Oregon is home to over 1400 different freshwater lakes. From the high cascade lakes teaming with rainbow trout, to coastal and desert lakes filled with largemouth bass and perch, there are fishing opportunities here for absolutely everyone.
But with so many lakes in the state of Oregon, which ones are home to the best fishing? That’s exactly why I put this post together.
Here are a list of what I believe to be the best fishing lakes in Oregon. So whether you’re after kokanee salmon, brown trout or walleye, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in one of these Oregon lakes.
The Best Fishing Lakes In Oregon
1. Privately Owned Ponds
Without a doubt, you’re going to find some of the best fishing lakes in Oregon right in the backyards of the many farmers, ranchers and landowners across the state. Many times, all it takes is a quick and easy phone call or knock on the door to obtain permission to fish on one of these ponds or lakes.
The types of fish you’ll find in these privately owned ponds is virtually endless. But most commonly, they’ll be excellent at producing both largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, catfish and bluegill.
2. Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake offers some of the best trout fishing in the entire state of Oregon. On average, the fish here are massive, thanks in part to the prolific bug hatches that occur throughout the summer.
During the winter, the lake freezes over making it a great destination for ice fishing. The lodge at Diamond Lake is open throughout the winter as well.
The best time to fish for rainbow trout at Diamond Lake is soon after the ice melt in April, May and Early June then picks back up again in the fall.
Your best bet for catching trout at Diamond Lake is with the use of a boat. However, bank anglers can still find rainbows near the resort, Lake Creek and throughout Forest Service Campgrounds. If you have a boat, you’ll want to spend your time fishing the south end of the lake near Silent Creek. You can also try your luck on the north end in deeper waters.
3. Upper Klamath Lake
Located near the California border and adjacent to the city of Klamath Falls, Klamath Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes which also happens to be home of some of the worlds largest native rainbow trout. But that’s not all, as the lake also provides excellent fishing opportunities for warm water species as well such as perch, bluegill,
Klamath Lake is a very shallow body of water which produces an ample amount of food for its resident fish. As a matter of fact, the food sources for these fish are so prolific the rainbow trout here will often grow larger than their sea run counterparts, steelhead.
The best way to approach trout fishing in Klamath Lake is to either troll or cast large lures. The other tip I can give is to not be afraid to move around. Trout are continuously on the move in search of baitfish and other aquatic life.
During the summer months, the lake can become choked with algae. If this is the case during your visit, try heading closer to the inlets of streams as trout will congregate here as oxygen is plentiful compared to the main part of the lake.
4. Odell Lake
Known for its incredible kokanee fishery, Odell lake is also a fantastic destination for both rainbow trout and lake trout. Even though many anglers travel to Odell to fish for the large lake trout that , very few lurk in the depths of the lake, many fishermen aren’t aware of the huge rainbow trout and large populations of kokanee salmon that are directly underneath their boat.
Odell is notoriously windy, but it typically starts calm in the morning and sometimes settles again late in the day. The West Bay area is most protected and often can be fished successfully all day.
Odell Lake, which is over 6 miles long, sits off Highway 58 just east of Willamette Pass, roughly midway between Eugene and either Bend or Klamath Falls and slightly over a 3-hour drive from the Portland area. Odell lake is open for fishing from late April through October.
5. Lake Billy Chinook
Lake Billy Chinook is home to a host of different species of fish including largemouth and Smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, brown and bull trout, kokanee salmon, whitefish, and a handful of species of sucker fish, minnows and dace.
According to bestfishinginamerica.com, “The reservoir, with nearly 4,000 surface acres when full, is the only place in Oregon where anglers can keep a native bull trout. It also is one of the state’s better places to catch kokanee and has a large population of easy-to-catch smallmouth bass. More modest numbers of native redside rainbow and non-native German brown trout round out the most common gamefish found here.”
6. East Lake
East Lake is one of the finest and most historic fisheries in Oregon. Each season it produces Brown Trout over 10 pounds. The record is a 22-1/2 pound Brown, which is displayed in the Blue Duck Grill. According to many experts, the new Oregon state record Brown Trout is somewhere in the depths of East Lake. Rainbow Trout are the mainstay, caught using all techniques: trolling, still-fishing, wet and dry fly fishing and casting.
Kokanee, introduced in 1993, have been caught up to 20 inches and are abundant. Atlantic Salmon also can be caught using a variety of techniques.
