These two small Columbia River Gorge lakes near Multnomah Falls offer excellent seasonal fishing for hatchery rainbow trout and some pretty good year-round angling for several warmwater species.
They are an easily reached two-fer for beginner-friendly fishing that can be combined with hiking, waterfall viewing and visits to Bonneville Dam.
Benson Lake is located in Benson Lake Recreation Area (Oregon State Parks). It’s about 30 minutes or so from downtown Portland and easily accessed at the park’s exit off Interstate 84, the separate exit that comes right before the Multnomah Falls parking lot exit.
Hartman Pond is located immediately west of Benson Lake and reached from the same exit.
We should note that though these are pleasant waters with good amenities, including a nice place to picnic, these are not always perfectly quiet fishing spots, pinned as they are between I-84 on the north and busy railroad tracks on the south.
Also worth noting is there is a modest park fee.
Trout Fishing at Benson Lake and Hartman Pond
The trout-stocking season typically begins here about March.
The truck usually stops at both lakes a handful of times through May or the first part of June, but watch the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s weekly recreation report to be certain.
Trout fishing can be red hot during the weeks it’s stocked, but as with most stocked waters, the numbers of fish dwindle pretty quickly.
Trout anglers use the usual dough baits, but visitors also report that anglers casting spinners, Kastmasters and other lures can often out-fish bait soakers.
Lures also are a safer bet if you want to safely release the fish for someone else to catch.
For more information about trout fishing methods, read our article Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Bass and Panfish Fishing at Benson Lake and Hartman Pond
Both lakes also have fair to good self-sustaining populations of warmwater fish.
Species you might catch in one or both lakes include crappie, sunfish, yellow perch, bullhead catfish and largemouth and smallmouth bass.
These resident (but non-native) species will certainly be your best bets once the trout fishing fades away for the hot summer months.
Hartman Pond has at times been planted with channel catfish, which have the potential to grow to large size and are excellent eating, and also is known to have both species of bass.
Benson Lake is about 40 acres and is fed by Multnomah Creek, the same creek that forms Multnomah Falls.
It has excellent bank access on the west end, near the access road. If you want to scramble a little more, you can get to the lake shore in other spots as well closer to the interstate or railroad tracks.
You could also launch a float tube, kayak or other portable boat to reach the entire lake, but no motors are allowed.
Hartman Pond, a little smaller than Benson, used to be known as Wahkeena Pond after the creek that feeds it (the one that creates Wahkeena Falls). It was renamed in honor of Bud and Marcia Hartman, longtime and influential members of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club.
There are easily reached access points including fishing piers at Hartman’s east end, closest to the access road and parking lot. A short walk on trails on the north side or near the tracks on the south will get you to additional places to cast.
A float tube or other personal craft could serve you well on Hartman.