North and South Twin lakes sit near each other in shallow craters formed during an ancient period of volcanic activity that helped shape today’s Central Oregon landscape.
While the volcanic activity has cooled, the trout fishing at North and South Twin Lakes can be red hot, especially during the mid- to late-spring time period when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lakes.
Both lakes, which are less than a mile apart, receive thousands of hatchery-raised rainbow trout each spring, with the bulk of them coming in April and May.
While this mountainous area often is still quite chilly in the spring, North and South Twin lakes are far better protected from the winds that sweep across the area’s larger lakes and reservoirs. This helps keep them pleasant not only during cooler periods but provides better fishing conditions all day long.
Twin Lakes are an excellent family friendly destination for fishing, swimming, hiking and camping.
While the majority of the stocked trout are pan-sized, especially early in the year, both lakes in recent years also have been stocked with good numbers of ODFW’s so-called “trophy” rainbow trout, which are raised to significantly larger size before release. Sometimes the trophy trout are placed into the lake again later in the year, perhaps clear out to Labor Day.
How to Fish at Twin Lakes
Bank angling access and success here are very good, and the lakes are small enough that you can walk to find good places to cast. And the fish tend to hold within easy reach.
Motorized boats are forbidden at both lakes, but small rowboats, kayaks, float tubes and the like will boost your odds, especially for fly casters looking for backcast room not available on much of the tree-lined shores of these lakes.
The usual tactics will work here, of course.
Still-fishing with bait is often the most popular way stocked trout are caught. Salmon eggs, nightcrawlers are popular, especially with a small marshmallow to float your offering off the bottom and out of weed beds. Floating dough baits (such as PowerBait) are of course also going to get the job done.
Casting spinners or spoons will catch trout as well, as will trolling with lures, bait or a combination of both.
Slow-trolling or casting flies is also a good bet. U.S. Forest Service officials note that patterns that mimic local hatches of mayflies, caddis, damsels, and flying ants are a good bet.
If you need some basic pointers on fishing for trout, try our article Trout Fishing: Basic How-To Techniques and Tips.
Neither lake is particularly deep, maxing out at 58-60 feet in depth. Especially during spring, before the water warms, most fish are caught less than 30 feet down and often within 30 feet of the bank.
Fishing at South Twin Lake
This is the smaller (99 acres) and often busier of the two lakes, as it has both a resort and a public campground.
There is a trail that goes around the lake, offering good access to plenty of bank fishing spots. Officials have said that anglers in the know here move away from the day-use area at the campground, where fishing can be less productive.
There are weeds and submerged trees where trout often go to find food, so fishing those areas is productive whether fly-fishing or using conventional tactics, especially from a float tube. A good place to start is in the shallower northwest side of the lake, heading north from the campground/resort area.
In the past couple of years, brown bullhead catfish have reappeared in South Twin Lake. At this writing, there aren’t enough to negatively impact the trout fishing. There’s no limit on bullheads and most anglers will thank you if you keep whatever catfish you catch here. They are most often caught while fishing with bait.
You can rent a rowboat for fishing from the marina at Twin Lakes Resort.
Fishing at North Twin Lake
This lake is a little bigger (about 112 acres) and sometimes a little less busy than South Twin, without a resort and marina on its shores, but it has the same number of trout stocked in its waters.
Locals do well angling near the shorelines early and late in the day using bait, flies, or lures. Those in the know here often plunk their bait along the west shore, where there are some deeper spots closer to the bank.
North Twin Lake previously had an issue with illegally planted brown bullhead catfish, but it has been treated and at this writing the bullheads seem to be eradicated.
Camping at South Twin Lake and North Twin Lake
South Twin Lake Campground has a modest sized National Forest Service campground as well as a day-use area and boat launch. It is quite popular during the prime season.
Twin Lakes Resort is also located on South Twin Lake and offers additional camping and cabins, boat rentals, a small restaurant and store among its amenities.
North Twin Lake Campground is similar in size to the campground at South Twin, and also has a boat launch, but there is not a resort on this lake.
Also, Wickiup Reservoir is just across the road from South Twin and its significantly larger Gull Point Campground is a short distance away. There are many other places to camp in the surrounding Deschutes National Forest, and you can easily come to Twin Lakes for a few hours of sheltered fishing.
Getting to Twin Lakes
Twin Lakes are located roughly 40 miles southwest of Bend, or just under an hour’s drive. It’s only about a half hour from Sunriver. Either way, get on Century Drive (Highway 42) heading southwest and then take Twin Lakes Road to both lakes. It’s just under 40 miles and under an hour’s drive from Bend, and about a half hour from Sunriver. Take Century Drive to Twin Lakes Road, which accesses both lakes.
From Eugene or even Portland, as well as from the south via Highway 97, your best bet is probably to take Highway 58 to Cascade Lakes Highway and then on to Century Drive and Twin Lakes Road. It’s about two hours from Eugene and nearly twice that far from Portland.