Davis Lake, Oregon Fly Fishing for Rainbow Trout

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Davis Lake Largemouth Bass Fishing

Davis Lake is a classic fly fishing destination in the heart of Central Oregon, rich with insect hatches and known for its full-bodied native rainbows.

It also is close to many popular neighboring lakes along Century Drive southwest of Bend.

Davis is one of the area’s larger natural lakes, covering some 5,000 acres when full.

However, it also is among the shallowest waters, with most of it less than 10 feet deep.

By mid-summer, depending on the conditions, Davis can lose much of its water through its naturally porous lava dam, and its shores are ringed with tules and lily pads in the warmer season.

Some fly anglers have given up on Davis’ trout, as populations have suffered from low water and perhaps predation and competition with largemouth illegally introduced in the 1990s.

But Davis still has a decent population of trout going up to 6 or 7 pounds, and unlike nearby destinations such as Crane Prairie Reservoir, it often has fewer than a dozen anglers going after them on a given day, even in peak season.

“The fish are quality fish,” said veteran fishing guide Fred Foisset. “They’re big and strong and wild.”

Angling Regulations

Davis Lake is among a handful of fly fishing only lakes in Oregon. That means only fly rods, reels, lines and artificial flies may be used, and the fly hooks must be barbless.

Consult the current Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for the legal definition of fly fishing.

There is no longer a harvest allowed on trout in Davis Lake. There are no limits on the lake’s illegally introduced largemouth bass.

Like many Central Oregon lakes, Davis Lake is open year-round, at least below the boat ramp on Odell Creek.

Above the ramp, Odell Creek opens for catch-and-release trout fishing from late May through Oct. 31. Be sure to check for the latest regulations.

When to Fish

Start fishing for Davis rainbows as soon as you can reach the lake, which is typically in late April or early May but can occur in late March during years with low snowpacks.

The best trout fishing usually holds up through June and sometimes into July.

Where to Fish

In the early season, when the water is still cool, trout are found throughout the lake and often can be taken in open water.

As the lake warms in the early summer, concentrate efforts in the deeper water near the lava dam – the only water that gets anywhere close to 20 feet in depth – and in the cooler water spilling into the Odell Creek arm.

By the time hot weather takes hold, it will be tough fishing anywhere except in the creek arm.

Best Flies at Davis Lake

Davis Lake is blessed with numerous insect hatches, including a damselfly hatch that has held up while some similar hatches in other Central Oregon lakes have wilted due to an abundance of smaller fish.

At Davis, the bass may cause some issues for the trout but also might have kept the sticklebacks and chubs at bay, improving conditions for the damselflies. Try sizes 12 to 14 for damsel imitations in both dry or nymph patterns.

Another favorite for this lake are callibaetis patterns in those same sizes. Midge, chironomid and termite patterns in sizes 12 through 16 are other great flies to have on hand to match Davis’ many hatches.

In intermediate sinking or floating line is appropriate here.

If All Else Fails

Try a double on trout and bass.

Fish trout in the afternoon until about 6 p.m. because bass are especially sensitive to bright light.

Once evening settles in, find structure and go after bass with large streamers that imitate baitfish or with surface poppers in hot weather.

Fred Foisset contributed to this article. He has guided anglers on Central Oregon’s lakes and streams since 1990, and he also guides outside Central Oregon during the high country’s off-season. He owns Cascade Guides and Outfitters and The Hook Fly Shop in Sunriver.

Read our Davis Lake overview here.

Find more of Oregon’s best trout fishing

Oregon Resources

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