Tahkenitch Lake might get more attention if it weren’t always mentioned as the smaller partner of neighboring Siltcoos Lake.
But anglers might appreciate the slight, because the large natural lake on Oregon’s central coast offers most of the same fishing opportunities as the area’s more famous lake but is less crowded.
At a little over 1,600 acres, Tahkenitch is just more than half the size of Siltcoos Lake but is still one of the largest lakes on the entire coastline. Even though it’s right off Highway 101, Tahkenitch is far less developed than Siltcoos and several other lakes in the region, with mostly forested banks with few private homes here.
Like Siltcoos and Tenmile Lakes, Tahkenitch is best known for excellent largemouth bass fishing and a unique opportunity to catch and keep wild adult coho salmon.
Some anglers actually prefer to fish Tahkenitch over Siltcoos and Tenmile, which tend to have much more fishing pressure, including lots of bass fishing tournaments. Tahkenitch deserves an honorable mention on our Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Western Oregon article.
Like those other lakes Tahkenitch has ample bass cover, including lots of structures up into long creek arms that give the lake it’s hand-like appearance. Of course, there are fewer boat docks due to little development along the shoreline.
Bass will often be found close to banks, including around fallen trees and branches.
Crappie are another popular gamefish caught in good numbers here, although fishing for them can be cyclical over the seasons. The lake is part of our Best Crappie Fishing in Western Oregon article.
Crappie also like submerged woody debris and are also apt to move into shallower water during the spring spawning season.
While they get less attention, yellow perch and bullhead catfish also are quite numerous in the lake. You’ll also find sunfish here.
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tahkenitch isn’t a usual stop for their trout-stocking trucks, unlike several of the other lakes in this part of the coast. (Cleawox Lake, just north up Highway 101, is among the most consistent rainbow trout fishing lakes in the very near area.)
So you aren’t likely to catch rainbows here, but Tahkenitch is home to a healthy population of native cutthroat trout, which go between the main lake and its tributary streams where they spawn. The lake is open year-round for trout and has regular zone trout limits.
The other small trout-like fish here are actually juvenile coho salmon, which can reach pan-size before traveling down Tahkenitch Creek into the Pacific Ocean.
These small salmon must be released unharmed if accidentally caught. They are much more silvery than the cutthroats. The latter trout have lots of spots and the characteristic red-colored slash near their gills.
However, you can specifically target the adult coho salmon that make their way back into the lake during the fall.
This season is open from October through December, with the best fishing typically occurring during November and sometimes into early December, after significant rains prompt these large fish to push up the small creek and into the lake. There is a modest harvest limit, so see ODFW for the latest rules.
Coho salmon are on their way back to tributary streams that feed the lake. Try trolling for them in the creek channels, often using wobbling plugs.
A good place to start your fishing trip here is at Tahkenitch Landing, just off Highway 101 on the west end of the lake. There is camping, day-use and a boat launch here.
Tahkenitch Lake is about 20 minutes south of Florence and even closer from Reedsport to the south.