Where to fish around Portland during the dog days of summer

Many of the lakes I normally fish in Oregon have been closed due to low water levels, high temperatures, or risk from wildfires. Trout fishing has slowed down and transitioned to favor warm water species such as bluegill, bass, and perch. I have recorded water temperatures as high as 78-80 degrees F within 2 feet of the surface. Getting on the water at sunrise before the high sun turns our lakes into bathwater is the way to go.

While fishing is not red-hot this time of the year, Henry Hagg Lake is a beautiful place to fish during early morning hours if you need a water fix. Hagg Lake is located 25 miles west of Portland in Scoggins Valley Park and is owned and operated by Washington County.

I caught this beautiful bluegill at Hagg Lake. At this time of year, trout are deep and favor the dam area of Hagg Lake. Bass and bluegill can be found in the shaded shallow inlets on the west side of the lake near Sain Creek Recreational Area.

Fly Color Selection & Algae:

I learned an interesting fishing tip this summer for when algae is prevalent in the water.  In these conditions, I consistently find certain fly colors work better than others – regardless of the pattern that I am using. Any guesses which colors were most productive?


If you guessed white or black, you nailed it!

Particulates in the water affect what color the trout can see. Imagine looking through green tinted sunglasses; some colors will appear bolder while others more subdued. For example, a burnt orange fly in green algae-stained water will appear orange/brown. Additionally, since there is less light in heavily stained water, darker flies produce a clearer silhouette, are easier to see, and are therefore more effective under such conditions.

Since white maintains its visibility longest, I use both white and black flies when fishing deeper during the hot summer months when warm water temperatures and low oxygen levels drive fish to hold deeper.

Shawn Harman at Hartland Lake, Oregon Fishing Club, using Vickie’s White Predator Bugger

I compared white and black against other colors using three different patterns: my UV Midge Pupa, UV Crystal Pupa, and Predator Bugger. White and black outperformed all other colors in algae-rich waters. Since fish are visual hunters, select fly pattern colors such as white and black to increase your catch rate as they are the most visible colors under these conditions.

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