Lake Whatcom

lake whatcom

Main Species: Smallmouth bass, Kokanee, Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat trout
Sub Species: Largemouth bass, Perch, Sunfish.
Size: Approx. 5,000 acres.
Public Access: Yes.
Boat Launch: Yes.  Dock, multiple paved launches.
Bathrooms: Yes.
Opening Date: Usually the 4th Saturday in April, but can vary. Check the current regulations.
Closing date: October 31st.

lake whatcom
lake whatcom

Located in the middle of Bellingham Whatcom County, LakeWhatcom supplies drinking water for the city of Bellingham. The lake is full of Smallmouth bass and fishing can be good for Rainbow trout, Kokanee and Perch as well.  It’s not unusual to catch a Cutthroat trout while fishing but they must be released unharmed per the regulations on the lake. Lake Whatcom is considered one of the finest bass fishing lakes in Bellingham and often ranks up there with other great bass fishing lakes in Washington State.

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. There is good opportunity for smallmouth bass fishing along the southern edge of the lake from Bloedel Donovan. It should be noted that there are largemouth bass in the lake as well but they are not as plentiful as the smallies. Fish in the 4+ pound range can be found without an extraordinary amount of effort.

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. Drop shot worm rigs and texas rigged plastics work well also. Other popular lures include spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

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. Read the special rules and advisories at Check the current WDFW fishing regulations for closures, warnings, and special rules.

If you have fished this lake and have some information to add please email us at


24 thoughts on “Lake Whatcom”
  1. I was contacted by a very rude young man about a hundred yards from “The Firs” retreat house while I was fishing with a friend. He said there was no fishing allowed in front of their property because they had exclusive water rights. We are from Spokane and we’re unaware of any such existing regulation. This young man drove recklessly around our boat as if he was trying to swamp us. I would like to know if any such watet rights exist.

    1. That depends on if you’re fishing from a boat, or if you were on land on private property. You make reference to being on a boat, and to my knowledge there are no ‘water rights’ of that type in Washington state. Next time that happens you should be well within your rights to call 911 or the sheriffs department and report them for reckless behavior.

      1. Actually, many of the properties on the lake have titled ownership out to the harbor line. This means it is unlawful to anchor without permission on someone’s waterfront who owns it without their permission.

      2. I have dogs my self and understand them but when people are launching there boats don’t throw a ball off the end of the dock and don’t bring them in the launch parking lot for them to get in the way or ran over

    1. You’re wrong. Most properties on lake whatcom own out to the harbor line. Educate yourself before speaking if you wish to avoid being thought a fool.

  2. Can we keep Lake trout ? There still here. Fished with my Grandpa years ago , Tried for them Sunday and hooked two but released them , Big Fish .

    1. I don’t believe so. Also in the past there have been regulations about the type of gear and depth restrictions for fishing which are meant to protect the native cutthroat. I’d check the reg book for more information.

    1. Actually, you’re wrong about that. Lake whatcom was a working lake for the first part of the century and because of this, most properties on the lake own out to the harbor line which is 330′ from the high water mark. This does not mean you can’t float around in front of their house and fish, but it is unlawful to anchor without their permission within those parameters.

      1. To your point. At most a property owner would own the “dirt” to the harbor line, not the water itself. A boat cannot anchor (without permission) on someones property, but a boat can certainly fish the waters.

        The property owner the original poster encountered was in the wrong.

  3. I was snorkeling in lake Whatcom and I kept finding lots of mussels. They are about 3-4 inches long and look like salt water mussels. I tried to find them on the Internet, but all I found was information about the tiny invasive species. Does anybody know about these mussels? They are all over the lake.

    1. Hey Fred, the mussel you found sounds like a native freshwater species called Anodonta. They are common in Lake Whatcom, and varieties can be found up and down the west coast from Alaska to California.

    1. There is public access towards the end of the North Shore road, and also at the South end of the lake along S Bay Dr/Park road. There is a boat launch at the fire station, and some pull outs and access past that. There are probably more as well but those are a few.

  4. Hey, i have been wondering if there is any land spots i can catch any bass, i sold my boat and looking for a area to catch some bass on the shore.

  5. Hey, i have been wondering if there is any land spots i can catch any bass, i sold my boat and looking for a area to catch some bass on the shore. so if anyone can help me find a spot pls do.

  6. Harbor line ownership is not reciprocated by city or law officials. Attack a boat who’s peacefully fishing at your own risk – your greed ain’t worth it.

  7. Is there actually a season on the lake I’m really confused because my dad talked to the local fly fishermen and there doesn’t seem to be a season according to them and I’m being harassed by people on my social media profile page for fishing out of season

    1. Yes, there is a season listed in the WDFW regulation books. Here is info copied and pasted.

      “above Electric Ave. Bridge All species Two-Pole not allowed. Year-round See DOH Fish Consumption Advisories.

      Trout 4th Sat. in Apr.-Oct. 31 Statewide min. size/daily limit. Except: Release cutthroat.

      Other game fish 4th Sat. in Apr.-Oct. 31 Statewide min. size/daily limit.

      that portion of Lake Whatcom between Electric Ave. Bridge and outlet dam All species CLOSED WATERS. “

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