Oregon is a truly unique place to be immersed in the beauty of nature and wildlife. When you’re at the waterside of a riverbank or a lake shore, you can often hear the water dance to the rhythm of the conifer trees swaying quietly in the breeze. You might hear a high pitched call in the distance and suddenly witness an osprey fly overhead. Whenever I watch these birds of prey swoop down with fierce grace, I wonder what it would be like to extend your talons into the rapids and grasp a fish with lightning speed.
One of my earliest memories fishing as a child was fishing with my dad. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the magical feeling of casting a line and waiting in anticipation to see the creature that might meet me at the end of my pole. My family taught me to respect the fish by practicing the most humane and sustainable methods of angling. We utilized the entire bodies of the fish that we took home with us and released the rest. That is part of the true Oregon fishing experience. No glamour. No waste. Just you, your line and the beautiful green waters rippling in front of you.
Fishing can be many things: rewarding, boring, enchanting and above all, surprising. My fondest fishing memory takes me back to the end of summer one year, when there was still a warmth in the breeze and birdsong in the trees. We were fishing for bluegill at Freeway Lakes in Albany. As a toddler you can imagine my excitement as I watched my friends catch one after the other while I only got a few bites here and there. I was feeling a bit discouraged, and I cast my line in one more time before starting to pack up. My line was tugged… hard. I reeled in as fast as I could and was shocked to see a bottom-dwelling catfish flopping in front of me. Needless to say, I got over the bluegill.
The most important rule of thumb for getting ready to go on a fishing expedition is to be properly prepared. This includes having the right set of tools in your tackle box, knowing how to assemble your pole, choosing the right fishing lures, equipping yourself with updated laws and guidelines for your local area, and having appropriate outdoor gear. You must take into account the target species, season, weather conditions and even the moon phase in order to plan a fully optimal fishing trip. Do not let these steps dissuade you! Fishing in Oregon is most satisfactory when you take the time to plan and prepare before you even leave the house. Believe me, once you’re out on the water surrounded by nature with everything you need at hand, you will find your experience significantly more smooth and pleasurable.
Here are a few of the most popular and unique fishing spots in Oregon:
Loon Lake (Reedsport, Oregon Coast)
Spotlight species: largemouth bass, rainbow trout, bluegill
This gorgeous lake is just a quick drive from the Oregon Coast, surrounded by scenic mountains and lush conifer forests. Loon Lake Lodge and RV Resort is a perfect location for people who are looking to escape frantic city life, whether you’re interested in challenging your friends at water sports, camping with your family or catching a few fish out on the lake. Anglers hoping to grab some bass or trout will find that Loon Lake’s sheltered coves and creeks are ideal. In the summer time, fishing at Loon Lake is great for children, who can cast their lines in from the shore.
Toketee Lake (Umpqua National Forest, Southern Oregon)
Spotlight species: brown trout, rainbow Trout
This lake resides in the emerald forests of Southern Oregon just outside of Roseburg. Toketee Lake is a great fishing stop if you’re on your way to the iconic Crater Lake National Park and the Umpqua Hot Springs. Just downstream resides the gorgeous Toketee Falls. Appropriately, the name “Toketee” actually means “pretty or graceful” in Chinook jargon. This lake is stocked full of trout each year so that visitors can enjoy fishing and recreation while reveling in the lake’s natural splendor.
The Big K Ranch and Outfitters (Elkton, Oregon Coast)
Spotlight species: steelhead, spring & fall chinook, coho salmon
If you’re looking for an authentic Oregon river fishing experience with a little help from more experienced anglers, the Big K Ranch and Outfitters is the perfect place to visit. Guided fishing tours are offered along a large 18-mile loop of Oregon’s mighty Umpqua River, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the valley and its wildlife. In the winter, the Big K fishing tours provide you with a great opportunity to catch one of Oregon’s most prized and sought-after species: winter steelhead.
Depoe Bay (Depoe Bay, Oregon Coast)
Spotlight species: cod, bottom-dwelling fish, Dungeness crab
If you’re feeling like going the extra mile for a really spectacular fishing experience, you can head down to Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast and book a charter boat to take you out fishing for ocean species, such as cod and other bottom-dwelling fish. Depending on the season, you can go crab fishing (often called “crabbing”) and get a hands-on experience hunting for these salty, edible treasures of the Oregon Coast. You also have a shot at spotting gray whales and other marine wildlife while out on the ocean, another truly marvelous opportunity offered by the Pacific Northwest.
The bottom line is that no matter where you are fishing in Oregon, even if you don’t catch a single fish. You will walk away with some of the best memories.