The 12 Best Fishing Lakes in Oregon

Written by Kaleigh Moore
Updated: July 7, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Fishing in Oregon’s rivers and lakes is a popular pastime for many. With picturesque parks and gardens, over a hundred glorious beaches, museums, and a host of other attractions, the state appeals to fun lovers worldwide. Whether you’re looking to explore the state’s history, discover its thrilling nightlife, dine, or traverse its vast forestland full of different animal species, you’ll not be disappointed.  

If you’re a seasoned or beginner angler, you should also be stoked to know Oregon has over 1,400 named lakes. But with such a vast pool of options, choosing the water bodies to prioritize can be daunting. You shouldn’t stress over it, though, because this piece will help you make that critical decision. 

These are the best fishing lakes in Oregon
Many of these beautiful Oregon lakes are great for fly fishing!

These are Oregon’s top twelve best fishing spots. Read on to get the vital information you need to plan a successful angling trip and get the most out of this highly worthwhile pursuit. Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?

1. Diamond Lake

Spanning about 3,040 acres, Diamond Lake won the top spot on our list of Oregon’s best fishing locations. It’s the pinnacle of rainbow trout angling because the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) stocks it with the species annually. Tiger and brown trout also inhabit this beautiful expanse of water, but they are only available for catch-and-release anglers.

Since Diamond Lake is open year-round, you can fish here anytime. Ice fishing is an option and can be unbelievably exciting if you’ve mastered the art of setting ice traps and deploying your bait. Aside from angling, this lake also has spots for these other rousing activities:

  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • Bird watching
  • Horse riding
  • Alpine skiing
  • Sled dog racing

Invasive Species in Diamond Lake

Unfortunately, Diamond Lake has a long history of hosting invasive fish like golden shiners and tui chub. The latter was first spotted in the water body in the early 1990s. It multiplied so quickly that it decreased the water quality and, consequently, the trout population.

Thankfully, the ODFW has been vigilant in ridding Diamond Lake of invasive fish. For example, in 2006, it poisoned its water with rotenone, eliminating up to 95 million harmful species. 

Diamond Lake in Oregon

Diamond Lake is a great spot for fishing. It’s home to species like rainbow trout, lake trout, and kokanee salmon.

©iStock.com/Rex_Wholster

2. Detroit Lake

Situated next to Oregon Route 22, roughly fifty miles east of Salem, Detroit Lake is another favorite spot for avid anglers. Like Diamond Lake, the ODFW dumps rainbow trout into this reservoir, so you’re assured of catching the species during your fishing expedition. It’s also common to find other species here, including decently-sized kokanee, bullhead, catfish, Chinook salmon, brown trout, brook trout, and largemouth bass.

Although Detroit Lake is a year-round fishery, most anglers flock to it in the spring, when the ODFW mainly fills it with fish. Fall angling in this reservoir is also rewarding because most species are active and hungry, increasing their chances of biting. Additionally, don’t hesitate to come here if you find a break in the freezing winter weather — you’ll still find some fish in the lake’s deep areas.

Notably, Detroit Lake is handy in water conservation and flood control in Salem and the surrounding areas. It also welcomes boating enthusiasts and campers.

Fishing in Detroit Lake, Oregon

Detroit Lake is a year-round fishery stocked with a variety of species every spring.

©Tyler Gray/Shutterstock.com

3. Green Peter Lake

Coming third on our list is Linn County’s 3,700-acre Green Peter Reservoir, sitting at the Cascade Mountain foothills. Despite this artificial lake’s remote location, it’s a haven for kokanee hunters as it boasts abundant salmon species. Others that reside here are smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, black crappie, and bluegill.

Throughout the years, the ODFW has taken various steps to conserve and revive some of the species living in Green Peter Lake. For example, the agency released spring Chinooks – which were rare to find – into the reservoir to restore their numbers. It also plants trout in spring and summer, so they’re always available for anglers.

