Source: Cheri Klaumann
Henry Hagg Lake Bass Fishing
Henry Hagg Lake is a family friendly reservoir in Scoggins Valley Park in the foothills of Washington County fairly near Portland. It is popular with water skiers, bicyclists, picnickers and, especially, anglers.
Hagg is best known for its popular rainbow trout fishery, propelled by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stocking program.
ODFW has made Hagg one of the most heavily stocked lakes in the state, planting by the tens of thousands every year.
Those plantings always include lots of catchable ‘bows, but the agency sometimes adds in some “trophy” trout and on occasion has even stocked excess hatchery brood trout. The latter, if planted, can top 10 pounds and have on occasion tipped scales closer to 20 pounds.
Hagg, reached by heading west from Highway 47 between Forest Grove and Gaston, also has a few native cutthroat trout from its Coast Range tributaries and a thriving warmwater fishery that includes smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, crappie and bullhead catfish.
The productive reservoir produced current state records for both smallmouth and bullheads and is capable of growing very nice-sized trout.
Hagg Lake Fishing Regulations
Once a seasonal fishing spot, Hagg Lake now has a year-round fishing season similar to many Oregon lakes. The park is managed by Washington County.
The upper half of the lake is subject to a no-wake zone that makes fishing more enjoyable on hot summer days when power boats arrive en masse.
The trout limit here is a typical five per day, with a minimum length of 8 inches for keepers and with no more than one over 20 inches.
Note that Hagg Lake has special daily limits for bass (1) and crappie (25), but no limits on other species of warmwater fish, primarily bluegill, yellow perch and bullheads.
Best Times to Fish for Hagg Lake Trout
ODFW stocks the lake very heavily in the early season, often February to May, and again with pretty nice loads of fish in the fall, often September through November.
Stocking is usually paused during the hot summer months when trout fishing slows down a bit here.
It’s possible to catch trout here anytime, but most summer anglers find they have to fish deep to find willing biters. ODFW also has been known to stock huge brood trout in waters including Hagg, so keep an eye on its weekly fishing report for an announcement.
“It’s like nothing you’ve ever heard,” Klaumann said of the fishing for huge trout. “You have to experience it yourself.”
Spring and Fall are Peak Seasons
Hagg is capable of producing decent trout catches all season for anglers who learn the lake, but the cooler spring and fall months are when the action is hottest.
Fall is a great time to fish here after the plantings have resumed. There are some beautiful breaks in the weather, and there is far less pressure as many anglers focus on salmon fishing at the coast.
Decent trout fishing can also be found during the winter months, thanks to those fall plants and reasonable survival rates.
Where to Catch Hagg Lake Trout
To go after the brooders, stick to shallow water. Even bank anglers often cast too deep, cautioned Klaumann, who figures the finny new arrivals are still accustomed to life in shallow hatchery ponds.
Much of the shoreline is accessible, and the hot spots tend to vary according to stocking schedules and fish circulation patterns.
Popular access points are available near both boat ramps, both ends of the dam, picnic areas and a disabled-access fishing pier near Boat Ramp C on the northwest side of the lake.
During the heat of summer and early fall, especially as the water is drawn down, trout tend to seek out deeper water – especially under a bright sun.
At this time of year, look for rainbows near the dam, where there is some shore access to deeper water, and also in the old creek channel near the center of the lake, which requires a boat.
Once autumn temperatures start to drop, trout will again be available closer to the surface – especially those new stockers.
One final location tip: When it’s windy, the fish seem to concentrate near Boat Ramp A on the southeast end of the lake.
How to Catch Hagg Lake Trout
All of the usual trout-fishing techniques will catch trout at Hagg, but our sources have some extra tips on how to make the most of bait fishing and trolling techniques that catch the most fish here.
Hagg Lake Bait Fishing for Trout
Bait fishing rules at Hagg Lake during the spring and is effective all season.
Of course, Berkley PowerBait is as popular and effective in catching stocked rainbows here as it is just about anywhere.
Klaumann said the garlic-flavored PowerBait has been a top producer. Generally, she said green and yellow colored doughs seem to out-fish others.
Corn, cheese fromage, nightcrawler, salmon egg and the ever-present rainbow and chartreuse colors all catch plenty of fish. The red, white and blue (Captain America) version seems to work well later in the season.
Other really popular baits here have included Berkley Power Eggs, YUM paste in the trout krill scent and Pautzke’s Green Label Balls O’ Fire salmon eggs.
Finally, a favorite of some Hagg Lake still-fishing regulars is known locally as the “Fisherman’s Delight,” created by threading a plain white marshmallow to the top of the shank of your hook for buoyancy, followed by a single Pautzke’s egg and finished off with a small chunk of nightcrawler on the tip.
How to Fish with Bait at Hagg Lake
Most bait can be fished just off the bottom, using a sliding sinker above a swivel. Tie on 36 inches of leader, using 6- to 8-pound test early in the season, when the brood trout are most numerous.
Some veteran anglers switch to 4-pound or even 2-pound test later in the year as fishing gets tougher.
For soft baits, use size 12 or 14 dough hooks (treble hooks with a spring on the shank to better hold bait) or a plain treble hook in size 14 or 16.
For plain eggs or the Fisherman’s Delight, a size 6 or 8 egg hook will do the trick.
Trolling for Hagg Lake Trout
Trollers also do well at Hagg, and this approach at times will out-perform still-fishing, especially from June through September when many of the fish are tougher to reach from shore.
In the early spring, trollers also catch big brooders by trolling a lure such as Acme Tackle’s Kastmaster or Worden’s Rooster Tail and Mack’s Wedding Ring spinners.
You can troll these lures by themselves when the fish are near the surface but many anglers pull them on 36 inches of leader behind a set of Ford Fender flashers. Try a piece of nightcrawler or a couple kernels of white shoepeg corn on the hook.
During cool weather, try trolling lures near the top, with little or no weight.
When it’s sunny and hot out, especially from August into early October, concentrate your trolling in the deeper areas of the lake closer to the dam and in the creek channel running up near the center of the reservoir.
Holdover trout in the 6- to 8-pound range can be pulled from the depths as the reservoir is drawn down to its fall lows, along with frequent pan-sized fish, Klaumann said.
Trolling in a counter-clockwise pattern often is most effective, she added.
Hagg Lake Fly Fishing
Hagg is even a pretty darned good spot to catch trout on a fly (or bass, for that matter).
Try casting into the creek arms or slow-trolling sinking patterns near the dam and other cool-water locations.
Learn more about this in our Best Fly Fishing Lakes in Oregon.
Hagg Lake Trout Fishing Tip
When the fish get finicky, Klaumann has a unique solution: Carry a peeled clove of garlic in your pocket and rub it around on your fingers regularly during your fishing day.
“It takes away that human scent,” she said, which can be the difference between a successful outing and getting skunked.
Cherri Klaumann and her husband have owned Lake Stop Grocery since 1974. Located on Old Highway 47 on the way to the reservoir, the store carries bait and tackle for all species of Hagg Lake fish, in addition to food, beverages and other supplies.
New to trout fishing? Or just need some reminders? Check out this article for some how-to info: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.