This 67-acre lake on the edge of Olympia offers a good chance to catch rainbow trout in the spring and even offers modest but sometimes promising fishery for kokanee, a rarity for lakes right in the metropolitan area.
Ward Lake also is home to the area’s usual lineup of warmwater fishing, including largemouth bass, bluegill and rock bass.
Ward Lake Trout Fishing
The trout fishing is best in April and May, when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife tends to stock some 6,000 catchable rainbow trout here.
Trout fishing will fall off during the summer months, but the cold depths of this lake will allow some holdovers to survive into fall, when WDFW may supplement by stocking a few hundred larger “jumbo” rainbow trout.
The usual tactics will work for these trout. Boaters should do well trolling bait, lures or flies, while bank anglers typically turn to still-fishing with bait. Casting lures and flies is another option.
For more about how to catch these fish, read our Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Ward Lake isn’t one of your huge lakes or reservoirs filled with hundreds of thousands of kokanee, but it’s close to the city and offers a summertime opportunity to bring home a meal of these tasty land-locked sockeye salmon.
WDFW plants a moderate number (30,000 at last check) of young hatchery kokanee fry.
The survivors among the stocked kokanee will grow into catchable-sized fish, and WDFW reports some to 15 inches, which is a nice-sized kokanee.
Kokanee are often caught by boaters, and very often found out of casting range from the bank.
Boaters often troll for kokanee using small spinners, spoons or hootchies, often tipping the hook with a small piece of bait such as a kernel or two of corn or a maggot.
It likely will take extra weight, leaded line or down-riggers to reach kokanee during the summer and early fall, when they tend to go to the deeper parts of the lake, particularly out from the west bank, most of the way across the lake from the boat launch.
According to depth charts of the lake, the deepest spot at Ward is about 65 feet and is located off the part of the shore that comes closest to Henderson Boulevard, the central-west part of the lake. Another hole in the 50-foot range is south of there, out from the southwest corner of the lake.
Try different areas and depths until you figure out where the kokanee are holding that day. You also can use the two-pole endorsement here, which could help you try out different depths and lures.
Fishing with bait or vertically jigging with bright metal jigs are other ways to catch kokanee, especially if you locate a school and can park your boat right over them.
Fishing a dawn or dusk can improve your odds, as can using a fish-finder to help locate kokanee and the lake’s deeper areas.
Bass and Panfish
Ward Lake also is home to several warmwater species, including largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegill and maybe some crappie.
These types of fish will generally be in shallow to moderate depths, probably closer to the shorelines and not typically down with the summertime kokanee.
These species of fish are often found hiding around structures, including overhanging and fallen trees, weed lines, and docks.
Access and Location
Ward Lake is located on the southeastern edge of Olympia.
There are a few spots where you can fish from shore, including the WDFW-managed boat launch on the east side and a largely undeveloped Ward Lake Park on the southeast end.
Boaters and some bank anglers will want to start at the launch, reached by taking 42nd Avenue SE west from Boulevard Road SE.
It’s only about 10 minutes away from most places around Olympia, Lacey or Tumwater.