The main pond in Row River Nature Park in Cottage Grove is small and fairly unassuming but probably has some of the most trout per gallon of any water in Oregon when it’s stocking season.
Cottage Grove Pond Trout Fishing
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s stocking truck makes very frequent stops at the main pond here both in the early season and also in the fall months, leaving behind lots of legal-sized and larger “trophy” rainbow trout.
Some years this little pond gets something like 20,000 fish over the course of the year, although the fish come in regular doses of several hundred to well over 1,000 per planting.
The latest annual stocking schedule we checked showed weekly or at least frequent stocking at the pond from February into early April and then more plants from late September up until Christmas.
The early season has larger numbers of fish stocked and probably more anglers after them. The fall plants might be smaller in numbers of fish but often include good numbers of “trophy” trout.
This is a good place for beginners and people who can’t access some waters to easily catch fish. In fact, ODFW has planned family fishing events at the pond, due to its excellent bank access and family friendly setting.
Fishing will be very good during the week or so following a planting, but this pond is busy during stocking season and fish tend to get caught quickly, because it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel here.
Use the trout stocking link below and try not to let too many days pass if you want the best shot at a limit.
There are multiple ponds within the nature park, which hugs the west bank of Row River on the east side of Cottage Grove and just a few minutes off Interstate 5.
The stocked pond is the most developed and the only one with a fishing dock. It is located a short walk on a path heading due north of the weigh station located Row River Road, where there is parking.
The main pond at Row River Nature Park, aka Cottage Grove Pond, also is occasionally stocked with brood trout that had been used for egg production at the hatchery.
These fish are sometimes released during the winter to provide an opportunity for anglers to catch perhaps the biggest trout of their lifetimes. These trout typically weigh from 5 to 15 pounds, more the size of a steelhead than a regular trout.
Look for possible plantings of broodstock during the cold season, and often just once per year. For instance, 80 of these trout were stocked in Cottage Grove during early January the last time we took note.
ODFW’s weekly recreation report (linked below) is usually the best place to find news that brood trout have been stocked. It’s not necessarily listed in the annual stocking schedule.
You can only keep one trout over 20 inches in length per day.
How to Catch Trout at Cottage Grove Pond
The usual trout fishing techniques will work here.
The always popular PowerBait will account for a good number of catches, as will soaking other types of natural and prepared baits.
Fishing with lures and flies also works with stocked trout, although watch your casts under crowded conditions.
You might use heavier-than-usual gear if you are targeting the wintertime brood trout, however.
Bass and Panfish
The ponds also have been home to a collection of resident nonnative types of warmwater fish often found in Willamette Valley waters, such as bass, panfish and bullhead catfish.
These fish are available year-round but bite most readily from mid-spring through summer and into early fall, when the water is warmer and they are the most active.
To reach the park, take Row River Road (the route to Dorena Reservoir) about a mile east of I-5 and look for the truck scales. There’s some parking here and a path to the main pond.
There also is parking for the nature park a little farther east and also on the north side of the park from Davidson Avenue. There is a nice trail system through the park.