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how to fish Odell Lake
Lake Odell fishing tips

Fishing Opportunities at Odell Lake  

Mackinaw to 30 pounds-plus, kokanee to 20 inches and Dolly Varden and rainbow trout weighing several pounds! Those are the attractions which draw anglers to Odell Lake in Central Oregon. Whether you're new to Odell, or have fished it in the past, the following information will help you have a more productive outing. Odell Lake is located adjacent to State Highway 58 in the state of Oregon, which leads southeast from Eugene to intersect U.S. 97 at Chemult. It's about 65 miles from Eugene to the lake and about the same distance via U.S. 97 south from Bend and then west on 58. With over 3,300 acres of water available, this large, natural lake can be troublesome for the first-time angler, or those who have made only occasional trips. There are specific areas which consistently produce fish and deserve your attention. The following is a rundown on the various fish species and techniques proved effective for catching them at Odell.  

The Oregon Department of Fish and WildlifeGame plants nearly 200,000 of these land-locked sockeye salmon each spring as fingerlings. However, these plants make up only five percent of the total kokanee catch at Odell Lake. All other kokes caught are native, with most being spawned in Trapper Creek. The average Odell kokanee runs in the 10- to 16-in. range, with some up to 20 inches. Kokanee fishing begins with opening day, the last Saturday in April, and continues until the lake closes Oct. 31. Early season finds the kokes in large schools ranging from near the surface, down as deep as 60 feet. Later in the season, after the water temperature has risen, you'll find them near the surface early in the morning and late in the evening. During warm summer days, they often are found from 25 foot depths down to the bottom (usually near 100 feet). Trolling techniques work well, with most anglers using lead core line, a lake troll and a small spoon such as a Needlefish, Super Duper or Kokanee King. A size 4/0, 3/0 or 2/0 Jensen Dodger is an excellent attractor. Jigging in the early season has also become very effective in recent years. The fish are aggressive and sometimes found in massive schools. Odell has very clear water, so we recommend a 24- to 48-inch, 4- to 8-lb. test leader between troll and lure. During warm weather, when kokes can be found near the bottom, a size 025 Nordic jig in Mother-Of-Pearl, Chartreuse/Green Stripe or Nickel/Blue Stripe/Silver Prism-Lite or Crippled Herring in Mother-of-Pearl, Pearl White, Nickel/Neon Blue Stripe or Fire Tiger can be very effective. One of the biggest mistakes made by anglers is working a lure too fast. Most will not perform correctly at fast speeds and kokanee generally will not hit a rapidly-moving lure . . . they need to be tantalized by it. The best advice we can give you is to troll S-L-O-W-L-Y . . . the slower the better. NOTE: Kokanee have very delicate and tender mouths. Care must be taken to ensure that the shock of the initial strike is absorbed by using a rubber snubber or having a flexible rod tip. They must be carefully played and landed with the aid of a net to prevent the hooks from tearing out.  

The same trolling setups and lures suggested and diagrammed for kokanee also can successfully be used for catching Odell's rainbow trout. Some of the hottest rainbow action comes while trolling near shore with a lake troll followed by a small spoon or a troll followed by a small Hot Shot plug. Popular trolls include the Willow Leaf, Ford Fender, Beer Can and Main Train. Rainbows can be found most anywhere along the shoreline, particularly where a dropoff exists.

Odell Lake is famous for its mackinaw (lake trout) with fish over 30 pounds available. Most macks run 4 to 10 pounds and can be taken with lake trolls followed by large plugs such as a J-Plug or a Kwikfish. One technique perfected by the Luhr Jensen fishing Team which has produced consistent mackinaw results (after a concentration of fish has been located using a depth sounder) is jigging with a Nordic or Crippled Herring. Some of the team's favorite jigging areas are out from Princess Creek, View Point and the Railroad Slide. Glo-Fluorescent Green Stripe and Nickel/Neon Green Stripe have been the top colors. See the diagram for jigging instructions. NOTE: Strikes which come when working a jig almost always occur as the lure is falling. Hesitation in the descent of the jig, a twitch of the line, a "tap" or anything else unusual as the lure is falling is immediate reason for setting the hook. Many times you will not be able to detect a "strike" but will feel resistance as you begin to raise the rod. This too signals "set the hook". The use of a premium quality, high-visibility line such as Trilene XT (which also has high knot strength and thin diameter in relation to pound test) is one thing that will aid you in detecting strikes as the jig is falling. Because of Odell's size, there is just no substitute for a good quality depth sounder, such as one made by Lowrance, in indicating concentrations of fish and especially for pinpointing kokanee and mackinaw schools when you wish to try jigging. Luhr Jensen hopes you enjoy your trip to Odell Lake and that this information aids in your fishing success while there. Camping facilities, boat rentals, fishing tackle and food are available at both Odell Lake Lodge and Shelter Cove Resort. HAPPY FISHING!

thanks to Luhr Jensen for giving us permission to repost the above information

Odell Lake 7/3-7/4 fishing report by Rick Arnold

       Part of my job with Scotty Downriggers is to take retail buyers and co-workers out to see how our products work first hand. This last Tues. Terry Bennett and myself took Bill and Sue Campbell out at Odell for a shot at some big Lakers. Bill is the Mgr. of marine accessories for All Seasons Marine in Bend. We met at the Sunset ramp at 6:00 a.m. to a beautiful, glassy morning. We headed to Princess Creek area right off to work the structure for bottom-hugging lakers. Immediately, we hooked up on a nice fish in the low teens. Before mid-morning we had caught and released four fish up to 16 lbs. The big treat of the day was hooking up on a Bull trout of about 8 lbs. that we quickly photographed and then slid back in. Bull trout are strictly managed in Oregon with a total catch and release policy. The one exception is Lake Billy Chinook where one fish may be harvested over 24 in. All in all, we had a great day catching and releasing 7 fish to 16 lbs. All of the fish came on flasher and hootchie rigs fishing water of 85 to 150 feet.  The next day we met Tom and Matt from Big R in Redmond. They were on a half day schedule due to the holiday so we had to get it done by noon. We actually did better than the day before with a total of 9 lakers coming to the boat weighing 140 + lbs. total. The biggest fish went 22 lbs. and we had another fish at 20. We had 2 double hook-ups and 7 of the lakers coming before 11:00 a.m. It was a fantastic day I won't soon forget. I will be heading up to Wickiup for another shot at the browns so look for a report to follow.
                            Good Fishing, Rick

A Mackinaw Story

This was my first try at Mackinaw fishing- trolled for 20 minutes and hooked up with this big guy! I was fishing at the east end of the lake in about 220 ft. of water with a big blue and silver "J-Plug" on a downrigger at 90 ft. when I caught this Mackinaw. It was 32 1/2 inches long- just legal to keep- don't know what it weighed. Another mackinaw fisherman we met at the ramp commented that I shouldn't have kept it because they are not really that good eating. Should've listened to him! It was very fatty and greasy- I would not keep another one. I would however like to go back and try to catch  another one- I thought I was going to run out of line when he hit and headed down, and down and down- they are very strong! Jim Bradley