Best Fishing in Oregon
Best Crappie Fishing in Western Oregon
Photo courtesy of Oregon Bass & Panfish Club
Western Oregon’s waterways don’t often produce the incredibly high numbers of fish you’ll find when fishing central and eastern Oregon’s best crappie waters, but the wetter end of the state has some very good crappie angling that is a tank or less of gas for most of the state’s angling population.
Here are some great places to try:
Fern Ridge Reservoir
The Willamette Valley’s largest reservoir, this shallow water body west of Eugene can be loaded with crappie during good years. As with most draw-down reservoirs, the population here can suffer and the best fishing comes in cycles. But this is a rich lake full of small fish, and the crappie gorge themselves to very nice size.
Structure includes flooded trees, bridges and abundant aquatic vegetation. When the reservoir is drawn down in the fall, the crappie and other fish are concentrated in the creek channels and deeper sections closest to the dam.
Fern Ridge also is a good option for other warmwater species, including largemouth bass.
This is a large coastal lake between Florence and Reedsport in Oregon’s lake-filled dune country.
Although crappie fishing at Tahkenitch is always consistent, when it’s good it can be quite good, said Gary Galovich, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s warmwater fish biologist for the west side of the state.
Tahkenitch also has pretty good fishing for largemouth bass and also sports a wild coho fishery in the late fall.
The abundant pilings set in the lower Willamette River, a major shipping port, provide more than enough habitat to hold large numbers of crappie. They use those pilings to hide from predators, ambush prey and get a break from the river current, so this is the first and second place to look for holding crappie.
Above the falls, crappie aren’t quite as numerous but can be found in backwaters and the main river around pilings, docks and downed trees.
Crappie in the Willamette can be caught all year, although their bite is very soft in cold water. While they may be in very shallow water, many times they are in depths of 20 to 40 feet, usually holding near the base of deeper pilings. Use a good amoung of lead weight and two or three bait-tipped crappie jigs to get to them.
More Western Oregon Crappie Fisheries
- Emigrant Reservoir: Can still be quite good for crappie, but the booming yellow perch population has hurt productivity.
- Henry Hagg Lake: This reservoir west of Portland is better known for its big smallmouth and largemouth bass and record-breaking bullhead catfish, plus plentiful stocked rainbow trout. Yet, crappie are worth pursuing here. There are some sunken structures that hold fish.
- Tenmile Lakes: In the old days, anglers could fill buckets with nice crappie here, but these days those buckets are easier to fill with good-sized yellow perch. Still, those in the know can still do well, Galovich said. The lakes are famous for having some of Oregon’s best largemouth bass fishing and the south lake also has some of western Oregon’s best bullhead catfish fishing.
For current regulations, consult the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s annual regulations booklet or website.