Five Favorite Fishing Spots in Oregon
Flanked by the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Wallowa Mountains, there arguably is no more scenic fishing lake in Oregon than Wallowa Lake near Joseph. Its crystalline waters are stocked with rainbow trout during the tourist season, but also has a good self-sustaining population of kokanee—a landlocked variety of sockeye salmon. If you’re at Wallowa around Labor Day, you can watch the kokes in full scarlet and green spawning colors swim out of the lake and up the Wallowa River.
North and South lakes south of Reedsport make up the coastal complex known as Tenmile Lakes—the top bass tournament waters in the state. It’s not uncommon to see several fish checking in at more than 8 pounds during a typical tournament weigh-in. Because the lakes are shallow—average of about 15 feet deep—spring and summer fishing is tops, before the water chills in the winter or heats up in the summer, turning the fish sluggish.
Lower Rogue River
Fishing guides talk about the banner years when the fall-run chinook salmon are so thick that limits are landed in less than an hour…and they don’t take reservations, but instead run a shuttle service to take anglers queued at the docks at Gold Beach out to the fish and back to the cleaning stations! This may be an exaggeration, but not by much when the run is good. Fishing for the salmon that can top 40 pounds peaks in August and September, when fish move upriver with the first rains.
The John Day Pool on the Columbia River
Known as Lake Umatilla, the impoundment above John Day Dam always offers something to catch—as long as you can stand the wind and the weather extremes! The fun includes steelhead in September at the mouth of the John Day River. Anglers focus on small mouth bass and walleye—the state walleye record, almost 20 pounds, was caught in the pool in 1990—in the late spring through summer. Shad also make it up the Columbia as far as the town of Umatilla, peaking in late May and early June.
Crane Prairie Reservoir
This big impoundment near Bend is legendary for its big trout, both rainbows and brookies. Unlike most reservoirs, the site of Crane Prairie wasn’t skinned off by loggers before filling in the 1920s—its wealth of snags and structure make it as picturesque as it is productive. In addition to monster trout (rainbows approaching 20 pounds are regularly hooked), there’s also a healthy population of largemouth bass, the progeny of an illegal “stocking” that took hold.
While limits aren’t guaranteed, the fish that you land will be worth the effort.
For more information on fishing the glorious waterways of Oregon, please visit our Outdoor Recreation section.