The mid-west states of the US are well known for ample walleye fishing opportunities and countless anglers flock there every year in anticipation of non-stop fishing action.
Just a little bit further west, Washington State has some of the highest quality walleye fishing in the country. Abundant populations of trophy class walleye grace many popular lakes throughout Washington and it is still a fairly well-kept secret.
Whether you fish the mighty Columbia River or one of Grant County’s many gems, huge walleye and plenty of eater sized fish are just waiting to be caught.
If you’re searching for your next fishing hot spot, look no further than this list of our 7 favorite walleye destinations in Washington State.
- Banks Lake
- Moses Lake
- Potholes Reservoir
- Lake Wallula
- Lake Roosevelt
- Billy Clapp Lake
- Scooteney Reservoir
1. Banks Lake
Situated in the beautiful shrub-steppe habitat of Grant County, Banks Lake is only a one hour drive north of Moses Lake. Anglers traveling from the Seattle area should expect a scenic 3.5 hour drive to get to our number one walleye fishing hot spot. Time it right and the fishing will be worth the drive.
The places to stay and play around Banks Lake are almost as abundant as the fish you are going to catch. Plenty of lodging, camping and boat launch areas are available along the 27 miles of shoreline.
Steamboat Rock State Park is the most popular place for walleye addicts to camp and launch their boats. A fish cleaning station, bathrooms with showers and well maintained campsites make it a popular spot so book early.
Other lodging and camping options include Sunbanks Resort, Coulee Playland Resort, Sky Deck Motel and the Coulee City Community Park just to name a few.
Boat launches are scattered all along the lake which makes accessing this huge body of water much easier. The south end can be accessed by two WDFW boat launches and the Coulee City boat launch.
Steamboat Rock State Park and Northrup Canyon provide the most convenient boat ramps to the middle stretch of Banks Lake. Coulee Playland Resort has an excellent launch at the northern most portion of the lake.
About the Lake:
Don’t let the massive size of this lake intimidate you. At 27,000 acres it provides a diverse fishing experience. Shore fishing is available along large stretches on the eastern shore off Highway 155. Although, a boat is the most efficient way to find larger walleye among submerged structure and weed lined flats.
Walleye and smallmouth bass are the most popular species in Banks Lake. However, trout, lake whitefish, burbot, kokanee, largemouth bass, catfish and abundant panfish are also present for year-round fishing opportunities.
Banks Lake was created as part of the Columbia Basin Project and is kept full with water from Lake Roosevelt.
Some of the largest walleye in the state are found in Banks Lake. Healthy baitfish populations and excellent walleye habitat consistently produce fish over 10 pounds. The quality and quantity of walleye keep it on the annual tournament circuit for most walleye clubs in the state.
Walleye fishing is good from March through October but early spring is the best time to catch large spawning females without the summer crowds. Plenty of eater sized males are very abundant this time of year as well.
The Devils Punch Bowl, adjacent to Steamboat Rock, is a go to spot for most anglers new to the lake. Riprap rocks on the east bank provide spawning habitat and a variety of rocky reefs and humps hold pods of feeding walleye throughout the season.
The south end of the Punch Bowl has weedy flats the produce well with worm harnesses trolled behind a bottom bouncer. Rapala Shad Raps often pull out late evening walleye from shallow flats.
Hit the deeper structure with soft plastics like Kalin’s Jerk Minnow Jr or 3 to 5 inch grubs. Jigging raps are also deadly all season long when you can vertically target small schools of walleye in 20 to 30 feet of water.
Other portions of the lake hold just as many fish as the Devils Punch Bowl but be aware of windy conditions. Small boats can easily capsize when desert winds blow through. Seek out shelter and other walleye honey holes among the many inlets and coves at the northern end of the lake.
2. Moses Lake
A straight shot east on I-90 from Seattle takes you right to our next pick on the list, Moses Lake. The 2.5 hour drive brings you to this long and narrow lake next to its name sake city. The area is known for summer recreation and fantastic walleye fishing throughout most of the year.
Finding a place to stay should not be a problem. Moses Lake city motels are well dispersed and affordable. Many hotels cater to anglers and provide boat trailer parking.
Camping and RV resorts are mainly located along the southern portion of the lake. Cascade Campground and Sunrise Resorts are a couple of popular choices.
Boat launches and community parks offer a smattering of access all along its length. Blue Heron, right off I-90, is a central stop for most. The Cascade Valley boat launch on the Lewis Horn and Connelly Park to the north are some of the best jumping off points for anglers looking to chase walleye.
