Yamhill County stretches from the outer Portland suburbs to the Coast Range mountains and is known to many for its many wineries and fertile farmlands.
For anglers, there are smaller ponds and the streams of the Yamhill River watershed to poke around for trout (wild and stocked) as well as bass and other warmwater fish. There also is access to the Willamette River’s varied fisheries on the county’s eastern edge.
This article includes introductions to some places where you can expect to find fair to excellent fishing in season. You also will find links to more detailed information about regional fisheries in the blue box, in the article text and at the bottom of the page, including links to surrounding counties with nearby fishing opportunities.
Most of the waters in this article are regulated under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Willamette Zone, except South Lake is in the Northwest Zone.
Yamhill County’s incorporated cities are Amity, Carlton, Dayton, Dundee, Lafayette, McMinnville, Newberg, Sheridan, Willamina and Yamhill. Unincorporated areas include Grand Ronde Agency, Wheatland and Whiteson, and the county’s tourism attractions include the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, home of the Spruce Goose and also a water park in McMinnville, the county seat. Linfield College and George Fox University also are located in the county.
Listed alphabetically, here are some of the best fishing spots in Yamhill County:
This 5-acre pond located in a Willamina City park of the same name is well-stocked with hatchery rainbow trout for a good share of the year, often from December through June. Besides thousands of legal-sized fish, there often are a smaller number of larger trout in the mix. The pond also has a resident population of bass, panfish and bullhead catfish, It is located on the east end of the city, between the railroad tracks and South Yamhill River. Drive to parking using E and Northeast Yamhill streets. See: Huddleston Pond Fishing.
This is a small pond, a little over 2 acres, is regularly stocked with hatchery trout from about January to June. It is located near the Federal Correctional Institution. Reach it by heading south on Ballston Road (Bridge Street) from Highway 18 at Sheridan. See: Fishing in Sheridan Pond.
This is a nice little trout-fishing spot in the Siuslaw National Forest in far western Yamhill County. It’s closest to Hebo in Tillamook County and well-stocked with trout along with other coastal waters, typically around March and April. It can be reached heading east from Hebo or on Siuslaw National Forest roads northwest from Willamina. Nearby North Lake, just a half acre in size, is periodically stocked with a small batch of fish as well.
This section of the river has a good population of warmwater fish. Look for good populations of smallmouth bass in the main river around rocky structure. Largemouth are more likely found in backwater sloughs, including popular Lambert Slough, best fished from boat via ramps near Dayton and Wheatland. Crappie, sunfish and catfish (mostly bullheads, with a rare channel cat) also are available. Note the mercury warning in your regulations booklet regarding consumption of resident fish. There are a small number of sturgeon in the Willamette above the falls, where they may be retained. This isn’t really great trout water, but there’s a modest fishery for the salmon and steelhead that quickly pass through on their way into the upper watershed. The strongest runs are spring chinook and summer steelhead in the mid- to late spring months, with the steelhead continuing into early summer, but moss is a nuisance as the water warms. A few winter steelhead also are taken. Coho salmon can be intercepted, especially near tributary mouths like the Yamhill from late September into October. For a bigger picture on fishing this river, go here.
Yamhill River System
The river system has a healthy population of native cutthroat trout, especially in the forks. The North Fork is primarily fished for these. The South Fork has cutthroat and also is stocked with hatchery trout in a section in Polk County. The mainstem and lower South Fork also have a variety of warmwater fish, including both types of bass, crappie, sunfish and bullhead catfish. You might catch a warmouth, a somewhat rare catch in Oregon. There is a boat ramp in Dayton to access a slow section with lots of fishy structure down to where it joins the Willamette. Coho fishing is allowed in the mainstem and lower South Fork, but catch results are typically poor to nonexistent.
Fishing in Neighboring Counties
Washington County: To the north, Henry Hagg Lake’s excellent trout and bass fishing, plus a smattering of smaller trout and warmwater fisheries.
Clackamas County: To the east, very good opportunities to catch salmon, steelhead and trout, plus bass, shad, sturgeon and more.
Marion County: To the southeast, a large county with good salmon and steelhead opportunities in the North Santiam watershed and hugely popular Detroit Reservoir.
Polk County: To the south, includes the stocked section of the South Yamhill River and a smattering of other fishing spots.
Lincoln County: To the southwest, though not actually connected, this easily reached county has a wide variety of salmon, trout and steelhead fishing options.
Tillamook County: To the west, loaded with coastal salmon and steelhead fisheries, excellent crabbing and clamming and many other angling opportunities.
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.