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Featured Lake Article
PANTHER

By Bob Johansen – July 2007

Kitsap and Mason Counties share this Panther Lake (One of many in Washington State). It covers 105 surface acres with a maximum depth of about 25 feet and is located at 497 feet of elevation. The water is lightly stained and as in all lakes varies a little in clarity from season to season. Fish species known to me at this time are rainbow trout, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish and sculpin.
The lake has a small WDFW public access area. It is very narrow and is very difficult (or impossible for larger boats) for a tow rig and trailer to turn around. Larger rigs should definitely back down from the fairly busy Bear Cr-Dewatto Rd. Parking space and a pit toilet are located on the other side of the road from the access. Parking spaces are somewhat limited but usually adequate. The launch area is gravel and is very shallow. A four wheel drive rig is recommended for trailer launched boats. Hand carried craft can be easily launched.
Bass anglers will find very little aquatic vegetation in this lake. That makes it nice for fishing jigs, worms and other lures that like to hang up in the weeds. There is, however, plenty of tempting casting targets for the bass anglers. Prime bass habitat includes lots of overhanging trees and brush, lots of old wood and logs in the water, lots of private docks and off shore floats and some shoreline reeds.
I have not spent any time fishing for trout in this lake but some trout anglers that I have talked with say that trout fishing ranges from good to very good. Many shoreline homes have big, powerful ski boats tied up to their docks so I would guess that on warm, sunny weekends it would not be a peaceful-quiet angler destination. I usually fish it in the very early AM and on week days and found it to be very quiet and pleasant.
I spend all my time on the lake looking for the largemouth bass and have found fishing ranging from great to just so-so. Typical for all lakes I think. They can offer great fishing during one season and not so good in other seasons. And, fishing success can vary widely from week to week, especially in the spring. My first trip there was very good. On that trip I caught 17 inch, 3 pounder, a 19 inch, 4 pound, 2 ouncer and topped it off with a 21 inch, 5 pound, 3 ouncer. On that trip I also hooked several smaller bass. On some follow up trips since, however, I have fished hard for a few small, 8-10 inch fish. These so-so follow up trips have motivated me to remove Panther Lake from my secret lake list and share it with the readers of washingtonlakes.com.
As with all lakes there are several ways to get there. The best way for me from Port Orchard is to take the Old Belfair Highway out of Gorst to the Bear Creek Country Store and then turn up the hill on the Bear Creek-Dewatto Road. The Panther WDFW public access is about 3.7 miles from that junction. Using your Washington State Map Atlas is probably the best guide. Good luck and tight lines.