Rainbow trout are easily one of the most popular fish to catch in Washington for many anglers.
If you agree, one place you might want to consider fishing is Wannacut Lake not far from the Canadian border in Okanogan County.
Wannacut Lake is deep, cold and nicely sized at more than 400 acres. And it’s full of rainbow trout.
Anglers mostly come to chase after those trout, which the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks to the tune of about 50,000 young fish as well as a more modest number of legal- and jumbo-sized rainbows.
Altogether, those stocked trout make for some very good trout fishing at this seasonal lake.
WDFW also includes largemouth bass among the species you might catch here, and some sources have suggested there may be a few panfish as well.
But make no mistake, rainbow trout are the draw here.
Most rainbows in the lake are around pan-sized, though carryover trout to 14 inches and perhaps beyond will come to the net with enough regularity to make things interesting.
Pro Tip: When learning about the lake, you may see names like Wannacid, Wanacot or quite a number of other spelling variations. Don’t worry: They’re all referring to this lake!
Since the majority of the trout in this lake arrived young and had to learn survival skills, they are just a bit tougher to catch than freshly stocked hatchery fish.
Still, when these fish are feeding, anglers do very well with the usual varieties of lure and bait tactics.
The fishing season here opens in late April, and trout fishing should simply be excellent from the opener through May and June.
The previous year’s young trout will be grown into keeper sizes and ready to feed with abandon after a long winter.
At that time of the year, the water is still cool to the rainbows’ liking, and these fish are likely to be spread out around the lake, often in relatively shallow water closer the banks, where there is more food.
There is more shallow water in the southern half of the lake.
You may also see them feeding on the surface more when the water is still cool.
As with many lakes, trout fishing gets a little more challenging during the hottest months of summer.
Even so, Wannacut Lake remains one of the better trout fishing options in this region well into the summer, as trout are nearly always biting somewhere on the lake, even if it slows down a bit from the flurry of action in the early season.
Warmer water around the edges and near the surface will make these fish more hook-shy when it comes to eating, especially for bank anglers.
Anglers may have more success plying the deeper sections of Wannacut Lake during the dog days of summer, when trout may seek cooler waters when the air temperatures are on the 80s and especially 90s.
Toward the mid-sections of the northern half or so of the lake, there is a fair bit of water at depths of 100 feet and a smaller area at the very north end that plunges to over 140 feet.
At the north end of the lake, the lake depth drops quickly from shore, making that a spot where bank angling might still pay off into the summer.
How to Catch
The usual still-fishing tactic with baits such as PowerBait or nightcrawlers will definitely catch fish here, including from the bank.
However, this is a lake where having a boat will definitely increase your odds of catching more fish.
Boat anglers will often troll at Wannacut in order to cover more water. Anglers use a variety of small spinners, spoons and other lures, sometimes behind attractors like a set of lake trolls or a dodger.
Wedding Ring-style spinners, Super-Duper lures, and small Flatfish-type wobbling lures are among the lake favorites, but surely something in your tackle box will do the job.
Very slowly trolling with a sinking fly also can work wonders at times.
Some anglers will tip the hooks of spinners or spoons with a bit of bait, or they will simply troll with a plain baited hook behind their attractors.
As fish move to deeper waters, trollers will need to add weight or use a down-rigger to reach fish that may be at 40 to 60 feet, possibly even deeper at times.
Broadly speaking, trout may move into shallower depths to feed in the early mornings and later evenings, when the sunlight is low, but then retreat to deeper waters during the bright daylight.
Experiment with different depths to pin down where the fish are biting. Using multiple rods at different depths and a fish finder will help you locate them more quickly.
Fly anglers may also do well at Wannacut Lake.
Earlier in the season, trout are likely to be feeding on insects in the shallower sections, where there are weed beds.
This type of water is most prevalent near the south end of the lake, but there also is similar habitat at the very north end and along some of the shallower coves and shorelines between.
Planning Your Trip
Before you jump in the truck to head to Wannacut Lake, we suggest you do a bit of planning.
Where is Wannacut Lake?
Wannacut Lake is just 20 minutes southwest of Oroville, in the northern part of Okanogan County in an area rich with excellent fishing lakes and a few good streams. (See the link below to explore more excellent fishing spots.)
From Oroville, you’ll want to take Blue Lake Road and then cut down on Wannacut Lane. If you’re coming from a more populated area to the south, you’ll work your way off the highways to Loomis-Oroville Road and then cut north on Wannacut Road.
From Seattle, it’s nearly a five-hour drive to the lake, and it’s about three and a half from Spokane, so most out-of-town anglers plan to spend a few days in the broader area and would be wise to consider Wannacut Lake as one of their fishing stops.
Fishing and Boating Access
Shore access is fairly limited at Wannacut Lake, but you can find places to cast from the banks at both the north and south ends.
Remember that the north end has deeper water that may serve you better in hot weather, while the south end has much more gradual drop-offs into the lake and could be good for spring fishing.
You’ll find a public WDFW boat launch on the southwest end of the lake.
Overnight Accommodations and Amenities
There isn’t a major public campground at Wannacut Lake, but some visitors stay at Wannacut Lake Resort (previously Sun Cove Resort).
The resort has a variety of overnight options from cabins to camping, plus a restaurant, store and other amenities. Check their website for information about a renovation.
There are a number of public and private camping options in the general area, plus RV parks and motels in the Oroville area for those traveling in a little more luxury.
Whatever you didn’t pack along or can’t buy at the resort should be available a short drive away in Oroville.