Pass Lake produces some nice fish in the fall and usually has less fishing pressure. (Mike Benbow)

Pass Lake produces some nice fish in the fall and usually has less fishing pressure. (Mike Benbow)

Pass Lake in Skagit County can be challenging, but rewarding

The lake near Deception Pass is better in the fall when trout rise in the water to plump up for winter.

Some lakes are easy to figure out. Others take a while.

Pass Lake near Deception Pass in Skagit County is in neither of those categories, but I have enjoyed fishing it because it has some nice-sized fish. I’ve fished Pass for decades, but it often has provided me a challenge.

I can’t say I have it completely figured out.

For example, I can have a spectacular day of fishing at Pass and show up the next day under nearly identical conditions and catch little or nothing.

The odds are more frequently in my favor during the fall and that’s my favorite time to fish it. That’s when the big brown trout in the fly-fishing-only lake go after the lake’s small shiners to plump up for winter.

The browns are often in deeper water for most of the year, but the dreary fall days tend to bring them up in the water column and make them more vulnerable to anglers. It’s not a guarantee, but the odds are good that the browns will be hunting for baitfish patterns along the shoreline and less likely to be skulking in deep water.

Herons and other wildlife are common sights on Pass Lake, located near Deception Pass. (Mike Benbow)

Herons and other wildlife are common sights on Pass Lake, located near Deception Pass. (Mike Benbow)

Before you cast your line, be sure to pinch the barb down on your fly because Pass Lake is catch and release.

The typical plan for Pass Lake fish in the fall is to trap small schools of shiners along the surface near shore, zoom in and wolf a few of them down.

If you keep your eyes open, you can see that happening.

I typically fish Pass in the fall by moving along the shoreline and looking for shiners leaping frantically out of the water. That’s a dead giveaway that a bigger fish is chasing them.

Often, a quick cast of a small, baitfish pattern provides a hookup with a nice brown or rainbow trout.

Chuck Morrison of Marysville fishes for trout along the shoreline of Pass Lake. (Mike Benbow)

Chuck Morrison of Marysville fishes for trout along the shoreline of Pass Lake. (Mike Benbow)

The 95-acre lake, located along Highway 20 just north of the Deception Pass bridge, has a graveled parking area and boat launch just off the highway at Rosario Road. The location is also the beginning of a 3.5 acre loop trail along the lake and into Deception Pass State Park.

A Discover Pass is required.

From the boat ramp, don’t be in a hurry to head for the other end of the lake because the area just off the launch has a lot of baitfish. Facing the lake, I usually head along the shoreline to the left. I typically start with a baitfish pattern about three or four inches long and cast carefully along the shoreline and its many sunken logs.

I start fishing with a slow-sinking intermediate line, counting down as it drops to try different depths.

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