September 29, 2010
This year looks to be a good one. Here are the top spots. (April 2010)
Get a pencil. Let's play word association. I say "April." What is the first thing you think of? Next, try "spring," "mayfly" and "brook."
Outfitter Brett Dennis took a break from guiding to go fishing with his daughters. They caught this big rainbow at Crane Prairie Reservoir.
Photo courtesy of Central Oregon Stillwater Outfitters.
If you answered "opening day," "ice-out," "rainbow" or "trout" to at least one of the above, you turned to the right page. This is our annual Oregon Trout Fishing Forecast.
Washington-Oregon Game & Fish knows how important it is to have the latest trout fishing information. We spent a lot of hours on the water last year and talked to anglers from all over the state to bring you the best waters and techniques this season. Here are our recommendations for the best action from the early openers all the way through October.
A good place to bring the family, Coffenbury Lake has been developed to produce for still-fishermen. Wheelchair accessible docks provide full access to the best fishing. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) allocates 13,000 legal and trophy rainbows for Coffenbury throughout the year. Weed growth and summer temps dampen trout fishing in June, July and August, but action picks up again in September and October.
Trophy-sized rainbows may be planted in September and will hold over through the winter. Surplus steelhead from the nearby hatchery may be caught on anything from big spinners down to the most delicate of offerings. Jar baits are popular here because the stunted yellow perch seem to leave them alone. Nearby options include Creep, Crawl and Crabapple lakes.
Cullaby Lake is along the coast and is stocked with rainbow trout in the spring. Cutthroats are present in small numbers. Anglers find best success in April and May. Algae growth slows down the trout fishing as the weather warms. At Lincoln City, Devils Lake is another good early-season bet. March, April and May offer the best fishing. Thirty-five-acre Smith Lake in Tillamook County is stocked with legal rainbows every spring. For cutthroats, try Hebo Lake a two-acre pond on Hebo Mountain.
Bring a boat or fish from the bank. Munsel Lake is stocked in the spring and has been known to produce an occasional trophy. Sixty-five-acre Lake Lytle is located north of Rockaway along Highway 101. Try it for stocked rainbows and resident cutthroat trout in April and May. The ODFW stocks 90-acre Cape Meares Lake regularly with legal rainbows and surplus steelhead. The best trout fishing is from March through May.
Siltcoos Lake, south of Florence along Highway 101, is 3,100 acres, and has nice shallows and good insect life that grow wild cutthroats and big rainbows. Prospect near the mouths of tributaries and the Kiechle Arm. Also, try north of Reed and Booth Islands. Take care to release wild steelhead and sea-run cutts unharmed. Nearby Woahink Lake is another option in the area.
Two highways intersect at Diamond Lake, bringing anglers from Medford, Roseburg, Bend, Klamath Falls and beyond. It is a great place to bring the family. There has been a resort on Diamond Lake since the 1920s. Today, accommodations range from lakeshore primitive campsites to a motel to vintage cabins to a four-bedroom family cabin. In 2008, ODFW stocked 278,000 fingerlings, legals and brood trout in the lake and the aggressive campaign continued in 2009. More fish have gone in the water here than any other lake in the state in the last decade.
Some of the best fishing is after ice-off, which happens in May in most years. Action slows with the temperature spike in August, but picks up again in September. The best bank-fishing is on the north and northwest shore, but most anglers use watercraft. Bring a boat or rent one. Jar baits, flashers with small spoons, plugs and flies are all effective. Whatever method you employ, the secret is finding the feeders. Chances are, they will be near the weedbeds or suspended. Experiment with different depths until you hit the first fish.
In the Rogue watershed, 3,500-acre Lost Creek Reservoir has hatchery rainbows, cutthroats and browns. Try trolling a Wedding Ring spinner and a worm, a Worden's Rooster Tail, an Acme Little Cleo or a Worden's Triple Teazer tipped with bait.
Applegate Reservoir, near Medford, is stocked with an annual supply of 120,000 legal rainbows and 50,000 fingerling chinook. Good boat ramps, wheelchair facilities and plenty of camping, make it a great destination from the trout opener into the summer.
