Best Fishing in Clackamas County, Oregon

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Clackamas County stretches from the wealthy suburbs of Lake Oswego and West Linn at low elevation to the summit of Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest mountain. In between are plenty of great fishing rivers and lakes.

Some of the favorite destinations here include the Clackamas River watershed’s excellent salmon, steelhead and trout fisheries, plus productive sections of the Willamette and Sandy rivers.

The goal of this article is to introduce anglers to some of the better fishing spots in Clackamas County. For more details, follow the links you will find within the article itself, at the bottom of this page, and in the blue box to reach additional articles on this website and other sources of information. Included are links to the best fishing spots in neighboring counties.

The waters listed below are regulated under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Zone. Note that you’ll need a Columbia River endorsement (in addition to the appropriate license and tag) to fish for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon in the rivers.

Incorporated cities in Clackamas County are Barlow, Canby, Damascus, Estacada, Gladstone, Happy Valley, Johnson City, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Molalla, Oregon City, Rivergrove, Sandy, West Linn, most of Wilsonville and part of Tualatin. Unincorporated communities and notable areas here include Barton, Boring, Brightwood, Bull Run, Carver, Charbonneau, Clackamas, Eagle Creek, Government Camp, Marylhurst, Oak Grove, Rhododendron, Ripplebrook and Sunnyside.

Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Clackamas County:

Canby Pond
This 1-acre pond in Canby City Park is open for young anglers (age 17 or under) or anyone with a disability who possesses a special ODFW permit. It is stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, typically in March and April, and also has some warmwater fish. See: Canby Pond Fishing.

Clackamas River
The lower end of the river, below the hydroelectric dams near Estacada, is is one of the Portland area’s primary fisheries for steelhead and also has a good spring chinook run. The two major steelhead runs are good enough here to land on our Best Winter Steelhead Fishing Near Portland and Best Summer Steelhead Fishing Near Portland listings. You also can learn more about when and where to fish these runs with Clackamas River Steelhead Fishing. Spring chinook fishing typically starts ramping up in May and peaks in June. If you want to know more details about where to catch springers in the Portland area, click here. There are smaller fisheries for fall coho and fall chinook salmon. Trout are no longer stocked in the Clackamas and its tributaries, but there are good options for catch and release fishing for native cutthroat and rainbow trout and catch and keep fishing for non-native brook trout in the upper system, such as the Oak Grove Fork. For our full overview of this great river, read Clackamas River Fishing. And the “Clack” is one of the Portland area’s top fishing spots.

Eagle Creek
This tributary of the lower Clackamas River has fair fishing for hatchery winter steelhead from about December to February. This is on our list of go-to small winter steelhead fishing streams when big rivers like the Clackamas are too high to fish. Access spots include Bonnie Lure or Eagle Fern parks or you can hike in to fish below the hatchery deadline. There also are smallish fisheries here for spring chinook and fall coho salmon, both hatchery produced runs.

Estacada Lake
The lowest of three Clackamas River hydroelectric reservoirs is at Estacada and is primarily fished for rainbow trout that are stocked for the late May opener and through late summer. Salmon and steelhead (adults and smolts) also pass through. Boat and bank access (including an ADA-accessible platform) are in the lower reservoir in Milo McIver State Park, reached from South River Lake Road. Read: Estacada Lake Fishing.

Faraday Lake
This is the smallest (25 acres) of the Clackamas River reservoirs in the Estacada area. Like the others, it is primarily fished for stocked rainbow trout. This water (unlike Estacada or North Fork reservoirs) is open year-round, but fishing will be best during the stocking season, usually May to August or September. Read: Faraday Lake Trout Fishing.

Harriet Lake
This is a small reservoir on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River, about a 45-minute drive upriver from the Estacada area. Harriet is very well stocked with rainbow trout from mid-spring to late summer, including some trophy-sized fish. There also are brown trout and brook trout in the reservoir (and in the Oak Grove Fork), and the browns have the potential to be trophy-sized fish. Read: Harriet Lake Trout Fishing.

Molalla River
This good-sized Willamette River tributary flowing through the cities of Molalla and Canby is primarily managed for wild fish, but it can be quite good for catch-and-release winter steelhead (with an occasional fin-clipped stray available) during the late winter. Note the short season (July and August) when any steelhead can be kept, which at that time of year primarily would be hatchery strays from other rivers. There also is a modest spring chinook harvest, which occurs primarily when bait-fishing is allowed from mid-May to mid-July.

North Fork Reservoir
During the hot summer months, this 350-acre Clackamas River reservoir just past Estacada is the most heavily stocked trout fishery in the northern Willamette Valley. Fishing starts the fourth Saturday of May and continues with good catches into mid-fall. Bank access spots include stocking areas near the Faraday boat ramp, the North Fork Clackamas parking area (look for the bridge) and especially in the upper reservoir around PGE’s Promontory Park. Note that construction currently limits access at the marina, so boaters should launch at the Faraday Road ramp. See our full article about this reservoir. Also worth noting, Small Fry Lake in Promontory Park is stocked and only open to anglers age 17 and younger. Estacada and Faraday lakes are close; see separate entries on this page.

