Lake Whatcom is home to 13 species of fish. Among these are 6 native species including: Kokanee Salmon (non-anadromous form of Sockeye), Cutthroat Trout, Longnose Sucker, Peamouth Chub, Sculpin and Threespine Stickleback. 3 species have purposefully been introduced to the lake: Bluegill, Rainbow Trout, and Smallmouth Bass. There are 4 species that have been illegally introduced: Brown Bullhead, Large Mouth Bass, Pumpkinseed Sunfish and Yellow Perch.
Southeast of Bellingham.
Take Interstate 5 to Ballingham and then take exit 254 onto Iowa Street. Drive east on Iowa Street about a half mile to Yew Street and turn north (left). Turn east (right) on Alabama Strret and drive about a mile to Electric Avenue. Turn south (right) and go back to the Bloedel Donovan access area and boat ramp.
There are public launches on the west and east ends of the lake. The launch at the city park (Bloedel Donovan) in Bellingham at the west end of Lake Whatcom has multiple paved ramps, a dock and bathrooms. This is a busy park in the summertime for swimmers and water sports so expect lots of boats and people. All other amenities are in the city of Bellingham.
At 5,003 acres, Whatcom is the biggest as well as the deepest of the natural lakes in the county and, from a fish perspective, it continues to be one of the most troubled of area waters. Its once vaunted native cutthroat population is now an unknown quantity, and its famed kokanee face continued risk from Middle Fork Nooksack diversion-delivered diseases. General concerns about water quality and invasive plant and shellfish species also persist. And to add insult to injury, the smallmouth bass, perch and crawfish have been tabbed with state/county health advisories due to increased levels of mercury.
That said, enjoy trolling for kokanee or prospect casting in-shore for smallmouth bass. But, for their sake, release all cutthroat trout.
There’s also an open bass tournament slated for Whatcom on Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, sponsored by the local club, the Borderline Bassin’ Contenders.
Rules and Regulations
Season: Saturday, April 28, to Oct. 31
All Cutthroat must be released. Closed waters between Electric St. bridge and outlet. Due to high levels of mercury the department of health advises you to not eat any Smallmouth bass and limit your consumption of Yellow Perch to to one meal per week. Angling methods designed to take the deep-dwelling cutthroat (down-riggers, big spoons, herring strip) are banned by regulation.
Fishing Whatcom Lake
Smallmouth bass fishing has really taken off here on this big, deep lake on the outskirts of Bellingham. It has lots of smallies over two pounds and now and then gives up a smallmouth over 5 pounds. Although htese scrappy fish are found throughout the lake, the best smallmouth often occurs at the north end of the lake, from about Geneve Point northward. Crankbaits, a wide variety of plastic grub and tubes, and even spinnerbaits account for good smallmouth catches as do Grubs in dark colors like black, motor oil, greens fished on jig heads work especially well in the springtime. Cast these lures near structure or around pilings, sunken logs, etc.. The lake also provides fair to good fishing for largemouth bass, some of which top the 5 pound mark as seen below in the photograph.
Kokanee also draw lots of anglers to Whatcom, and it’s easy to understand why. Annual kokanee plants here are typically in the several millions, and the lake has long been used as a source of kokanee fry for other lakes throughout Washington. Trolling Wedding Ring spinners or Jewel Bead spinners , Needlefish, or a small Dick Nite spoon behind a gang trolls is effective, but stillfishing with white corn and other small baiots also take kokanee, which come on strong in late May and providing good fishing all summer. Those stillfishing benefit from the fact that chumming is allowed.
Kokanee anglers sometime hook and land one of the lake’s hefty cutthroat trout, some of which top 24 inches.
Perch fishing has dropped off somewhat in the last few years, but the lake still offers some large ones. Most are caught along the north shore and south end of the lake on worms.
A warming April is likely to bring the silvers on the bite early. The tried and true method of pulling of gang trolls through Agate Bay or the western basin in search of the silver hordes will yield first results.
Whatcom Lake Largemouth Bass