Known for its high desert climate, sage-covered canyons, glacial peaks and mountain lakes, this zone is defined by the reach of Oregon’s finest trout stream. The Deschutes River is no bigger than a creek when it passes close by South Twin Lake on its way toward Wickiup and Crane Prairie reservoirs. But it soon gains power enough to grow athletic rainbow trout. The considerably tamer Crooked River offers good practice if you’re just learning how to keep your footing in a slippery freestone stream.
Part 1: Easy Angling Oregon - An Introduction
Part 2: Easy Angling Oregon - Northwest Zone
Part 3: Easy Angling Oregon - Southwest Zone
Part 4: Easy Angling Oregon - Willamette Zone
Part 5: Easy Angling Oregon - Central Zone (you are here)
Part 6: Easy Angling Oregon - Southeast Zone
Part 7: Easy Angling Oregon - Northeast Zone
A good place to take the kids fishing for stocked trout and warmwater species, with plenty of accessible shoreline and a well-shaded campground.
Stocked with rainbow trout in spring. Bass and bluegill also available.
Standard lake-fishing techniques will work here. Good fishing from both bank and boat – electric motors only. A good place for canoes, float tubes, pontoon boats and other small craft. Best fishing in the spring before the reservoir is drawn down for irrigation.
USFS Rock Creek Reservoir Campground/ Day Use Area
From Portland, go 42 miles east on US 26, 3 miles northeast on OR 35, 22 miles east on Forest Rd. 48, then north on FR 4810.
A scenic 240-acre reservoir lined with willows, pines and oak. Lots of good bank access and fine trout fishing.
Stocked with rainbow trout in early spring and again in the fall. Also good fishing for largemouth bass and bluegill.
Fishing tips: Standard lake-fishing techniques will work here. Good bank fishing at the south and east boat ramps, near the dam and along the dikes on the northeast shore. Popular with fly fishers casting from float tubes or pontoon boats. Boat rentals available at the resort.
Pine Hollow Lakeside Resort and RV Park
South Shore Boat Ramp (Wasco County)
Hwy 97 to Tygh Valley and follow the signs. Or, after May, take Hwy 35 to Forest Rd. 48 through Mt. Hood National Forest.
A very scenic lake on the north slope of Mt. Hood. This high elevation lake offers good fishing, good camping, resort and a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. A good weekend destination for the family.
Stocked annually with legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Also good opportunity for naturally reproducing brown trout.
Standard lake-fishing techniques will work here. Good bank fishing near the campground where bait is popular.
Also popular with fly fishers who anticipate a mid-summer hexagenia mayfly hatch. Well-suited for pontoon boats, float tubes, canoes and other non-motorized water craft. No motors allowed.
USFS Lost Lake Campground
South Shore Boat Ramp (Wasco County)
Take I-84 to Hood River. Take Hwy 281 south out of Hood River to Dee. From Dee follow the signs to Lost Lake.
A wonderful family lake with very good fishing, swimming and other activities.
Stocked rainbow trout 9- to 15-inches long.
All lake-fishing techniques will work here.
This is a good lake for float tube fishing and the resort has unmotorized boats for rent. Fish over weed beds and submerged timber. A trail encircles the lake and offers many opportunities for bank fishing. Best fishing is within 30 feet of the shore and in the top 30 feet of water. Fishing can be poor right off the campground’s day-use area. The northwest shallows offer especially good fly fishing.
USFS South Twin Lake Campground and Day Use Area
Twin Lakes Resort
From Bend, head south on Hwy 46 (Century Dr). Take the Wickiup Reservoir turn off (County Rd. 42) east. The road to Twin Lakes is 1 mile past the Deschutes River crossing.
A large, scenic reservoir six miles from Prineville and popular with anglers, boaters and campers.
Stocked rainbow trout, native redband trout and warmwater fish including black crappie and smallmouth bass.
All lake-fishing techniques for trout can be used here. Trout fishing is available year-round. Much of the shoreline is on private property but there is good bank fishing at the county park or near the dam were bait is a favorite.