If you’re also interested in more outdoor fun besides fishing, Green Peter Lake is the ideal destination. Tell you what, there are plenty of opportunities to boat and camp here. Marvel at the scenic mountain backdrop and explore some plant species surrounding the reservoir, including the western hemlock and Douglas fir trees. Moreover, this recreational gem is useful in power generation, wildlife management, flood control, and irrigation. 

Green Peter Lake in Oregon

The beautiful Green Peter Lake in Oregon is a perfect spot for any angler. It’s stocked with plenty of trout, steelhead, bass, and more.

©Michele M Cook/Shutterstock.com

4. Upper Klamath Lake

Here’s another top destination for anglers in Oregon. Klamath Lake is perched on the eastern side of the Cascade Range. Covering 61,543 acres, it’s the state’s largest freshwater body by surface area and home to many fish species, such as:

  • Black crappie
  • White crappie
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Shortnose sucker
  • Rainbow trout
  • Tui chub
  • Chinook salmon
  • Black bullhead
  • Largemouth bass
  • Channel catfish

Fly fishing for trout is highly favored in Klamath Lake. But you should only catch one 15-inch fish daily. Also, beware of the harsh algae blooms that could affect your angling experiences in this body of water. For example, they thicken in the summer, reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the lake and distressing the fish. This makes it harder for them to bite and decreases your chances of catching many species.

What Else Can You Do at Klamath Lake?

Aside from fishing, Klamath Lake provides opportunities to engage in other riveting activities. The Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge sitting on the water body’s northern edge is a prime location for animal and plant lovers. These individuals come here to see species like gadwall (Anas strepera), blue-winged teal (Anas discors), tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus), northern pintail (Anas acuta), hooded skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata) and primrose monkeyflower (Mimulus primuloides).

The wildlife refuge also has designated hunting zones accessible via boats. More often than not, the game is waterfowl. We recommend bringing hunting equipment like decoys and hides to enjoy the activity fully. 

The Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon

With its crystal clear waters, Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon is one of the best fishing lakes in the state. Here you can find a variety of game fish such as rainbow trout, lake trout, and bass.

©iStock.com/4nadia

5. Agency Lake 

If you’re around Upper Klamath Lake and would like to discover a smaller fishing destination, consider Agency Lake. A thin channel connects the two water bodies, making it easier for the typical adventurous soul to explore them on the same day.

Much of Agency Lake’s fish population is the great basin redband trout. Anglers have also reported catching other species, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and steelhead. But although this water body is convenient for both veteran and inexperienced anglers, its waters are shallow, meaning you can easily spook the fish. On top of that, the area experiences strong winds that make casting trickier.

Still, there’re many other ways to relish every second you spend at Agency Lake. Take advantage of the large campground with up to 40 sites to appreciate nature’s beauty and simplicity. The lake has six boat ramps and a marina at your disposal if you crave more water fun. Plus, enthusiastic birders can leverage the available walking trails to tour the area viewing the over 50 bird species around, like hawks and herons

Man holding a Barracuda.

Agency Lake in Oregon is a great spot for fishing with lots to offer. The lake also offers lovely nature walks and picnic spots along its shoreline.

©iStock.com/Ashley-Belle Burns

6. Brownlee Reservoir

Idaho and Oregon share this incredible fishing location in the Snake River Canyon. Brownlee Reservoir is more popular among crappie enthusiasts because the species’ population is massive. But it’s safe to say angling here is more enjoyable because other species also inhabit the lake, including sunfish and smallmouth bass.

Feel free to delight in other angling opportunities around Brownlee Reservoir, such as the Oxbow and Hells Canyon Reservoir. These are homes to many more fish species, like yellow perch and steelhead. Even the nearby Grande Ronde River offers quality fishing for trout.

Since Brownlee boasts easy access, it’s perfect for bank anglers. But that doesn’t mean you should think twice about exploring the lake on a boat; it only means access to a bigger catch. However, it’s wise to check the current water levels because they often fluctuate, making navigating the water body a bit challenging.  

Aerial view of fishing boats moving across Brownlee Reservoir in Oregon.

One of the best fishing lakes in Oregon, Brownlee Reservoir is perfect for anglers looking for a great spot to cast their line.

