Ice fishing is a fun way to spend winters, and maybe you’d like to try it. The only issue is that you find yourself in Portland and you don’t know where to go. While finding a spot to ice fish near there is not easy compared to colder parts of the U.S., it’s certainly possible. To help you out, here are some recommendations on where to go ice fishing near Portland, Oregon.
You can’t fail to notice Mt. Hood when you’re in Portland, and so maybe your first thought when considering places to go ice fishing near the city is to go towards there. It’s a good thought.
Within the beautiful area surrounding Mt. Hood, there are plenty of places to go fishing, and in the winter, some of them will freeze enough to make for good ice fishing. Particularly, the ones in the high country will be subject to colder weather and freeze.
Here’s the catch: getting to those lakes is not as easy as just driving there.
One of the biggest lakes around Mt. Hood is Trillium Lake.
Under normal conditions, it takes just an hour and a half to get to this lake from Portland. It’s quite close to US Highway 26, so you just take it almost all the way there.
To actually get to the lake in the winter, though, you’ll need to make your way through some serious snow because the small road leading to the lake will be covered in it. Perhaps you should leave your car somewhere it won’t get stuck.
So, getting to the lake could mean going on a hike, one that will likely be more than 2 miles in length. But if you have them, you should be able to use a snowmobile or backcountry skis to get there.
If you are up for this sort of adventure, or even excited by it, you have a great day of fishing ahead of you. This is a great place to catch trout.
Make sure you go in mid to late winter, because the ice will not be thick enough in early winter. Make sure you check the thickness of the ice wherever you go so you don’t end up falling in the water.
You may be able to find other lakes near Mt. Hood that will be sufficiently frozen in the middle of winter, one of which I will discuss. None of them are likely to be much easier to get to, of course. Conditions will vary a bit year to year, so I recommend calling the forest ranger station to know where to go.
Lost Lake is another location fairly close to Mt. Hood. For your normal non-ice fishing, this lake is considered one of the best you can visit. The views are gorgeous, and you can catch a lot of trout. It’s likely that few people are fishing there in the winter, however, so if you like fishing in peace and quiet, you will really enjoy ice fishing there.
Once again, though, it won’t be near as easy to arrive there in the winter compared to other times of the year. Getting there when the lake is frozen will require a vehicle that can make its way through a lot of snow. You’ll need a strong 4-wheel drive vehicle with tires that can handle snow.
In normal conditions, getting there from Portland takes about 2 hours, but naturally, it’s going to take a bit longer with the snow you’ll encounter once you get to the high country. You need to go east on highway 26, then turn left on E Lolo Pass, which you will see when you drive through Mt Hood Village. Eventually, you will come to Lost Lake Rd, which you should follow to get to the lake.
So, this lake is pretty close to Portland. That makes it fantastic for a day-long trip. You can leave home early in the morning and have tons of time left to catch fish.
Your window of opportunity to ice fish here is not very big. I have mostly heard of people going in January, so that’s a pretty safe bet. But obviously, you should check conditions before you go. Late in the winter, it will be very rainy, so don’t expect ice.
An interesting note about that: there is one time during the year when this lake actually drains. This is due to a hole formed by volcanic activity. This happens closer to the summer when there’s not as much water coming in due to less rain. So that makes this a very interesting lake. It shouldn’t affect your attempts to ice fish, of course, but I didn’t think you should miss out on that fascinating detail.
Anyway, when you go ice fishing, even if you get your 4-wheel drive vehicle over to the lake, make sure you don’t try to drive it on the lake. There is very little chance of the ice being thick enough to support it. You should also always check the thickness of the ice as you go. You don’t want to fall in, right?
Unfortunately, we are going to be getting into spots that are quite a bit farther from Portland now, because to have a climate better suited for ice fishing, it’s necessary to go slightly more south.
With that said, Phillips Reservoir is over five hours away from Portland. This is the furthest this list will take you, though, so don’t worry too much. With a distance like that, you will likely enjoy your trip more if you stay the night over there. Otherwise, you will probably feel like you did way more driving than fishing.
Now there is some trouble with finding this one on Google Maps. If you type in “Philips Reservoir,” a little lake close to Portland is shown. The problem is that it’s been reported that the lake shown is not the Philips Reservoir that is popular for ice fishing. In fact, it seems to just be a private pond. So, beware of that. I don’t think you’ll be able to ice fish there.
To get to the actual lake we want, you should search Google Maps for “Philips Lake,” even though the word reservoir is used more often to describe this location. This is really a mistake on Google’s part.
To get there from Portland, the fastest way is to take I-84 East for a long time. Eventually, you take exit 304 and basically just follow that road. It’s a simple place to find.
Now, this lake will be very accessible for ice fishing, especially compared to what I’ve discussed so far. Among the advantages to this is that you don’t have to worry as much about safety. You won’t have to traverse miles of snow to get there. Instead, you just take the plowed highways and end up right at the lake.
It’s nice to see other people at a frozen lake because you already feel safer from the fact that other people are standing on it just fine. It’s still wise to check the thickness of the ice, though.
On the other hand, having crowds around could be less enjoyable than being all alone in the silence of winter. So that may be a disadvantage for some.
You’ll find rainbow trout and yellow perch in this lake.
It’s an absolutely beautiful location with evergreen-covered hills surrounding it. It looks amazing in the warmer seasons, but in winter you’ll find it beautiful too. The lake will be frozen solid and perfect for fishing.
Diamond Lake is a year-round fishery, so it’s one of the best places in Oregon you can find to catch lots of fish. It’s full of trout. They grow quickly, and they grow large.
It is four hours from Portland, which is obviously quite a long distance. It is, however, the closest of these far ones I am including on the list, so it’s definitely a good one to check out. Still, four hours is long enough to make staying the night over there worth considering.
What makes this area particularly nice is that there’s a resort right next to it that is kept open all year, if possible. So if you find that you came unprepared for some reason (try not to do that), that place will be a lifesaver. They rent out equipment, such as ice augers, so you could go on an ice fishing trip without even owning one!
They also rent snowmobiles, though usually, you can catch fish just by walking out onto the lake. If you want to get to the far side, since it is a big lake, after all, you might consider renting one of these snowmobiles.
To travel to this lake from Portland, use Interstate 5 Southbound, then take OR-58 southeast to US-97, which you then go south on until finally turning right on OR-138 (there’s a cafe there named after the lake, so you’ll know it’s the right place) and following that to the lake.
The mountain views of this lake are truly gorgeous. You will love the view, and you will hopefully catch a lot of fish here, too.
The more adventurous among you might hope for somewhere more wilderness-like, where few people go. But on the bright side, this lake is accessible, so even if it means more crowds, it’s nice to have it be easy to get to.
Wolf Creek Reservoir
This is a fairly small reservoir, but it’s also really easy to access. It is at least a four-hour drive, though, so I’m using the term ” near” loosely when I say it’s near Portland. Once again, geography prevents Portland from having a ton of ice fishing to offer if you only want to travel an hour or two. But go a bit further, and there’s a good amount to enjoy.
Getting here from Portland is incredibly simple. Just take I-84 E for a long time and then take exit 283, and you’re pretty much there.
With the long drive, you might consider staying the night somewhere nearby. I’d probably find a hotel or campsite no more than an hour away from the lake, drive to that hotel from Portland in the evening, and then come to the lake first thing in the morning. Then I’d drive all the way back to Portland at the end of the day. I think that’s the best way to get the most fishing done while spacing out the driving.
If you try to do it all in one day, it’s just too much driving and not enough fishing.
You’ll be looking for rainbow trout species in this lake.
A good thing about Wolf Creek is that the fishing can be more consistent than some of the others in the region, which are prone to droughts.
So, it’s a reliable place to go. It’s not the most popular place, either, so even though it’s small, it won’t be overcrowded.
While fishing there, you will be treated to a nice backdrop of mountains and hills. It’s a lovely spot.
Don’t expect any special accommodations; there’s nothing here except the lake. The nearby towns are quite small as well. Come prepared.
If you take care of basic safety precautions, you should do well here in the middle of winter. I know it’s quite a drive from Portland, but coming here can make for a fun weekend trip, and you’ll be able to catch a lot of trout.
This reservoir sits in the desert, whereas all the other locations I’ve listed are in more mountainous areas. So, it’s a change in scenery for sure. Personally, I prefer to look at mountains and trees, but hey, some people like the desert too.
Anyway, the important thing is that this lake is indeed frozen in the middle of winter. It’s a great place to catch rainbow trout. These trout are in great shape, too: you’ll find them in sizes ranging from 16 to 18 inches. Source
Getting there from Portland should take around four and a half hours. Just take highway 26 southeast to highway 126. Take that south, then head west on highway 20. Eventually, after around an hour, you should see the reservoir on your left. I don’t think you will have much trouble with snow unless you try to go there in the middle of a blizzard.
I wouldn’t try to ice fish here as late as March since things will be warming up by then. Late December, January, and February are definitely the only truly safe times. Whenever you go, if you see ice, always be sure to verify its thickness before trying to take all your stuff out there.
There is a campground at this reservoir, but otherwise, it doesn’t offer any extra accommodations. It’s just a lake, a mostly undisturbed wilderness. For some, this is very appealing because it means more peace and quiet. A few people do like to be closer to civilization, so they wouldn’t like the lack of that here.
This is a very nice spot for ice fishing. Once again, you’ll have to travel quite a ways to get there, so I’d make it an overnight trip, personally. It’s just the best use of time and keeps you from having to drive nine hours in one way. If you do that, you’ll love fishing in this lovely desert.
There’s a reason people don’t think of ice fishing when they think of Portland, but you can still find plenty of places to enjoy this activity within Oregon. You may have to hike through a bunch of snow or just drive a long way to do it, but you can do it.
By the way, much of the information in this article came from this site.
I hope this list has helped you get some good ideas if you’re near Portland and you hope to go ice fishing soon.