The Best Trout Fishing In Oregon | Where To Go And What To Catch
Oregon is my home state and I love it here. Oregon has something to offer everyone who loves the outdoors. This is especially true for people who love trout fishing.
From winding coastal streams to high cascade lakes accessible only by foot, everywhere you look, opportunities abound for trout fishing in this wonderful state.
According the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, trout is Oregon’s number one game fish. “More people in Oregon fish for trout than for any other kind of fish. Anglers can experience a lifetime of varied and rewarding adventures fishing for trout…”
What Kind Of Trout Are In Oregon
Oregon has taken a very intentional and meticulous approach to preserving and expanding its trout fishery. Every year, over 5 million trout are stocked in streams and lakes across the state.
In addition to these 5 million stocked trout you can easily find native rainbow trout, migrating cutthroat and many other species of trout. Below is a comprehensive list of all the types of trout that can be found in Oregon:
- Rainbow Trout
- Cutthroat Trout
- Brown Trout
- Brook Trout
- Lake Trout
- Bull Trout
- Tiger Trout
9 Best Trout Fishing Destinations In Oregon
In Oregon, there are lakes, streams, creeks, rivers and ponds that all hold massive amounts of both native and stocked trout. Some of these bodies of water are ideal for fly fishing while some are best suited for bait and spin cast fishing.
Below I list what I’ve found to be the 10 best trout fishing locations in Oregon. I do my best to try and include all styles of trout fishing as well as different types of bodies of water.
1. The Deschutes River
There are three main parts to the Deschutes River, the lower, middle and upper Deschutes River. And each section offers something spectacular for all trout fishermen. However, it’s the lower Deschutes River that I want to highlight as on of the best trout fishing spots in Oregon.
The Lower Deschutes is likely Oregon’s most well known and most sought after spot to fly fish for both native trout as well as steelhead. It’s estimate that trout populations in this stretch of the river are over 3500 trout per mile in the first 50 mile stretch below Pelton Dam.
And if that’s not enough to satisfy your trout fishing desires, the Deschutes is host to an excellent annual return of summer steelhead. It’s no wonder that some sources claim that the Deschutes River “…is not only one of Oregon’s finest rivers but also one of the greatest rivers in the West.”
2. Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake offers some of the best trout fishing in the entire state of Oregon. I’ve caught a lot of rainbows out of Diamond Lake and not one of them was ever less than 10 inches long. On average, the fish here are massive, thanks in part to the prolific bug hatches 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 a boat. However, bank anglers can 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. 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 trout anglers will travel to Odell to fish for large lake trout, very few fishermen aren’t aware of the huge rainbows that are directly underneath them.
The rainbow trout fishing at Odell Lake starts getting good around the first of July and remains good well into the fall.
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.
4. Fall River
The Fall River, located in Central Oregon, is a 10 mile tributary to the Deschutes River (#1 on this list). It’s a spring fed creek and provides epic trout fishing opportunities for fly fishermen all year long.
During the spring, summer, and fall seasons there are reliable hatches of mayflies and caddis. However, many anglers choose to brave the snowy banks of the Fall River during the winter months in pursuit of rainbow trout with dry fly action. With 300 days of sun per year, even winter time is a good time to fish here. The peaceful serenity of Fall River is difficult to put into words. It’s a location where its beauty is an experience and not just something to see.
The Fall River is mostly open to the public and there are numerous locations to access it from the bank. According to Flyfishersplace.com, who offers guided fly fishing trips on the Fall River,
“From the Headwaters, down through the campground, horseshoe bend and the fish hatchery is all very accessible water with only one small piece of private property. From the Hatchery to the Bridge on road 4360 there is another section of private water with just a little public access above the bridge. From the Bridge down to the Falls is all good water. All of the water from the Headwaters to the Falls is open for year round fishing. Below the Falls is mostly public except the last little piece where it flows into the Deschutes. The area below the Falls down to the Deschutes is open in late-May and closes at the end of September.”
You should know, however, that there are specific regulations for the Fall River. I recommend checking out the ODFW website to catch up on the most recent Fall River fishing regulations.
5. 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, 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!
Some of the best places on Wallowa Lake to catch rainbow trout are around the marina and the inlet to the lake.
