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Best of Oregon – Trout Fishing: The Ultimate Guide  

Oregon offers some spectacular trout fishing. With multiple species of trout including brown, brook, lake, two types of rainbow, and three types of cutthroat to catch, there is no end to the possibilities of your fishing adventure.

Oregon is divided into nine different fishing zones, each offering unique venues to catch the perfect trout. In this ultimate trout fishing guide to Oregon, we will review the best rivers and lakes to fish for trout and provide you with a map of all the trout fishing spots. We will also tell you about the trout fishing season, fishing regulations, and give you some handy fly-fishing tips.

Oregon Trout Fishing Map

Best Fishing in Oregon

Oregon offers an abundance of opportunities to angle for trout from all across the state. Whether you’re looking to catch some sea-run cutthroat trout or hook a meal-sized rainbow trout, we’ll clue you into some of the best rivers and lakes in Oregon to land the perfect catch.

Best Fishing Rivers in Oregon

The rivers in Oregon are perfect habitats for most trout species and have become popular spots for anglers to set their lines in the water, whether from shore, wading in the shallows, or sitting comfortably in a kayak. We’ll review the best Oregon rivers to hook a trout including the McKenzie River, Deschutes, River, Owyhee River, Metolius River, and Fall River.

McKenzie River

The McKenzie River located east of Eugene is a very popular trout fishing river with lots of opportunities to catch both wild and hatchery stocked trout. The wild-caught trout can get very large and the redband rainbow trout are especially prized here. However, wild trout of all species are catch-and-release only in this river.

Hatchery-stocked steelhead trout can be harvested though. These are denoted by clipped fins. There is regular stocking during the spring and summer months, so these are the best times to go if you’re fishing for a meal.

Deschutes River

The Deschutes River is located in central Oregon about two and a half hours southeast of Portland. Fly fishing is particularly favored here, and this large river offers miles of wild and stocked trout. In the upper portion, massive brown trout and good-size rainbow trout can be found and the fishing is exceptional from late spring through fall.

The middle section of the Deschutes River is home to many different insect hatches, so a range of flies is successful. The best fishing here occurs in spring and early summer. In the lower portion of the river, the summer steelhead is infamous. With both stocked and wild trout averaging over three thousand per mile, you can’t go wrong casting a line here.

Owyhee River

The Owyhee River is located just west of the Idaho state border and offers some of the best brown trout fishing in the state. Although the brown trout are only catch-and-release here, there are some massive fish to catch. Rainbow trout can be harvested, and although they’re small, they do tend to be fat.

The best stretch of the river to fish cuts through a canyon and stretches about 10 to 12 miles. It is located above Snively Hot Springs. Be sure to target the deep slow moving pockets where the trout particularly like to hang out.

Metolius River

The Metolius River is located near the Deschutes River, southeast of Portland and northeast of Eugene. It is a spectacular place for fly fishing and one of the only locations in the state where you can angle bull trout. Although the river is catch-and-release only for this species, the river also offers the chance to catch redband rainbow trout as well.

With plenty of deep pools and channels, undercuts and lava outcrops, there are plenty of places for trout to hang out. You will never be at a loss for beautiful scenery to take in as you cast your line.

Fall River

The twists and turns of Fall River are located east of Eugene. The eight miles of this river are only open to fly fishing and spring is the best time to hook a bite. The fish year-round here is wonderful though and some anglers swear by the tranquility of the winter season.

Fall River has special regulations so be sure to check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website before fishing here. Redband rainbow trout are prized species to be caught here. This jewel of a river is one of Oregon’s best-kept secrets.  

Best Fishing Lakes in Oregon

Oregon lakes harbor awesome lake trout and other prize-winning trout species, making these spots destinations for anglers of all ages and experiences. Here we’ll point out some of the top Oregon lakes in which to catch trout including Odell Lake, Paulina Lake, East Lake, and Diamond Lake.

Odell Lake

Odell Lake is located southeast of Eugene, halfway between the Willamette and Umpqua National Forests. Rainbow and lake trout are popular catches here and must measure at least eight and thirty inches in length, respectively. Bull trout can be found here too but must be immediately thrown back upon capture.

The best times of day to fish on Odell Lake is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Not only are these ideal times for the trout to be active, but also the winds that blow across the lake are much calmer.

Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake is located to the east of Odell Lake. It is known for its abundant rainbow trout population and huge brown trout. This lake holds the Oregon state record for the largest brown trout caught, weighing in at 28 pounds 5 ounces. Night fishing for brown trout here is the best.

The rainbow trout are stocked in this lake by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The best time of year to fish for them is in the early to mid-summer around the stocking schedule.

East Lake

East Lake is actually located right next to Paulina Lake, within the caldera of a dormant volcano. Since it is located at an elevation of 6,400 feet, it is cold around the lake almost year-round. The brown trout have the opportunity to grow big and fat. Although you can harvest them, there are cautions about eating them due to mercury levels in the lake.

Summer is the best time to fish this lake and the shoreline offers the best angling spots. With fresh ice melt, most trout get to enjoy cold waters most of the time.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake is located just north of Crater Lake National Park and offers wonderful opportunities for catching brown, tiger, and rainbow trout. Rainbow trout can grow especially larger here with fish often weighing over twelve pounds. May and June are great times to fish here.

September can also bring days of abundance when it comes to trout fishing with catches numbering in the double digits.

Oregon Trout Fishing Season

Trout are available to fish in Oregon all year round in most waters. There are certain specified waters that have a limited season, however. For streams in the Northeast, Willamette, Northwest, Central, and Southwest Zones, trout fishing is open from May 22 – October 31.

Bull trout are also not available to target except in a few specified water bodies within the state. The complete list of special exceptions for the trout fishing season can be found on the ODFW website.

Oregon Trout Fishing Regulations

Any angler older than eleven years of age, whether resident or non-resident, is required to possess a valid Oregon fishing license in order to fish in Oregon waters. Any angler harvesting steelhead trout must purchase a Combined Angling Tag or a Hatchery Harvest Tag and record the appropriate number of harvested steelhead trout.

Anglers can only fish with one rod or line at a time unless they possess a Second Rod Validation. The daily bag limits and applicable size limits for all species must be adhered to. Certain species are illegal to retain and must be immediately released upon capture, including the bull trout in most Oregon waters.

For a full list of trout fishing regulations, refer to the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations 2022 manual. It is available on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

Oregon Fly Fishing Tips

Fly fishing is very popular in Oregon, especially in the rivers and streams. Following the hatches and matching your flies to the season is the best way to angle trout. Sticking to smaller flies is usually preferable as these are the more common food sources for river trout.

Target the slow-moving, deep pockets of the rivers and streams. These are typically places where the trout like to hang out because they provide the best food opportunities.

Always be aware of hypothermia when wading in Oregon waters even in the summer. This northern state can harbor some icy waters which the trout love but may leave you a little chilly.