East Lake is a stunning spot located in the bowl of a dormant volcano in Central Oregon.
Plus at times it has simply awesome fishing.
East Lake has three major fisheries with trophy-sized brown trout, plentiful rainbows and tasty kokanee.
The brown trout run big here. After all, East shares the same crater and a very similar food chain as larger neighbor Paulina Lake, where Oregon’s record brown trout was caught.
Browns are fish-eating gluttons, so anglers trying to fool the big ones often troll or cast crank baits or other lures that look like smaller trout or kokanee. Browns bite best in lower light, so time your trips near sunrise and sunset.
While many anglers release the big browns to fight another day, those looking to catch dinner often focus on rainbow trout.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks rainbows every year, often in good numbers during the first half of summer, when trout fishing peaks here.
Bank anglers often use still-fishing techniques with natural or prepared baits, while boaters can do very well trolling with lures, bait or flies.
Learn more trout-fishing approaches that work in our article, Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
East also is a favorite Central Oregon lake for fly fishing. Rainbows, in particular, feed on insects in the lake’s shoal-area weed beds and often fall to anglers who can match the hatch.
There also are wild rainbow trout in the lake, but you must release these unharmed. You can tell the difference because the wild rainbows have an intact adipose fin above the tail, while the hatchery-reared ones have a clipped and healed adipose.
For much more, read Rainbow Trout Fishing at East Lake.
Kokanee are land-locked sockeye salmon, and they grow to very nice size at East Lake.
Kokanee anglers often troll, especially in deeper water where these cold-loving fish move during the hot summer months. Jigging also can be very effective. The lake, at over 1,000 acres, has areas as deep as 180 feet.
All three species count toward the five-trout daily limit, although just one can be longer than 20 inches. The browns here are the most likely fish to exceed that size.
You also should know that there is naturally occurring mercury in the food chain here. This toxin builds up in fish over time, and the larger resident browns have the highest levels … another good reason to release them.
The Oregon Health Authority publishes consumption guidelines for fish caught here in the annual angling regulations booklet and online, with fewer meals advised for brown trout 16 inches or longer.
This is truly high country. The lake is located at 6,400 feet, so winter can hang on through most of spring and snow can fall into early summer and return in late summer or early fall.
The roads in are sometimes blocked by gates until snow melts off enough, typically until sometime well in the spring, so plan ahead and check if you’re heading up early in the season.
Summer weather is usually very pleasant, especially when much of the state is in a heat wave.
East Lake Resort offers camping and other accommodations, boat rentals and moorage, fishing and other supplies, and a restaurant. There is public camping at East Lake Campground and Cinder Hills Campground.
East Lake is about an hour and a half southeast of Bend and about 20 miles west of Highway 97 at La Pine.