There are a number of Clear Lakes in Oregon. This one, located at the headwaters of the McKenzie River in Oregon’s Central Cascades, is a beautiful natural lake that is seasonally stocked with good numbers of hatchery rainbow trout.
Clear Lake, located in mountainous southeastern Linn County, also is home to abundant Eastern brook trout.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife typically stocks Clear Lake with hungry rainbows from mid-spring well into the summer months. This will be the most productive time to catch the rainbows, some of which are likely to be the agency’s larger “trophy” rainbows.
Clear Lake is a cool retreat during hot summer weather in the Willamette Valley. Good fishing stretches into the fall.
Brook trout often stage near creek inlets during the fall, making them easier to target. There is currently no limit on either the number or size of brook trout (a tasty but unwanted invasive species) that anglers can keep here.
At times ODFW also has tagged some of the hatchery trout planted here. The tags, used in gleaning information, can be exchanged for a $50 gift card.
Clear Lake is easily accessed from Highway 126 approximately 70 miles east of Springfield and just a few miles south of the Highway 20 junction and an easy jaunt from Highway 22. Figure an hour and a half’s drive from Eugene or a bit more from Salem or Albany.
An underwater forest, which was submerged during the lake’s volcanic formation, is visible near the central part of the lake.
The lake is in high country and fed by springs, so it remains very cold all year long. It’s pristine waters are not known for naturally growing huge fish, but the stocked trout provide plenty of action and some decent-sized fish.
You can use a boat here but no motors. Using oars, paddles, or float tubes to slowly troll lures, flies or bait can be very effective. Casting spinners, streamers and, especially with the stockers, the usual worms, salmon eggs or PowerBait will also get the job done. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
Very close fishing holes also stocked with rainbow trout include a trio of impoundments: Carmen Reservoir, Smith Reservoir and Trail Bridge Reservoir, although the latter two won’t be stocked during facility enhancements continuing until about 2021. Nearby streams that are stocked include sections of the McKenzie River, North Fork Santiam River, and Quartzville Creek.