Saunders Lake offers a very good fishery for planted hatchery trout right along Highway 101 between Coos Bay and Lakeside in Oregon’s dune country.
Like other coastal lakes in this area, Saunders also sports a decent warm water fishery, where anglers have a pretty good shot at largemouth bass and yellow perch as well as populations of sunfish and crappie.
Trout draw the most anglers during the stocking season, which typically kicks off around early March and continues with a few more plantings of pan-sized rainbows during the spring months.
Saunders also is one of several coastal lakes in this area that often are stocked with burly “pounder” rainbow trout, often during the fall, so check the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s trout stocking schedule in the October time frame for a potentially good time to catch lunkers.
In all, the lake can receive about 10,000 trout during a season, counting the large batches of legal-sized fish in the spring and a truckload of big fall fish.
If you’re new to trout fishing or brushing up, see: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
ODFW also has been known to stock Saunders with excess hatchery winter steelhead during the late winter months, so watch the recreation report linked below for this opportunity to come around.
The prime access to this 57-acre lake is from Saunders Lake County Park, a Coos County public park on Saunders Lake Frontage Road, on the lake’s southeast shore just off the highway.
The park is located just five miles south of Lakeside (a town on Oregon’s famous Tenmile Lakes) and within a 20-minute drive northward from the larger cities of Coos Bay and North Bend.
Much of the lake is surrounded by private homes that block shoreline access, but there are a few spots where anglers also can get to the bank, including off Crannog Road on the west side of the lake.
Anglers also can launch a boat at the county park to access the entire lake. Railroad tracks bisect the lake but a bridge allows boaters to get to the larger west side.
Boaters will have the best access to a variety of structures that often attract bass and other warm water game fish. Fish-holding structure at Saunders includes docks, downed trees, aquatic plants and several small islands and coves.
Yellow perch have been caught here in impressive numbers; though often small, these fish are quite good eating if found big enough to bother with.
Perch are a schooling fish, so catch one and you should find more. They will sometimes hold near the bottom in relatively deeper water. Once located, they eagerly bite worms and other natural baits on smallish hooks.
Coos County has a number of other waters frequently stocked with trout, including the smaller Butterfield Lake about a mile south off Highway 101.