Summer time draws thousands of boaters to the lake each year. Launches see huge crowds on weekends. Bring some patience and set out early to beat most of the congestion. Early spring and fall are better times for anglers looking to increase their catch rates.
About the Lake:
Moses Lake was originally a shallow natural lake but was dammed for irrigation purposes. It is a major recreation hub for outdoor enthusiasts and its 6,815 acres provides some of the finest walleye fishing in the Pacific Northwest.
Anglers familiar with the lake frequently extract 8 to 10 pound walleye. Boat traffic can make the lake a challenge to fish during busier times but the Lewis, Parker and Pelican Horn arms of the lake see less traffic and better fishing.
Between walleye bites, anglers target large rainbow trout, panfish and a world-class bass fishery. Lake whitefish also represent a large biomass in Moses Lake and remain largely un-fished.
Moses Lake at its deepest is only 38 feet. Miles of shallow shoreline and weedy edges along flat, narrow basins beg for trolling tactics. Worm harnesses with bottom bouncers are a solid choice to hookup with plenty of walleye early in the season. Trolling with diving stick baits is a reliable producer of larger fish.
Find structure like drop offs, rocky points and submerged humps in the Parker or Pelican horns. A good fish finder will make locating ideal spots much easier. Concentrated pockets of walleye feed aggressively on soft plastics most of the season near bottom structure.
Slip bobber rigs with worms are also effective and are usually overlooked as a top producing method on cruising fish.
Shoreline anglers using slip bobbers and plastic grubs should not miss the mid-April spawn at the Alder Street Fill where Crab Creek enters the lake. Limits of fish are easily taken by anglers of all skill levels with basic equipment. Use 1/8 ounce jigs and 3 inch grubs in natural colors for best results.
Take a look at this WDFW video showing Moses Lake shoreline angling for more information.
3. Potholes Reservoir
Potholes Reservoir sits only a mere 7 miles south of Moses Lake and its close proximity to other lakes on this list makes choosing where to fish a difficult task. Although, a long weekend is enough time to fish multiple places and so make sure you keep Potholes on your list of must-fish spots.
Boat launches, shoreline access sites, a popular state park and the well-known Mardon Resort dot the perimeter of this giant 28,000 plus acre reservoir.
Potholes State Park offers fine camping with full bathroom facilities and a nice multi-lane boat launch with a dock and ample trailer parking. When you’re not fishing, the park offers swimming, bird watching and ample space for outdoor games with the whole family.
For those of you with RV’s look no further than Mardon Resort. This is a great starting point for new anglers. A restaurant, marina and small tackle shop make the resort a one-stop destination for anyone looking to get on the water. Ask the friendly staff for seasonal fishing advice too. Tent sites, cabins and a motel are also available.
Several other boat launches and shore access sites are found in the Lind Coulee area such as Sampson’s Pit launch. More shore access can be found at Blythe launch, Medicare East and Glen Williams launch.
About the Lake:
An aerial view from Google maps makes it easy to see why it’s called Potholes Reservoir. The north end is composed of thousands of semi-submerged dunes that create a unique ecosystem and phenomenal fishing among the maze of countless channels.
Walleye fishing here is sometimes considered the best in Washington State and it was a tough decision placing it in our number 3 slot. While fishing is good from March to October, irrigation draw downs combined with summer algae blooms hinder fishing success in July and August.
The main body of the lake has over 9 square miles of water that gets blasted by afternoon winds. Only larger boats with experienced drivers should attempt crossings during severe water chop.
Most anglers start fishing early and return to protected areas around noon. Summer winds typically die down by early evening and fishing can resume. In early spring, when the reservoir is at full pool, you can fish all day among the protected dunes and inlet areas.
April through June and the month of September are your best bets for walleye fishing. Big spawning females exceeding 30 inches are caught on occasion and Potholes has the highest concentration of 24 inch plus walleye of all the lakes on this list.
Trolling tactics work well in the spring when the reservoir is still at full pool and access to the dunes and Lind Coulee is easier. The flat sandy bottom is conducive to bottom bouncing with worm harnesses or diving baits.
September fishing is often excellent as the weather cools and the water levels sit over 14 feet shy of the high water mark. Fish are concentrated and they feed aggressively as the water temperatures decrease. Casting soft plastics around structure in the Lind Coulee is a popular method for limits of walleye.
It’s also possible to catch walleye through the ice in winter but safe ice does not form reliably each year. Make a quick call to Mardon Resort to check conditions before heading out to fish.
