Oregon Trout Forecast

Oregon Trout Forecast

Where are the best places to find top trout-fishing in the Beaver State in 2008? (April 2008)

Scott Cook shows off a big fish that proves why Central Oregon is a good place to put on your fishing itinerary.
Photo by Gary Lewis.

April 26 marks opening day of trout season on most Oregon lakes and reservoirs. And from then through October, there's a lot of action to be found: brook trout in the mountains; cutthroats on the west slope; rainbows in big brawling rivers; ferocious brown trout in placid lakes; and bull trout and mackinaw that chow on 10-inch kokanee.

Here, then, are our recommendations for your best trout fishing -- for the traditional trout opener and beyond.

WILLAMETTE
Henry Hagg Lake, southwest of Hillsboro, provides one of the best early season opportunities for Portland area anglers. Fish it from March through June, and try it again in late September. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks 60,000 rainbows each year here. Rainbows average 10 inches, but can grow beyond 5 pounds.

High in the Cascades, near the headwaters of the Clackamas, you'll find Olallie Lake, famous for its trophy trout. Snowpack limits access early in the season, but the fishing is good when you can make it through.

Hatchery fish average 12 inches, but the big brood trout make the long drive worthwhile. Olallie regularly produces trophy trout in the 8- to 10-pound class.

Detroit Lake receives more attention from the ODFW than anywhere else in the state. This 3,000-acre reservoir is home to rainbow trout, landlocked chinook salmon and kokanee. A small rainbow-pattern Rapala or a little crawdad pattern crankbait can be a good producer. Best bets are around the campgrounds and at stream inlets. From the shore, fish the Santiam, Breitenbush and French Creek arms.

The Breitenbush River feeds Detroit Reservoir, and it can provide good action. Plan your camping trip around the stocking schedule you can find on the ODFW's Web site.

On the Middle Santiam River, Green Peter Reservoir is located east of Sweet Home and north of Highway 20. This 3,700-acre reservoir boasts a big population of kokanee and rainbow trout. Nearby, you'll find Foster Reservoir, a 1,200-acre lake that holds back the South and Middle forks of the Santiam. Rainbows are stocked in April and May.

Timothy Lake, 80 miles east of Portland, is a great place to wet a line in the spring. The lake is famous for producing limits of kokanee and big brook trout. In June, the hatchery rainbow bite picks up, and it is possible to catch trout to 18 inches. Fish the mouths of tributaries, smaller arms and shallow water.

Three miles south of Junction City, find Junction City Pond, an eight-acre former gravel pit that receives a good deal of attention from the ODFW's fisheries. Expect healthy numbers of rainbows, trophy-size fish and a few surplus steelhead.

In the upper Willamette River, the best trout fishing for rainbows and cutthroats can be found upstream from Peoria. Prospect near the mouths of tributary streams early in the year and again when temperatures warm in the summer.

North Willamette district waters that will receive good stocks of hatchery fish are North Fork Reservoir, Benson Lake, Faraday Lake, Timber Lake, Haldeman Pond and Silver Creek Reservoir.

In the South Willamette district, Dorena Reservoir, Fern Ridge Reservoir, E. E. Wilson Pond, Dexter Reservoir, and Cottage Grove Reservoir are reliable rainbow trout producers.

NORTHWEST
In the Northwest Region, native cutthroat populations are in every watershed. It's not hard to find a place to fish, but a boat or a float tube will keep you in the action.

Many of these waters are regularly planted with legal trout prior to the April opener, and some are open year 'round. A few waters receive stocks of larger trout that average 2 pounds, or surplus steelhead averaging 8 pounds. Stream fishing for trout opens in May.

Coffenbury, a 50-acre lake in Fort Stevens Park, is regularly stocked with trout and surplus adult steelhead. Fish from a boat or walk the trail around the lake. Several docks provide access. Cast Rooster Tail spinners, or fish Pautzke's salmon eggs beneath a float.

Tillamook County's Smith Lake is a 35-acre body of water near Rockaway that is stocked with legal rainbows every spring. Access can be gained on the west side. There are no public boat ramps, but small craft can be launched with ease.