There are many effective techniques for catching lake fish, and some methods are described below. Fly fishing is very effective, as described in the article How to Fly Fish at East Lake. For recommendations on what techniques have been working recently look to our friends at Fly and Field in Bend. – East Lake Resort
7. Wickiup Reservoir
The second-largest reservoir in Oregon, Wickiup Reservoir is an 11,000-acre lake in the west-central part of the state. This bass, trout and salmon fishery has 60 miles of shoreline to explore. Fishing from the bank is available around much of this shoreline, especially at the recreation sites or along the earthen dam. The lake is well known for big brown trout. Several boat launch ramps provide easy access for canoes, kayaks, pleasure boats, pontoons and fishing boats. Close by are campgrounds, lodging, restaurants and stores. – aa-fishing.com
8. Crane Prairie Reservoir
Home of the famous “cranebows”, Crane Prairie Reservoir is also one of the top producing rainbow trout fisheries in Central Oregon. Rainbow trout here average 2 inches of growth a month during the summer. The record rainbow to date weighed over 19 pounds, with abundant rainbows in the 4 to 10 pound range. Crane Prairie Reservoir is a Wildlife Management Area. Osprey, bald eagle and many waterfowl frequent the area. – fs.usda.gov
9. Paulina Lake
According to bestfishinginamerica.com, Paulina Lake has produced Oregon’s record German brown trout and routinely gives up excellent catches of large kokanee and rainbow trout. The lake is open to fishing year-round, but early access to the lake around the time of ice-out, when fishing can be good for the trophies, is typically left for those with the ability and gumption to make a cross-country trek. There is a gate at the snow park on Forest Service Road 21 (aka Paulina-East Lake Road) that is typically closed during the winter season, so snowmobiles or snowshoes are a good bet at those times of the year.
10. Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake is a popular recreation lake in a setting of wooded shorelines, sandy beaches and brilliant blue-green water. In addition to fishing for kokanee, lake trout, rainbow and brown trout, people come to this lake for sailing, swimming, water skiing, windsurfing and camping.
Lake trout are caught here in the 5 to 10 pound range with an occasional 20 pounder. In 1993 a 30 pound lake trout was caught at Crescent Lake. – fs.usda.gov
11. Wallowa Lake
If you’ve never been to the northeast corner of the state, then you are truly missing out on one of the most beautiful areas that the Oregon has to offer. And it’s not just beauty that is offered here. It also happens to have one of the best trout fishing lakes in Oregon.
At 300 feet deep, Wallowa Lake is home of some of the largest Lake Trout you’ll ever catch. If rainbow trout are what you’re after, then the shallower waters of the lake also happen to hold numerous amounts of rainbow trout and brook trout, just waiting for a spinner or fly to pass by.
Some rainbow trout in Wallowa Lake are as large as 5 to 10 pounds, thanks to the efforts of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fish hatchery and frequent fish stocking schedule. Over 40,000 rainbows are stocked in this lake each summer! In addition to trout and kokanee, you can even find smallmouth bass at Wallowa Lake.
Some of the best places on Wallowa Lake to catch rainbow trout are around the marina and the inlet to the lake.
12. Detroit Lake
Detroit Lake provides year-round fishing opportunities as long as you fish in still water and not in or near the rivers and streams. Available catches include rainbow trout, fingerling rainbow, kokanee and brown bullhead catfish. Anglers are regularly on the water getting their “fish on”.
The Detroit Lake Recreational Area Business Association (DLRABA) hosts an annual 3-day fishing derby event each May. This fabulous event brings in friends, families, serious anglers and first-timers. Prizes abound with many ways to win! – DetroitLakeOregon.org
13. Henry Hagg Lake
Located near Forest Grove, Hagg Lake is one of Oregon’s premier warmwater fishing locations, with populations of record-class largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie and bullhead. It also supports a resident population of native cutthroat trout and is frequently stocked with trout. – myodfw.com
14. Miller Lake
Miller Lake is best known for its lunker brown trout, but it sports an excellent population of rainbow trout. Many of the rainbows are about a foot long, but they range from newly planted fingerlings to brutes that will get into the 24-inch range. The state has planted hatchery-reared trophies here at times to supplement the catch. – BestFishingInAmerica.com
15. Lava Lake
Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake are located in Central Oregon and lie along the Cascade Lakes chain. Both of these lakes provide a beautiful, peaceful, and productive day of fly fishing. They have good populations of trout, convenient ramps, and amenities including wonderful camping options. While not the marquee stillwater destination that Crane Prairie Reservoir and Wickiup Reservoir are, these lakes have been a favorite for generations of Oregonians. Both lakes are planted with good numbers of “catchable” trout as well as maintaining populations of hold over fish that can get large. – FlyandField.com