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Trout for Tikes

Trout for Tikes

Oregon has a multitude of ponds, lakes, rivers and streams that are

planted with hatchery trout each year, but some are specifically

meant to help youngsters get a taste for our sport.

by J.D. Gore

As I write about children and fishing, my mind has a tendency to want to go back in time. To dust off the old fishing experiences that long to be remembered. As these memories resurface, the images become as clear as a picture. The photos stored in my mind have shuffled the pictures that were once pushed in the back to the very front as if it happened yesterday.

I can see and hear the excitement. After chores were complete, my brothers and I would grab our fishing poles and tackle boxes and head for the bait shop. Sorting through the bottom of our pockets for the change that would buy our bait, we could barely stand still. If it wasn't for the spare change that we waited for to buy penny candy, we'd be gone.

We could smell the salty air as we approached The Point, a popular fishing location that offered good catfish, flounder, carp, striped bass and, if the angler gods were smiling on us, sturgeon.

The first task was to locate a forked stick. If you had enough rank in our brotherly pecking order, you could get one that was left over from the night before.

Once the anchovies were cut, hooks were baited, rods in their places and the slacked line reeled in tight to catch the slightest nibble, my brothers and I sat on the ground and talked. With the sun heating our smiling faces, we solved the then-worldly problems of elementary school life. We stared at the tip of our poles, willing a bite from any fish, just to be the one who caught the first. To earn fame for that day, to own a category that no one can have and to be able to say to your mom and dad, you caught the first fish.


Thinking about my mom and dad, a scary thought comes to mind, I can't remember my very first fishing trip. Would I have been out there fishing if that first fishing trip were a sour note? If my dad had taken me fishing when it was raining and cold, would I have the desire and confidence to venture away from the comfort of home? Some of my earliest recollections of fishing are with my dad and brothers fishing at Lake Berryessa, in northern California. Watching my bobber sink and my excited brothers yelling encouragement to set the hook, I must have been only a toddler. Which brings up another subject: Is there a perfect age to begin fishing? Well, there may not be a perfect age to begin fishing, but there are perfect locations.

The perfect locations that come to mind are the ones that are close to home and offer abundant fish. These locations offer a controlled environment, where safety and success are high priorities, and the best introduction for the first-time angler. Oregon has a planting system that releases trout into ponds that will allow you the chance to introduce your children to fishing. Here are some perfect locations to hold that inaugural experience.

There's nothing to this sport, right? Four-year-old Megan Groverman took her first trout-fishing adventure to the simplest of extremes. Photo courtesy of the Groverman family

There are numerous ponds near I-5, and not only are these lakes close to home but they are also safe to fish. As spring approaches, ODFW gets into the swing of stocking trout for anglers of all ages. As the weather warms and the water temperature increases, they back off. You need to know when and where to fish these hotspots.

Just off the freeway in Salem are two ponds. Wallings Pond is near the airport and the other pond is Walter Worth, close to the freeway. Both of these ponds are at the South Santiam exit. Bank access is very good and float tubes are a good option. ODFW stocks these ponds from March through May with legal-size trout, 8 to 12 inches.

A short distance to the south is the E.E. Wilson refuge, where a small pond is open to the public. It is stocked from March to May with legal trout. You can reach this pond from Highway 99W or I-5. Only bank fishing is allowed.

The next stop south is the Albany ponds. At the Albany exit there is Waverly Lake and Timberland Lake. Waverly Lake is a kids-only pond; parents need not bring a rod. Waverly is east of the airport and is for bank fishing. Timberland is east of the freeway but flows under the freeway. ODFW stocks Timberland on the east side, where there is a boat ramp. Stocking of legal-size trout in both lakes takes place March to May.

Junction City Pond, off Highway 99, between Eugene and Junction City, is stocked in the winter, and through the rest of the year except during very hot summer conditions. Junction City pond receives large brood trout in addition to legal-size planters. The local Lions Club hosts a kids-only trout derby. Regulations allow for fishing from the bank, a float tube or car-topper.

In Eugene is the Alton Baker Channel, which flows from Springfield to Alton Baker Park. Stockings here are intended for kids-only bank fishing, from February through May. Some large trout are planted each year.

To access the Cottage Grove Ponds, turn off I-5 by the truck scales in Cottage Grove and go east. These ponds are stocked March through May with legal-size trout for bank fishing only.

Emigrant Reservoir, five miles southeast of Ashland on Highway 66, is stocked with legal fish and fingerlings, coho and chinook surplus salmon, surplus steelhead fingerlings, and steelhead adults from December through May. This 876-acre lake is a great warm-water fishery, too, with largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegills, brown bullheads, channel catfish and yellow perch.

Emigrant Dam, Emigrant Lake Park and Jackson County Park are all great bank-fishing locations. "Access points are all around the lake," says Mike Evenson, district fish biologist for the upper Rogue portion of the Rogue watershed district. Call the Central Point office, 541-826-8774.

Allsports Pond, at Allsports Riversides Park is less than an acre in size; you can almost cast across it. In the city of Grants Pass, along the Rogue River, Allsports Pond is an old barrow pit. It receives stockings of 300 rainbow trout several times each spring, with stockings taking place every two to three weeks, from March to May. The average trout stocked is 10 inches, and they come from the Cole River Hatchery on the Rogue River, below Lost Creek Dam and from private hatcheries.

