Note: Due to work involving severe drawdowns, Carmen Reservoir was closed immediately in early 2019 and won’t be stocked with trout. The closure is expected to continue through the major part of the 2020 season. Since nearby Smith and Trailbridge reservoirs also have restricted access and no trout stocking due to work on the hydroelectric system, your best bet in the immediate area is Clear Lake. Use our Oregon county fishing map or our list of stocked waters in the Willamette Valley to find other trout spots.
Carmen Reservoir is just 30 acres in size but can be generously stocked with hatchery rainbow trout from mid-spring into early summer.
The reservoir is part of a three-impoundment hydroelectric facility on the upper McKenzie River that is located in remote Linn County and provides power to the Eugene area in Lane County. Larger reservoirs downstream are Smith and Trail Bridge.
Some years the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has stocked more than 20,000 trout in this small waterway, making for easy catches soon after plantings. Some of the stockers are larger “trophy” trout while most are pan-sized legals.
The reservoir is open all year but angling will be best during the stocking season. Use the links below to check the trout stocking schedule and weekly recreation reports to help plan your trip. You can use human-powered watercraft but no motors are allowed here.
Stocked trout are easily fooled by natural and artificial baits and also can be aggressive toward lures and flies. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
Carmen Reservoir is on the west side of Highway 126 in the upper McKenzie River drainage, located about two miles south of Clear Lake.
From Highway 126, access the reservoir on U.S. Forest Service Road 750, several miles south of the junction of highways 126 and 20. It will take you about an hour and a half to get there on Highway 126 from Eugene. From Salem, figure about an hour and 45 minutes taking Highway 22 into the mountains above Detroit Lake and then using highways 20 and 126.
Ice Cap Creek Day Use Area is on the north side of the reservoir.
Camping is available on nearby Clear Lake and in many National Forest locations in the region, including lots of options in the McKenzie and neighboring Santiam river drainages.
Clear Lake provides a very close fishery for stocked rainbow trout and self-sustaining brook trout in a natural lake setting. Rainbows also are stocked in sections of the McKenzie River along Highway 126 and North Santiam River along Highway 22. The river links in this paragraph provide more details on specific locations.