6. Upper Klammath Lake
Located near the California border and adjacent to the city of Klammath Falls, Klammath Lake is one of Oregon’s largest natural lakes which also happens to be home of some of the worlds largest native rainbow trout.
Klammath Lake is a very shallow body of water which produces an ample amount of food for its resident rainbow trout. As a matter of fact, the food sources for these fish are so prolific these trout will often times grow larger than their sea run counterparts, steelhead.
The best way to approach trout fishing in Klammath 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.
7. McKenzie River
The McKenzie River is a pure spring fed river which originates in the Cascade Range and empties into the Willamette River near Eugene, which then flows northward into the Columbia River.
The McKenzie River is one of Oregon’s heaviest stocked rivers thanks again to the efforts of the ODFW fish hatchery program. It’s a great destination for fly fishing and bait fishing anglers alike.
To fish for trout in the McKenzie River, drive east on Highway 126 which travels right next to the river. Whether you are fly fishing from the shore or casting from a world famous McKenzie River Drift Boat, the McKenzie River area is excellent for year-round fishing.
There are numerous places for you to stay and fish for multiple days, including campgrounds as well as fishing lodges that offer guided fishing excursions.
One of the things I love about the McKenzie River are the numerous lakes and reservoirs that can be located along its route. Each of these bodies of water offers excellent trout fishing as well.
8. Crooked River
If you love fly fishing, then you’re not going to want to miss out on the trout fishing that Crooked River has to offer.
Crooked River, a tributary of the Deschutes River, is located in Central Oregon near Prineville and Bend. The river is an excellent destination for fly fishing anglers, especially if you’re new to the hobby. With ample access to the water and excellent numbers of trout populating the waters, Crooked River is a must visit fishing spot.
The fish found in the Crooked River are all native trout, as ODFW currently does not stock the river. But even without stocked trout being introduced, the waters of this river are teaming with trout. Some biologists estimate that nearly 3500 native rainbow trout inhabit each mile of the river.
Large trout can be found here, however the typical size of fish you can expect to see is between 12 and inches in length.
9. Portland Metro Area Lakes
Portland is Oregon’s largest city. But you sure don’t have to go very far at all to find excellent trout fishing opportunities. Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife take massive strides in creating and maintaining trout fishing destinations close to home for all Portlanders.
Here are some of the best places to go trout fishing just minutes from Portland:
- Blue Lake
- Henry Hagg Lake
- Canby Pond
- St. Louis Ponds
Do You Need A Fishing License For Trout In Oregon?
Yes. Anyone over the age of 12 years is required to have an Oregon fishing license. Single day, multi day and annual licenses are available. If you’re visiting from another state, out of state “non-resident” fishing licenses are available.
Where To Buy an Oregon Fishing License?
You can purchase an Oregon fishing license, along with many other licenses and tags online by visiting visiting the ODFW website here: Buy Oregon Fishing License Online
How Many Trout Can You Keep In Oregon?
As of this writing, in Oregon you can keep 5 trout per day from lakes and 2 trout per day from streams. In both situations, you can only be in possession of 3 daily limits.
This is of course subject to change at any time. You should also note that indiviual bodies of water may have their own regulations regarding bag limit. You can access all of the Oregon Fishing Regulations here.
How Many Fishing Rods Can You Use In Oregon?
A person with a Two-Rod Validation may use two rods or lines in areas where the Two-Rod Validation is allowed. Youth anglers (under 12 years of age) can use two rods where legal without the two-rod validation.
Can You Keep Brown Trout In Oregon?
Yes. You can keep brown trout in Oregon unless otherwise noted under the exceptions section of each fishing zone. Again, it’s necessary to refer to the latest Oregon fishing regulations to be up to date on current laws.
This list is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talking about some of the best trout fishing in Oregon. There’s really just too many excellent trout fishing locations to mentions. From coastal streams to mountain lakes, trout can be found literally anywhere. Pick a body of water, and chances are it’s teaming with trout.
If you have not experienced Oregon, I can’t recommend it enough. There’s something here for everyone…fly fishing, trolling, bobber fishing, spinners…it can all be done in Oregon.