Sports

Wildcat Lake a fishin' fav

A slight breeze keeps the surface broken, sun showing rays of warmth on the lake beneath it. Surrounded by a quiet community, mountain views and wildlife in and out of the water are featured in this getaway that’s closer than most realize.

A trip to Wildcat Lake in Seabeck is well worth the short diversion away from Kitsap’s busy Highway 3 corridor.

Wildcat Lake, located at 9205 Holly Road NW, is an 11-acre park centered around the lake and managed by Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation.

While it offers a playground, basketball courts, a volleyball court, swimming areas and a picnic area, the lake has one feature vital for a relaxing summer in the sun — good fishing.

“Fishing, that’s all I do,” Seabeck resident Brenda Smetana said. “I do a lot of fishing. It’s just a great place to fish.”

A resident whose visited the lake for 13 years, Smetana said Wildcact Lake ranks among her top picks for local fishing destinations.

“This is a nice place,” she said. “I’ve been other places and I like it better here. I always keep coming back for more.”

The lake stretches 120 acres and reaches 33 feet at its deepest, although the average across the lake is about 18 feet. With 2.2 miles of shoreline, the lake is fed by two unnamed tributaries and drains via Wildcat Creek to Dyes Inlet.

Turtles are often spotted at the lake, and according to a 1997 Washington State Department of Ecology report, freshwater clams also are plentiful.

In terms of other wildlife, a number of birds, including eagles and kingfishers also regularly visit the lake.

The Olympics are framed majestically by the lake’s many surrounding trees.

But again, it’s the cast-and-reel that lures so many to the lake.

Upon entering the park at the boat launch (there are separate entrances), park-goers have plenty of vehicle parking after launching.

But fishing need not be done solely from a boat.

Many people fish from the shore, and an elderly couple was observed with three trout on their chain stringer.

In terms of fish variety, Wildcat is stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, the bulk of which top out at 8 to 10 inches. Cutthroat trout, largemouth bass and brown bullhead also are in the lake. Coho salmon also have been reported in the past.

Belfair residents Renee Shenefield and her 8-year-old son Aric, first-time visitors to the lake, came with some goals in mind.

“Catch a big one,” Aric said.

When asked how they were enjoying their trip so far, Renee jokingly said that would all depend.

“I guess we’ll see when we catch some fish!” Renee said.

Open through Oct. 31, and with no size limits, Wildcat Lake is a popular choice with area anglers.

Smetana said even if not fishing, a trip to the lake is worthwhile.

“It’s just beautiful here,” she said. “And the people around here are extremely friendly.”

Our Experiences

In late June, photographer Jesse Beals and myself ventured out to Seabeck to try our hand, and luck, on the water.

Spending most of the day trolling along its shores searching for cool pockets in the hot sun, we had some nibblers, but most catches were small trout — too small to consider keeping.

While I managed to hook everything from airborne branches to submerged trees, I got my bait stolen a few times without being able to catch anything until the end of our day, which spanned about from 8 a.m. to about 2 p.m.

At about 1:30, I was able to catch a largemouth bass, at least 13 inches long, using a rooster tail lure. Unfortunately for us, and fortunately for the bass, it was able to wriggle free of the hook before we could haul it in.

Beals caught a handful of small trout using a variety of lures and baits throughout the day.

The lake, shaped like a disproportionate “figure 8” is deepest at its widest area, making it a hot spot on hot days. This is where we had most of our bites.

While we may not have been the most successful, others were. And regardless, I know I’ll certainly be back out on Wildcat before season’s end.

For more information on Wildcat Lake, visit www.kitsapgov.com/parks/regionalparks/wildcat_lake_cp.htm.

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