Fishing at Haystack Reservoir

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Haystack Reservoir is an easily reached irrigation reservoir that provides a wide range of fair fishing options in Central Oregon.

The reservoir is more than 220 acres at full pool, but the water here keeps the surrounding farmland verdant in this dry, high desert countryside, so the manmade lake often is subject to major water level shifts. It’s often low late in the growing season and even can fluctuate by the day.

Haystack has both cold water and warm water fishing options.

For cold-water fishing, the reservoir is modestly stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, typically during the cool early season, when water levels are often near their seasonal peaks.

Sometimes the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will plant the lake with modest numbers of excess brood rainbow trout no longer needed for hatchery operations. Those fish can be massive, quite often more than 10 pounds.

Watch ODFW’s stocking reports and its weekly fishing reports (both linked below) and plan your rainbow trout-fishing trips here around those plantings.

If you need tips on catching hatchery rainbows, see our Basic Trout Fishing Techniques article.

Haystack also has a modest fishery for brown trout, which can be caught on some of the same techniques that fool rainbows. Browns also feed heavily on smaller fish, making crank baits or other lures that look like fish a good approach to catching them. (We have a separate article on Oregon’s Best Trophy Brown Trout Lakes.)

Haystack also supports a modest number of kokanee, which are landlocked sockeye salmon. These fish, which tend to run similar in size to the trout, are feisty fighters and excellent eating.

Kokanee prefer cooler water. In the early season, they may be found close to the surface, but as the water level at Haystack drops, look for these fish to seek out the coolest water in the deeper parts of the lake. A fish finder is a good bet for kokanee, which are a schooling fish — so if you find one, you have a better shot finding more. Kokanee are most often caught trolling smaller spinners, spoons and hootchies behind an attractor. Some anglers also use metal jigs.

Kokanee fishing is a pretty modest affair at Haystack, but there are times when the fishing here picks up and can be very productive. A more consistent fishery in this area is at Lake Billy Chinook. Also find productive kokanee waters throughout the state using the links at Best Kokanee Fishing in Oregon.

Haystack also supports a warmwater fishery, at times producing fair to good fishing for largemouth bass and crappie.

Largemouth bass often like shallow waters in the spring and move into deeper water for much of the rest of the year. They are structure-oriented, so try to find them in coves, off points and near any structure they can use to ambush prey. Bass strike lures that imitate small fish, crayfish, worms, and other natural forage. Soft plastics, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and other lures tend to work well.

Also see: Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Crappie fishing also can be good. These are another schooling fish. They often will be in shallower water during the spring spawning period, especially around structure. They will move into deeper water following the spawn and often stage near drop-offs or other structure. Small jigs are the go-to lure for crappie because they imitate minnows, which are this species’ favorite meal.

Also see: Best Crappie Fishing in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Haystack also has a good population of bullhead catfish that might provide some regular action when other types of fishing here are slow. Natural baits including worms and prepared catfish baits still-fished on the bottom are effective.

Haystack Reservoir is in fairly open high desert country, dotted with tumbleweeds and patches of juniper trees.

There is lots of camping here at three U.S. Forest Service campgrounds here, and both Haystack Reservoir and Day Use Area on the east side and Haystack West Shore Campground and Day Use Area have boat ramps to use when there is enough water and back access for daytime visitors. There’s a group camp on the south side.

Non-angling boaters often flock here as well, so you might consider fishing early to avoid the activity.

From the south, take U.S. 97 north past Redmond and Terrebonne to Southwest Jericho Lane, which will lead you east to Haystack Drive at the reservoir. It’s roughly a 45-minute drive from Bend. From the north, take U.S. 97 south less than 10 miles south of Madras to Jericho Lane.

Resources
ODFW trout stocking schedule
ODFW weekly recreation report and regulation updates
ODFW annual fishing regulations
National Weather Service forecasts

Find more fishing spots in Jefferson County