Green Peter Reservoir has the best kokanee fishing in western Oregon and also offers good angling for rainbow trout and smallmouth bass.
This 3,720-acre reservoir, fed by the Middle Santiam River, Quartzville Creek and other tributaries, has a well-deserved reputation as a kokanee factory. In fact, there are so many of these pan-sized, landlocked sockeye salmon here that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lets anglers keep 25 of them per day in addition to typical limits for trout and bass.
The reservoir also has a modest number of landlocked Chinook salmon, which grow larger than the kokanee. These have been somewhat of a rare find, enough that most anglers don’t target them specifically, but they are a thrill to catch. They may be included as part of the generous kokanee bag limit and can be caught using the same techniques.
We can go on and on about Green Peter’s kokanee fishing, but we already have an impressive article devoted to the subject of how, where, and when to catch them. Read: Green Peter Reservoir Kokanee Fishing – Tips from a Resident Expert.
In many Oregon reservoirs, stocked rainbow trout are the main show. While kokanee often take center stage here, don’t let that fool you.
ODFW typically plants more than 20,000 trout here in a year, and that number can be well over 30,000 trout some years. While that’s still not is many as are stocked in neighboring Foster Reservoir, it’s plenty to provide good action in addition to Green Peter’s other fisheries. Most of the trout here are stocked during the late spring, when catches will be highest, but trout can survive all year here and be caught in any season.
Trout tend to stick a little shallower than the kokanee but quite often are in similar areas and are caught on trolling similar small lures. Trout are easier to catch from shore than kokanee, especially in the cooler seasons, and respond better to bait. And while they don’t gather into big schools like kokanee, but there will be concentrations where conditions are best. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
Trout are likely to be closer to the surface and shorelines from fall into spring. During the hot summer, look for them in deeper water and in major tributary arms, where the water is cooler.
Other nearby areas with stocked trout include Foster Reservoir and Quartzville Creek. Or see the Linn County link below for access to information about the broader area, including other types of fishing.
Smallmouth bass anglers are increasingly noticing the potential of Green Peter Reservoir, which is large, has lots of coves and points and places that these aggressive fish prefer.
Bass are typically found close to structure such as rocks, drop-offs and other hiding places because they like to ambush their prey. Smallmouth bass are often closer to shore than other species, but they move a bit deeper during summertime, especially in the bright light of day.
Smallmouth prey on crayfish, small fish and other natural foods. Soft plastic lures work very well for them, including twisty-tailed grubs and others. Crank baits made to look like small fish or crayfish are a good choice as well. You might need lures that sink or dive deeper for summertime fishing, but smallmouth occasionally will blast surface lures as well, especially in the early mornings and evenings.
If you want to learn more about the area’s smallmouth bass fishing, see Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Western Oregon.
Green Peter is drawn down gradually during the dry season. By late summer or early fall, the reservoir can be 50 or more feet below full pool before the rains return.
When the water is too low, sometimes the only boat-launching option is at Thistle Creek, which is a day-use area on the north shore.
Also be aware that Green Peter is very popular with the power-boating set. You may do well to get out on the reservoir at first light to avoid the noisy crowds.
Whitcomb Creek County Park on the northeast side of the reservoir has camping, day-use, and other amenities including a good boat ramp when the reservoir has enough water to launch.
Green Peter Reservoir is about an hour southeast of Albany and a little farther from Eugene. When you get to Sweet Home, where you can find supplies, it’s less than 20 minutes to the reservoir.