Cutthroat trout tips
Many cutthroats in Lake Washington can run 23 to 27 inches and 4½ to 5 lbs. Lake Washington cutthroats typically congregate just below 50-degree water temperature levels. When the lake warms up in the summer and the thermocline (water layer with abrupt temperature shift) sinks, the fish follow the thermocline down, requiring deep-water fishing techniques to catch them.
Curt Welsh of Special Moments Guide Service recommends using 12-lb. test lead core, colored trolling line on a medium action steelhead rod. He says it's best to fish gang trolls (multiple blades on a steel wire) like Ford Fenders with a wedding ring spinner and a night crawler at depths at least 10 feet below the thermocline. He also uses 40 feet of 10-lb. test Fireline attached to lead core line and trolls spoons at speeds from very slow to 4 miles an hour. When the fish descend to cooler, deeper water, Welsh chooses to use a downrigger with the same hookups and varies his trolling speeds.
Welsh says the cutthroats bite best on lures that mimic cutthroat food, like longfin and sockeye smelt. Use spoons like the Canadian Wonder or the Koppers Live Target Smelt. Welsh also favors a Luhr Jensen Needlefish lure with yellow dots and black centers.
The best locations to pick up cutthroats are along the floating bridges. Fish parallel to the bridges and at least 100 feet from them to avoid losing gear on the bridge anchor cables. Consult the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing pamphlet for regulations.
Salmon fishing tips
Sockeye salmon are the most prolific salmon species in Lake Washington. Start out for sockeye early in the morning on cloudy days. Troll a dodger, such as the Gold Star O, trailing a 3/0 or 4/0 red hook anywhere from 13 to 16 inches behind the flasher. Using a downrigger, get down to the proper depth, which early in the morning is 50 to 60 feet. Later in the morning, fish at around 85 to 90 feet. Troll slowly, usually not more than 1 mile an hour. If the fishing is slow, try trolling at different speeds and in a weaving or S-shaped pattern. Some anglers have success with a Kwikfish, flatfish lures or herring strips behind a flasher that is trolled slowly. Others use jigging spoons or marabou jigs. An interesting feature of the 3/0 and 4/0 red hooks is that they resemble the krill salmon feed on in the ocean.
Smallmouth bass fishing tips
Lake Washington also has some monster smallmouth. Almost all of the lake shoreline to Sand Point has gravel beds smallmouth favor for breeding and feeding. Starting in May, smallmouth prepare their breeding spots on the shallow gravel beds. Early in the morning, fish the gravel bed shallows with a Lucky Craft Slender Pointer on a 6 1/2-or-7 foot rod suitable for crank baits. Slow-rolling white spinner baits work well as do fast-paced jerk baits using a pause-and-crank retrieve.
Other popular hook-ups are a Basstrix Bait Fry, with a small drop-shot sinker, and Yamamoto Twin Tail hula grubs that imitate the local crawdads that smallmouth bass.