A Diamond in the Rough : Diamond Lake Fishing Report

diamond lake fishing

Thanks to Sam Parker for this excellent report on Diamond Lake.

The Urban Dictionary defines the metaphor a diamond in the rough as “someone or something that has hidden exceptional characteristics and or future potential, but currently lacks the final touches that would make them truly stand out from the crowd.” Diamond Lake, as a fly fishing destination, fits that definition nicely.

Rick Bocko and I decided to venture back to Diamond Lake this past weekend for a second year in a row armed only with fly rods. Last year, we experienced culture fish shock as we were only a handful of fisherman with fly rods and practically the only boat not anchored up in one spot for the entire day. Rick and I were the odd couple, ducking and weaving in and out of boats weighed down with buckets of Powerbait. We did well, very well with our two fly rigs being slowly trolled behind the boat. Not only were we catching a lot of fish, but the quality of fish did not seem to be affected by our curious fishing methods.
Arriving late Friday afternoon, we dumped the boat in the water and proceeded to the south end of the lake as we were being chased down by thundering squall. Trolling Diamond Lake Specials with a trailing March Brown emerger, Rick quickly took five fish to my one. It was a good start to the weekend.

diamond lake fly fishing

Saturday morning fishing proved to be a real test for whether or not Rick and I would return to Diamond for a third year running. Fishing was horrible not only for the oddball fly fisherman, but also for our fellow Bubbas. Keeping us entertained was the awesome beauty of the surrounding peaks and the epic chironomid hatches that made it challenging to breathe.

diamond lake fly angling

Breaking for lunch, Rick and I brainstormed how to improve our fishing prowess. Shifting our thinking from trying to figure out where the fish are (face it, there’s fish everywhere in Diamond) to where on the lake would our curious gear work best proved to be the game changer. We headed for the northwest corner of the lake. Depth: 4-12 feet. Habitat: Bull rushes lining the shore with a strip of clear bottom that leads into “weedage”. There is no other spot on the lake quite like this spot. Armed with Carey Specials, Black Wooley Buggers, Diamond Lake Specials trailed by March Brown and Timberline emerger patterns we hammered it and hammered it hard. The fish were impressive and at times fought just as well as their river brethren. The takes were powerful and at times startling.

fishing reports from diamond lake

fly fishing diamond lake

Diamond Lake is certainly not known for its fly fishing opportunities. It is a meat fishery on an epic scale. However, if you are looking for a lake with beautiful surroundings, located relatively close to Eugene, can easily accommodate the family, and where a fly rod works well then I cannot think of many more lakes that offer what Diamond is able to offer.

fly fishing diamond lake sam parker


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9 Responses to A Diamond in the Rough : Diamond Lake Fishing Report

  1. mike doughty says:

    solid fish!

  2. Fred says:

    “Thanks to Sam Parker for this excellent report on Diamond Lake.” Thanks Sam–can’t wait to get back up there!!

  3. Steve says:

    Fished Diamond 3 times last year with poor water quality and visibility. How was the water clarity for your May 11-12 excursion? I fished phenominal callabaetis hatches before 1985 but after the 2006 resurection of Diamond the fish haven’t been surface minded. What’s your experience?


  4. brian meade says:

    I have fished Diamond with fly-rod exclusively and had incredible luck.I usually troll a Thin-Mint wooly trailed by a black slump-buster. If there are damsels going I use a damsel nymph behind the slump-buster combo. I have landed four fish over 7 pounds with many in the 2-4 pound range. Rufus patterns work well casting on Rio Outbound Hover and letting it sink to the 10′ range and a slow stop and go retrieve.My fave rod is a Echo 10’6″ 4 switch,plenty of back-bone to play the big boys and sling the intermediate line a long ways..All my fishing is done from my 9ft pontoon with my 2 legged motor getting the good good work out.BEst of Luck and will be on the the water there last week in June for 2 days.If u see a red faded toon with WOODY stenciled on it and happy camper bringing in fish, holla and say HI..

  5. Thomas Bonn says:

    Nice job Sam! Looks like you’re in your element…looking forward to being on the lake this weekend. I’ll need to have you guide us on a future fishing adventure!

  6. Paul Monaco says:

    Diamond lake was always on my bucket list, but only found it 5-yrs ago. Almost left in tears, after day one. I was trolling and caught plenty of salad. NO FISH!!! Day two I struck gold, thanks to a fellow fisherman. Told me south end, and garlic powerbait. I LOVE, LOVE,LOVE to troll, but I also wanted to catch one of the monsters. Guess what happened next, six hour later I was tired after catching (86) yes, eighty six!!! The smallest was about 14″ which would have been HUGE in any other lake. The largest only 3-lbs, but all were pigs. In case your wondering, ALL catch and release. Funny, but I don’t like to eat them. Just CATCH them. That’s 3-days I’ll NEVER forget.

  7. Ron Swearingen says:

    Dear Paul,
    Hopefully you will take this information positively and use it.
    According to recent tests by several states fisheries depts.,
    I must give you bad news. You likely released from 43 to 51 dead trout on your above cited trip. That’s right, according to their tests from 50% to 60% of fish released using power bait later die from hook damage to the soft tissue in the throat and blood loss. They swim away but are dead fish swimming.
    Notably Oregon Dept. of Fisheries is 10-15 years behind in NOT prohibiting catch and release using bait…..nearly all other states in the West prohibit it beyond the number of fish limit for the lake.

  8. randy winters says:

    hello, looking for names or a name of fishing guides at diamon lake. when will the ice be off for summer fishing? i want to plan a trip this year. any info appreiciated. yhank you. randy

  9. Gerald P. Mill says:

    Referencing Ron Swearingin’s excellent piece above, the answer to catch and release power bait is spelled, “chironomid”. Bag the power bait that kills and turn to the chironomid that thrills. If you want to fish Diamond catch and release, turn to the family, chironomidea. Begin fishing them under an indicator. There are other ways to fish them but that is the easiest. My largest rainbow on a chironomid was an estimated 10 lb fish with shoulders from a lake in south central British Columbia. That was many years ago and I mention it just so you can appreciate the fact that big fish will take a small artificial fly, in that case tied on a #14 scud type hook. Now I do not know
    Diamond lake though I did fish it in the fifties with single salmon eggs, but Sam Parker’s report above mentioned an “epic” chironomid hatch that made breathing difficult. HOLY SMOKES, drop everything, including an achor at each end of the boat, plumb for the depth, suspend a black red ribbed chironomid no more than a foot off the bottom and enjoy. Now, you may have to experiment a bit with color and hook size and maybe even depth, but if the chironomidea is there, there will the fish be as well. Nintey five percent of your fish will be taken in the upper lip right under the nose. Extremely easy to release all your fish with a simple twist of the hemostat. You too can get hooked on chironomids and you will never look back. If you want to hook and cook, be my guest but if you want to catch and release that lovely finny beast for another day, you can do it without killing him.

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