Crappie anglers should jig in shoreline areas that have some structure such as rocks or downed logs. Best fishing is during the spring and summer months.
Ochoco Lake Campground (Crook County)
Ochoco Reservoir is 6 miles east of Prineville on Hwy 26.
Picturesque lake located in the Newberry Crater at the summit of the Paulina Mountains. Recent efforts to control tui chub populations and changes to the trout stocking regime should improve the trout fishery.
Stocked rainbow trout, brown trout and kokanee.
All standard lake-fishing methods for trout are popular and effective here. Best fishing is from a boat, pontoon or float tube but there also is good bank fishing. The campgrounds and boat launches can be good places to start. Anglers have good success within 200 feet of the shoreline.
The lake is particularly popular with fly anglers who do well along the southeast and eastern shorelines early and late in the day.
East Lake Boating Site
Hot Springs Boating Site
East Lake Resort
From Bend, take Hwy 97 south and turn east on Paulina/East Lake Rd. Follow the signs for the Newberry Crater National Monument.
A beautiful and productive desert river, the best fishing is in the 7 miles below Bowman Dam just east of Prineville. Very popular with fly fishers, this is a great place for novices to get “their feet wet” with gentle gradients, good insect hatches, plenty of backcasting room and lots of wild trout.
Native rainbow trout and mountain whitefish. Steelhead are being reintroduced into the Crooked River. Rainbow trout over 20 inches are considered steelhead and must be released.
While fly fishing is the most popular technique, spinners also can be effective. Fishing is open year-round but it’s best from September to mid-May. First time visitors can be put off by the murky waters, but these are normal on the Crooked and don’t slow the fishing.
The Crooked River can be a good place for new anglers to learn good wading techniques since it isn’t too big or too fast. It is, however, very slippery so even experienced anglers should wade with caution.
There is excellent access from day-use sites and campgrounds, with trails following the river closely in many places.
There are numerous pullouts and several BLM campgrounds along this stretch.
From Prineville, follow Hwy 27 toward Bowman Dam. Do not follow signs toward Prineville Reservoir.
This high desert reservoir on the Crooked River is popular recreation destination with good fishing for trout, black crappie and bass.
Stocked annually with as many as 70,000 fingerling rainbow trout, many of which grow to 16-inches. There are also large populations of smallmouth bass, black crappie, and brown bullhead and smaller numbers of largemouth bass.
All lake-fishing techniques for trout will work. Most crappies are caught on worms or small jigs in the coves upstream of the resort and off the resort docks. Fishing is open year-round but the best fishing is from January (think ice fishing, which can be excellent) through June. There is good bank fishing at Prineville State Park, Jasper Point and at the dam. Boat rentals are available at the resort.
Prineville Reservoir State Park
Jasper Point Campground and Day Use Area
Powderhouse Cove Day Use Area
From Prineville on Hwy 26, follow signs toward Prineville Reservoir (not toward Bowman Dam). Travel 12 miles on Juniper Canyon Rd.
A well-known fly fishing destination for trout and largemouth bass. The lake is shallow and productive, which makes it a fine place for new fly anglers who want to explore stillwater fishing.
Naturally reproducing rainbow trout and largemouth bass.
Flyfishing only with barbless hooks for both trout and bass. Best fished from a boat, float tube, pontoon boat or canoe.
In cool months, look for trout in warmer, shallow water. As the summer heats up trout will seek deeper, cooler water.
Best bank access is near the deeper waters along the east shore, and around the Odell Creek arm on the south shore.
From Crescent, travel 8.8 mi. on County Rd. 61. Turn left on Forest Rd. 46 and travel 7.7 miles to Forest Rd. 4600-850.
Between Lava Lake and Crane Prairie Reservoir the Deschutes River is a small stream meandering through grassy meadows. This is classic small stream fishing in a beautiful setting.
Wild redband trout, brook trout and mountain whitefish.
Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures like small spinners. Fly fishing seems to be the preferred method and the river here is well-suited to beginning fly fishers. Large brook trout are often available in the fall.
USFS Cow Meadows Campground
From Bend, travel about 45 miles south on Cascade Lakes Hwy (46), go 0.5 mile east on Forest Rd. 40, then 2 miles south on Forest Rd. 4000-970.
The Deschutes River is a little larger by the time it reaches this popular state park but it’s still small enough to be easily fished.
Wild redband trout, brown trout and mountain whitefish.
Fly-fishing seems to be the preferred method, though small spinners may work in deeper pools.
Tumalo State Park
Tumalo State Park is just east of Hwy 97 less than 10 miles north of Bend.
This 130-acre lake offers good bank access and is open year-round, snow permitting.
Heavily stocked with rainbow trout during May and June.
All standard lake-fishing techniques will work here. Best fishing is in the shallower water until the summer heat pushes fish into deeper waters.
USFS North Twin Lake Campground
From Bend, head south on Hwy 46 (Century Dr.). Take the Wickiup Reservoir turn off (County Rd. 42) east. The road to Twin Lakes is 1 mile past the Deschutes crossing.
This scenic lake with commanding views of Mt. Bachelor and South Sister has everything you need for a family getaway – a serene setting, superb fishing and a good campground.
Regularly stocked with rainbow trout. There’s also a population of natural reproducing brook trout.
All standard lake-fishing techniques will work here. Best fishing is from a boat, which can be rented at the resort. However, there is some bank access at the campgrounds and east of the boat ramp.
Lava Lake Lodge
USFS Lava Lake Campground
From Bend, travel 38.4 miles southwest on Cascade Lakes Hwy (Hwy 46), then 1 mi. east on Forest Rd. 4600 500.
A beautiful stream-fed river known for its crystal clear water and finicky fish. However, novice fly fishers will find easy bank access (no wading required) at the Fall River Hatchery. Restricted to fly-fishing only.
Hatchery rainbow trout, brown trout.
Both dry flies and nymphs both can be effective. The hatchery stretch is stocked with rainbow trout regularly through spring and summer. Best fishing may be late afternoon and evenings in June and July.
ODFW Fall River Hatchery
From Hwy 97 take the Fall River exit just past milepost 155. Drive west one mile to the “T” intersection. Turn left (south) and proceed one mile. Turn right (west) on S. Century Dr. at the Thousand Trails sign. Continue west for six miles to the hatchery entrance. The entrance is on the south side of the road past milepost 12.
This desert reservoir is known for growing big trout. Most fishing is from shore, but small boats or float tubes will get you to deeper water in the middle of the lake. This a remote lake with a primitive campground, be sure to carry food and water.
Hatchery rainbow trout.
All lake-fishing techniques will work here. The lake is stocked each spring and by fall the fish can have grown to 12- to 16-inches. Carryover trout often exceed 20-inches.
USFS Antelope Flat Reservoir Campground
From Prineville, travel 30 miles southeast on State Hwy 380 to Forest Rd. 17 (Antelope Reservoir Junction). Turn right on Forest Rd. 17, and follow it 3 miles to Forest Rd. 1700-600 and continue on to the campground.
This is one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon, and offers some of the best kokanee fishing in the state.
Kokanee, rainbow trout, lake trout (mackinaw).
Standard lake-fishing techniques will work for rainbow trout. Target kokanee in spring and fall when they are in shallower water. The north shore above Princess Creek Campground is a good place to start. Best fishing is from a boat, and a favorite kokanee technique is to troll using a small flasher and lure tipped with worm or corn. Spring and fall months are also the best time to target lake trout, which often exceed 10 pounds.
Best bank fishing access is around Odell Lake Lodge and at each of the campgrounds and boat ramps. Boat rentals available at lodge and resort.
Odell Lake Lodge
Shelter Cove Resort
About 70 miles SE of Eugene adjacent to Hwy 58.
Header photo by Jessica Sall
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