Some of Oregon’s most exciting bass fishing takes place along the Oregon Coast between North Bend and Winchester Bay. Because of the difficulty of access for some of these lakes and the tremendous popularity of nearby Tenmile Lakes, these waters tend to be very much underfished. Some of these lakes nearly dry up during drought years and may require a high water year to receive a natural restocking from the overflow from a larger or deeper lake.
Let’s take a look at these waters starting from the South. I will skip a few smaller waters with very marginal bass fisheries.
Horsfall Lake – This very shallow 200 acre lake averages only a couple of feet deep and contains largemouth bass, yellow perch and brown bullheads with the bass the most numerous. Every several years, the lake has a good spawn and that year class dominates the fishery for several years. Because of occasional droughts, the number of bass weighing more than two and a half pounds is very low, but in some years two pound fish are very common and due to the compeition for food the bass tend to be aggressive biters. Much of the lake is privately owned, but there are some easily wadeable spots along the south end. The lake lies on the right side of the road to Horsfall Beach.
Snag Lake – This 30 acre lake is reachable by 4-wheel drive vehicles suitable for sand dunes travel. The entry point is via Hauser Depot Road and then south at the railroad tracks. Located just southwest of Beale Lake and contains largemouth bass, yellow perch and bullhead catfish. Subject to complete fish kills during drought years, but receives fish from Beale Lake during periods of high water.
Beale Lake – Located on the west side of the railroad tracks just south of Butterfield Lake and contains about 130 surface acres when full. With an average depth of about 5 feet, Beale can suffer during low water years. The lake consists of three sections with the east section along the railroad tracks the smallest and the west section the largest. Capable of producing lunker bass after several good-water years, Beale also contains yellow perch and some bluegills with very few black crappies, brown bullheads and warmouths. While occasional high-water years are necessary for good fishing, the amount of fish-holding water can be several times that of a normal or low-water year and Beale is very high this year and probably will not provide its best fishing until this fall.
Butterfield Lake – This 20 acre lake became much more accessible when Riley Ranch was turned into a park with RV parking. Most people don’t realize that some of the best fishing water is on the west side of the railroad tracks. Butterfield now receives trout plants and also has largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill and a very few warmouths. Don’t expect many bass over two pounds, but some of the bluegills and crappies are decent-sized.
Saunders Lake – Probably not considered a sand dunes lake by most anglers, but the west side of the lake borders the dunes. Saunders is heavily stocked with trout, but also has good populations of largemouth bass and yellow perch as well as smaller numbers of white crappie and bluegills and very few brown bullheads. A number of years ago, a four pound walleye was pulled from the lake – obviously thrown in by someone back from a trip to the Columbia River. All of the warmwater fish species in Saunders are capable of reach good size.
Clear Lake – This 30 acre lake is located just north of Saunders Lake and has limited access. It contains fair numbers of largemouth bass and yellow perch with a few bluegills also present. Despite limited productivity, the lake does produce some decent-sized fish.
Hall Lake – This lake of about six acres is located on the west side of Old Highway 101 opposite Eel Lake. Hall Lake has native cutthroats along with largemouth bass. Most of the north end of the lake has shorefishing possibilities.
The photo shows the author with an average-sized Beale Lake largemouth bass.