4. Lake Wallula
Lake Wallula, in central Washington, is the heart of the Tri-Cities area and is surrounded by Kennewick, Richland and Pasco. It is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle or a 2 hour drive from Spokane.
Since Lake Wallula is situated in the most populace place in central Washington, amenities abound and boat launches give boaters plenty of access to the lake.
Tent and RV camping is readily available. Hood Park, at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia River, is a popular campground and boat launch. The Pasco KOA also provides nearby lodging at affordable prices. Not to mention, there are an abundant number of hotels in the Tri-Cities.
Numerous boat launches dot the Tri-Cities area with Hood Park, Columbia Park and Two Rivers being the easiest to access. The upper stretches of the lake near Hanford Reach has primitive launch sites at Vernita Bridge and Parking Lot 7 at Ringold. One additional concrete launch is available at Wahluke in the Hanford Monument.
About the Lake:
Lake Wallula is a stretch of the mighty Columbia River between the McNary Dam upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. A portion of the Snake River is also part of the lake up to Ice Harbor Dam.
This 26,274 acre portion of the river yielded the Washington State record walleye in 2014, weighing in at 20.32 pounds. Wallula Lake does not have the highest concentration of walleye but it does hold larger fish. 12 to 15 pounders are not rare for experienced anglers who know the best spots.
Fishing pressure for walleye is relatively light since other species dominate much of the attention. Smallmouth bass fishing is top tier in May and June and chinook salmon garner most of the attention in the fall. Channel catfish and rainbow trout are also targeted by locals.
With a lower density of larger walleye, it takes a bit of trial and error with a sprinkle of local knowledge to consistently hook into Wallula Lake giants. Most of the large fish are found in the channels and current breaks up in the Hanford reach area. Beware that currents are treacherous and the winds are stiff in the narrow canyons.
Walleye fishing is also productive below Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake all the way to the confluence. Fish concentrate off numerous points during the spawn in spring. Fish averaging 18 to 20 inches predominate and basic walleye fishing techniques work fine.
You will find that the best spots to target fish is in 18 to 25 feet of water. Fish slow along main river edges and take advantage of the first few hours in the morning before the summer heat drives fish deeper.
5. Lake Roosevelt
Our northern most lake on the list lies 90 miles northwest of Spokane or a 4 hour drive from Seattle to reach the beginning of the lake at Grand Coulee Dam. Lake Roosevelt stretches for over 150 miles up to British Columbia with many access points along the way.
Lake Roosevelt hosts some of the finest outdoor recreation in the state. With over 660 miles of shoreline there is ample opportunity for tent and RV camping as well as house boat rentals and boat-in campsites.
The National Park Service operates 35 recreational areas along the lake. Make a stop at the Grand Coulee Dam visitor center to pickup maps of the area.
Spring Canyon and Keller Ferry are excellent campgrounds with large boat launches and docks. These are good starting points to access the southern portion of the lake. Two Rivers Resort on the confluence of the Spokane and Columbia River, as well as many smaller boat launches to the north, give access to the more isolated areas of the lake.
About the Lake:
Lake Roosevelt is Washington’s largest reservoir at over 77,000 acres. Created by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, it arguably has the best fishing this state has to offer. The 400 foot deep lake has a stunning variety of game fish and remote expanses of shoreline that seldom see an angler’s hook.
Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, trout, panfish, kokanee, whitefish, walleye and sturgeon call Lake Roosevelt home. Fishing is open year-round but be sure to review the regulations for specific closures and information. Walleye limits are generous at 16 fish with no size restrictions.
The reservoir experiences seasonal draw downs that affect fishing success and boat launch access. There is also occasional Department of Health fish consumption advisories so check out their recommendations on the DOH website here.
Lake Roosevelt is enormous. While shoreline fishing is possible and many anglers see good success from the bank, you’ll hook up with more walleye from a boat. A great way to enjoy the lake is by staying at one of several secluded boat camps. Keep in mind that you must stay at the designated campsites and the north shore is Colville tribal lands with restricted access.
The best fishing is in, and around, the numerous inlets and small coves. Use vertical jigging or cast soft plastics on a 3/16 ounce jig in 15 to 30 feet of water for walleye that suspend near structure points.
You can expect to catch plenty of eater sized walleye. Recent studies conducted by the WDFW show average sizes from 15 to 18 inches. Larger fish are more scarce in Roosevelt than other lakes on the list but high numbers of fish make up for it.
