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Warm Water Fishing in Oregon

North Coast

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The North Willamette Area

Site information and map for the North Willamette Area (pdf)

The North Willamette Area includes the Columbia River from Bonneville downstream to St. Helens and the lower Willamette Basin north of Salem. The Columbia and Willamette both offer outstanding warmwater angling for bass and a variety of panfish including crappie. Good fishing is also available in the area's lakes and reservoirs such as Henry Hagg Lake which has produced state record smallmouth bass and brown bullhead catfish.

Although this is the most populated region of Oregon with the state's largest metropolitan area, families and young anglers will find plenty of opportunities close to home in the many smaller ponds inside and near Portland and the other urban areas where a variety of fish are available including: Largemouth Bass | Smallmouth Bass | Bullheads | Black Crappie | White Crappie | Bluegill | Pumpkinseed | Yellow Perch | Green Sunfish | Warmouth | Channel Catfish | Walleye

Featured Waterbody - Henry Hagg Lake

Located less than 30 miles west of Portland near the City of Forest Grove, Henry Hagg or “Hagg” Lake offers excellent warmwater fishing near Oregon's largest urban area and the Willamette Valley. A Bureau of Reclamation dam on Scoggins Creek creates the 1100 acre reservoir used to store water for irrigation and municipal use, and provide flood control on the Tualatin River.

Recreational facilities at Henry Hagg Lake are managed by Washington County, which charges a day use or season pass fee to enter the area. These include extensive facilities for the disabled angler as access has been a primary consideration during any development. No camping is allowed, but there are several shelters and picnic areas, and numerous spots to stop along the road and trails that circle the lake. Boat ramps are located on the east side of the lake at Recreation Area A and on the west side at Recreation Area C, which includes a concessionaire offering rentals. The majority of recreational boating occurs on the south half of the lake while the north half has been designated a “no wake zone” making it more pleasant to fish. The lake is generally closed to public access from late November to early March.

Although Henry Hagg Lake is a great destination for beginners, it is popular among more experienced anglers as state record smallmouth bass and brown bullhead catfish have been caught here. Anglers will also find largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch. During the cooler months, native cutthroat trout are present and the lake is heavily stocked with rainbow trout.

mapAngling for bass and crappie is best in mid to late spring when the fish move into shallow areas to spawn. For smallmouth, fish in the lake arms or smaller coves using light or medium weight spinning tackle and lures that imitate prey such as small fish and crayfish. For crappie, use light spinning tackle and fish with a bobber and jig as shown in this guide. The jig can be set at different depths until you locate the fish.

Start with a lighter weight jig then try heavier weights if necessary, and have a variety of colors available. Bait can be added to the jig hook for additional attraction. Bank anglers will find good access near the boat ramps and along the biking and hiking trails that surround the lake. Look for areas where grass, aquatic weeds, root wads and other submerged structures offer fish cover.

As temperatures warm, the smallmouth bass move to deeper water so fish along areas of riprap and in the south half of the lake near and along Scoggins Dam. Though not as plentiful as the smallmouth, largemouth bass can still be caught in the shallow areas during this time of year. For smallmouth or largemouth, use spinners or other surface lures in the morning and evening, and during mid-day switch to jigs, plastic baits, or other lures that fish deeper.

Angling remains good in the coves and shallows during the summer for bluegill and crappie, but also yellow perch. This is a great time to take kids fishing as the weather is warm and panfish can still be caught using a bobber and bait fished close to the surface. A small hook baited with a worm or other panfish bait and set 12-18 inches below the bobber works well and will keep the hook above any snags. The long fishing pier located near Boat Ramp C is perfect for younger children.

Summeris also a goodtime to fish for catfish. Although not everyone will catch a state record like the nearly 3 ½ pounder, anglers will find at Henry Hagg Lake some of the nicest brown bullhead of any water in the Willamette Valley. During the summer, brown bullhead can be caught using bait fished on the bottom in deeper areas of the lake coves and arms. Most standard gear works well for catfish, such as a 5-7 foot casting or spinning rod and 4-8 pound test line rigged with a slip-sinker and bait as shown in this guide. Tie a 12-18 inch length of leader below the swivel and attach a hook baited with worms or other panfish or catfish bait. Baits with a strong odor work best for catfish. The sliding sinker allows the catfish to take the bait before feeling the weight of the sinker.

When the weather and water temperatures cool in the fall, smallmouth angling again improves as fish move back into the shallow areas to feed. You can switch back to using small fish and crayfish imitations, but plastic worms will also work well.

Warmwater Fishing Areas

The North Coast | The South Coast | The North Willamette | The South Willamette | Klamath Lake | Central | John Day / Umatilla | Northeast | Southeast | Southwest



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