Note: The 2020 wildfires impacted areas near Timothy Lake but areas are open and fishing has been pretty good by most accounts. At last check, you will need to come in from the Highway 26 side because the route up the Clackamas River (Highway 224) is closed beyond Promontory Park. We suggest you look for current information from the U.S. Forest Service or PGE before planning a fishing or camping trip in this area.
Timothy Lake (a.k.a. Timothy Meadows) is a fairly large reservoir on the upper Clackamas River drainage in the beautiful Cascade Mountains south of Mount Hood.
It has a lot of camping facilities and is generously stocked during the busy season with hatchery rainbow trout and also has self-sustaining populations of kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon) and non-native brook trout.
The rainbows get most of the angling attention and are often the easiest to catch, especially in the spring and early summer soon after they are stocked.
In recent years, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has included some larger “trophy” trout among the plantings.
Look at the accompanying ODFW trout stocking link for the annual schedule. Plantings usually begin around mid-spring.
Besides the stocked rainbows and invasive brookies, the other trout swimming in Timothy Lake are a modest number of native cutthroat.
While you can keep the cutthroats as part of your limit, we’d like to suggest these would be good ones to release because they are natives, and the other fish species here are all excellent eating.
You’ll find lots of PowerBait soaking going on here for those chasing stocked rainbows, but other baits and lures will often work very well. (More detail: Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.)
Bank and boat access are excellent here.
Some of the most popular bank fishing is near the dam, where there is plentiful deep water and fishing docks.
Day-use anglers and campers alike also can launch a boat or fish from the bank in multiple locations.
There are excellent facilities for both in the southwest corner of the lake, near the dam, including a boat launch and fishing docks that allow shore-bound anglers to reach some productive water, including facilities appropriate for people with disabilities.
Brook trout are not native in Oregon and are largely considered a nuisance fish in many waters, which is why ODFW puts no limit on the number or size you can keep at Timothy.
Brookies grow to fair size and will be well dispersed in the lake. They are likely an incidental catch for many.
However, brookies staging to spawn can sometimes be targeted close to the mouths tributary streams late in the season.
Kokanee here tend to run small and only get modest attention, but these are tasty land-locked sockeye salmon, and the limit at Timothy is 25 of any size on top of the regular trout limit (applying to rainbow and cutthroat trout).
Once the warm summer weather sets in, kokanee tend to retreat to the deepest parts of the lake, such as the old creek channels where the water is around 80 feet deep.
Because they spend so much of the prime fishing season in very deep waters, nearly all kokanee at Timothy Lake are caught by boaters.
Trolling small spoons such as Dick Nites and spinners such as Mack’s Wedding Rings can be effective, using weight or down riggers to reach the fish when the schools are holding in deep water.
It’s also possible to catch kokanee with bait or brightly colored jigs, but trolling is the most common approach.
A fish finder will be extremely useful, at least to locate deeper water and perhaps to home in on the schooling fish.
Learn more about where to catch these small landlocked salmon in Oregon Kokanee Fishing.
And learn more about how to catch these fish with Kokanee Fishing: Simple Techniques and Tips.
Timothy Lake also has a long-time reputation for crayfish fishing.
Crayfish, also known as crawdads, mudbugs and other names, are a freshwater crustacean resembling a junior lobster. They are tasty boiled or in a variety of recipes.
In Oregon, you can keep 100 crayfish per day, and some Timothy anglers report catching limits at times.
Traps are the most effective way to catch crayfish in numbers. Bait the traps with pieces of fish or a pierced can of fishy cat food.
Anglers often set the traps just where the bottom becomes invisible during daylight hours, but crayfish often move into shallower water to feed at night.
You can catch modest numbers of crayfish with a baited line, but you can’t use hooks for crayfish. You also might catch a handful of them with your hands or a net.
Camping and Day Use
Timothy is close enough to the Portland area for a full day trip, many visitors choose to stay over at this beautiful fishing lake.
The U.S. Forest Service operates several campgrounds here. Here are some of your options:
Oak Fork Campground at the southeast side of the lake, near where the largest tributary enters, offers dozens of typical campsites, a few walk-in sites and in recent years has added a handful of cabins.
If you like to go with a bit more shelter over your heads, plan well ahead and reserve one of those reasonably priced cabins.
Gone Creek Campground is close to Oak Fork Campground and has nearly 50 campsites suitable for tents and RVs, with other typical federal campground amenities.
You can share boat launch facilities staying at either campground.
Hoodview Campground is another drive-up spot on the south-central side of the lake with typical campsites and amenities, including a boat launch.
As the name suggests, campers here have a straight-on view of Mount Hood looming to the north of the lake.
Pine Point Campground is centrally located on the south end, closest to the dam and popular deepwater fishing spots. It has good numbers of individual campsites as well as group campsites.
More out of the way at the far northeast side of the lake, in a narrower finger of Timothy where several tributary streams enter the lake, is the North Arm Campground.
It’s smaller and a majority of the sites are first-come, first-served (although a handful can be reserved), and not the place for a big RV.
There is a nice boat launch at North Arm, but strict speed limits in this quiet area. It’s a nice spot for your float tube, kayak or other small watercraft.
There is a very small walk-in campground at Meditation Point, on the north side but on the main lake. You’ll have to get there by boat, bike or on foot, as there is no adjacent road access.
The Pine Point area on the east side of the dam also is very popular as a day-use site, with a good boat launch facility, bank fishing areas, picnic sites and similar amenities.
Day use facilities also are located at The Cove (a former campground) and in the Oak Fork/Gone Creek areas.
Where is Timothy Lake?
Timothy Lake is about a two-hour drive from Portland.
You can take Highway 26 past Mount Hood and turn south on Forest Road 42 near Clear Lake, then take Forest Road 57 for the last leg to Timothy.
A similar length drive is taking Highway 224 up the Clackamas River and then turning off near the Ripplebrook Ranger Station to follow the Oak Grove Fork past Harriet Lake up to Timothy Lake.
Find more nearby trout fishing: Trillium Lake Trout Fishing, Clear Lake Fishing, Frog Lake Fishing, Harriet Lake Fishing, Clackamas River Fishing, North Fork Reservoir Fishing, Faraday Lake Trout Fishing, Estacada Lake Fishing, Small Fry Lake Fishing.