Garrison Lake, just off the beach in Port Orford, is a great spot on Oregon’s South Coast to catch hatchery planted rainbow trout during the spring planting season.
The 134-acre lake is typically stocked with a large batch of trout during March (before Oregon’s Spring Break) and will typically get planted again during mid- to late spring. Expect most of those fish to be pan-sized legals, but Garrison also is frequently stocked with smaller numbers of “pounders” and trophy trout fattened to 14 to 16 inches or larger in the hatchery before release.
Recent Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife trout stocking schedules show that Garrison is likely to receive 9,000 to 10,000 trout during the spring season. The lake also is home to cutthroat trout, which are native to local waters and can show up in the catch.
Trout here will fall to typical lake-fishing trout techniques, including bait, lures and flies. Boat anglers often do well slowly trolling here, using Wedding Rings or other spinners or using a fly. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
Note that Garrison is best fished for trout during cooler weather, especially during the trout-stocking season. Bank access is fairly good but that tends to get tough during the warmest months, when weeds tend to take over the shallow waters around the edges.
ODFW also will sometimes plant adult winter steelhead in the pond, when they have plenty at the Elk River hatchery. These fish will put up a fantastic fight and are good to eat. Steelhead here would count as trout, of which one over 20 inches may be retained per day.
There also is a fair population of largemouth bass. Bass often strike a variety of lures, including soft plastics, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. They are most active in mid-spring through summer and early fall. Rip-rap areas can hold these fish.
For bank access, try Tseriadun State Recreation Area at the south end of the lake during the early season. From town, simply head a half mile west on 12th Street and you’re there. Curve down off California and 9th Street for beach access, including a short walk northward to fish along the west side of Garrison, where a dune separates the lake from the Pacific Ocean immediately west. The Pinehurst boat ramp and Paradise Point Road also offer access spots but note that there’s a good bit of private property on the city side of the lake.
Boat fishing can be excellent and allows access to the entire lake. Launch at Tseriadun from the end of 12th Street, which takes you into a smaller southwestern lobe that connects to the larger lake to the north.
Being right off the beach, it can get windy here. Sometimes an early start will prevent you from getting blown off the lake, but check weather forecasts to help plan your trip.
There is a modest fee to use Tseriadun, where there are restrooms and picnic area in addition to bank and boat fishing and beach access.
It would be easy to combine some lake fishing with surf perch fishing from Tseriadun. Other local fishing opportunities include river fishing the Elk River and Sixes River and off-shore fishing out of Port Orford, one Oregon’s good ocean fishing ports.