Lake Sammamish

Species:
Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Brown Bullhead Catfish, Black Crappie, Chinook Salmon, Kokanee, and Steelhead
Location:
Northwest of Issaquah
Directions:
Take exit 15 off of Interstate 90 and turn north (over the freeway). Follow SE 56th Street one mile to East Lake Sammamish Parkway, turn north (left), and drive one mile to the boat lauch sign on the left.
Facilities:
A boat ramp, floats, and bank fishing access are located at the state park, which encompasses the lake’s entire south end. There’s room to launch about 10 boats at a time at this expansive launch. Several private parks also have boat launches, docks, and bank fishing. Food, gas, tackle, lodging can be accessed in the town of Issaquah.
Rules and Regulations:
Open to fishing year-round, kokanee and steelhead are off limits.
Bio:
The lake is 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, with a maximum depth of 105 feet and a surface area of 8 sq mi. It lies east of Lake Washington and west of the Sammamish Plateau, and stretches from Issaquah in the south to Redmond in the north. At Issaquah it is fed by Issaquah Creek, and at Redmond it drains to Lake Washington via the Sammamish River. Lake Sammamish watershed stretches from Redmond through Bellevue, and Issaquah to Preston and Hobart, and consists of numerous creeks which flow into the lake. Issaquah Creek is the largest tributary, furnishing 70% of the lake’s inflow.
Fishing Lake Sammamish:
The most important thing you need to know is that the boat ramp at the state park isn’t open 24 hours a day, so if you want to launch before daylight or fish until after dark, you should use one of the private parks instead. The second most important thing you need to know is that Lake Sammamish is Western Washington’s premier small-mouth bass lake. Although, these bronze back fighters have been in the lake for many years and there’s absolutely no secret about it, Sammamish continues to provide good small-moth fishing for those willing to work at it a little. The many old pilings and submerged trees around the south end of the lake are especially productive places to search for the smallies. But fish may also be found around any of the dozens of docks and floats or over many of the gravel-bottom beaches where home owners and Washington State Parks have dumped tons of sand and gravel to turn the once muddy lake bottom into an environment more pleasing to human water-lovers. While all this development has eliminated a lot of the largemouth habitat the lake once had, it’s almost perfect for smallmouths. As for what to ue, try small lead-heads with green, gray, or clear plastic skirts to imitate the salmon fry on which the Sammamish smallmouths are feeding upon. The clean, generally snak-free bottom is also conductive to casting crankbaits, and be sure to take along at least a couple of crawfish finishes. Many of the big lilly pad beds and other vegetation that use to make Lake Sammamish a top-notch largemouth lake are gone, but it’s still possible to catch one here and there. Some of the bass are caught are really big,.

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Sammamish is home to some of the biggest, most beautiful cutthroat around, some of them topping the 20 inch mark, and weighing up to three pounds. Casting or trolling needlefish, Canadian Wonders, Dick Nites, and other wobblers will take them, as will trolling a nightcrawler behind a Wedding Ring Spinner, or Pop Gear. Fishing from the shore would be a slip sinker, 48″ leader, and a nightcrawler. My favorite time to fish this fishery is in the fall at the mouth of Issaquah Creek, trolling in about 30′ of water, using a nightcralwer behind a Wedding Ring Spinner. But remember to stay at least 100 yards out from the mouth of the creek, check your WDFG rules and regulation pamphlet.

Roger Koskela with a chrome Lake Sammamish Cutthroat

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Trout Fishing Lake Samammish Kayak Todd and Ray from rayborbon on Vimeo.

Trout Fishing Lake Samammish Kayak Todd and Ray

Last year on August 12th 2012 the state opened up the Chinook fishery on Lake Sammamish. There was a daily limit of four salmon, of which an angler could retain up to two chinook or king salmon and complete the catch limit with other salmon species. Silver or coho salmon may be part of the catch.

Because the feeding portion of these salmon’s lives is over, you either have to appeal to their instinct to bite what once was food, or trade on their aggressive nature. The former is touted by those who use bare, red, size 4/0 hooks trolled behind a Dodger flasher.
Herring or smelt fished behind a flasher are also used to catch these salmon. Rigging should be the same as one would use in salt water.
For both types of lures, savvy fishers use commercial scent attractants. There are some krill scents that work well here, especially on bare hooks.

You also see folks jugging from a drifting boat with a variety of lures, such as Point Wilson Darts or BuzzBombs.
The best fishing is all day but the catching is mostly early in the morning, when the fish school up at shallower depths. Start out fishing at shallow depths and vary down until you connect. A fish finder can help, but varying the depth until you get a strike is the tried-and-true way to work the lake.

Slow to medium trolling speed is standard. Usually you will join a line of trolling boats and to prevent fouling yours or their lines you should match that speed.
The kings have been in the lake for some time now, but you will connect with bright silver, fresh sea-run salmon from time to time. The dark ones should be considered for return or may be satisfactory for smoking.

Chinook “King Salmon” passing through the Ballard Locks on their way to Issaquah Creek, via Lake Washington, then Lake Sammamish.

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