Southwest of Hillsboro, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Henry Hagg Lake provides one of the best early-season opportunities for Portland-area anglers. The best trout action is from March through June. The ODFW stocks 60,000 legal fish a year. Rainbow trout average 10 inches, but can grow beyond 5 pounds. For early-season anglers, the ODFW plants 9,000 legal rainbows at the end of February and will put at least that many more in the water by the end of March. The park is open sunrise to sunset the first Saturday of March through the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A vehicle daily pass costs $5 and a vehicle with boat pass costs $6. Season passes are available.
On the Clackamas River, North Fork Reservoir is a popular destination for boat- and bank-anglers. The ODFW stocks close to 80,000 legal rainbows from May through September. Only adipose fin-clipped trout may be retained. Wild rainbows, cutthroats, brook trout, brown trout and bull trout must be released.
Timothy Lake, 80 miles east of Portland, is a great place to wet a line spring, summer and fall. The 1,282-acre reservoir is famous for producing limits of kokanee and big brook trout. Brook trout grow fast, feeding on crayfish and snails. In June, the rainbow bite picks up, and it is possible to get holdover trout that range to 18 inches. Cutthroat trout are available as well.
Twenty-three-acre Harriet Lake on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas, has become well-known for trophy browns, rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout. The upper end of the lake is best for bigger fish, especially early and late in the day.
ODFW stocks Detroit Lake with between 100,000 and 120,000 legal rainbows throughout the season. Upstream, the Breitenbush and the North Fork of the Santiam receive additional fish. Besides rainbows, this 3,580-acre reservoir is also home to landlocked chinook salmon and kokanee as well as brook trout and cutthroats. Angling success picks up in May.
North Willamette district waters that will receive good stocks of hatchery fish are
North Fork Reservoir, Benson Lake, Faraday Lake, Timber Lake, Haldeman Pond, Salmonberry Lake and Silver Creek Reservoir.
In the South Willamette district, Dorena Reservoir, Fern Ridge Reservoir, E.E. Wilson Pond, Dexter Reservoir and Cottage Grove Reservoir turn out a lot of rainbows in April, May and June.
When the days grow longer and sunshine warms the water in late April and early May, trout action picks up on the lower Deschutes River. One popular run is from Warm Spring to Trout Creek. Bank access is good in the Mecca Flats area and down around Trout Creek. Before the salmonfly hatch, the best rig is a large stonefly imitation paired with a No. 14-16 Copper John, Spitfire, or M's Caddis Super Pupa.
The Fall River, above the falls, is open the entire year. Below the falls, the river opens in late May. Wild production of rainbow trout and brown trout is enhanced by hatchery stocks that run from spring into October. Anglers are restricted to fly-fishing only with barbless hooks.
The Metolius, tributary to Lake Billy Chinook, is another fly-fishing-only stream. Managed for wild trout, all fish must be released. Much of the best water can be explored without wading. The upper river is calm and placid with grassy runs, gentle riffles, bend pools, and islands. Casting is easy, and fish-holding water is abundant. The best access in this stretch is on the east bank from Allingham Bridge (the river above Allingham Bridge opens in late May) down to Smiling River, Pine Rest and Gorge Campgrounds. Action picks up in May, and some of the best fishing takes place in October. Stop in at the Camp Sherman Fly Shop for the latest information on insect hatches.
The Crooked River below Bowman Dam is a reliable tailwater fishery that begins to heat up in April. The redband rainbows here average 8 to 10 inches.
One of the best early-season stillwater options is Haystack Reservoir. This year, it should be even better than usual, thanks to a late fall infusion of rainbows. The ODFW can also be counted on to plant surplus big broodstock fish that can run to 10 pounds or more.
North Twin Lake, Three Creeks Lake (south of Sisters) and Ochoco Reservoir were other waters that received unexpected late-fall stocks of rainbows. You will not be able to access Three Creeks Lake until July, but when you get there, expect some healthy holdovers.
In the Newberry Crater, east of La Pine, East Lake is a great bet for rainbows, brown trout, kokanee and Atlantic salmon. Some anglers make it a point to be there at ice-out, but the fishing really turns on in early June. Dedicated brown trout anglers revere Paulina Lake for its big browns. Boat rentals are available on each lake.
