In my last article, I introduced some tactics and tips to increase your chances of hooking into your own Lake Sammamish cutthroat trout during the winter months (click here to read that article). Now that you know how to fish the lake, you may be wondering “Where do I start my day of fishing?”. Growing up on the lake and fishing it for almost 20 years now, I have found four spots on the lake that are constantly more productive for quantity of fish and quality fish during the winter months than most other areas on the lake. So, if you are looking for A GUIDE’S SECRET SPOTS on Lake Sammamish when trolling for winter cutthroat trout, you have come to the right place.
Located about 70% of the way up the lake, this spot is a constant producer of fish during the winter months.This spot is the furthest North I fish on the lake during the wintertime (I usually start my day as far north as I plan to fish and work my way back towards the boat launch). The reason for this is the far north section of the lake is shallower than the rest of the lake, with an average depth of about 65 feet. Although there are fish to be caught up there, I prefer to fish in about 65-85 feet of water during the winter months.
When fishing The North Shore, I recommend starting in about 60 feet of water, and work your way out until you reach about 80 feet. While you’re trolling this spot, zig zagging from shoreline to shoreline is a great method to cover as much water as possible. However, when you find the fish, stay on that area. During the winter, these cutthroat trout will often group together as they feed, so where there is one, there is often more. NEVER LEAVE FISH TO FIND FISH.
If The North Shore is not producing for you, move down the lake to Sulphur Springs Point. Located on the East shoreline, this point is the first major bend in the lake and is another trout hotspot during the winter months. Sulphur Springs Point is deep, so there is no need to fish very far off the docks (usually 50-150 yards off the docks is great for these fish). To fish this spot, start on the North side of the point and troll Southbound for about a mile, covering water with “S-turns” (slow-slithering turns. In other words, don’t just go straight). Try to stay between 75-85 feet of water in this spot, as the fish in shallow tend to be a little less willing to bite. Again, once you find the fish, stay right on them as there will be more fish in that area.
Located centrally about 1/3 of the way up the lake, you will a large yellow weather station known as the Weather Buoy. The Weather Buoy is no secret on Lake Sammamish. This is a spot with a time-tested reputation for having tons of fish that are willing to bite. Even better, the Weather Buoy is also known for kicking out some absolute lunkers. So, even though its well known, that doesn’t mean there aren’t fish around. When fishing this spot, try to keep in the 80-90 feet of water range, continuing to do “S-Turns”.
As a guide, I love watching people fish this spot, simply because it makes me laugh! Many people who fish the Weather Buoy take “fishing the Weather Buoy” very literally and stay as close as possible to the buoy itself at all times, spending the entire day doing tight circles around the buoy. DON’T DO THAT! Start close to it and work your way out from the buoy. The Weather Buoy is the same of the spot, but that doesn’t mean fish on top of it. There are fish all around it so make sure you explore!
Finally, located right next to the boat launch, the mouth of the Issaquah Creek can be an absolutely dynamite spot to catch some of the lakes’s largest fish. Lake Sammamish is home to a salmon run lasting through Fall. As these salmon work their way to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (located a few miles up the Issaquah Creek), many cutthroat trout will inter mix with them or trail their run to the mouth of the creek, where the trout will stack up at the mouth of the creek and become an easy target for anglers. This is a great area to target these fish by casting spoons or bobber fishing because you don’t need to be in very deep water to target the fish. Often times 40 feet of water is spectacular for these fish. Another great time to fish this area is when the salmon fry are leaving the hatchery and returning to the lake. During this time, the cutthroat trout will hold at the mouth of the creek and gorge themselves on the salmon fry, again creating an easy target for fishermen. It is crucial to pay attention to the WDFW regulations when fishing this spot. From August 16- November 30, the waters at the mouth of the creek are closed to fishing, so make sure you stay more than 100 yards away from the mouth of the creek until the end of November.
The Lake Sammamish cutthroat trout fishery is a little different than most fisheries during the winter months: these fish are located in the top 20-25 feet of the water column. During the wintertime, there is a hatch of insects called Midges on the surface of the lake, which give an easy target for these fish to eat. Targeting these fish does not require the use of fancy gear such as down riggers, lead-core line, or even a fancy rod or reel.. One great way to catch these fish is simply flatlining (trolling without weight) using regular monofilament fishing line with a dodger or pop-gear and your lure. I use an array of different Lamiglas Kokanee Rods, but using a medium light or medium rod of any sort (spinner, bait caster, etc…) will work just fine.
Lastly, if you don’t have a fish-finder, that is not a problem. When trying to find the fish, look for masses of midge eggs floating on the surface, jumping fish, and especially BIRDS! Birds are natures’s fish finder. During the winter months, the birds will flock together and feed on the midges and bait on the surface, just like the fish. During the winter, its not uncommon to see hundreds of seagulls flocked together in one area. If you are having trouble finding the fish, TROLL THROUGH THE BIRDS. Where there are birds, there are fish.
I hope this article helps you find success in your Lake Sammamish winter cutthroat trout adventure. For some extra talk on these fishing spots, watch the video located at the end of the page. It covers all of the points discussed here plus a few pieces of information that can help you go from struggling for a bite to having a very successful day on the water .