Fishing Beyond the road – Central Oregon’s Odell Creek

There are so many great places to fish in central Oregon that it is hard to choose where to go. Luckily most of the small streams in the area are managed so that the native fish will not be depleted and people can enjoy to fish in them for years to come. Odell Creek is currently catch and release for all trout and limited to using fly or lures.

For every trip I take like this I always have a checklist of things to bring with me. For anyone hiking remote areas you should always have a backup plan for emergency. The main three to always focus on are shelter, water, and food. And always in that order. There is no need to buy the fancy expensive hiking ones. But even something as simple as a life straw can mean the difference of being stranded and waiting for help and waiting for help and having any type of intestinal issues from drinking unpurified water.

Odell creek is a small stream flowing from Odell Lake down through mostly thick timber down to Davis lake. In low water years like this year is turning out to be the upper end by Odell lake is very shallow with few places for fish. The lower end closer to Davis lake picks up some water and has some decent rainbow trout fishing. The size varies year to year depending on the water levels in the area. In early 2005 a fire swept through the area and the removed all the heavy timber in the last few miles of the stream going into Davis lake. No shade for fishing or to keep the water cooler. Still chilly even without the shade.

90+ temps but still fun
Towards the area outside of the fire burn.

Since I was a teen I have always enjoyed fishing this gem of a stream. In the really hot years once Davis lake gets warm the larger trout can swim up into some of the deep holes in the creek. Sadly the large fish in Davis are not what they used to be. Bass were illegally introduced in the mid 1990’s and that has hurt the trout population. For avid bass fisherman this is a great thing, but for those of us that love the trout it is a sad change. You can still find these bigger trout but since the fire I have noticed less of them going very far up into the creek.

At the edge of the old burn line the smaller brushy river alders are making a comeback
Closer to the lake the banks are still bare of any sized trees. There are a lot of smaller ones coming up now.
A larger native rainbow.

In my last couple of trips to the creek the average size has been around 6″-8″ with the occasional larger fish. I normally spin fish with lures but this is a great creek to fly fish in. Just lots of brush and logs in the water to make it a bit challenging.

Since It was a nice day this last time I also made a short fishing video. Not a lot of fish caught but it is a great hike along the creek.

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Fishing and Hiking McDowell Creek falls

Terrace falls
Terrace falls. There is a path that goes up to the top, and stairs, lots and lots of stairs.

Fall in Oregon is a great time to get out and explore. The places to go is enormous and limited only by your willingness to get out into nature. With the start of some fall rains we decided this weekends adventure should be to a waterfall. Located between Lebanon and Sweet home McDowell falls is close and has multiple falls to explore. This area, due to it’s close proximity to the valley and local towns does get a high amount of traffic. Almost every small stream on the west slope of the cascades has some fish to catch. As is most streams in the area it is catch and release only in McDowell creek and restricted to fly’s and lures. Which is not really much of an issue when it comes to catching fish in these small streams. For more information on streams and lakes please check out the fishing in Oregon book. Lots of information on what lives in each water body.

Directions: From Eugene drive north on I-5 and then take the exit to Hwy. 20 east towards Lebanon. Once you have driven through the town of Lebanon continue 4 miles, and then turn left at the McDowell Creek Park exit. Follow this road for 10 miles then turn right into the parking lot. The parking lot is big enough for about 15 cars and tends to be full on nice days.

This is a very easy hike and the entire loop is almost two miles in length. Dogs are welcome but must stay on a leash. If you hike up the stairs to the top of Terrace falls it does get a bit steep. But there are plenty of spots to stop and rest on the way up.

McDowell Creek County Park map
The head of the trail has a nice map that tells you the different routes and the distance.

The fishing in the stream is actually fairly good. There is very little pressure on the stream, and the native cutthroats are feisty. During summer amid the low water flow most of the fish can only be found in the numerous pools in the stream. Most areas have been worn down to bedrock and the pools tend to be deep trough’s with undercuts for the fish to hide. The lower section of the stream where it approaches the Santiam river are private property, but the upper area goes through several sections of public lands. The largest trout I caught on our trip was only about eight inches. Small fish, but fun to catch on an ultralight pole and reel.

Small stream creek fishing
There are several bridges across the creek that provide a great view of the crystal clear water

To see a video of the fishing and parts of the hike please visit our YouTube channel at the link below.

Several great books for the local areas

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes

Day Hiking Bend & Central Oregon: Mount Jefferson/ Sisters/ Cascade Lakes

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

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Urban fishing with my little Micro fisher

With a little bit of sun out my six year old decided that we should go fishing and have an adventure. There is a small creek just a few blocks away that we have never fished and it makes a perfect trip for a child that wants to explore. And it is not far from home in case of an early fall rainstorm.

Urban fishing

Once we climbed down to the creek we discovered a salmon ladder that had been built into bottom of the tunnel. For those of you that have not seen one before a salmon ladder is a series of gradually stepped down pools. These allow a salmon or steelhead to reach area’s to spawn that they would not be able to. Sadly a lot of small streams and creeks like this have culverts in place that have to steep of drop for the fish to jump and swim farther upstream. This is a large part of the issues with increasing salmon runs in the area. In the last decade there has been an increase in pushing to change out a lot of culverts with tunnels and other fish friendly areas.

Urban creek fishing
Urban creek fishing

Now what kid could resist exploring a tunnel under a road. Well since I watched the IT movie as a kid I would be one that would avoid it. No red balloons anywhere at least. As for fish we were able to catch two while we were fishing the pool. One looked to be a hybrid cuttbow (rainbow/cutthroat trout hybrid) and the other was a small salmon smolt that was close to the same size as the lure.



Later in the season we will need to come back down and see if we can see any salmon coming up the ladder and video them with the camera.

Urban fishing
Salmon ladder plunge pools

To see our adventures please check out our video on YouTube

Urban fishing with my micro fishergirl

And for the gear we used in today’s adventure

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to