High in the Cascades, Crescent Lake is especially good for kokanee salmon and lake trout, but it is often overlooked for the big browns that make it their home. Target the browns early in the season and again in October.
Elk Lake is often overlooked, but this beautiful mountain still water is capable of producing very nice catches of brook trout, especially early and late in the year.
Walton Lake should be red-hot in April and May. Last fall, the ODFW administered rotenone to kill unwanted brown bullheads. Expect large numbers of hatchery rainbows and quick limits when the water starts to warm.
The ODFW applied the same treatment to Antelope Flat Reservoir, a remote mountain irrigation reservoir southeast of Prineville. With 170 surface acres at full pool, Antelope has plenty of room for anglers to spread out. Good bank-angling is available from the boat launch around to the dam.
Wallowa Lake, at 1,500 acres, is the largest natural lake in northeast Oregon. It is home to lake trout, kokanee salmon, bull trout (must be released) and rainbow trout.
Rainbows are the main catch. Hatchery stock average 10 to 12 inches, but holdover trout can reach 18 inches or more. All methods work here, but flyfishermen can do well in the spring in 10 feet of water at the mouth of the Wallowa River. Try a small, weighted minnow imitation.
In April and May, bring the kids to one of several ponds stocked with rainbows: Marr Pond in Enterprise, Victor Pond west of Wallowa and Wallowa Wildlife Pond.
In the Elk Horn Mountains, Anthony Lake, Mud, Grande Ronde and Black lakes are heavily stocked by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife when the snow melts in the high country. Rainbow trout are the main catch, but there are brook trout in Anthony. All methods work well in these waters, but the flyfisherman operating from a float tube, has the advantage when trolling a tandem nymph rig with a slow-sink line. Plan the trip for July, August or September. Most of Anthony's anglers camp in one of the three nearby campgrounds. Bring mosquito repellent. From Baker City, go 10 miles northwest on US 30, 14 miles northwest on County Road 1146, then climb seven miles west on Forest Road 73.
Magone Lake, outside of Prairie City, is 50 acres and runs to 100 feet deep. Stocked with rainbows and brook trout, Magone is open all year, even when sheathed in ice. Bring a boat, a float tube or fish from the shore.
Duncan Reservoir sits on the rim above the town of Silver Lake. The 35-acre lake is set in a shallow basin, surrounded by arid, rocky flats populated with juniper trees, sagebrush, and bunchgrass. Duncan has a good boat ramp that is serviceable for small boats even when the water is low. Many anglers troll for Duncan's rainbows. Spoons, spinners and streamer flies are effective. Seven basic camping sites with picnic tables, fire rings and vault toilets are available. Bring your own drinking water. From Highway 97, south of La Pine, take County Route 31 and head southeast toward Summer Lake. Past mile marker 52, turn right on well-graveled Duncan Road. Watch for the sign marking the road to Duncan Reservoir. Turn right and follow a good dirt road uphill four miles to the reservoir.
In the mountains above Paisley, there are a number of good trout waters. Campbell Lake and Deadhorse Lake are good bets after snow allows access to the high country.
The Chewaucan River flows northwest out of the Fremont National Forest to the town of Paisley, and beyond into the Chewaucan Marsh. Bring hiking boots instead of waders. Managed for native redband rainbows, the fish average 6 to 10 inches, but there are a surprising number of 14- to 20-inchers.
For hard-fighting river rainbows, hit the Keno Reach of the Upper Klamath River. The Keno section closes on June 15 and reopens on Oct. 1. The Keno Reach fishes best when the flows are 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) or less. Call (800) 547-1501 for up-to-date information.
In Upper Klamath Lake and Agency Lake, you will find some of the biggest rainbows in the state. The lakes' average depth is 8 feet, with a few spots going as deep as 25. Spoons, spinners, and minnow imitations are a good bet. Rainbows can grow to over 10 pounds. Angling is op
en year 'round.
For a signed copy of Freshwater Fishing Oregon & Washington, send $23.95 (includes S&H) to Gary Lewis Outdoors, P.O. Box 1364, Bend, OR 97709, or visit his Web site at www.garylewisoutdoors.com.