Nature | Things To Do

Central Washington’s Top Fishing Destinations

May 30, 2023

Whether you’re a first-time angler or a seasoned pro, Central Washington is a fisherman’s paradise with plenty of lakes and rivers to cast your reel in. Uncover top local destinations and guided fishing expeditions that are sure to make you fall in love with recreating in Central Washington, hook, line, and sinker.


Cooper Lake

Expect excellent angling opportunities at Cooper Lake throughout the late spring and summer season. This high lake is nestled in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness above Salmon La Sac. Stocked annually in May and June, Cooper Lake enjoys a year-round open fishing season and has provided fair fishing for brook trout and rainbows 8-10 inches. Brown trout in the 1- to 3-pound range and some much larger are also available. Small kokanee and cutthroat are also taken. A boat launch is available at Cooper Lake, but all motors are prohibited by county ordinance.


Cle Elum Lake

Seven miles northwest of Cle Elum lies Cle Elum Lake. Admired for its beautiful mountain views, this location is also celebrated for its year-round fishing season, although there are no boat launch facilities after mid-summer due to excessive reservoir drawdown. There is a sockeye salmon restoration effort underway, so the lake is no longer stocked with kokanee, but you can still fish rainbow, cutthroat, and mackinaw trout. Lake trout up to 20 pounds have been taken using deep water trolling and jigging techniques during the spring and early summer, the most effective tactics here. You will also have a chance of catching brook trout, brown trout, burbot, and mountain whitefish. Extend your fishing trip by taking advantage of the many vacation rentals in the neighboring area!

Photo courtesy of Lia Simcox

Lake Easton

Located between Seattle and Ellensburg off I-90, Lake Easton is a magnet for people who have limited time for escapes. At the heart of Lake Easton State Park, great amenities and recreation opportunities await. The park offers one boat ramp and 20 feet of dock as well as freshwater fishing, 6 miles of bike trails, 6.5 miles of hiking trails, and 40 picnic tables for a full, fun-filled lake day. Fishing will reveal populations of brook trout, mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, and westslope cutthroat trout in this scenic lake.

Kachess Lake

Situated just north of I-90, about five minutes west of Cle Elum Lake, Kachess is open year-round and is usually good for 8- to 12-inch kokanee by early June. Trolling or still fishing is effective, and chumming is permitted. Rainbows, cutthroat, and burbot are also taken here. This is a very popular lake with excellent opportunities for camping and a good boat launching area.

Lavender Lake

Although Lavender Lake is only a few acres in size, it is largely popular among local anglers. Three miles east of Lake Easton State Park, the small lake has a year-round open season. One can expect good fishing for stocked, catchable-sized rainbow trout from early spring to summer. The lake is also stocked with some 1-pound jumbo rainbow trout.


Mattoon Lake

Located near Ellensburg, Mattoon Lake offers a year-round season with excellent angling opportunities for 8- to 14-inch rainbow trout from early spring to summer. The lake is also stocked with jumbo rainbow trout in the spring. Later in the fall, Mattoon is stocked with some large 6- to 12-pound rainbow trout. The lake has good bank fishing opportunities for those who do not have boats and is a great place to take the family for a fun fishing outing. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the dock and experience a peaceful day spent on the water.


McCabe Pond

McCabe Pond is located five miles southeast of Ellensburg within Helen McCabe State Park. The small pond is excellent in the early spring for stocked 10- to 12-inch rainbow trout and some jumbo trout. Channel catfish up to eight pounds have also been caught here!

Lost Lake

Located off the beaten path, 15 miles outside Easton and about a mile west of Keechelus Lake, Lost Lake offers calm waters to those who stray away from popular lake locations and want to explore something new! With a year-round open season, brook and rainbow trout provide most of the action, but there is also some small kokanee to be caught.

Waptus Lake

A 9-mile hike along the Waptus River brings you to this classic wooded alpine lake. Waptus Lake is a mile long from its outlet to its inlet at the upper west end and offers a commanding view of the surrounding peaks, including Mt. Daniel. A good variety of medium-sized trout including westslope cutthroat, eastern brook, bull trout (must be released unharmed), and rainbow are present. The lake is popular with equestrians and there are horse camps at the outlet end of the lake with hiker camps found further up the lake.

Photo courtesy of Lia Simcox

Wanapum Lake

Wanapum Lake is a reservoir on the section of the Columbia River that runs past Vantage, Washington. Visitors may recognize the Vantage Bridge, which carries them across the scenic river on their journey through Washington via I-90. The best way to access this lake is the Vantage Boat Launch, which is conveniently located just off the interstate. There is an abundance of boat trailer parking and picnic tables, so even on the hottest of days, there is likely room for you!

Photo courtesy of Lia Simcox

Yakima River

Central Washington wouldn’t be the same without the stunning Yakima River that winds through our diverse landscape. A favorite place to fish, swim, and boat, the beautiful river meanders from Lake Keechelus through Cle Elum and Ellensburg, all the way to Yakima. The river offers excellent trout fishing year-round, with the best catches being made from March through October.


Uncover more of Central Washington’s fishing destinations and learn about
regulations from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Local Guides

Even if you are an expert fisherman, it may still be beneficial to test new waters with a guide that is already experienced in the area. Central Washington is home to professional excursion vendors that would love to host you on their local waters, whatever your skill level may be.

Click on their name to be taken to their website to learn more!

Brazda’s Fly Fishing

1130 Eagles Rest Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Crow Creek Fly Fishing Guide

107 W Washington Ave, Roslyn, WA 98941

Ellensburg Angler

32 Thorp Hwy S, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Red's Fly Shop

14706 WA-821, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Top Fly Guides


Troutwater Fly Shop

113 East 1st St, Cle Elum, WA 98922

Worley-Bugger Fly Co.

1713 South, Canyon Rd #100, Ellensburg, WA 98926

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