Anglers also find success trolling diving lures along breaks and small flats that lie adjacent to inlet streams. Keller Ferry is a good place to begin exploring the lake. Stop at the marina and ask for current fishing outlooks.
6. Billy Clapp Lake
Billy Clapp is another Washington walleye hotspot situated 20 minutes northeast of Ephrata. This Grant County reservoir is fed by the outflow from Banks Lake. If you want to escape the crowds of Potholes and Moses Lake, Billy Clapp is tough to beat.
Camping and lodging around Billy Clapp is limited and if you’re coming from out of town look for RV camping or motels in Ephrata, Soap Lake or in the Moses Lake area. All are within a 30 to 40 drive of the boat launch.
The boat launch is well maintained and free to use with the required Discover Pass hang tag. You can find the launch on the southeast shore 2 miles north of Stratford. There is a restroom, swim area with picnic tables and a two lane ramp with a boat dock.
Bank fishing is limited to the boat launch area. Additional shore access is available at the north end of the reservoir at the Summer Falls day use area.
About the Lake:
It seems unlikely that this 1,000 acre lake could remain a secret among walleye anglers but it is often overlooked. Nearby Banks and Moses Lake steal all the fishing glory. While walleye fishing may not be at the same level on Billy Clapp, it is not uncommon to have the entire lake to yourself.
At 110 feet deep, the lake does not part with its fish easily. It will take a bit of dedication to consistently pull fish from this lake. There are no contour maps available so those of you who come armed with electronics are likely to have more success at finding fish.
Excellent fishing for 15 to 20 inch kokanee, large rainbows, panfish and bass reward persistent anglers who time it right. During late fall and winter, be prepared to share the lake with waterfowl hunters.
Success on Billy Clapp will rely heavily on finding small pockets that concentrate walleye. There are definitely more fish to the north where the outflow from Banks Lake spills into the reservoir and creates water current. Look for eddies and breaks in 30 feet of water where walleye tend to feed.
There are small sand flats and weed lined shallows along the shore that hold early season walleye. Spend some time scouting with good electronics before you start fishing.
Jigging is the most efficient way to cover water near structure but trolling can be productive in 10 to 35 foot transition zones with bottom walkers. This lake likes to snag gear so keep an eye on your depth as you troll.
7. Scooteney Reservoir
Scooteney Reservoir, our last entry on this list, is a worth while lake 20 minutes south of Othello in Franklin County. Anglers with a home base in western Washington only need to drive a little over 3 hours to Scooteney Park and Campground. Plan to spend a weekend here to get the most out of what Scooteney has to offer.
The Scooteney Park and Campground is a reasonably priced campground and day use area maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer campground in the area. Sites are first come first serve. The picnic area and nice grassy spots are perfect for family getaways.
A boat launch with ample trailer parking is available at the park. A note of caution; the afternoon winds typically hit the launch at a 45° angle which proves to be a challenge for docking.
Of all the lakes on this list, Scooteney has the best chance for shoreline anglers to hook up with walleye. A multitude of access areas and trails line the banks and anyone willing to walk a bit can find good fishing without a boat. Check out our guide to walleye shore fishing to take complete advantage of this lake.
Restrooms and potable water are located throughout the park. Occasionally, the park closes for toxic algae blooms in the summer.
About the Lake:
Scooteney Reservoir is a 710 acre wide spot along the Potholes irrigation canal and is separated into two portions by a narrow channel. The larger, 425 acre, water body to the north provides the best fishing.
The lake is popular among locals but relatively unknown outside the surrounding area. It is a perfect fishing spot for walleye aficionados looking to take a break from the more publicized destinations.
In recent years, the walleye populations have been on the rise in response to growing schools of abundant perch. You can expect excellent walleye fishing April through July and again in September and October.
Our favorite time to camp at Scooteney is in the fall when the weather is mild and warm without the crowds. Don’t be surprised to have the lake to yourself during fall weekdays.
Year round fishing for perch, crappie, whitefish, bass and trout have a steady following in addition to walleye. The walleye average 16 to 18 inches with 24 inch plus fish always a possibility.
The northern portion of the lake should yield consistent catches in 1 to 25 feet of water. Areas around rock islands are great for trolling with worm harnesses and diving lures. Use caution when boating around the islands though. Bottom depths change abruptly and more than one prop has been destroyed on unseen rock humps.
The canal empties into the lake at the far north portion and is a good spot to track down spawning fish in the spring. As temperatures creep up in the summer, find deeper pockets of cool water next to flats where walleye feed at night.