Washington County is heavily populated in its suburban cities on the east end, closest to Portland, and is known for its Nike headquarters and its “Silicon Forest” full of high-tech companies including Intel.
But in those ‘burbs, and also in the more open farm and forest lands surrounding the population center, there are some pretty nice gems of fishing holes, especially at Henry Hagg Lake, one of the best overall Portland area fisheries. These destinations are primarily trout and bass fishing waters, since the county’s Tualatin River has only small runs of salmon and steelhead that don’t warrant a lot of fishing attention.
In this article, you’ll find brief introductions of the some places you might want to get to know better because at times they offer very good fishing close to the metro area. Also on this page, you will find links to more detailed information about local and regional fisheries. Check the links in the article itself, at the bottom (including links to fishing in neighboring counties) and in the blue box.
The waters listed below are regulated under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Zone.
Washington County’s incorporated cities are Banks, Beaverton, Cornelius, Durham, Forest Grove (Pacific University), Gaston, Hillsboro (county seat), King City, North Plains, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin and small parts of Lake Oswego, Portland, Rivergrove and Wilsonville. Unincorporated communities here include Aloha, Bethany, Bonny Slope, Bull Mountain, Buxton, Cedar Hills, Cedar Mill, Cherry Grove, Dilley, Farmington, Gales Creek, Garden Home, Helvetia, Laurelwood, Manning, Metzger, Moutaindale, Oak Hills, Progress, Raleigh Hills, Reedville, Rock Creek, Roy, Scholls, Tanasbourne, Timber, Verboort, West Slope and West Union.
Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Washington County:
The busiest fishing days here are during the spring, when this 10-acre pond in the Rock Creek neighborhood on the north side of the Beaverton – Hillsboro area is well-stocked with hatchery rainbow trout. The pond also has a fair fishery for resident warmwater fish, including some decent largemouth bass. The kids may also have fun catching bluegill, bullhead catfish and the occasional crappie. For more specific information, read Bethany Lake Fishing.
This is another suburban park pond, tucked into a Cedar Hills neighborhood just south of Highway 26 (Sunset Highway) near Beaverton. The park is popular for its playgrounds, soccer fields and walking path, and the long, narrow pond gets popular with anglers after the trout-stocking truck makes its spring deliveries, often in March, April and May. There is a modest fishery for warmwater species including largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie. There also can be large carp, and if you’re into fish stories, a large sturgeon or two may have inhabited the lake at one time or another, but we’re not suggesting this is a sturgeon fishing spot. Full article: Commonwealth Lake Fishing.
This 8-acre pond near Gales Creek is fished for both stocked rainbow trout and a variety of warmwater fish. Trout are typically stocked several times in the spring and are quickly caught out. When the water warms, attention shifts to plentiful bluegill, crappie and bullhead catfish, along with a modest number of largemouth bass. The pond is located on the south side of the road at the intersection of Highway 6 (Wilson River Highway) and Highway 8 (Gales Creek Road), a short drive from Banks or Forest Grove. Read: Dorman Pond Fishing.
Henry Hagg Lake
This good-size reservoir (over 1,100 acres) has the best fishing for stocked trout on the Portland area’s west side and also is a very good bass fishery. Hagg Lake is well-stocked with rainbow trout every spring and often gets a large planting again in early fall, when the lake is less crowded. Sometimes big brood trout are planted. A few native cuttroat trout move into the reservoir from tributary streams. See this article for more about trout fishing. Smallmouth bass are fairly plentiful and can grow large, as evidenced by the fact that five straight state records have come out of here. There are fewer largemouth, but some good ones often running larger than the smallmouth. See our full article about Hagg Lake’s bass fishing. There are plenty of other warmwater fishing options here, including very good numbers of yellow perch and bluegill, both of which can be fun for kids to catch. There also are a decent number of some very nice bullhead catfish. The state record bullhead also hails from Hagg. There are ongoing efforts by the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club and others to build a crappie fishery, which at times offers fair to good fishing for those who can locate holding structure. Note that Hagg Lake has strict limits on bass and crappie. Check the annual regulation booklet or ODFW link below for details. Hagg is located about nine miles southwest of Forest Grove. Take Highway 47 south. Before you reach Gaston, follow the signs west to the park entrance. There is a day-use fee.
This Beaverton pond offers a rare chance to catch trout in the suburbs all year. It’s located in an old rock quarry, and depths of over 50 feet keep the water unusually cool in this suburban pond of about 10 acres. Fishing definitely will be best right after hatchery fish are planted, about once a month from March to May. There also are bullhead catfish here, and reportedly some goldfish. The lake is along Barrows Road in southwestern Beaverton, next to the boundary with Tigard. It’s immediately west of Progress Ridge TownSquare shopping center. See this article for details about access and fishing tips.
Tualatin River System
This is Washington County’s primary river system, with several tributaries draining the west side of the Coast Range mountains and its foothills before coming together as a slow valley river. The upper sections of this system, including the mainstem and tributaries such as Gales, Dairy and McKay creeks have healthy populations of native cutthroat trout, which may be retained in modest numbers (currently two per day). Note that most of the mainstem and all tributaries have a no-bait rule, and access is spotty at best, especially where these streams meander through farm country (but there are some big trout in there). They also are hard to fish in the low country, due to extremely brushy banks. Try bridge crossings or locate parks and other public property for access. There is more access in the upper tributaries, where these are mountain streams with lots of fish but not as many large ones. Fair warnings aside, there is plenty of territory to explore and get away from it all without driving too far. In the lower mainstem, and in the lowest section of some tributaries, there is a modest warmwater fishery that includes some bass, panfish and catfish. The river does hold the state record for white catfish, but it’s smaller bullhead you’re likely to catch. Coho fishing is allowed above Highway 47 (south of Forest Grove) on the mainstem and in lower Gales Creek, but there’s almost no reported catch. Access to the lower river is best by boat, including canoe, from a few public ramps. There are a few public parks with bank access, including in the Hillsboro, Tigard and Tualatin areas.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Columbia County: To the north, excellent access to the lower Columbia River’s rich populations of salmon, steelhead and warmwater fish.
Multnomah County: To the northeast, Oregon’s most urban county still has plenty of places to catch salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, trout and bass.
Clackamas County: To the southeast, very good opportunities to catch salmon, steelhead and trout, plus bass, shad, sturgeon and more.
Yamhill County: To the south, another valley county with some good trout fishing and opportunities for bass and panfish.
Tillamook County: To the west, loaded with coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries, excellent crabbing and clamming and many other angling opportunities.
Clatsop County: To the northwest, includes the fish-filled mouth of the mighty Columbia River, small-stream steelhead and lots of coastal lakes loaded with trout and bass.
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.