The Willamette Valley city of Albany is far smaller than Salem to the north or Eugene to the south, but when it comes to cool-weather trout, it has quite a decent population.
Freeway Lakes, Timber-Linn Lake and Waverly Lake are all easily accessed from anywhere in Albany and by Interstate 5 that passes through the city, and they are nice spots to take kids or grownups fishing for a few hours.
Look for this trio of small lakes (or big ponds, if you prefer) to be generously stocked beginning in February or March and continuing for a couple of months into May most years.
On top of that, both Timber-Linn and Waverly have been planted with additional trout for the fall season.
And we’d also point out that some of the many trout planted in these waters are extra-large “trophy” trout while others are smaller fish the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife calls “legals.”
We also should note that these small lakes, especially Timber-Linn and Waverly, are occasionally stocked with ODFW’s retired brood stock trout, which can weigh five to 15 pounds (similar to a salmon or steelhead).
Brooder trout are most often planted during the cold season, and maybe just once per year. The last planting we noticed was an early January stocking of 70 big trout per pond, just as an example of what you might expect.
Our suggestion is to watch ODFW’s weekly recreation report (linked below). That updated report typically will let you know when and where the trout are stocked, and probably how many. The numbers are usually modest for these lunkers.
You might consider increasing your line size and perhaps using heavier equipment all around. A steelhead rod would not be overkill with a 10-plus pounder.
Brood trout would very likely be large enough that they fall under the rule that you may only keep one trout over 20 inches per day.
These valley lakes tend to get too warm for trout fishing during the summer months, and the bulk of trout tend to be caught quickly, so keep an eye on the stocking schedule and get there when the gettin’s good.
Natural and prepared baits and lures and flies will all catch trout. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
However, when the trout fishing wanes, typically warmwater species are really hitting their stride.
These lakes have fair fishing for largemouth bass and at times can be good for panfish (such as crappie or bluegill) and also are likely to have plenty of bullhead catfish.
Here’s a quick peek at each lake:
There actually are three small lakes here right along I-5 just south of Albany, with the two lakes on the east side having excellent public access.
The east lake with public parking and a dock is the only one regularly stocked with hatchery trout during the early season, and it gets good numbers of fish several times during that season.
As mentioned above, some of these fish may be the ODFW’s larger “trophy” trout.
Fish around cover for bass and panfish once the water starts to warm in the spring, when these fish will spend some weeks in shallower water to spawn.
Bass and panfish will continue to bite through summer and into early fall, long after the trout fishing has ended here.
If you use the Highway 20 exit, the lakes are about three miles to the south using Three Lakes Road, which parallels the east side of the interstate.
Timber Linn Lake
This 11-acre lake in an Albany park with the same name and also is typically stocked with good numbers of rainbow trout during the stocking season, which is likely to stretch from mid- to late winter (the first planting may be in about February) clear into May or even early June.
At a recent check, Timber Linn was stocked with higher numbers of trout at times than the other Albany lakes featured in this article, so check the stocking schedule linked below and plan your trips accordingly.
Also, Timber Linn is fairly likely to get doses of larger “trophy” trout along with higher numbers of the typical legal-sized rainbows.
Like Waverly, Timber Linn also can be stocked again with good numbers of fish in the fall, when angling pressure might be a little less as other anglers try their luck at salmon fishing on the coast.
Also, ODFW allows anglers to fish for trout all year in the section of Cox Creek inside the park boundaries only. You can use bait within that same area.
Timber Linn Lake is located on the east side of I-5, behind the airport. The easiest route is to follow Price Road north from Highway 20.
This lake of about 5 acres is in a pretty park smack dab in the middle of Albany, visible from Pacific Avenue just west of Exit 234 from I-5.
Waverly Lake is regularly stocked with hatchery rainbow trout for three to four months starting in February or March up until almost Memorial Day.
It’s often stocked a couple more times when the water cools again in the fall, usually around October and November.
Access is excellent and this is a nice spot to have a picnic.
During the summer, when trout fishing is poor at best and probably nonexistent, sunfish and other warmwater fish can still make fishing worthwhile.