This big county offers to anglers just what the name promises: lots of lakes, many of them loaded with trout, crappie and bass.
The purpose of this article is to simply introduce the best fishing waters in Lake County. Further exploration is up to you, but to help you out we’ve also included links to additional information about fishing waters in Lake County and the wider region. You’ll find those in the body of the article, at the bottom and in the blue box on this page. The links to neighboring counties will help you explore more opportunities.
Speaking of lakes, some of the largest fields of blue that appear on Lake County maps are not worthwhile fishing lakes. And during extreme drought periods, they really aren’t lakes at all. Lake Abert and Silver and Summer lakes don’t have fishing. Goose Lake straddling the California border has some redbands, but this massive lake prone to extreme swings in water supply is not a practical place to target them.
The major fisheries in Lake County fall under regulations for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Southeast Zone.
The two incorporated cities in Lake County are Lakeview and Paisley. Additional communities include Adel, Christmas Valley, Fort Rock, New Pine Creek, Plush, Silver Lake, Summer Lake and Valley Falls. Parts of the Fremont and Deschutes National Forests are here, as well as the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Lake County:
This smallish reservoir just north of Summer Lake is best known as Oregon’s fishery for hybrid white bass, a cross between striped and white bass, which in some places is known as a “wiper.” These fish can grow quite large, and the state record caught here in 2009 is well over 18 pounds. They can be caught year round in a lake that maintains a fairly constant temperature, but the first three months of the year produce some of the better catches on the west side of the lake. Try casting Rapalas or similar lures. Ana Reservoir also is nicely stocked with rainbow trout during the spring and early summer. There is no limit on largemouth bass caught here. Ana Reservoir is just off Highway 31 and easily reached from Paisley to the south or La Pine to the northwest.
This is a nice trout fishery in the five miles or so below Ana Reservoir, supplemented with annual plantings of rainbow trout. Unlike many streams, bait is allowed along with lures and flies used in most rivers. Due to its spring source at Ana Reservoir, the river temperature remains consistently ideal for trout. Pan-sized trout are more commonly caught in the first couple of miles below the dam, where fishing pressure is highest. For larger trout, work your way into areas with less access. Some anglers will drift downstream in a pontoon or float tube to get to holdover trout in the 14-inch range.
Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes
These high-elevation lakes near each other southwest of Paisley in the Fremont National Forest are equally well-stocked, typically beginning near the first of summer (late June), when they become accessible after a good snow year. They typically are restocked another time or two and fishing is often pretty good through the summer season. Blue Lake, a hike-in fishery to the southwest near Gearhart Mountain, also can offer some pretty good trout fishing. Anglers traveling from the Klamath Falls area will head northeast from near Bly.
This can be an excellent trout stream during the spring and fall, when water temperatures are cool. The river upstream from Highway 31 at Paisley is open year-round but restricted to fishing with artificial flies and lures. This reach is where the best trout fishing is, with lots of pan-sized redband rainbows and some larger fish to 20 inches or better. You can keep two trout but many anglers practice catch and release on these natives. Also, the river tends to run warm in the summer, putting stress even on fish that are released. Below Highway 31, bait fishing is allowed but this area is less of a trout stream and is primarily fished for largemouth bass and brown bullhead catfish (try the river in the vicinity of the private Rivers End Reservoir).
Cottonwood Meadows Lake
This high-mountain spot is modestly stocked with rainbow trout and also has a self-sustaining population of brook trout. It is located in the Fremont National Forest north of Drews Valley and about a 45-minute drive northwest from Lakeview. The larger Cottonwood Reservoir to the east has some wild trout but less stable water conditions.
This is a smallish reservoir primarily fished for warmwater species including largemouth bass, which can provide a nice fishery some years. There also is a big population of brown bullhead catfish that can reach fair size and are easy to catch for anglers of all abilities. Other species here include crappie and yellow perch, and a small number of native redband rainbow trout, which must be released unharmed. There is a special one-fish limit for the bass, which are often fished catch and release. Dog Lake is southwest of Lakeview, about five miles beyond the much larger (but less fishy) Drews Reservoir.
This is a very large irrigation reservoir when it’s at full pool, but irrigation use and drought take a toll on the fisheries here. There are some native redband rainbow trout, brown bullhead catfish, crappie and other warmwater species. It’s due west of Lakeview along Highway 140.
This small reservoir near Silver Lake is stocked annually in the late spring with a nice load of rainbow trout, often including some larger fish. Fishing will be best into early summer. In hotter weather, success rates slow but fish can still be taken, especially early in the morning. See separate listing for nearby Thompson Valley Reservoir.