Sandy River (upper)
The cold and frequently silty Sandy River is a very popular river for steelhead and salmon fishing. The Clackamas County section includes popular spots near the city of Sandy, including Dodge Park and near the Sandy Hatchery. The winter steelhead run is one of the best around Portland, with fish coming in by December but even better fishing in late winter. A decent summer run of hatchery-marked steelhead is typically putting out most of its catch around May and June. Sandy River spring chinook fishing is popular from May through July, with many of the fish taken upstream from Revenue Bridge to the mouth of the Salmon River by July. There is a fair fishery for coho salmon in the fall, usually peaking in October, with many anglers keying below the hatchery deadline for returning silvers. The Sandy is on our Portland area lists for best overall fishing spots, summer steelhead fishing, winter steelhead fishing, spring chinook fishing and coho salmon fishing. For an overview of different fisheries here, try Sandy River Fishing.

Shorty’s Pond
This 4-acre pond in Ivor Davies Nature Park in city of Molalla at times has been stocked with hatchery trout and hosted family fishing events, but watch ODFW’s stocking schedule. Walk in from the trail near the football stadium. Bear Creek can also be fished above the pond.

Timber Lake
This is a smallish lake located in the Ripplebrook area of the upper Clackamas River, about a half hour drive up Highway 224 east of Estacada. The pond is occasionally stocked with rainbow trout and will provide excellent bank fishing shortly after those plantings. It is located just west of the old Ripplebrook Ranger Station on the north side of the Road. Take Timber Lane into the complex on the north side of the highway.

Timothy Lake
This is a good-sized reservoir, also known as Timothy Meadows, in the upper Clackamas River drainage south of Mount Hood. There are multiple fisheries here, with the most common catch being the many thousands of rainbow trout stocked here during the spring and early summer. Timothy also has a reproducing population of brook trout (no limits on those non-natives) and schools of kokanee, which have a 25-fish limit but tend to run small here and attract less attention than better known kokanee fishing lakes in Oregon. There is excellent boat and bank access, including ADA access. Read: Timothy Lake Fishing.

Trillium Lake
A very pretty and popular spot reflecting nearby Mount Hood. Anglers who come to this 60-acre lake are attracted by abundant rainbow trout periodically stocked from about May into early fall. In addition to pan-sized trout, ODFW plants a fair number of trophy trout here. It is located southeast of Government Camp, not far off Highway 26. Read: Trillium Lake Fishing.

Willamette River (shared with multiple counties)
Clackamas County’s stretch is one of the best fishing sections on this large river. The most anticipated fishery is for spring chinook salmon, which will see anglers trying their luck as early as February. But catches will be far better once spring truly hits in late February into May, with April often the peak month. The area from Willamette Falls down to Milwaukie is among the best. Learn more about Portland-area springer fishing here. Other salmon runs are less popularly fished, although some anglers have luck catching coho salmon off the mouth of the Tualatin River in the West Linn area above the falls. Anglers plunking near the mouth of the Clackamas River (including Meldrum Bar) welcome salmon but often have more success with steelhead. The river below the falls and at the Clackamas mouth is very good for shad fishing from late May through June. Smallmouth bass angling can be quite productive both above and below the falls around rocky structure. Other warmwater fish include crappie, which favor pilings and similar structure. Sturgeon are currently fished mostly catch and release below the falls, but make note of a seasonal closure (May through August) from the falls down to the railroad bridge at Lake Oswego to protect spawning. There is a keeper sturgeon fishery above the falls but finding them is tough. Shad fishing is a real hoot starting around Mother’s Day and continuing until after Father’s Day. Boaters anchor up in moving water for several miles below Willamette Falls, and bank anglers do well near the mouth of the Clackamas River, including Clackamette Park. This part of the river help make the lower Willamette one of the Portland area’s best fishing spots. For a full river overview, check out Willamette River Fishing.

Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Multnomah County: To the north, great access to productive sections of the Columbia and Willamette rivers for salmon, sturgeon and warmwater fish.
Hood River County: To the northeast, Columbia River salmon and keeper sturgeon plus salmon and steelhead in Hood River and some nice mountain trout fishing.
Wasco County: To the east, includes fantastic sections of the Deschutes River’s great trout and summer steelhead fisheries plus some excellent Columbia River salmon, sturgeon, smallmouth bass and walleye water.
Marion County: To the south, very good salmon and steelhead fishing in the North Santiam River, plus excellent trout spots including mega-popular Detroit Lake.
Yamhill County: To the west, some nice off-season fishing for stocked trout, some wild cutthroat streams, and opportunities for bass and panfish.
Washington County: To the northwest, includes excellent fishing for stocked trout and smallmouth bass in Henry Hagg Lake, plus suburban trout and warmwater ponds and native cutthroat streams.

More Fishing Resources:
In addition to other sources, the following websites were very helpful while compiling these county fishing pages, and the information there is valuable to all Oregon anglers.

For current regulations, trout stocking, weekly angling reports and more, find links on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fishing Resources Page.

For boating information about these waters, see the Oregon State Marine Board’s launch locator map.

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