despite it being in farm country, don’t expect a ton of isolation. Maybe this will help you focus on the fishing rather than getting distracted by the scenery!

Boat and Shore Access

There are two private launches, located at the private camping resorts on each end of the lake, and a WDFW launch that offers a single-lane concrete ramp and gravel parking area on the southwest side off Danekas Road.

Shore access is available at all three locations. The private resorts may have fishing docks available for their customers.

Fishing Regulations

Besides the crappie and bluegill combined bag limit, the harvest of other species is subject to regular state rules.

Take note that while the majority of the lake is open all year, there is a seasonal closure (October through April) southwest of Harper Island.

There’s also a permanent closure between Danekas Road and the lakeside edge of the reeds in that southwest corner and that part of Cow Creek, so that’s definitely not the place to go bank fishing.

See WDFW regulations for specific rules and updates before fishing Sprague Lake.

Where to Stay

The campgrounds available at the lake offer the convenience of being on the water and have small stores with tackle and limited food.

If you’d rather sleep in a motel bed and eat in restaurants, there are a few options in Sprague just down the road and a few more in Ritzville, a few miles to the west. Since this is in farming country, plan ahead, knowing that restaurants and other businesses may close up earlier.

Find more fishing in Adams County

Find more fishing in Lincoln County

Washington Resources

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