Empire Lakes – Most Heavily Planted Lake On the Oregon Coast

Receiving more than 40,000 planted rainbow trout each year, Empire Lakes, by a more than two to one margin is the most heavily planted trout lake on the Oregon Coast.

Not only do the lakes receive the normal barely-legal rainbow trout, it also receives trout in the 12-inch class, trout in the 16-inch class that the ODFW refers to as trophy trout, Empire also receives unannounced plants of brookstock rainbows and surplus steelhead.

Of course there is a downside to dumping in thousands of trout into a shallow 50 acre lake – and that is that the warmwater fish in Empire have to complete with hordes of always hungry trout. As a consequence, the numbers of yellow perch, bluegills, black crappies, brown bullheads and largemouth bass is only fair. But once a bass gets big enough to grab some of the smaller unsuspecting rainbows, they can gain weight in a hurry. Bass weighing at least nine pounds have been pulled from the lake – but not very often.

The usual occurence following a trout plant is that bank anglers do well for a few days, but then their fishing success falls off as most of the fish will be caught by anglers fishing from small boats or float tubes. The fishing for these non-bank anglers holds up for a while as most of the fish they catch are released to be recaught again and again.

The trout that do venture close to the bank are usually caught by anglers that will keep them – making the anglers able to fish mid-lake waters more successful in the weeks following a trout plant.

Curtis Reed’s four pound nine ounce Empire Lake rainbow took a dry fly on three pound tippet.


About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.

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