The Cascade Mountain range is really the spine of Oregon, supporting the state in so many ways, not the least of which is abundant water from winter snow pack. The mountains run north to south, and a quick look on a map of the Pacific Northwest will show you the Cascades actually begin in southern British Columbia and run down through Washington and Oregon and finally end in Northern California.
We are going to focus on the Central Oregon lakes found in the Cascade Range and talk about all the incredible places you can fish if you are living here or just visiting the area.
While there are many lakes in the Oregon Cascade’s, the region called Central Oregon is likely the area that most people will associate with when it comes to fishing. Places like Crane Prairie, Davis Lake and Hosmer may sound familiar or resonate with you from past experiences. Stories of State record Brown trout from Paulina Lake and Wickiup Reservoir will get the excitement level high for certain anglers, while others may love the peaceful solitude of Three Creeks Lake or Todd Lake nestled on each side of Broken Top Mountain and the Tam MacArthur Rim.
When it comes to stillwaters, Oregon has some of the best in the country and during the season you can move around to many different lakes and reservoirs. By doing so, you may explore different elevations to chase hatches,temperatures, types of fish, and the kinds of fishing that simply turns you on!
Throughout the country, most fly fisher’s have heard of the Deschutes River. It is no secret that the Deschutes is on the radar for anglers in the West. With abundant hatches and a summer steelhead run that rivals any of the great steelhead rivers in the west, the Deschutes is certainly a very special place.
What you might not know is the Deschutes is over 200 miles long and begins life at Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Mountains. Little Lava Lake and it’s big sister, Lava Lake are examples of two cascade lakes that are excellent fisheries and that you may have never heard of unless you live in the area. From Little Lava, the Deschutes runs south down to the prolific fisheries of Crane Prairie and Wickiup Reservoirs.
After filling Wickiup for summer irrigation needs, the Deschutes spills out of the dam and is heads north through the cities of Bend, Redmond, Madras, Maupin and eventually finding the Columbia River near the Dalles, Oregon. By time it get’s to Bend, the Deschutes is no longer part of our system of lakes, so let’s back up and take a look at how all of this starts and what it means to a lake angler.
In a normal winter, the jet stream delivers several powerful storms that hit the Cascade Range from October to April. With most of the mountains in Central Oregon ranging from 6500 feet, up to nearly 11,000 feet in elevation they get buried in snow all winter.
Our mountains are primarily made up of porous lava rock that soaks up rains and slow melting snow which trickles down and is stored in deep aquifers. Thousands of springs are born from the Cascades, and they hide ends up popping up all over, especially in or near our beautiful mountain lakes. All of our Cascade Lakes have a connection to this cycle of snowpack and each of them is connected somehow to ancient water sources that bubble up to create life in the mountains.
I want to share with you the top 9 Lakes in the area to fly fish. These are listed in a general north to south orientation and not by ranking.
Three Creeks is open for year round angling but it is one of our higher elevation lakes so it is usually accessible in late May or June and remains fishable until sometime in October. Best known as a summer time fishery it offers good to great activity in the heart of the season which is … Continue reading Three Creeks Lake
Sparks is a once great lake that is on the comeback trail and is well worth mentioning in this book. One of 3 regulated Fly Fishing Only lakes in the area (Hosmer and Davis are the other 2) the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and have improved efforts to support the fish population by introducing the Crane Prairie … Continue reading Sparks Lake
Hosmer is a small looking lake from the boat launch area but if you explore the channels and get to the upper lake you’ll be surprised at how much water there is here. Hosmer is another Fly Fishing Only lake and has for years supported a stocked population of Atlantic Salmon. As of this writing … Continue reading Hosmer Lake
The general trout season opener in Oregon is the last Saturday in April and these 2 lakes are usually both ready for anglers at that time. The lakes are bigger and if you want to explore the far reaches, especially on Lava Lake you’ll want a boat with a gas motor or have strong arms … Continue reading Lava Lake & Little Lava Lake
Crane Prairie was first dammed in the 20’s but it wasn’t until the 40’s when the Bureau of Reclamation came in did the impoundment succeed at holding water back as the Deschutes and other small tributaries filled the old forest and meadow area with clean, cold water. Immediately Crane Prairie was on the map as … Continue reading Crane Prairie
Wickiup is Brown Town. No other lake or reservoir in Oregon compares and no other lake spits out the big Brown Trout like Wickiup can. It is our largest reservoir, but because it is so shallow by summers end there is very little “lake” left and mostly a meandering river channel is present. Wickiup is … Continue reading Wickiup
Davis Lake: Davis is our 3rd Fly Fishing Only lake in the region and one that most certainly has some interesting fishing that sometimes challenges and frustrates even the most educated anglers. Davis was at one time our best trophy rainbow fishery, and while it still is a great place to stalk giant, 6 to … Continue reading Davis Lake
I refer to East Lake as Central Oregon’s most consistent fishing lake. So much so, I spend the majority of my guide days and many of my days off fishing here.
Diamond is a very good rainbow fishery in the spring and fall and is worth the drive to this more remote setting. There are plenty of good places to fish Diamond Lake but getting around to all of them in one day will require a motor boat. For row boats and tubes simply pick a … Continue reading Diamond Lake