Guest Author | 02/22/2023 | Fishing , Outdoor Recreation, Spring

Trout Fishing Around Corvallis

As a wilderness skills instructor for Coyle Outside, taking kids fishing is my favorite part of the job. Seeing a kids face light up when they land a fish is a beautiful thing, but so are all the lessons on adversity, patience, gratitude, and an appreciation for the outdoors with or without a catch.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery trout stocking continues through the spring and into the early summer providing a great introduction to fishing for younger or inexperienced anglers. A general Oregon Angling License is all that’s required to fish for trout for youth 12 years and older. ODFW also offers Oregon residents and visitors a weekend to fish, crab and clam without a license the first full weekend in June, and while the state website says the annual free fishing events have been cancelled until further notice, the free fishing weekends are still a go. This is a great opportunity to introduce new anglers to the water, young and old.

April and May have always been prime time for trout fishing stocked lakes west of the cascades. If the winter steelhead runs are dwindling, there's no snow on Mary's Peak, and it's time to plant tomatoes, check your watch because that also means the state has been stocking all your favorite lakes since January. By April, there's a mixture of fish fresh off the truck along with holdovers from previous stockings. The scheduled postings are listed as the "week of" and do purposely do not include the exact dates that stockings take place. Instead of banking on the online schedules to be posted, just get out there and do it the old fashioned way - create your own reports.

Stocking typically ends in June due to warmer water conditions. Historically, most lakes with scheduled events always get the largest quantities of stocked fish in preparation for those crowds. If you were lucky enough to be at the lake for February's free fishing weekend, you probably saw some exceptional fishing with quality sized trout. Between events, large quantities of legal sized trout along with a handful of trophy brooders are stocked to keep the anglers interested. When summer hits, there's still a few opportunities left to squeeze in. Some of the larger lakes (think any lake with kokanee and stocked trout) fish best for trout during those times, especially from a boat.

Some of my favorite lake spots in the valley area to fish from the bank are Sunnyside Park in Sweet Home, E.E. Wilson in Adair Village, Thissel Pond just outside of Alsea, Waverly Lake and Timber Linn Park in Albany, and Walter Wirth Lake in Salem. However, these mud puddles get pretty uninteresting when the weeds and hot weather move in on the fishing during the summer. The McKenzie from Nimrod to Deerhorn, North Santiam from Downing Creek all the way to Detroit Lake, and Yellowbottom Recreation Area on Quartzville Creek down to Green Peter Lake are all great spots to catch and harvest hatchery trout from a stream. Check your regulations for bait restrictions, but where bait is allowed it is also extremely effective.

For streams, drifting a nightcrawler under a weighted float with a split shot above the hook is tough to beat (where it's allowed). Eagle Claw's clear fixed steelhead floats and baitholder hooks are exceptional for this tactic in clear water. For lakes, fishing a sliding weight set-up from Dave's Tangle Free with power bait dough and a floating power egg on an Eagle Claw Trokar hook are good morning and evening presentations. If fishing gets slow, or the water is murky, a micetail worm can be fished on the same rigging with a little twitch every 10 or 15 seconds to create a little movement and visually attract fish. "Spinners and spoons at noon" is a phrase I typically tell the kids in my wilderness skills camps. If there's sun shining on the water, then metal will create more flash, so take advantage of it that time of day if the bait bite slows down. Metal is equally effective in lakes and streams and a 1/6th ounce rooster tail in the rainbow trout pattern will catch anything that swims, especially rainbow trout. For murky water and chasing brooders, a heavier pink, chartreuse, or green pattern will grab the attention of bigger fish.

Bright dough baits, single eggs and worms fished just off the bottom or under a bobber are popular presentations for lakes, but when it comes to fishing with kids, I've found that bobbers tend to driftt with the wind. That involves extra casting and opportunities for tangles and decorating tree limbs. Watching a bobber dunk is always fun, but bait fished on the bottom is the ultimate teacher of patience.

Most trout in shallow still-water ponds will be suspended within a foot or two off the bottom, so when you're casting lures, it's a good rule of thumb to allow them to sink for a few seconds before retrieving them. Try different depths to find the fish. While the ODFW website may not be posting the stocking schedules, it has a great beginner's guide to trout fishing and maps of all the hatchery trout release points in the state, including the Cascade Lakes. One thing is for sure, you can't catch them on the couch!

In Corvallis, you can purchase a fishing license at Big 5 Sporting Goods, Fred Meyer, Coastal Farm & Ranch, and the Bi-Marts at 1555 SW 53rd Street and 2045 NW 9th Street.

Article by Randall Bonner. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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