Fishing and Boating

Mashel Chinook

Fishing in the Nisqually watershed provides opportunities to catch a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout and kokanee. The majority of the fishing is on lakes, but there are also some access points to the Nisqually River itself! Note that some of these lakes are only open during specific times, but some have active boat launches year round. Make sure to check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s website for all license information, special regulations and more.

Upper Watershed
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The upper portion of the Nisqually Watershed includes Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Alder Lake and lakes surrounding the town of Eatonville. All these access points, with the exclusion of Alder Lake, follow rules set by WDFW, so be sure to check for special regulations!

Area Name Dates Accessible ADA Approved Fees
Gifford Pinchot National Forest Year round No No
**Check out Skate Creek, near Big Creek Campground. Parking fees are required if parking in the campground.
Mineral Lake Year round No Yes
**This is a popular fishing spot without a boat launch, so expect to share it with others. No motorized boats allowed. There are 2 access points.
Alder Lake Year round Yes Yes
**Alder Lake has 2 boat launches; one is accessible year round, the other only at high water. Operated by Tacoma Power.
Ohop Lake Last Sat. in April through Oct. 31 Yes Yes
**This lake is located near the Town of Eatonville. It has ADA accessible restrooms and parking, and allows motorized boats.
Clear Lake (Pierce Co.) Last Sat. in April through Oct. 31 Yes Yes
**Clear Lake has a concrete boat ramp and allows motorized boats. It has ADA approved restrooms. Located near Eatonville.
Rapjohn Lake Last Sat. in April through Oct. 31 No Yes
**Near the town of Eatonville, this lake has a natural style boat ramp and does not permit motorized boats.

Middle Watershed
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The middle section of the Nisqually Watershed includes lakes and river access points near the towns of Yelm and McKenna. It also includes Weyerhaeuser’s Vail Tree Farm, which requires special permits to access. Most of these areas are regulated by WDFW, so check with them for special regulations and daily limits.

Area Name Dates Accessible ADA Approved Fees
Clear Lake (Thurston Co.) Last Sat. in April through Oct. 31 No Yes
**Thurston County’s Clear Lake also has a concrete ramp and allows motorized boats. Located near Yelm.
Tanwax Lake Last Sat. in April through Oct. 31 No Yes
**Features a concrete launch and allows motorized boats.
Silver Lake 4th Sat. in April through Late Oct. No Yes
**Access is through Henley’s Resort.
Harts Lake Year round No Yes
**Near the town of McKenna, this lake has a concrete plank ramp and does not allow motorized boats
Lake St. Clair Year round No Yes
**Lake St. Clair has 2 access points; neither of them have ADA accessible facilities. The west access point has a concrete ramp, while the east access point does not have a ramp. Motorized boats are allowed.
Vail Tree Farm N/A No Yes
**Fishing is allowed on Weyerhaeuser’s Vail Tree Farm with the prior purchase of a permit. These permits sell fast!
McKenna Park Year round Yes No
**Operated by Centralia Light, this park has a picnic area and playground for kids, along with a boat launch.
Yelm-Nisqually Park  Year round  Yes  No
**At the end of a short nature trail is a small boat launch, primarily used by kayakers. There are a few tables there, too. Future plans are to install a covered picnic area and visitor kiosk. Owned by Centralia Light.

Lower Watershed
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The lower watershed provides opportunities to fish at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Joint Base-Lewis McChord and sections of the Nisqually River. Some of these places have special access rules, or specific regulations regarding where, when and what you can fish. Make sure to check with each area, or with WDFW, before going!

Area Name Dates Accessible ADA Approved Fees
6th Ave Boat Ramp Year round Yes Yes
**Provides fishing and boating access to the Nisqually River. It has an ADA approved fishing pier.
**Fishing and boating on JBLM land is permitted with prior permission.
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge June-September Yes Yes
**Fishing is allowed on the Refuge by boat only. Access is from the nearby Luhr’s Landing (see below) and certain areas of the Refuge may be closed. Check with the refuge first!
Luhr’s Landing Year-round Yes Yes
**Located at the Nisqually Reach Nature Center, the boat launch is open year round and permits motorized boats. It has ADA approved parking and restrooms. A parking fee is required.

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