I’m addicted to fishing for salmon, steelhead and all creatures in the ocean – but my roots involved a lot of fishing for trout and often that meant hatchery trout. Now our family cabin in Pacific City is action central for my fly fishing adventures and I have virtually abandoned my fishing on the Deschutes, McKenizie, Metolius and other rivers and lakes in favor of anything close to the cabin.
Well, there is a small lake less than a five minute drive from our cabin where I can head out on many days when the estuary or ocean fishing isn’t on the menu – for whatever reason including water too high or low, bad tides, bad weather or too few fish to bother with.
The Town Lake does not support wild fish, it gets worked hard by cormorants and otters, but depending on the stocking schedules, I have very pleasant fly fishing for stocked trout and recycled hatchery summer steelhead. The trout are regular catchable size in the spring but this fall ODFW stocked “trophy” trout and there are some 16″ to 20″ bruisers still in the lake. There have been quite a few hatchery summer steelhead stocked already too, and these take flies quite nicely on occasion when you show them the right fly for the right fish.
Anything from size 16 dry adams, Foam Hoppers, Muddlers, size 14 brown chironomids, bead head hare’s ears, black and brown wolly buggers and more, they all produce at times. The steelhead can be very selective, some fish only responding to a retrieved bugger and some only taking a free falling chironomid or dry fly, but you can sight cast to these fish and release them to catch another day.
I fish 5X tippets on three and four weight fly rods and floating lines on most occasions, and the big trout and steelhead will put up a good fight. The summers range from very clean fish to pretty old slim fish, but it is fun to spot them and try to get a take from big fish that can be spooky or silly accommodating. If you find yourself shut in some weekend with your usual haunts too muddy or cold to fish, consider coming over and trying Town Lake.
There is a public dock that you can fish from, but a raft, small boat, drift boat, or float tube is a big advantage to give you better access to the lake.
You may or may not catch fish here on any particular trip, but it is a change of pace and offers a lot of potential from day to day, depending on stocking schedules and water conditions.
If you have questions, you may email the Caddis Fly Shop and they will forward your email to me and I will be happy to give you a recent report and help out as best I can.
Update: I just got back to our cabin after a 4 hour outing on the Lake today. I managed to spot over a dozen steelhead that I was able to cast to. Four took my and I got so excited that whipped it out of their mouth before they could close it. I hooked three steelhead that bit my fly having finally calmed down a little; one on a size 12 bead head hares ear, one on a size 8 Silver Hilton, and one on a glass-bead brown wooly bugger size 10. I only jammed the hook into my finger once this day. This is fun sight fishing and quite a challenge to tease these fish to take a fly. Most of the summers are in the five to seven pound class – and I release these fish with hopes of finding them again this winter.
The “Trophy” hatchery trout are challenging now that they have been the lake for over a month and catching 3-4 of these 14″ to over 20″ fish is quite a feat.
This is a lake that has in the past supported perch (gone now) still has a few bass, but seems not to support any natural reproduction. ODFW has put some really nice fish in ths small lake, there is a public access boat ramp for small boats, Kyaks, float tubes, and such, and there is a very nice new public dock for people to fish from. I see people fishing Powerbait and spinners with success regularly, and fly fishing is always effective on the hatchery trout and steelhead. I think this is a great place for every experience level from beginners to advanced skill anglers with time on their hands. Close to home, nice scenery, and challenging fishing make a great combination in my opinion.
Jay Nicholas, December 2013