©davidrh/Shutterstock.com

7. Odell Lake

Situated near Willamette Pass in Klamath County, Odell Lake entices anglers from all over the state. You can practice various fishing methods in this water body, from fly fishing and jigging to trolling and still-fishing. The ODFW also permits casting lures like crawfish, eggs, worms, and wedding rings. 

But still, you must familiarize yourself with the state agency’s other regulations to enjoy your fishing trip. Thankfully, it releases a weekly report to enlighten anglers about when and how to fish, including the catch limits. Keep in mind that Odell Lake usually welcomes anglers between late April and the end of October. The main fish species in the lake are bull trout, kokanee, rainbow trout, and lake trout. 

Since this magnificent lake lies within the dense Deschutes National Forest, take advantage of your time here to see what it holds. Ideally, it has countless trails for biking and hiking enthusiasts.  Many wildlife species, such as otters, beavers, and black bears, inhabit the national forest’s semi-arid and alpine regions. Supposing you have a few more hours to fish, explore the Deschutes River that runs through Deschutes National Forest. The watercourse supports several fish species, including steelhead and salmon.

An angler's fishing boat in Odell Lake in Oregon

Odell Lake is a great fishing spot located in Oregon. Ensure you bring all the necessary supplies so you can have a successful fishing adventure.

©iStock.com/CharlieTurchetta

8. Wallowa Lake

If you’ve explored Wallowa Lake, you can certainly attest that fishing here is wonderfully fulfilling. Perhaps, it’s because this glacier lake hiding in the Wallowa Mountains has everything an angler can ever dream of. With the limitless fly fishing opportunities in the crystal-clear deep blue waters, breathtaking scenery, and crisp mountain air, it’s nearly impossible not to have fun here.

If you’re contemplating a fishing trip with your folks, Wallowa Lake is family-friendly and should be among your top picks. Some fish you’ll likely catch here include kokanee, rainbow trout, brook trout, and sockeye salmon. On top of that, you can’t miss the Wallowa Lake State Park on the water body’s southern edge. It offers opportunities to:

  • Canoe
  • Play golf
  • Camp
  • Hike
  • Ride horses
  • View wildlife, including badgers, black bears, cougars, mountain goats, river otters, and weasels.
Crystal clear Wallowa Lake in Oregon, known to be one of the best fishing lakes.

Located in Northeastern Oregon, Wallowa Lake is a renowned destination for anglers looking for trophy-sized trout and salmon. The lake supports an abundance of fish species both large and small.

©OLya_L/Shutterstock.com

9. Siltcoos Lake

Covering 3,164 acres, Siltcoos Lake is the Oregon Coast’s largest lake. But that’s not the only reason it’s on most people’s radar. Conveniently it hosts up to eleven types of fish, making it a paradise for adventurous anglers. Some of these species are:

The Siltcoos Lake’s primary water sources are the Fiddle, Woahink, Maple, and Lane Creeks. On the other hand, the 3-mile Siltcoos River empties the water body.

Although Siltcoos Lake is an excellent locale for fishing, a few things have jeopardized its capability to support this activity. For example, the lake boasts a profusion of nutrients that causes dramatic algal blooms during various times of the year. Because the aquatic species are toxic, they deter anglers from exploring the lake or indulging in other water sports. 

A canoe on Siltcoos Lake.

Spend the day fishing on Oregon’s beautiful Siltcoos Lake. This lake is known for its bountiful trout and bass population, making it an ideal spot for recreational anglers.

©Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock.com

10. Crane Prairie Reservoir

Fishing is among the top recreational activities at Crane Prairie Reservoir in Deschutes County. This artificial lake is now on the list of Oregon’s biggest rainbow trout fisheries, producing some giant species. In fact, the heaviest trout ever caught in the lake weighed 19 pounds, which was heavier than Missouri’s largest trout!

Crane Prairie Reservoir also hosts a massive population of cranes. Therefore, if the impressive flyers fascinate you, carry your pair of binoculars to watch them from a safe distance. Additionally, this lake has a campground where you can pitch your tent and have fun with your angling mates.

