Miller Lake Brown Trout Fishing
Miller Lake is best known for its lunker brown trout, but it sports an excellent population of rainbow trout. Many of the rainbows are about a foot long, but they range from newly planted fingerlings to brutes that will get into the 24-inch range. The state has planted hatchery-reared trophies here at times to supplement the catch.
While the bigger browns can be tough for newcomers to master, the rainbows are willing biters and limits are common for beginning and veteran anglers alike.
The well-marked turnoff to Miller Lake is off Highway 97 just north of Chemult, about an hour from either Bend or Klamath Falls. Allow at least four hours from Portland.
By the Book – Miller Lake Angling Regulations
Miller Lake, in ODFW’s Southeast Zone, is open all year and, unlike many trout fisheries, also allows 24-hour fishing, although that regulation is primarily geared to anglers targeting the night-feeding browns.
The five-trout daily limit includes any combination of browns and rainbows, all of which must be at least 8 inches long. Not more than one may be over 20 inches.
The trout limit doesn’t include an additional 25-fish limit for kokanee, which tend to run very small and have no size limit.
Know Before You Go
The only thing that bites more readily than a hungry Miller Lake rainbow trout are the mosquitoes, which are particularly nasty in spring and early summer. Sessions said only a repellent containing 100 percent DEET is strong enough to deter the insects.
The road to Miller Lake can be snowbound into late spring, and periodic snows are possible in all but the dog days of summer. Make sure your vehicle can handle snow for those early and late-season trips, just in case.
Timing Your Trip – Early Season is Best
Unlike the brown trout, the rainbows don’t bite as well in the cool spring weather. Usually the bite turns on best around July 4 and holds up well for the rest of the good weather.
Fish Finder – Stay Close to Shore
There’s a trail that rings the lake, offering plentiful spots to reach the water’s edge. Just about any of them will be good for rainbows. From a boat, focus your attention fairly close to shore.
Secrets to Success – How to Catch Miller Lake Rainbows
Miller Lake rainbows are simple to catch. Still-fishing is always reliable here, with rainbow-colored Berkley PowerBait a sure bet for ‘bows. Mold the bait on a Size 14 or 16 treble hook tied to 18 to 24 inches of leader. Use a sliding sinker so the trout can take the bait without feeling the weight.
Nightcrawlers fished with a sliding sinker will catch both rainbows and browns. Try threading the longer end up a bait hook and onto the leader. Using a hypodermic needle, fill the shorter end (from the collar to the end) with air, making the worm float off the bottom for better visibility to the trout.
An alternative to the hypodermic needle is adding a small white marshmallow to the hook, along with your worm. The sweet treat will float the worm off the bottom.
Remember that bait-fishing results in more deep hookups, so consider artificial lures or flies if you plan to release your catch.
Sessions has been catching a lot of rainbows trolling. A favorite addition to his tackle box is a line of small, beaded spinners with two hooks, by Fish With Gary Tackle Co. Two patterns that have produced well are the Purple Rage (purple blade) and the Pink Thunder (copper blade).
Using an 8 pound line, fish the spinner behind a set of trolling blades on the leader provided. Sessions cuts his leader down to 12 to 18 inches and threads half a nightcrawler onto the hooks. He runs this rig just fast enough to feel the blades spin (roughly 1½ miles per hour). He usually trolls without weight, 60 to 100 feet behind the boat and over water depths of 12 to 14 feet close to shore.
If All Else Fails
When fishing with PowerBait or other dough baits, a frequent complaint is that they will come off the hook with a nibble or even on the cast. Sessions overcomes bait loss by mixing his PowerBait with a pinch of dryer lint to toughen it up. “(The fish) can’t beat it off there.”
Clint Sessions is a retiree who lives to the north of Miller Lake in Crescent, where his wife works for Ken’s Sporting Goods. He developed his fishing methods during four seasons as host at the Digit Point Campground.
If you’re new to trout anglings, or want to brush up, this article is a good starting place: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.