Oregon Coastal lakes trout fishing

The cool weather we have had this spring has extended the usual season for coastal lakes trout fishing well into June, and it will probably be productive clear through July before warm weather and water send the trout into deeper, cooler water.

Most of the trout in many of Oregon’s coastal lakes are hatchery rainbow, but some lakes (examples include Tenmile Lake, Tahkenitch Lake, Siltcoos Lake, Devils Lake, and Munsel Lake) also contain native cutthroat trout.

Hatchery rainbow are typically stocked by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the March through June window, but some trout may be stocked again in the fall when water temperatures cool.

Stocking schedules. Anyone can check on the locations, fish size, and dates where hatchery trout will be stocked in Oregon coastal lakes by looking on the ODFW website

Fish Size. Hatchery trout stocked in coastal lakes are usually in the 8” – 11” range, with a few exceptions. Sometimes jumbo size broodstock rainbow or surplus steelhead will be stocked, and these can range up into the 20” – 30” size.

Best Fishing Methods. This is a fly fishing
oriented blog. Folks fish for these trout with all sorts of gear, spinners, baits and what not. Our experience has been that fly fishing usually out-produces other gear in a ten fold ratio. Be prepared to fish olive and black woolly buggers, lake leeches, chironomids. Traditional flies like dark Cahill and Bucktail Caddis. Spruce flies often work well too.

Getting started. The Caddis Fly Shop offers some complete fly fishing combo outfits and can custom create an outfit for your preferred price range. One example is shown here.

Fly action. Sometimes these fish respond best to a very steady retrieve, sometimes to a jerky retrieve, and sometimes to a dead still presentation under a strike indicator. Experiment and see what is working best on a given day.

Retrieve fishing. When searching for trout, a nice gentle cruise around a lake with a fly dragging behind boat or float tube is a good approach. The best sign that you have found fish is to spot trout rising in the process of surface or sub-surface feeding.

Strike indicator fishing. One extremely effective means of luring hatchery trout to the fly is with a very small thingmabobber – nymph combo. Depending on the lake, time of day, and insect activity, fish could be cruising anywhere from about 3’ to as deep as 10 or 12’ deep. A little experimenting might be necessary to find the right depth. Cooler water usually means fishing nymphs shallower, and warmer water may send the fish deep. In addition to the flies mentioned above, a gold Ribbed Hare’s ear nymph in black, natural, or olive – sizes 12-16 can be monstrously effective once you find the fish and the proper depth.

Dry fly action. Any time of day can find trout rising to dry flies. Light Cahills, Renegades, and Adams are all very general, impressionist style flies that work well. The size can matter more than the fly, though, and be prepared to fish #16s or #18s at times.  If the trout won’t take a sitting still fly, give it a twitch or two and see if that triggers a strike.

Fly lines. Floating lines are usually just fine for a variety of conditions, but short sink tips and intermediate lines could add to the effectiveness of one’s presentations on some days, especially in warmer water.

Float tubes and boats? Bank or dock access can be very limited, so this is especially suited to fly fishing from float tubes, rafts, or boats. This is a place to take kids fishing too – a nice laid-back seeing to learn fly fishing basics, tackle, tactics, casting and psychology. Wildlife viewing is a nice distraction from fishing too. The fishing action can range from very slim to blistering “hot”.

Remember – fishing fun takes many forms, and Oregon’s strikingly beautiful coastal lakes offer some exceptional opportunities to fly fish for hatchery and wild trout. These lakes are relatively close to “civilization”, but give the impression that you are fishing far-off in the outback. This can be a very nice day trip or a several day camping trip because these lakes are often located near campgrounds or perhaps the campgrounds are located near the lakes. You get the point, it can be a nice weekend or week-long outing in the spring and early summer for the lake fishing angler.

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