Lofton and Holbrook Reservoirs and Heart Lake
This trio of waters is located in the Fremont National Forest just south of Highway 140 near the western county line, between Bly (Klamath County) and Lakeview, though closer to Bly. Lofton is the most heavily stocked with rainbow trout and often will produce very good spring fishing and decent catches into the summer, although in hot weather you’ll want to start at dawn or try the evening bite. Holbrook, a few miles west and also about 40 acres, also gets regular plantings of trout, but not as many. The reservoir suffers more than Lofton during droughts and can even run dry in extreme years. Heart Lake, a bit smaller than the reservoirs, usually gets a modest number of hatchery trout during the season. ODFW suggests that flies or lures mimicking the fat head minnows found in this lake can be effective. Heart also has a fairly good population of kokanee, which provide some good fishing in spring to early summer but often run on the small side. There also are bullhead catfish.
This reservoir on BLM land northeast of Adel, over 150 acres at full pool, is stocked with fingerling rainbow trout that often grow to at least 12 inches. But don’t expect scenic blue water because its name perfectly describes the water color. Paiute Reservoir, located near Highway 140 to the southeast, is sometimes stocked with fingerling rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout when there is water available, but this spot can completely dry up so check with BLM before making the drive. Spaulding Reservoir, another similar BLM lake located in far eastern Lake County east of Beatys Butte Road, also is stocked with fingerling trout when conditions allow.
Paisley Area Lakes
Slide and Withers lakes east of the Paisley area require very short hikes but offer. Slide is typically stocked with fingerling rainbow trout that grow to good size. Withers is usually stocked with brown trout instead of rainbows, and these also can reach pretty good size. Both lakes have naturally reproducing brook trout, and you can keep any of those you want. Both lakes are in pretty, forested settings. ZX Pond near Paisley is periodically stocked with catchable rainbow trout but is restricted to youth and senior anglers.
Plush Area BLM Lakes
Sid Luce, Big Rock and Sherlock Gulch reservoirs offer fishing for rainbow trout that are stocked as fingerlings and grow to legal size. These waters tend to run muddy and often lightly fished, but they can be productive for those willing to go off the beaten path. The reservoirs are located loosely between Lake Abert and the Warner Lakes chain.
This reservoir, also called Priday Pond, is just south of Plush and can have pretty good fishing for rainbow trout, especially after it is stocked in the early spring. Like other area lakes, it runs muddy, nearly the same color as the surrounding barren landscape. That tends to make the best fishing close to shore. There also are brown bullhead catfish and crappie in the lake.
Thompson Valley Reservoir
This large reservoir in the national forest south of the community of Silver Lake is stocked with trout around mid-spring and will sometimes get a boost to the fishery in the form of larger trout in the months to follow. There also is a modest bass fishery here.
Vee Lake and Overton Reservoir
These small reservoirs in the Fremont-Winema National Forest north of Lakeview and east of Highway 395 have fair to good trout fishing at times. Both are stocked with fingerlings and Vee typically also gets a modest dose of catchable trout in the spring, when fishing is best. Both reservoirs suffer from weeds during the warmer months, and a float tube or small boat will help get you to open water and more fish. Another similar fishery in this general area is little Mill Flat Reservoir to the west of Highway 395. See the entry “Plush Area BLM Lakes” for more fishing lakes in the general vicinity.
This chain of lakes northeast of Lakeview, most notably Hart and Crump lakes, can be the ultimate crappie factory whenever Mother Nature puts together several good rainfall years in a row. When the lakes fill up, the food chain goes nuts and crappie grow big and plentiful and make the trip to this remote area on the western edge of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Range worth the long drive. Hart and Crump usually always have some water, but the shallow chain of lakes in the northern Warner Valley can go completely dry during prolonged droughts, which unfortunately can stretch on for multiple seasons in southeastern Oregon. There are some other species here, including bullhead catfish and a few redband rainbow trout, but crappie are the real show. Access (including boat ramps) is best on the north side of Hart Lake near Plush and on the west side of Crump Lake north of Adel. Because of those great crappie years, we have this lake chain on our list of Best Crappie Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Deschutes County: To the north, one of the richest fishing counties in Oregon, with lots of trout, kokanee, largemouth bass and more.
Harney County: To the east, excellent fishing in remote lakes and streams for native and stocked rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Klamath County: To the west, includes the huge trout of the Upper Klamath Basin as well as trophy brown and lake trout to the north.
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.