But beware of critters that could make your stay a nightmare. For instance, Crane Prairie Campground was closed in 2021 due to an overwhelming population of ants, which could contaminate your food or transmit diseases like salmonella and E. coli. 

Lake Crane Prairie in Oregon, a popular fishing destination

With its calm waters, stunning views, and plenty of access points, ensure you add Lake Crane Prairie to your list of must-visit fishing spots.

©Gary Gilardi/Shutterstock.com

11. Crescent Lake

About seven minutes from Odell Lake in Klamath County is Crescent Lake, which provides angling opportunities for kokanee salmon, lake trout, mountain whitefish, brown trout, and rainbow trout. The water is fishable all year round, meaning you can arrange your trip whenever you see fit. We recommend you learn the rules and regulations before embarking on your fishing adventure.

First, you can only catch one at least 24-inch long lake trout daily. Anglers must also observe the 5-trout daily limit for live specimens at least 8 inches long. Keep in mind that kokanee salmon also contribute to your daily limit.

Since Crescent Lake permits both motorized and non-motorized boats, you can have a great time here if you get the kick out of boating.

Aerial view of Crescent Lake, one of the best fishing lakes in Oregon.

Take a trip to Crescent Lake for an unforgettable fishing experience. This lake is well-stocked with various species of fish and provides plenty of scenic views and outdoor activities.

©User:Elwhajeff, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

12. Hosmer Lake

Nestled in the central Cascade Range, Hosmer Lake is a ‘fly fishing only’ natural body of water. The lake’s clear water lets you see the fish species roaming it. These include rainbows, huge Atlantic salmon, and brook trout. 

The 12-feet deep Hosmer Lake also boasts an abundance of waterfowl and breathtaking scenery that lures enthusiastic canoeists from different parts of the state. Its bottom is filled with peat and mud, but you can also see aquatic plants like mosses, water lilies, and bulrushes. Moreover, it offers beautiful views of South Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor. 

An angler seated casting a lure into the still waters of Hosmer Lake.

Experience some of Oregon’s best fishing on Hosmer Lake. Located in Deschutes National Forest, this lake offers excellent trout and kokanee fishing opportunities for all levels of anglers.

©NicholasGeraldinePhotos/Shutterstock.com

Have the Time of Your Life Fishing in Oregon

There! Now you know the twelve best lakes to visit in Oregon whenever you want to hook some fish and relish all the fantastic benefits of angling. For example, it allows you to blow off steam and soak up much-needed vitamin D. If you seek to improve your concentration, rest assured that setting your hook right is an effective trick to achieve that feat.

Some people believe the best time to fish in Oregon is in the fall, which is true, considering there’s plenty of fish here from September through November. However, you can still enjoy this activity during other times of the year and reel in various species, including the state’s most popular fish, the eight-finned salmon.

Summary of the 12 Best Fishing Lakes in Oregon

LakeFish
1Diamond Lake
Rainbow trout, brown trout, and tiger trout
2Detroit LakeRainbow trout, kokanee, bullhead, catfish, Chinook salmon, brown trout, brook trout, and largemouth bass
3Green Peter LakeKokanee, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, black crappie, and bluegill
4Upper Klamath LakeBlack crappie, white crappie, pumpkinseed, shortnose sucker, rainbow trout, tui chub, Chinook salmon, bullhead, largemouth bass, channel catfish
5Agency Lake Great basin rebound trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and steelhead
6Brownlee ReservoirCrappie, steelhead, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and sunfish
7Odell LakeBull trout, kokanee, rainbow trout, and lake trout
8Wallowa LakeKokanee, rainbow trout, brook trout, and sockeye salmon
9Siltcoos LakeCoho salmon, largemouth bass,
steelhead, bluegill, sea-run cutthroat trout, sturgeon, yellow perch, and catfish
10Crane Prairie ReservoirRainbow trout
11Crescent LakeKokanee salmon, lake trout, mountain whitefish, brown trout, and rainbow trout
12Hosmer LakeRainbow trout, huge Atlantic salmon, and brook trout 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Victoria Ditkovsky/Shutterstock.com


Share on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.