Don't 'Pass' up the chance nearby Pass Lake offers some of the best fishing in the state

 Pass Lake, just off the Deception Pass Bridge is unheralded, but the 98-acre lake one of the best places in the state to catch large trout. - Ken George
Pass Lake, just off the Deception Pass Bridge is unheralded, but the 98-acre lake one of the best places in the state to catch large trout.
— image credit: Ken George

You have probably been past the lake a couple of hundred times, without giving it much thought. Most island residents know about it, but only a few really fish this tranquil body of water just over the bridge. Rated as one of the best opportunities to catch large trout, Pass Lake is somewhat misunderstood by many.

Ask any serious fly-fisherman where to go for the chance to hook into a lunker German Brown trout, and most will say head toward the Pass. Situated just over the bridge, this 98-acre body of water is fly-fishing at its classic best.

Being a smaller lake it tends to react quicker to atmospheric changes. Best fishing occurs in the cool water month during early spring and late fall. While not a bevy of activity during the summer, some diehards will try the shallows early morning and just before sunset. With the drop in water temperature, the lake turns into a major gathering place for serious fly angler.

Pass is managed as a trophy fly fishing only body of water. During the peak fishing time anglers will get into fish in the 15-inch range with some lunkers as big as 28-inches. In addition to browns, you can also have the chance at rainbows and some cutthroats. In order to get the fish to attain trophy size, the lake is catch and release for all fish. This is not a lake you go for a fish dinner; you come here for the experience of doing battle with the fish on their turf.

While some anglers will become tight-lipped about the best place to fish, all one needs to do is drive by the lake a few times. You will routinely see anglers in the prime areas. You will see some just off the shoulder of busy Highway 20 (be careful of the errant backcast) along with drift & belly boats and numerous float tubes. There are no motors of any type allowed on Pass Lake. Here it is the tranquility of fly-fishing, with the passing motorist as your spectators and bald eagles doing the aerobatics for your viewing pleasure when the fishing is slow.

As with any fly-fishing, it is important to match your presentation to the natural food. During the warm water months you will see anglers using dry flies and chironomids. A Woolly Bugger in black and olive is arguably the most popular pattern.

The shoreline is tree-lined along the south and west shores, with open bank around the north and east. Often you will see anglers under the trees right near the boat launch, and it is very common to see anglers up near the highway on the sweeping curve after the main entrance. There is a gravel pull out, but be careful when crossing. The boat launch is not meant for your Tracker or Trophy, but is very easy for the float tube or canoe.

The lake lies within the boundaries of Deception Pass State Park, and there are no fire allowed along its shores nor any overnight parking. Camp facilities are located in the park. One courtesy note, try and refrain from letting the kids throw rocks or having the dog fetch a stick. Wild trout are very wary and some very good fishing takes place a few yards from the launch.

For the angler just starting out, the best bet is to stop by and talk to the guys at the sporting goods department at Ace Hardware in town, or over at Holiday Sports in Burlington. These guys can give you up-to-date information, plus they can supply you with any needed gear or outfit you with a setup for the beginner. During the weekends there will also be plenty of other anglers that may supply you with information. If not, just stick around and watch for a while. Sooner or later their “secrets” will be out.

Whether you are a seasoned fly angler or you have always wanted to find out what the allure of fly fishing is all about, why not grab your waders and rod and head to one of the best fly-fishing waters in the Evergreen State.

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