Vernonia Pond is a 42-acre lake located near the upper Nehalem River. A path that goes all around the lake provides good bank-fishing, and there is wheelchair access.

Twelve miles south of Astoria, you'll find 220-acre Cullaby Lake. Long and narrow, it averages six to 12 feet deep and produces hatchery-raised trout throughout the season.

Lake Lytle is a 65-acre lake north of Rockaway, along Highway 101. Try it in the spring for stocked rainbows and resident cutthroats. Shallow and subject to weeds, it's also capable of producing larger fish. The boat ramp is on the northeast side of the lake. Good fishing can be found along the shore.

Cape Meares Lake is 90 acres, shallow and rich. The ODFW stocks it regularly with legal rainbows and surplus adult steelhead. The best trout fishing is from March through May. Algae blooms make summertime angling more difficult.

You'll find 3,100-acre Siltcoos Lake south of Florence along Highway 101. Siltcoos has nice shallows and good insect life. It grows wild cutthroats and big holdover rainbows. Hatchery legal rainbows will be stocked through spring and summer.

Fish near the mouths of tributaries all season and fish the Kiechle Arm and north of Reed and Booth Islands. Sea-run cutthroat and steelhead can be part of the incidental catch in Siltcoos. Take care to release wild sea-runs unharmed.

SOUTHWEST
Diamond Lake was drawn down in 2006, and commercial fishing nets were then used to haul out about a third of the lake's population of the invasive tui chub. The ODFW administered rotenone to kill the remaining fish. Diamond's historically productive water has bounced back. Clarity is at more than 40 feet. Zooplankton and insect life are healthy, and that means rainbows are putting on girth.

Last year, the ODFW stocked 178,000 fish, and their aggressive campaign is expected to cont

inue. Bring your boat and still-fish jar baits, or troll small spoons, plugs or flies early in the morning and late in the evening.

For more information, call Diamond Lake Resort at 1-800-733-7593.

Lost Creek Reservoir has hatchery rainbows, cutthroats and browns. Try trolling a Wedding Ring spinner and a worm, a Rooster Tail, a Little Cleo or a Triple Teazer. Go deeper for a chance at landlocked chinook.

Hyatt Lake has 950 surface acres -- and big rainbows. The reservoir grows lots of insects that support trout and steelhead to 20 inches.

Detroit Lake receives more attention from the ODFW than anywhere else in the state. This 3,000-acre reservoir is home to rainbow trout, landlocked chinook salmonand kokanee.

Near Medford, Applegate Reservoir is stocked with an annual supply of 120,000 legal rainbows and 50,000 fingerling chinook. This lake varies from a pool of 350 surface acres to almost 1,000 acres, with a maximum depth of 225 feet. Boat ramps, wheelchair facilities and plenty of camping make it great for the trout opener.

For brown trout, head to Lake of the Woods on the east slope of the southern Oregon Cascades. Many big browns are caught each season.

Fish Lake, in the Rogue watershed, has 440 surface acres and an ODFW-enhanced willing trout population. Trout in the 5- to 8-pound range are not uncommon. Cabins, camping, boat rentals and a restaurant make this a great place for families.

Galesville Reservoir is a 640-acre reservoir in the South Umpqua system. Rainbows are stocked, and landlocked coho are on tap as well.

Powers Pond is a 23-acre former mill reservoir that is a bit off the beaten path, but is well stocked with legal and trophy-size rainbows.

Hit this one in the spring before the weeds get started.

CENTRAL
Rainbow trout and kokanee are the main attraction at Lake Simtustus. This is a narrow, deep reservoir seven miles long. Bring a boat or rent one. Fish the Narrows, a mile and a half below Round Butte Dam. Wind-drift with a night crawler. You'll need a tribal permit, which you can purchase in Culver or Madras.

Wickiup Reservoir, Paulina Lake and East Lake are the places to prospect if you want really big brown trout. These toothy predators thrive on numerous kokanee and chubs. Cast a Fish Belly Twitch Bait or an Acme Kastmaster early in the year when the browns are cruising the shoreline. For hatchery rainbows at Paulina and East Lake, fish the shallows and the weedbeds.

