Central Oregon’s Best Fishing Lakes and Reservoirs – North of Bend

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Source: Fishing in Oregon: The Complete Oregon Fishing Guide (11th Edition) by Madelynne Diness Sheehan

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Best Fishing Lakes and Reservoirs in Central Oregon

Best Fishing Rivers in Central Oregon

The Central Zone includes all waters draining into the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam up to and including the Deschutes River.

The following are among the best fishing lakes and reservoirs north of Bend within the Central Zone:

Billy Chinook Reservoir (Lake Billy Chinook)

This large reservoir in the high desert southwest of Madras is famous for kokanee and trophy-sized bull trout. Round Butte Dam backs up the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius rivers to form this inviting water body in stunning canyon country.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ended a 25-kokanee limit a few years ago as it prepared to allow anadromous fish passage into the upper Deschutes River basin.

Now that kokanee have passage to the ocean, numbers in the reservoir have decreased but still provide a reliable fishery.

Billy Chinook offers Oregon’s only harvest on bull trout, a large native char that is struggling in most state waters. It is legal to keep one bull trout at least 24 inches in length, although many anglers release the big fish.

Redside rainbow trout and brown trout also are present in moderate numbers, but the lake is not stocked. Billy Chinook has had a large population of smallmouth bass, generally small in size, as well as bluegill and a few largemouth bass.

Please note special regulations in the reservoir’s Metolius River arm, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Also, “Lake Billy” is very popular with power boats, Jet Skis and houseboats; fish early to avoid summer congestion.

See: Fishing at Lake Billy Chinook.


Lake Billy Chinook Kokanee Fishing Tips

Best Kokanee Fishing in Central Oregon

Laurance Lake

This pretty reservoir near Parkdale (south of the city of Hood River) offers good fishing for stocked rainbow trout.

There also are some wild cutthroat and protected bull trout. To help protect the latter species, anglers must use artificial flies and lures and may only keep trout that have been fin-clipped. There are no limits on smallmouth bass. Fishing season begins here in late April.

See: Laurance Lake Fishing.

Lost Lake (Mount Hood)

Anglers fishing at lost lake with a mountain on the background.
Photo by Eric Apalategui

This scenic and popular trout lake is on the north slope of Mount Hood, south of Hood River. Fishing gets good about the time the snow clears, often in May.

The lake, a favorite family spot, is heavily planted with rainbow trout and also sports naturally reproducing rainbow, brown and brook trout, and a small population of kokanee. No motors are allowed on this peaceful lake.

See: Lost Lake Fishing Near Mount Hood.

Olallie Lake

An angler holds a rainbow trout caught while fishing at Olallie Lake.
Photo courtesy of Stumptown Rods

The largest and most popular of the more than 200 lakes and ponds in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area at the southern edge of the Mt. Hood National Forest, Olallie boasts a very good rainbow trout fishery augmented with regular stocking.

Olallie can get off to a late start, due to snows that often block access well into spring. Olallie is best reached on forest roads either from the Portland area (through Government Camp) or from Salem via rougher roads beyond Detroit Lake.

Bait fishing, fly fishing and trolling (without a motor) are all effective.

See: Olallie Lake Fishing.

Pine Hollow Reservoir

A scenic view of Pine Hollow Reservoir.
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club

This irrigation reservoir south of The Dalles produces good catches of stocked rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill and bullhead catfish.

The legal-sized rainbows bite best in spring, but some lunkers are often planted in the fall and hold over for some trophy-sized catches.

Largemouth do well here and are often caught in the willows along the shore. During the warm season, plenty of bluegill and bullhead catfish prefer shallow water. The lake is open year-round and occasionally freezes enough for safe ice fishing.

See: Pine Hollow Reservoir Fishing Tips

Prineville Reservoir

prineville reservoir crappie fishing
Photo courtesy of the Oregon Bass & Panfish Club

This large reservoir on the Crooked River in central Oregon, located southeast of the city of Prineville in Crook County, offers many excellent fisheries.

There are stocked rainbow trout and warmwater gamefish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass and crappie, with excellent fishing in the spring, summer, and early fall.

Trout fishing is a year-round pursuit at Prineville, with the best catches in winter and spring. Anglers fish deeper areas for them even in the intense heat of the high desert sun.

Smallmouth bass are abundant but have tended to run small.

Largemouth bass populations have declined with an increase of smallmouth, but new plantings and recent regulation changes have resulted in good-sized bass. Crappie fishing is cyclical but can be extremely productive here some years.

Docks and the willows in the narrow upper reservoir are good places to find them, with the best fishing near shore in the spring. Bullhead catfish are plentiful and good to eat.

They are thick in the upper end in May and June and again in September, but they also are caught down by the dam and in other locations throughout the reservoir.

See: Fishing at Prineville Reservoir.


Best Crappie Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon
Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon
Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon
Best Catfish Fishing in Oregon

Find more places to fish in all 36 Oregon counties

Oregon Resources

ODFW Weekly Fishing Report
ODFW Trout Stocking Schedule
Oregon Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service

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