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A Little About

Crescent Lake, Oregon

Thanks to David Gardiner of Portland Oregon for these photos and the notes about Crescent Lake.

photo submitted by David Gardiner
(click on photo to see larger version)

photo submitted by David Gardiner
(click on photo to see larger version)

I've been going to Crescent Lake since I was 5 years old in 1952 camping with my parents. I haven't missed at least two weeks a year since. After growing up and getting married and having a family, I continued to go the lake for our vacations every year. In 1982 I bought one of the summer homes there. We're up to the lake throughout the year. We snowmobile to our cabin in the winter. Its gated near the railroad tracks and snowbound after that. I recall the original town of Crescent Lake when it was a railroad town. That was burned down by a transient dropping a cigarette at the back of the restraunt one night. That area is now a snow park. The original earth dam was replaced in 1956 with the new dam. The maximum vertical feet of water that can be removed is about 23 feet from max high to min low. I remember the Island before the water was raised with the new dam. You could not see through all the trees on top of the island. Now there are only about 5 standing trees and 3 are dead.
Portland, OR

Crescent Lake 

profiled by Rick Arnold
photo at left is Rick Arnold with 12 1/2 lb Lake Trout or Mackinaw he caught and released in mid April of 2000

Crescent Lake is like an undiscovered Gem. Overshadowed by Odell, this lake is a sleeper when it comes to quality fishing. Featuring Big Mackinaw over the thirty pound range, Brown Trout into the teens and some of the largest Kokanee in the region. It also has a limited but self-sustaining Rainbow population with occasional fish pushing the ten pound mark. Early in the season you can catch the Lakers and Browns by flatlining the 10-20 foot range with minnow type lures.( Excalibur Minnows, Rapala's and Bombers). You should try deeper running lures when the sun gets higher.( Excalibur Fat Free Shads, Shad-R's and Rapala Shad Raps). Later in the season the Browns get tougher with the rise in water temperature. This is the time to concentrate on downrigging for Lakers in the 100-175 foot range. (Flasher and Hootchie combo's, Flatfish and Apexes take fish through the summer) The Kokanee, once schooled up, are taken by jigging ( Nordics and Crippled Herring ) and trolling. Pop-gear and old standbys like the Wedding rings work well and give the Hotspot Kokanee Killer a try. This beautiful lake sits just off highway 58 near Crescent Junction, a little over an hour from Eugene or Bend. The next time you want to get away from the crowds and experience some great fishing consider Crescent Lake. by Rick Arnold

THANKS! and hats to Steve Brown for sending us the following story 

My family and I made our first trip to Crescent Lake in 1960 and continued for the next 13 years. I have not been back since. If anyone has current pictures I would appreciate it.

I remember the trip would take three days. We live in Orange County California.

I remember our 1st trip, we had to cut down trees to get our cars and boats to the other side of the lake. We had to one of the first families to camp at Crescent Lake. During the first 5 years we never saw any other people camping. There was a dirt road around the lake but to get to the lake shoreline we had to cut down trees. There were no campgrounds so we had to build our own camp sights and outhouse. During the last few years I can remember the dirt road was paved and they had turn our campsites into regular state run campsites. I remember there was a 1 doc marina and a boy scout camp on other side of the lake from where we camped there were a few cabins. I also remember our trips to the island. We would spend 6 to 8 week every summer. My father and our camping friends were all teachers with lot of summer time off. I can not remember if the marina sold gas at first. I do remember Manley from the Chevron station (at the main highway) bringing a 55 gallon drum of gas out every two or three days.
We would collect Indian arrowheads as well as spearheads both in the water and along the shore. The beaches were all pumice and the water was crystal clear. There was no running water but I remember taking containers to the cold spring very close to our camping sights. I remember how the water lever changed so dramatically a few different years. One year the water was so high there was almost no beaches and another year the water was so low we had to walk quite a way to the waters edge. We had a great time year after year. During our first ten years we could go days with out seeing any boat on the lake except our group.
The last few years the place really changed regular campsites with a 14 day stay limit but they knew our families and were aware that we had been the people camping in these spots for 10 years, they would allow us to stay as long as we wanted. 

Crescent Lake was a young boys dream vacation with camping, swimming, fishing, water-skiing and hiking. What more could a kid want?

I'm not sure why I was compelled to share the greatest time of my life with you.

Steve Brown

Steve Kelly caught & released this 6 1/2 lb Brown at Crescent on April of 2000

Steve Kelly caught this beauty (above photo) while fishing with Rick Arnold at Crescent lake

Crescent Lake is a popular recreation lake in a setting of wooded shorelines, sandy beaches and brilliant blue-green water. In addition to fishing for kokanee, lake trout, and rainbow and brown trout, people come to this lake for sailing, swimming, water skiing windsurfing and camping.  Lake trout are caught here in the 5 to 10  pound range with an occasional 20 pounder.  In 1993 a 30 pound lake trout was caught at Crescent Lake. Crescent Lake is on the Deschutes National Forest in a naturally glaciated basin behind a moraine dam and lies just east of the summit of the Cascade Mountain Range in Northern Klamath County.  It is located about 3 miles south of Hwy 58 via Deschutes National Forest Road 60 from Crescent Lake junction.  In 1922, a small earth and wooding dam was built across the outlet to store water for irrigation in Bend via Crescent Creek, Little Deschutes and Deschutes Rivers.  The Bureau of Reclamation constructed a 40 foot-high earth and concrete in 1956 bringing the lake’s surface area elevation at full pool to 4,847 feet where it has a surface area of 4,008 acres.  Water is drawn off for irrigation throughout the summer, so by summers end the lake level could drop as much as 15 feet.   

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Barry Levitz for sending the above info about Crescent Lake.

ODFW Management Policies for Crescent Lake

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently manages whitefish for natural production, introduced kokanee salmon, rainbow and brown trout at Crescent Lake will be managed for natural and hatchery production consistent with the Basic Yield Fish Management Alternative for trout. Introduced lake trout (mackinaw) will be managed for natural production consistent with Natural Production Policy under the Trophy Fish Management Alternative for trout.

Source: Upper Deschutes River Subbasin Fish Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Upper Deschutes Fish District, October 1996.


Physical Characteristics:

Size: 4,547 surface acres, Depth: At full pool, average depth of 124 feet with 265 ft maximum depth, Elevation: 4,839 feet.

Vehicle Access:

Crescent Lake is approximately 75 miles southeast of Eugene off State Highway 58. 

Boat Launches: There are three boat ramps on Crescent Lake:

  • Crescent Lake Campground
  • Spring Campground
  • Crescent Lake Lodge.
Fish Species:
  • kokanee salmon
  • lake trout (mackinaw)
  • rainbow trout
  • brown trout
  • mountain whitefish

Camping Information
  • Contorta Point
  • Crescent Lake Campground
  • Simax Campground
  • Spring Campground
  • Whitefish Campground
  • Windy Campground
Resort Information:

Crescent Lake Lodge and Resort

thanks to: Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests Website for much of the above information