Head to Ochoco Reservoir east of Prineville for rainbows that average 10 to 16 inches. Cast Rooster Tail spinners from rocky points or wind-drift with PowerBait.

At nearby Walton Lake, you'll find good bank-fishing, but a float tube helps you reach more 'bows.

Other good bets in north central Oregon are 60-acre Kingsley Reservoir near Hood River and Pine Hollow Reservoir west of Tygh Valley.

For peace and quiet, head to 100-acre Laurance Lake on the east slope of Mount Hood, where hatchery rainbows, native cutthroats and bull trout are the main catch in this reservoir.

Only fin-clipped trout may be kept. Bulls must be released. Bait-fishing is not permitted.

Crescent Lake is especially good for kokanee and lake trout, but it's often overlooked for the big browns. Target the browns early in the season or late in the fall when everyone else is in deer camp.

Duncan Reservoir is a great early-season bet. Chances are you'll be the only one on the water. Fish can grow big in this 33-acre desert impoundment near the town of Silver Lake.

SOUTHEAST
Do you want to fish the salmonfly hatch with less competition from other anglers? Head south. The Klamath River is home to the big bugs and the big rainbows that eat them. The Klamath usually comes into play about the first week of June in the Wild and Scenic stretch or the Keno Reach.

Keno Reach fish are bigger. Last time I fished it, I lost a 6-pounder that spit the hook six feet from the bank. The Keno section closes on June 15.

If you want the water to yourself, fish the Wild and Scenic section. The long dirt road and rattlesnakes keep out most anglers. The Keno Reach fishes best when the flows are 1,000 cubic feet per second or less. Downstream from J.C. Boyle, the best flows are 1,500 cfs or less.

Call 1-800-547-1501 for up-to-date information.

The Chewaucan flows northwest out of the Fremont National Forest to the town of Paisley, and then southeast into the Chewaucan Marsh and Abert Lake. It's a clear-running forest stream with slow, shallow pools, swift runs and waterfalls.

Good streamside habitat protects trout and provides insect production. Bring hiking boots instead of waders. Managed for native redband rainbows, the fish average six to 10 inches, but there are a surprising number of 14- to 20-inchers.

Early in the year, blue-winged olives make their appearance. Later in spring, watch for the march brown hatch, and carry soft-hackled Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ears, Prince Nymphs and March Brown Sparkle Duns.

Campbell Lake is a quiet, pretty lake nestled in the lodgepole pines, high in the Chewaucan watershed. It has 20 surface acres and a maximum depth of 20 feet. Rainbow trout make up most of the catch, but you might catch a brook as well.

Dead Horse Lake, one mile away, is Campbell's twin. It's hard to imagine a more pleasant place to fish. At 29 acres, it's large enough to let the few anglers spread out. With ample shallows in both lakes, muddy bottoms, submerged grass and downed timber, insect production is good -- which translates to a healthy fish population. When headed up to the lakes, call the Forest Service office in Paisley at (541) 943-3114 to check on local road conditions.

Duncan Reservoir is a great early-season bet. Chances are you'll be the only one on the water. Fish can grow big in this 33-acre desert impoundment near the town of Silver Lake.

NORTHEAST
The 75-mile Imnaha River heads in the Eagle Caps and empties into the Snake. Much of the lower river is bordered by private land on both banks, but there is public access. Look for the signs. Early in the season, fish beadhead nymphs. In August and September, bring hopper patterns. Bull trout must be released.

Catch the road to Magone Lake outside of Prairie City. At 50 acres, it runs to 100 feet deep and is stocked with rainbows and brook trout. Bring a boat, a float tube or fish from the shore. Magone is open all year, so you can fish through the ice as well.

Wallowa Lake, the largest natural lake in the northeast Oregon, is home to lake trout, kokanee, bull trout and rainbow trout. Rainbows are the main catch, and most anglers pursue them on the southern shoreline.

Boat rentals, launch facilities and ample camping and lodging make this a great destination.

Pack your fly tackle when the snow melts in the mountains. Base-camp at Wallowa Lake and spike it in to fish Ice Lake, Aneroid, Frances or Prospect lakes for brook trout that haven't seen a hook in nine months.

Find more about Washington-Oregon fishing and hunting at www.WOgameandfish.com

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