Lake Selmac Fishing: Catch Bass, Trout and Panfish (2024)

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Lake Selmac isn’t huge, but this Southern Oregon reservoir is an impressive producer of lunker largemouth bass, stocked rainbow trout and plenty of panfish.

Located 24 miles southwest of Grants Pass and often cited as the largest lake in Josephine County, Lake Selmac (or often Selmac Lake) is one of this area’s favorite fishing and camping spots. The majority of the lake is under 10 feet deep.

Bass Fishing

The big bass here are known to like big meals, so some anglers prefer large swimbaits, crankbaits and plastics.

Some of the bass are large enough to eat hatchery rainbow trout, so matching that “hatch” might work for you. Just in case, maybe stash a large trout swimbait in your tackle box for that big bait day.

Of course, use any largemouth bass technique that will land you fish. Topwater fishing can be a blast when the water is warm and the fish are active, especially in low-light conditions during the summer months.

Soft plastic worms, grubs and creature baits get the call when bass aren’t willing to strike out at anything that gets close to them.

Lake Selmac produced a total of three state-record largemouth bass, including one in 1991 weighing nearly 11-1/2 pounds. (The state’s current record is over 12 pounds for a bass caught in a farm pond.)

Anglers report that it still can put out double-digit bass and may one day reclaim the top spot for big bucket mouths. Selmac is on our list of Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Western Oregon.

Bear in mind that ODFW manages Selmac for trophy bass with a one-bass daily limit. It also doesn’t host the big bass tournaments seen on Tenmile, Siltcoos and other major bass-fishing destinations in the state.

Most anglers practice catch-and-release fishing for the big bass, while the other species here are excellent eating, including trout and panfish.

Another reason to snap a photo and let it go is that big bass, more than other species, accumulate larger quantities of naturally occurring mercury, which can pose health risks if eaten in larger quantities.

See ODFW’s statewide bass consumption guidelines in the annual sport fishing regulations booklet or online for details.

Where to Catch Bass

Likely holding cover for bass includes stumps, dikes, overhanging and fallen trees, piers and aquatic vegetation.

There’s lots of shallower water and manmade dikes sticking into the southern part of the reservoir, offering a variety of promising holding water.

McMullen and Quedo creeks feed Lake Selmac from both ends of the southern reservoir, and that side can be extremely shallow. If sight fishing for bedding bass in the spring, proceed carefully or risk spooking them.

More information: Bass Fishing: Simple How-To Techniques and Tips

Trout Fishing

Trout fishing here can be quite good, especially during the late winter and spring months, when the reservoir is generously stocked with hatchery rainbows.

As an example, in a recent year the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife planned to dump nearly 20,000 trout into the lake.

Most of those are pan-sized legal trout planted between February and May, although ODFW also been known to stock a modest number of trophy-sized trout in the fall some years.

Still-fishing with bait and trolling lures or lure-bait combinations account for a large number of trout catches here. Trout will be widespread during the cool-water months.

By the hot summer season, trout fishing slows quite a bit. If you try then, the survivors are likely to be huddling in the deeper and cooler water close to the dam on the north side of the lake, so focus your efforts there when the water warms.

The water closer to the dam reaches about 30 feet in depth, and the shorelines in that area drop more steeply, so trout holding-out are likely to find the best conditions as the rest of this shallow reservoir heats up.

For more about trout-catching methods and strategies, read Basic Trout Fishing Tips and Techniques.

Crappie, Bluegill and Catfish

Finally, Selmac is a good producer of panfish and catfish. The panfish include crappie to decent size and plenty of bluegill. There also are enough bullhead catfish to keep wiggling your pole.

Crappie Fishing

Crappie are schooling fish and often like to hold around docks, sunken branches, and other structures in the water.

A small jig is a good bet for catching them because the jig looks like a small minnow, which is this fish’s favorite meal.

Crappie are often listed among the best-tasting freshwater fish, with mild white meat.

More: Crappie Fishing Techniques and Tips and Best Crappie Fishing in Western Oregon.

Bluegill Fishing

Bluegill like natural baits.

Like bass, bluegill will often be surprisingly close to shore. Try a bobber about 18 inches above your bait and cast near weeds and other cover.

A small worm, redworm or mealworm is a good bet to catch these scrappy fighters. Bluegill also will strike flies or small lures and put up a surprisingly good fight for their small package.

More: Bluegill and Sunfish Fishing Tips

Catfish Fishing

Brown bullhead catfish are primarily bottom feeders and bite best at night and in lower-light conditions when they sometimes come closer to shore. Try casting in different locations, including open flats, until you get bites.

Besides worms, catfish also like cut baits such as pieces of fish or prawns and also readily bite prepared dough baits or “stink baits.”

More: How to Catch Catfish (Including Best Baits) and the Best Catfish Fishing Spots in Oregon.

Yellow Perch Fishing

Yellow perch have reportedly been put into the lake illegally.

Perch tend to bite well on natural baits and crappie jigs, especially if the jigs hooks are tipped with a little natural bait or something like a Berkley Crappie Nibble.

If any warm-water fish commonly found in Oregon can rival crappie for title of Best Eating Panfish, it would be yellow perch. If you can catch a decent number of perch large enough to bother filleting, you’re in for a treat.

More: Simple Yellow Perch Fishing Tips and Techniques and Best Baits for Yellow Perch Fishing.

Access and Location

Lake Selmac has excellent fishing access from both bank and boats. Aquatic vegetation may limit some bank fishing opportunities late in the warm season.

Lake Selmac County Park on the reservoir’s south side has various camping options, a boat ramp, dock, and other amenities. 

The private Resort at Lake Selmac on the north side also has camping and a small store for supplies.

There are a handful of other places to camp nearby. Rental boats and moorage are available at Selmac.

You can bring your boat with a motor here, but leave the Jet Skis and water skiing equipment at home. There is a 5 mph speed limit on the entire lake.

From Interstate 5 at Grants Pass via Highway 199 toward the community of Selma, it’s about a half-hour drive. The reservoir is located less than an hour from the Oregon Caves.

2024 Selmac Lake Trout Stocking

Date RangeTotal
Feb 5-95,000
Mar 18-225,000
Apr 8-125,000
May 13-173,000
May 27-311,000
Stocked fish are legal-sized rainbow trout unless otherwise noted. Stocking schedules are subject to change for a variety of reasons. The ODFW Weekly Fishing Report linked under Oregon Resources below may provide updated information.

Find more fishing spots in Josephine County

Oregon Resources

ODFW Weekly Fishing Report
ODFW Trout Stocking Schedule
Oregon Fishing Regulations
National Weather Service

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