Hood River County isn’t one of Oregon’s largest, but it reaches from the summit of the state’s tallest mountain (Mount Hood) to the middle of its biggest river, the Columbia. Similarly, its many great fishing destinations vary from high-mountain lakes to mighty rivers.
The intent of this article is to introduce some of the better places to wet a line in Hood River County. From this page, you can dig deeper by clicking links taking you to more in-depth information. Follow the links within the article, at the bottom of the page and in the blue box for additional resources on this website and elsewhere.
The waters described in this article are regulated under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Central and Columbia River zones.
The only incorporated cities in Hood River County are Cascade Locks and the city of Hood River, but unincorporated communities include Dee, Lenz, Mount Hood, Oak Grove, Odell, Parkdale, Pine Grove and Rockford. Besides fishing, Hood River County is very well known for water sports on the Columbia River including wind surfing, skiing and snowboarding on Mount Hood and hiking in the mountains and Columbia River Gorge. This is the only county in Oregon to have a share of two of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon.
Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Hood River County:
This is a high-mountain lake, reached by a rough road on the southeast slopes of Mount Hood, often is inaccessible due to snow well into the season. It has been a regular stop for the trout-stocking trucks in the past, but at last check it was not on ODFW’s schedule. Check in before counting on a fish dinner.
Columbia River (Bonneville Pool)
The county’s stretch of river is in what is known as the Bonneville Pool, which for anglers is important for a variety of species. Salmon and steelhead pass through in high numbers. The fall chinook run is the biggest fishery, providing lots of catches from late August into October, with a September peak. Coho are caught in decent numbers, especially in October. There is a smaller spring chinook fishery. Many of the salmon are hooked off tributary mouths. Summer steelhead are a fair fishery in this pool, especially about August as the numbers climbing the Bonneville Dam fish ladder spike. As most of Oregon went to catch and release fishing for sturgeon, Bonneville Pool became perhaps the best place to catch one to bring home. Watch for ODFW to announce short seasons. In 2014, for example, there were fishing days available during the winter, when catch rates are best in the Cascade Locks and Hood River areas, and then additional retention periods during warmer weather, when catches tend to be good closer to The Dalles. Shad cross Bonneville Dam, typically in the millions. A fun place to intercept them is in the old locks at Cascade Locks, located in a nice park with boat launch facilities. Like neighboring sections of the big river, this pool is quite loaded with smallmouth bass, which love its abundant rocky structure. There also are walleye, although they aren’t fished as enthusiastically here as in The Dalles Pool upstream. There is a sport reward program for turning in northern pikeminnows in the Columbia River. Please note that Oregon health officials have issued strong warnings about consuming contaminated fish that live year-round in the lowest section of this pool immediately above Bonneville Dam. To learn more about all of the big river’s angling opportunities, read Columbia River Fishing.
This small stream with a hatchery near Cascade Locks has a moderate summer steelhead fishery and small salmon fishery, particularly in the weeks before the river below the hatchery dam closes in mid-August. Please carefully consult regulations, which vary for the creek above the railroad tracks (in the Central Zone) and down below (Columbia River Zone).
The river bearing the same name as the city and county is sometimes overlooked for fishing, but that’s a mistake. It often has a nice run of spring chinook and both summer and winter steelhead. Spring chinook fishing seasons only open by special regulation when there is a decent run forecast, but if a fishery is allowed angling will be best around May and June after ODFW announces the season. Steelhead fishing is open year-round in the mainstem and a short section of the West Fork below Punchbowl Falls. While there are at least a few steelhead around all year, by far most are caught from late winter to early spring (about February to April). Bait fishing is allowed for salmon and steelhead fishing, but trout angling requires artificial flies and lures and is catch and release.
This smallish reservoir (104 acres) southwest of Parkdale is popularly fished for stocked rainbow trout, which usually are planted for the late-April opener and likely again in May. You can only keep fin-clipped trout (hatchery produced) and may only use artificial lures and flies, rules enacted to protect native cutthroat and bull trout also found here, which must be released unharmed. There are no limits on smallmouth bass you may catch here. See: Laurance Lake Fishing.
This is a classic mountain trout-fishing setting on the northwest flank of Mount Hood, which looms above the lake for post-card perfect pictures. Winter can be harsh up here, but once the weather begins to break this 231-acre lake is heavily stocked with rainbow trout in mid- to late spring and success rates can be high at that time of year and decent later on. You also have the potential to catch brook or brown trout and kokanee here, but rainbows are the volume fishery. No motors are allowed, so despite its popularity the lake is fairly peaceful. There’s a resort with amenities as well as lots of camping. From Hood River, take Hood River Highway out of town and then Lost Lake Road up the mountain near Dee. We have Lost Lake listed among the best fishing lakes in Central Oregon north of Bend. Read this article for the full list. See: Lost Lake Fishing.
This spot, also known as Green Point Upper Reservoir, is a trout fishery that is well-stocked with hatchery rainbows during the spring. The 60-acre lake is located southwest of Hood River past the community of Oak Grove. (Note: Due to construction, this reservoir is closed in 2018-19.)
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Wasco County: To the east and south, includes a very good stretch of the famous lower Deschutes River’s trout and steelhead fisheries, plus excellent salmon, bass and walleye fishing in the Columbia River near The Dalles.
Clackamas County: To the southwest, very good trout, salmon and steelhead fishing in the Clackamas River basin, plus the productive stretch of Willamette River near the falls.
Multnomah County: To the northwest, a very urban county that nevertheless has excellent fishing in the Columbia and lower Willamette rivers, including popular spring and fall chinook salmon runs.
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.