: Loon Lake by Kathy Munsel

8 Amazing Fishing Holes on Oregon’s South Coast

Cast a line for trout, bass and bluegill in these enticing coastal lakes.
August 21, 2023

Think fishing on Oregon’s South Coast, and you may conjure up images of anglers casting into the Pacific surf or trolling for storied salmon out among ocean waves. But this wild, remote region is also renowned for another kind of fishing hole: lakes.

The lakes of the South Coast can be small and scenic or big and beautiful. Some sit quietly, plied only by kayaks and canoes; others hum with fishing boats chasing dinner. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks many of them with rainbow trout alongside existing largemouth bass, crappy, bluegill, catfish and other species. 

Fishing these lakes is accessible and can be done from the shore, docks or boats. Remember to grab a fishing license and a waterway-access permit for nonmotorized boats — it’s easy to get both on ODFW’s website. Before you go, brush up on the top tips for visiting the Oregon Coast. Then pack your tackle box, check the agency’s Recreation Report and head south for some of the best lake fishing in Oregon.

Tenmile Lake (Photo by Tim Hurlbut)

1. Butterfield Lake

Just outside North Bend, Butterfield Lake (accessed through Riley Ranch County Park) is a quiet little beauty surrounded by forest. The setting may be subtle, but the fishing is hopping. In addition to the crappy, perch, bass and warmouth that live here, ODFW also stocks rainbow trout a few times a year — including in October, when 1,500 trophy-size trout weighing a pound or more are added. Butterfield can be fished from the shore or by boat, so long as it’s human- or electric-powered.


2. Tenmile Lakes

Count them as a single lake — they’re actually connected by a canal — and North and South Tenmile Lakes are the fourth-largest lake in Oregon. Its many coves and side channels make it an angler’s paradise. ODFW stocks Tenmile Lakes with rainbow trout, but there are also steelhead, cutthroat, largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish. Boating is the best bet for making a catch, but there is also a fishing dock and three ADA-accessible service docks at the Tenmile Lake Boat Ramp & Campground. Several nearby resorts offer camping and boat rentals, and the Forest Service’s Spinreel Campground isn’t far.

Eel Lake (Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks)

3. Arizona Pond

It’s not often that kids get a great fishing hole all to themselves, but that’s what they’ll find at Arizona Pond near Port Orford. By the Arizona Beach State Recreation Site, Arizona Pond is designated for youth 17 and under. That makes it a super-friendly place to cast for the rainbow trout stocked throughout spring. The pond can be weedy and tough to fish from July through October,  so it’s best to call the ODFW Gold Beach Field Office to check conditions.  


4. Eel Lake

William M. Tugman State Park isn’t one of the best known in Oregon, but that’s part of what makes the park and its Eel Lake so amazing. Tucked beneath rolling, forested foothills, the lake reaches through the trees in two long arms. Getting out on the water offers the best shot for coho salmon, steelhead, largemouth and stocked rainbows. There’s also an ADA-accessible dock at the day-use area, as well as a campground in the coastal forest.

Garrison Lake (Photo by Mike Gray / ODFW)

5. Empire Lakes

Paddle Lower Empire Lake — with its reedy shores, forested surrounds and even a lone island — and you might just forget that you’re in the middle of the Oregon Coast’s most-populated city, Coos Bay. Part of a city-owned natural park area, these lakes (Lower, Middle and Upper) boast rainbow trout, bluegill, crappy, yellow perch and largemouth bass, all of which can be caught from the shore or nonmotorized boats. It’s the perfect place to feel — and fish — like you’re in the wild, even if you’re just a stone’s throw from downtown Coos Bay.


6. Garrison Lake

A lone dune is all that separates Port Orford’s Garrison Lake (part of the Tseriadun State Recreation Area) from the Pacific, so this South Coast lake, with its sea breezes and surf rumbling in the distance, feels every bit the coastal prize that it is. Stocked throughout the spring with legal- and trophy-size rainbows, the lake also has bass and cutthroat. It can get windy here, so paddlers may want to check conditions first. There’s also a boat ramp and several different arms of the lake, as well as an ADA-accessible dock at the 12th Street  boat ramp.  

Lake Marie (Photo by Erik Urdahl)

7. Loon Lake 

Inland about 20 miles from Reedsport, Loon Lake unfolds across 2 miles of Coast Range forest. It’s tucked in the trees and feels far away, but its namesake resort lends it a bustling, summertime vibe. The fishing is primo, with trout, largemouth  bass, bluegill and crappie. The resort, which has camping and other accommodations, rents all kinds of boats, from kayaks and canoes to aluminum fishing boats and pontoons. The Bureau of Land Management’s recreation site at Loon also includes campsites and a lakeside day-use area with a boat ramp.


8. Lake Marie

Looking to take in a classic Oregon lighthouse and maybe cast a line or two? It’s possible at Lake Marie, which sits in the shadow of the lighthouse at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park near Winchester Bay. Yellow perch and stocked rainbow trout will take the bait from the shore or nonmotorized boats, and there’s a sandy beach, a lake-circling hiking trail and a scenic campground in the park.

About The

Jon Bell
Jon Bell is an Oregon writer and author of the book, On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak. He writes about the outdoors, travel, business, the environment and many other areas from his home in Lake Oswego, where he lives with his wife, two children and black Lab.

Trip Ideas