Only electric motors, canoes, or rowboats are allowed on Deception Pass State Park’s lakes. The most visible of the two is Pass Lake, around which Highway 20 curves. This is a fly-fisher’s delight, and on any given weekend you’re likely to see plenty of anglers looping their lines overhead as they bob in float-tubes. The fishery is delicate here, so there’s only catch-and-release angling allowed.
You can observe beaver dams, muskrats, and mink in the marshes on the south side of shallow Cranberry Lake, which also hosts a seasonal concession stand. There’s good fishing for trout here, and the warm water makes it a favorite swimming hole. The waters around the pass are also a magnet for anglers, with good saltwater fishing for lingcod, salmon, smelt, and bottom fish. One of the best holes for some leisurely shore fishing is Hoypus Point, at the end of Coronet Bay Road.
Anglers and pleasure boaters can get their craft in the water at the one-lane launch at Bowman Bay. But be aware that the tricky waters of the pass still require skill to navigate, even today—at peak tide the current can reach up to 8 knots.
This warning is especially important for kayakers—don’t even think about crossing the pass by paddle unless you have years of experience. Instead, stick to the calmer waters along the rest of the park’s shorelines, which can provide hours of exploration and a chance to find seals, porpoise, and other marinelife along the way. Anacortes Kayak Tours (800/992-1801, May.–Oct., $35 adults, $25 children) caters to first-time paddlers and those without their own boats during its 1.5-hour guided trips within Bowman Bay.
If you are set on riding through the pass but you don’t have the boat or the maritime skills, then hop aboard The Island Whaler, an open-deck jet catamaran run by Deception Pass Tours (360/914-0096 or 888/909-8687, www.deceptionpasstours.com, $21 adults, $19 children), which runs hourly boat tours from April through October. Tickets are sold at a concession in the parking lot on the south end of the bridge. Directions to the dock are given after you buy.
If you get your kicks below water rather than over it, then bring your dive gear out to Rosario Beach. Just offshore is an underwater park that stretches all the way to Northwest Island.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition