The Angle: Cold-Weather Catch: Winter Trout Fishing in Oregon
By Lucas Holmgren
The Winter season may seem like a time when most outdoor activities come to a halt, but for those looking to catch trout, it’s a productive time of year! The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks hatchery-raised trout in many bodies of water throughout the winter months, and there is plenty of opportunity for adults and children to catch these fish in various sizes.
To find where Trout are stocked in Oregon, simply go on the ODFW website and search for “Trout Stocking Schedule.” You can also scan this QR code at the end of this article.
Although December and January do not get as many plants as February and March, there are plenty of trout left over to catch from November plants. Once February rolls around, you’ll find lots of lakes newly enhanced with generous trout plants.
Fishing for Stocked Trout
When a lake gets stocked with trout, they are typically fed out of an ODFW truck with a tube that shoots the fish into the water. When they first hit the water they are often confused and a bit stunned by the experience. Of course, you may find very hungry trout right away, but the bite usually gets better on day two or three. After the fish have acclimated to the water temperature and explored their surroundings, they become ravenous feeders. The first week after a lake has been stocked is usually pretty incredible fishing.
The fish are still hanging near their point of stocking (usually a boat ramp) and hunting the shallows for feed. When they’ve been in that lake for a few weeks, they will start seeking out more traditional trout habitat, heading to deeper areas or mouths of creeks. At that point, you can still have phenomenal fishing, but you may have to launch a boat and search for them, or find a sweet spot off the bank.
When it comes to gear, it is hard to beat bait such as Berkley PowerBait, ideally floating one to three feet off of the bottom. The most effective rig is a sliding weight that sits on the bottom, with a leader and light hook that is floated up by the buoyant bait. I have written a mini-book about this very technique called “PowerBait Tactics for Trout” that you can order on AmatoBooks.com to perfect this technique. Of course, good old-fashioned earthworms on a bobber setup will work well, as long as you ensure that the worm is getting somewhat close to the bottom. Although trout do eat off the bottom, it is best to have it right in their line of sight.
February Is Go Time!
With all of the stocking occurring in February, it’s a wonderful time to go fish: bring the kids too! Just make sure everyone has rain gear and warm clothes to keep comfortable. Fishing makes the winter a joy!