Lake Padden: Near Town, Near Perfect

I first came into contact with Lake Padden this past summer when I had my first interval workout for Cross Country on the parks trails. I was thrilled that there was such a nice lake so close to where I attend college at Western Washington University. At first, the fisherman inside me couldn’t help thinking about anything but getting a line wet, however, upon becoming more familiar with the location I learned of the many other opportunities that Padden has to offer.

Lake Padden, located 4 miles South East downtown Bellingham, WA, is a 160 acre lake with 2.3 miles of shoreline and a max depth of 59 feet. The lake itself is surrounded by the Lake Padden Park which includes a golf course, dog park, as well as access to miles of trails.

When you arrive at Padden you’ll be greeted by an often calm lake and light refreshing breeze. Parking is located on the north side of the lake, as you look east the tree line is overcome by Galbraith Mountain. During the many gorgeous days we have here in Bellingham in the spring, summer, and early fall, the sun sets beautifully against Galbraith as seen in the photo above taken beside the dock located on the west edge of the lake. On the opposite, southern, side of the lake you will see the trees push clear up to the water’s edge. As you take the trail along the north side of the lake you walk right beside the water. In this section of trail you’ll recognize that the lake thrives with waterfowl and you’ll often witness the still surface of the water be broken by the rise of a trout. Some subtle sips others a violent attack of a fly. As you wrap around to the south side of the lake you move off the water and enter a very thick woods full coniferous trees such as fir and cedar.

As I hinted at earlier I primarily use the lake and its surrounding trails for two major activities in my life, running and fishing. Padden provides a decent fishery close to town, pictured above is me landing a cutthroat on the fly during a quick Friday evening stop at the lake. Padden anglers have the opportunity to catch Kokanee, rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat, and largemouth bass. Fishing is best in the spring when the water is still cool but warming up and their food is found in the shallows. As the water warms in mid-summer the fishing slows down substantially as the fish go deep. However, in the fall some fish can begin to be found feeding in the shallows again and fishing picks up for a short window before the season closer in November. The lake is also outfitted with two fishing docks and a boat launch, making it a location where the bank and boat fisherman alike can have success and accessibility to the water. Padden is a well-regulated fishery that when open can provide solid fishing to the novice angler as it doesn’t tend to be too technical when fishing for hungry stocked trout. This makes it a great spot to take out the family and maybe teach a friend or child more about the sport in a close to home fashion.

Padden being located so close to town and being such an accessible spot to a lot of people is a double edged sword. While it is extremely convenient it also causes a lot of human traffic. When trying to relax and enjoy nature and get a line wet it’s not necessarily ideal to be sharing the space with herds of other people, their children, and their dogs. Furthermore, no internal combustion engines are allowed on the lake and between November and the first half of April fishing is closed. Because of this, when Padden does open to fishing, its packed occasionally further inhibiting a truly relaxing day of fishing on the water depending on who you are.

While I personally prefer to fly fish a river for wild trout on a stream, being able to get out and put a line in the water such a short distance from town is a great way for me to scratch the constant itch a fisherman has to feel something tug at the end of his line. Despite any shortcomings that Padden has it doesn’t change my opinion that Padden is wonderful place for its convenience. Deciding to make a trip Padden doesn’t require a bunch of planning and preparation yet it will get you out and enjoying the great outdoors and having a line in the water.

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