There are four ponds at Expo Ponds, two of which get stocked on a regular basis. The ponds are 4 to 10 acres in size; the two larger ponds on the north end get stocked in spring

. In March there is a free fishing day event on or about June 10 each year. With its location next to I-5 in Central Point, attendance is usually large. Officials stock some 1,500 trout per stocking between the two ponds from March through the first week of June.

Some ponds are also stocked with warm-water species.

Contact Info

Wild Billy Lake: (541) 747-5595,, e-mail For additional outdoor-related information, contact


Lunker Lake: (541) 347-3294, e-mail


Red Hills Lake: (503) 864-3453, e-mail,; see their video footage at the Web site.


Rainbow Trout Farm: (503) 622-5223.


The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site contains information on when and where ponds, streams and rivers will be stocked:, or call 503- 872-5252. - J.D. Gore


Red Hills Lake is located in the heart of Oregon's wine country. Only 35 minutes from I-5, this is perhaps the closest private lake to I-5. Take Highway 99W from Dayton, as if headed to Portland. Red Hills offers you a chance to grow arm weary.

The cost for a full day of fishing is only $100 but the word is out: You may only be able to handle a half-day, which is $60.

This 4-acre lake is full of Donaldson rainbows. Donaldsons are a rainbow-steelhead cross. A catch-and-release fly-angling-only lake, Red Hills is a great place to start your child out with a trophy trout experience. From a float tube or fishing from their new docks, you can test the new fly rod you just gave them for Christmas or a birthday. Red Hills will provide waders, float tubes and vest if you need it; you bring your own rod. The average trout runs between 14 and 20 inches, according to Larry Hays, owner of Red Hills Lake.

"Red Hills Lake is building a spawning channel to allow the Donaldson to spawn, which will help them become more active and live longer," says Hays. The new channel and docks are not the only things new at Red Hills, they are building a bed and breakfast on the lake to help accommodate the family better. There are some father/daughter groups that fish at Red Hills each year. With a limit of 50 fish per day, your daughter and son would soon become very adept at trout fishing. And for the rest of the day, the Michael Smith Air Museum is only nine miles away.

Wild Billy Lake in south-central Oregon is a premier lake for trout fishing. Located a short drive northeast from Klamath Falls, this 270-acre lake is full of trophy trout for the fly angler. Parents can bring their children to this lake and stay in a cabin or pitch a tent. Float tubes or rowboats are allowed with a catch-and-release-only program. A camera is a must to capture the moment of a lifetime.

Wild Billy is the lake for trophy trout. This lake is full of trout that can strip you to the backing, and then turn around and head straight at you and hand you back your fly. If you are not sure your kids can handle a fly rod, don't worry. The staff is very capable of teaching you and your kids the basics. And as far as casting the flies being a problem, you can strip out line and just troll with a leech pattern, enticing the trophy trout into action. The only thing you need maintain at Wild Billy is a tight grip on your rod: This lake has several rods resting on the bottom for anglers not paying attention and for not realizing how hard these trout attack the fly.

Wild Billy Lake is the place you go for a very quiet time with an abundance of trophy trout. The Triploids, Donaldsons and Kamloops are all trout that grow to mammoth proportions. Trout in the 10-pound class can be hooked; landing them is another story. The high-quality fishing on Wild Billy is something we should all experience at least once in our lives; it will even bring the kid out in you, like your first catch.

Lunker Lake is a private lake in the southern Oregon coast's banana belt region. You can bet the weather is nicer here than in other parts of the state in winter.

Lunker Lake is a 6-acre lake off Morrison Road and just a few miles from Bandon. This lake offers rainbow trout that average 15 inches. Trout over 20 inches are not uncommon. At Lunker Lake you pay for what you catch. A 10-inch trout is $3, 12-inch trout is $4, a 14-inch trout is $6, a 16-inch trout $8, an 18-inch trout is $10 and trout in the 20-inch range is $16.

Lunker Lake was a lake that Jim and Jenny Jackson used with their cranberry business. When the cranberry business went sour, they capitalized on their resources. Now Jim and Jenny's sons run Lunker Lake. Rick, Tom and Jim Jackson can offer you and your children the best experience in a beautiful natural setting. There are picnic areas so the whole family can enjoy the experience. Fishing is from the safety of docks and paddleboats. You can bring a float tube if you want. Fishing tackle is provided for a $2 charge. For those who want to fly-fish, there's a catch-and-release program available for $15 per hour. All other fishing is you keep what you catch.

Fishing Safely With Kids

The Drowning Prevention Foundation reports that drowning is the second leading killer of children under 5 years of age nationwide, making water safety the highest of priorities any time we take kids fishing. Here are a few guidelines to help make your next trip with kids a safe success.

  • Become certified in CPR.
  • Always have your child wear an approved life vest when on or near the water. There are vests certified for children of all weights on today's market. These vests are not bulky and allow freedom of movement.
  • When first approaching a potential fishing area, select locations with gradually sloping banks. Avoid fishing with children on steep banks.
  • Consider the speed of a river's current; if possible, fish in slow water.
  • Never allow more then 10 feet between you and a young child.
  • Enroll your children in a National Swim School Association or Red Cross class at an early age. (Consult your nearest swim park for information.)
  • Teach your children to that have confidence in water

    and not to panic if they fall into the water unexpectedly.

  • Use only barbless fishing hooks to prevent accidentally snagging either a child or adult with a barbed hook.
  • When it comes to safety on and near the water, prevention is your No. 1 ally.

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