Click on the map to learn about other fishing hot spots, amenities and print a general map for each region.
The South Willamette Area covers the upper Willamette Basin south of Salem and includes the communities of Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove. Outstanding fishing for bass and panfish can be found in the Willamette River and its many sloughs, but a boat is needed for most locations as much of the banks are privately owned. Good warmwater angling can also be found in the area’s larger lakes such as Cottage Grove, Dorena, and Foster Reservoirs, and Fern Ridge where crappie and large bass attract both seasoned and causal anglers. There are also many smaller ponds inside and near the urban communities that offer great destinations for families, young anglers, or those looking for a quick and convenient fishing trip.
A variety of warmwater fish are available including:Largemouth Bass | Smallmouth Bass | Bullheads | Black Crappie | White Crappie | Bluegill | Pumpkinseed | Yellow Perch | Green Sunfish | Redear Sunfish | Warmouth | Channel Catfish
The basin south of Salem includes the communities of Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Springfield and Cottage Grove. Outstanding fishing for bass and panfish can be found in the Willamet
te River and its many sloughs, but a boat is needed for most locations as much of the banks are privately owned. Good warmwater angling can also be found in the area's larger lakes such as Cottage Grove, Dorena, and Foster Reservoirs, and Fern Ridge where crappie and large bass attract both seasoned and causal anglers. There are also many smaller ponds inside and near the urban communities that offer great destinations for families, young anglers, or those looking for a quick and convenient fishing trip.
A variety of warmwater fish are available in this area: White Crappie | Bluegill | Pumpkinseed | Yellow Perch | Warmouth | Channel Catfish
With a surface area of 9,000 acres at full pool, Fern Ridge is the largest lake in the Willamette Valley and one of several area flood control reservoirs managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is located on the Long Tom River, which still provides a band of deep water down
the middle of what is otherwise a very broad and shallow waterbody. Amazon Creek, Coyote Creek, and a number of other smaller tributary streams create
many coves and inlets that provide ideal habitat for warmwater fish including largemouth bass, bluegill, brown bullhead catfish, and crappie. Located
only 12 miles west of Eugene, it is a short drive from valley and coastal communities and convenient for families and other anglers seeking a weekend destination or quick fishing trip.
The reservoir offers a variety of recreational opportunities in addition to fishing including boating, sailing, water skiing, canoeing, and swimming. Boat ramps are located at Richardson Park, Fern Ridge Shores, Perkins Peninsula Park, and Orchard Point Park. A windy afternoon may keep anglers with smaller boats off the open water, but they can
find shelter in the many inlets and sloughs along the southern edge of the reservoir and in the Long Tom arm. Canoes can be launched at the Long Tom River Nature Trail parking area located off Territorial Road on ODFW’s Fern Ridge Wildlife Area. For those without a boat, bank access is good along the dam and at the shoreline parks. A fishing dock at Perkins Peninsula Park provides easy access for young or disabled anglers.
Although Fern Ridge offers outstanding fishing for bass and catfish, crappie are the main attraction. Crappie in Fern Ridge tend to grow more quickly than those in other western Oregon waters and the reservoir often produces fish over 12 inches. Crappie can be caught throughout the warmer months of the year, but fishing is best in the spring. The shoreline along Hwy 126 and Perkins Peninsula is a good area to target. Other locations include the channels where tributary streams enter the lake and along the face of the dam.
Look for fish near vegetation, wood, and other submerged structure, or along edges and other drop-off points where the water is less than 10 feet deep. When fishing in more open water or along the edges of cover, use light or medium spinning tackle to fish the bobber and jig combination shown in this guide. Start with a red and white crappie jig located about 12 inches below the bobber. Cast out and use a slow retrieve while occasionally jiggling the rod tip to give the jig additional motion. In areas where weeds or other cover are thick, some anglers prefer to fish one or two jigs using a long rod set-up and heavier line. Drop the jigs into a small hole or opening in the vegetation and hold the rod tip stationary, then give it a short jiggle every 10-20 seconds. Lift the jigs and move to another spot every minute or two if you haven’t had a bite. Use a larger size-6 jig in a neutral or darker color such as gray. Regardless of the method you choose, have a variety of jig colors available as what works at one spot may not work at the next. Also, crappie
abundance can go through cycles every few years so check with ODFW for the latest information.
Bass anglers will find a variety of water to fish. Weedy areas in the reservoir’s shallows can be targeted during the
morning and evening. The deeper creek channels and locations where trees, logs, stumps and woody vegetation offer cover such as the area around Fern Ridge Shores are always a good bet. A good place to start would be the slough areas in and around Coyote Creek and along the southern edge of the reservoir off Hwy 126. The rock along the face of the dam can be productive when water levels are lower. Bass can be caught at any time from spring through fall, but fishing will be best in spring when the bass spawn. Spinnerbaits and brightly colored soft plastic bait imitations fished using medium to heavy spinning or bait casting tackle and 8-12 pound test line are effective.
Bluegill can be caught throughout the reservoir in any of the weedy or other shallow shoreline areas. A hook baited with worm or other panfish bait and fished using a bobber as shown in this guide will minimize snags and make for a more enjoyable experience, especially for young anglers. Watch the bobber closely as bluegill are good at stealing bait! Bluegill fishing is also good immediately below the dam in Kirk Pond.
Fern Ridge is typically maintained at full pool through the summer, but water levels in 2005 were kept much lower to allow for repairs at the dam. Although this had a short-term impact, the vegetation that grew in the exposed areas improved the cover available to fish and made the reservoir more productive.
The North Coast | The South Coast | The North Willamette | The South Willamette | Klamath Lake | Central | John Day / Umatilla | Northeast | Southeast | Southwest