You have found the perfect rod and reel, tied a box full of beautiful flies and have honed your cast in the backyard. Now you just need to find a place to catch some fish. With all the waterways in Oregon, it can be tough to choose a fly-fishing spot. Factors such as what’s biting, the location’s proximity to your home and current fishing regulations all need to be considered before heading out. To help you narrow your choice, check out the following top ten choices among Oregon’s fly fishers.
Trillium Lake: At only twenty-five miles east of Sandy, this spot is convenient for most people in the Portland area. Follow Highway 26, take a right on Forest Service Road 2656 and then turn onto Forest Road 2612. To stay clear of the people fishing from shore, opt for float tube fishing at this spot. Cast toward the lily pad clusters as the fish like to lie in wait for the dragonflies and other bugs that perch on the leaves. Even if you don’t catch one of the lake’s rainbow or brook trout, the lake has lovely views of Mount Hood.
Henry Hagg Lake: You want to catch fish when you go fishing, right? Well, from April to October, Henry Hagg Lake is an excellent choice for fish itching to bite. The dam-formed lake is stocked with perch, bass, bluegill, and rainbow trout, all of which are attracted to green flies. Boats are allowed on the lake, but a good portion is designated as a no-wake zone where the boats are required to go slow. You’ll find Henry Hagg Lake west of Forest Grove off Highway 47.
Metolius River: You can go for the fishing, the scenery or both. This picturesque river runs past Camp Sherman just outside of Sisters and is a beautiful but challenging spot to fly fish for trout. Due to the odd currents caused by eddies, sparkling clear water and wary fish, the Metolius is not known for an easy and plentiful day of fishing. But if you want a gorgeous place to test your skills and have been searching for a terrific winter fly fishing spot, the Metolius is tough to beat.
Crooked River: A day at this Central Oregon stream will have you reeling in a baker’s dozen of trout. Although your best luck will be between September and May, you can fish the Crooked River’s seven-mile stretch between Bowman and Hoffman dams any time of year. The trout prefer to nibble at a scud with an orange tint and dislike dry flies. Access the Crooked River by turning off Highway 26 in Prineville to Highway 27. Then, follow Highway 27 another twenty miles to the Bowman Dam.
Lower Deschutes River: If you envision yourself as a classic fly-fisherman standing mid-stream in waders and making long casts, then head to the Lower Deschutes. Situated in a scenic canyon, much of the Deschutes is excellent territory for fly fishing. Note that in the section from Macks Canyon to the Columbia River, it is best to use a wet fly when trying to catch the steelhead that run this section from July to December.
Wilson & Trask Rivers: The Wilson River flows along Highway 6 with several easy access points along the way. This easily accessible spot near the coast gives you a chance to cast for sea-run cutthroat trout from July to October or steelhead and Chinook during spring and fall. By following Highway 6 into Tillamook, you’ll find the Trask River along Trask River Road. To avoid the crowds at the access points, float this calm river for spring and winter steelhead, fall and spring Chinook and summer cutthroat trout.
North Tenmile Lake: If you believe fishermen’s tales, this is the best lake in Oregon for bass fishing. The many-armed lake is off Highway 101 at Lakeside just twelve miles south of Reedsport. You can fish here year-round and practice different techniques to attract the bass. The fish are big and aggressive so use a 7- to 8-weight rod and bring in the fish quickly or they will get away.
Wallowa River: Although the Wallowa is situated right along Highway 82 outside of Joseph, the traffic flow along this stretch of highway is light and won’t ruin your day of fishing. In fact, you’ll be catching dozens of fish over the day. Even beginning fly-fishermen will have luck with a Prince nymph or Goddard caddis fly on the Wallowa. You can wade in from the highway or use a float to fish further down the river.
Chickahominy Reservoir: Located at Riley on Highway 20 just a few miles west of Burns, this sage land-surrounded lake looks out onto a flat landscape. However, the muddy water houses big trout that will bite at wooly buggers and leech-type flies. Cast from shore or use a float tube for terrific fishing from March to May and in the fall. Fishing is allowed at other times, but your luck won’t be as good.
Upper Klamath Lake: Cast into the Upper Klamath Lake off Highway 97 at Klamath Falls for a chance to catch its large fish. At the north end of the 100-square mile lake, practice your long casts from a float tube. Damselfly nymphs and leech-type flies will work well any time of year here. For the best luck fish in the spring and fall when fishing pressure and stress on the fish is least.