St. Clair Lake Fishing

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This year-round lake just east of Olympia offers very good fishing, thanks in large part to the many thousands of trout stocked here during the year.

The lake, which looks like an odd splash of blue paint in online maps due to its many twists and turns around islands and into coves, also offers very nice fishing for largemouth bass, stocked channel catfish and other warmwater fish.

Located between Lacey and the Nisqually Indian Community, the 230-acre lake also is frequently known as Lake St. Clair.

Trout Fishing

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks big numbers of keeper-sized hatchery rainbows here during the spring and also might put in some bigger trout here in the fall.

WDFW also plants the lake with cutthroat trout during the fall. Some of these may be smaller fish that grow while they overwinter and add to the springtime fishery.

In past years, WDFW also has stocked brown trout at St. Clair, but recent stocking schedules don’t show these European transplants.

The sprawling waters are good for hatchery trout to learn the ropes and fend for themselves, and so a fair number of larger holdover trout are caught here.

Trolling with attractors and lures and bait is a popular way to cover water and catch trout at St. Clair.

Of course, other methods including still-fishing with bait and casting lures and flies will catch trout when you located them.

For more information on this type of fishing, read our Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.

Kokanee used to be planted in St. Clair but don’t show up on recent stocking schedules and aren’t noted in WDFW fishing guides.

Bass and Panfish Fishing

If you were to build a bassy-looking suburban lake, St. Clair fits the bill.

There is tons of bass-holding structure here in the coves, points, islands, docks, fallen trees, and more. Your bigger problem will be deciding where to fish.

Bass are likely to move into shallower water during the spring spawn and also while feeding in the early morning and evening hours, and then pull back into deeper water or shade during bright daylight.

There are many, many different effective techniques to catch bass, but most of them involve imitating prey species such as smaller fish, crayfish and frogs.


Channel catfish are an excellent food fish, and WDFW has taken to stocking them in a number of lakes, including enough in St. Clair to make it one of the best catfish fishing lakes in Western Washington.

Catfish can help keep the action up and the dinner plate full as trout fishing tapers off during the hot summer months.

Try dunking nightcrawlers, cut-up fish, pieces of shrimp or prawns, chicken livers and other favorite catfish delicacies, especially at night when catfish feed most voraciously.

Along the way, you’ll probably also catch some of the ubiquitous, smaller and not-so popular bullhead catfish.

Pick up some more catfish fishing tips and bait suggestions in our how-to guide.

Crappie and Bluegill

Black crappie and bluegill sunfish also are structure-oriented fish that might be found in similar types of locations at times.

When trying to catch crappie, remember they are schooling fish, so bring crappie jigs in several colors in case you find a mess of these tasty panfish.

You will often find and catch bluegill are often near the shorelines, under docks and around weed lines, and they have a hard time refusing a worm on a small hook fished a couple feet below a bobber.

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch are another tasty schooling fish, but they aren’t quite so hung up on structure. If you find them, a simple worm on a fairly small hook will nearly always do the job.

At times those schools will hold near the bottom in slightly deeper water, but you’ll also sometimes have perch take bait fished under a float.

Location and Access

WDFW maintains two access points at St. Clair Lake, both along Rehklau Road SE.

The major one has a nice cement boat ramp, parking and restrooms and is only a mile north from Yelm Highway on Rehklau Road. The other is primarily bank access.

If you haven’t gathered by now, a boat would be a real advantage at St. Clair.

The lake at the boat launch is only 20 minutes, give or take five, from most places in the Olympia-Lacey area.

Find more fishing spots in Thurston County

Washington Resources

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