The fair-sized Mercer Lake on the north side of Florence is a really good largemouth bass fishing lake you may never have heard of.
Some largemouth bass anglers quietly consider Mercer to be as good as the far better-known Siltcoos Lake not very far south of here.
Mercer also can be good for yellow perch and bullhead catfish and can put out stringers of seasonally stocked rainbow trout. There are some sunfish here as well that are easy to catch when you find them.
But we’ll focus more on the bass and trout, which bring most anglers out on the lake.
This is a good-sized lake, listed at 341 acres, but much of it is surrounded by private property, so bank access is limited.
Where to Fish
A good place to start whether you have a boat or not is Mercer Lake County Park on the southeaster side of the lake, off Mercer Lake Road.
It’s a fairly small park with day-use area, restrooms and simple facilities.
There is a bit of bank access there, but not much.
Launching a boat will get you pretty much anywhere in the lake, which is a big advantage here.
There also is the private Mercer Lake Resort for those looking to stay on the lake and launch a boat.
Additionally, there are lakefront homes available to rent, and some of those have at least some decent shore access and potentially a boat dock for guest use.
With a boat, you can poke around the long Dowell and Dahlin arms and many small coves and points around the lake.
There are standing and fallen trees around the shoreline, as well as a fair number of docks, that add to the potential cover for bass and panfish.
Bass, in particular, love cover and will hide around structures and in deep shade to ambush prey such as smaller fish and crayfish.
Fish lures in those areas to improve your odds of catching fish. Bass can be found in surprisingly shallow water at times, often in the spring and summer when the spawn and actively feed near the banks.
At other times bass will hold a bit deeper, but often within a short swim of prime hunting water.
Soft plastics, crank- and swim-baits, and jigs can all be excellent.
Spinnerbaits and other reaction-strike lures also can be excellent, and topwater offerings can fish well in warm weather, especially at first or last light.
If you’re wondering what lakes are rated the best for largemouth bass, read our Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Western Oregon.
Or, if you’re simply wondering how to catch them, try Bass Fishing: Simple Techniques and Tips.
Trout fishing can be fair to good here during the late winter spring, possibly starting in February and probably by sometime in March and April, when it is likely to get a total of 2,000 to 3,000 hatchery trout for the season.
The best fishing will be in the early season after the planting, but some trout do hold over in this relatively cool water, and they may bite better again as the water cools in the fall.
Often the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plants its larger-sized “trophy” trout here, which put on a good fight and make a bigger meal than typical legal trout.
In a fairly large lake with little bank access, trolling is likely going to be a really good option for finding and landing trout.
You can deploy a set of lake trolls or a dodger as an attractor that runs ahead of a small lure, a baited hook or a combination of lure and bait.
Several types of lures such as Flatfish, Roostertails and Kastmasters also work well trolling on their own, trolled just fast enough to get an appealing action from the lure.
We often have luck very slowly trolling with a sinking fly like a woolly bugger or similar pattern. A pinch of weight may be needed to get the fly down just a bit into the trout’s feeding zone.
Bait fishing also is always a popular bet for trout, especially stocked fish. If you’re stuck on the bank or fishing from a boat and want a more relaxed method than trolling, try fishing with a natural or artificial bait.
In coastal lakes, trout are often near the surface during relatively cool periods, and fishing your sinking bait a few feet beneath a bobber can work really well and is fun for people who might want to “see” the bite.
When trout are running deeper, try using a sliding sinker above 2 or 3 feet of leader and a hook baited with a floating bait, such as PowerBait or a marshmallow paired with a natural bait such as a piece of nightcrawler or a salmon egg or two.
Learn how to employ the most effective ways to catch these fish with our easy trout-fishing techniques article.
Where is Mercer Lake?
Mercer Lake is only about 15 minutes from downtown Florence. From Highway 101, drive east on Mercer Lake Road to reach the county park.