The Lava Lakes- Cascade Lakes Splendor

The Lava Lakes (“Lava” and “Little Lava”) here in Central Oregon lie along the Cascade Lakes chain. Both of these lakes provide a beautiful, peaceful, and productive day of fly fishing. They have good populations of trout, convenient ramps, and amenities including wonderful camping options. While not the marquee stillwater destination that Crane Prairie Reservoir and Wickiup Reservoir are, these lakes have been a favorite for generations of Oregonians. Both lakes are planted with good numbers of “catchable” trout as well as maintaining populations of hold over fish that can get large.

The Inside Scoop

Lava Lake sits at 4740 feet of elevation, covers 370 acres with an average depth of 20 feet. Little Lava Lake is at the same elevation, covers 140 acres with an average depth of only eight feet. Both have classic high mountain lake sub-surface topography with shallow shorelines and deeper holes towards their center. Both can be fished with floating or sinking lines. The food source is also similar between the two lakes: chironomids, callibaetis and leeches will all fool trout just about any day from mid-May to the end of September. As with most lakes, bigger, stripped buggers and leech patters on sinking lines will fool more fish early and late in the season.

Late morning hatches come off regularly all summer. On any given day you can bugger fish the intermediate line early in the morning, switch to the floater and callibaetis emergers and dries around 10:30am, fish dry until 2:00pm, and then back to sub-surface for a few hours before the evening hatch/spinner fall. There is never a shortage of trout to fish for. And some are quite big. Most years ODFW plants a lot of 20”-24” rainbows in Big Lava Lake. Both lakes also have resident brook trout.

The Lava Lakes are considered “put-and-take” fisheries, which is to say there are lots and lots of trout planted every spring and into the early summer. And while both lakes are popular with those who prefer methods other than fly fishing, they can be approached successfully with fly rods any day. For more information on DIY options for fly fishing in Oregon, call us at 1-866-800-2812 for more information.

FAQ’s About Fly Fishing the Lava Lakes

Is there a preferred time of the year to fish the Lava Lakes?
The lakes are open all year. Access is restricted in the winter, but as soon as the roads are open, the fishing gets good. All through the summer months fishing can be really fun on both lakes. The get some use by stand up paddle, kayaks, etc. but there’s always somewhere to find a feeding fish.
What equipment do I need to fly fish the Lava Lakes?
A 5wt rod with a dry line should get the job done. If you have a rod with an intermediate sinking line, that would be useful but not required. A few callibaetis nymphs and dries. A chironomid or two and for sure some buggers and leeches.
What are the typical hatches and what flies match the hatch?
Typically the callibaetis and chironomid fishing picks up by late-May and continues through the summer. For the mayfly we like Pheasant Tails, Bird’s Nest, Two-bit Hookers for nymphs and traditional dries like Adams, Hackle Stackers surface presentations. Ice cream cones in red and black work great for chironomids when fished under an indicator.
How far from Bend are the Lava Lakes?
Only an hour or so. You can drive through Sunriver or over the top of Mt Bachelor. Either way is very scenic. There’s a great old marina and lodge at Lava where you can grab lunch. Or stop at Elk Lake for a famous burger on the way there, or on the way home.

We’re Here to Help

Both Lava Lakes are perfect DIY fly-fishing options in Central Oregon. Here at Fly & Field Outfitters, we will set you up with the right flies and gear, and also make sure your leader and tippet are sound and send you on your way. Or, if you’re looking for a day of luxury we can take you for a full or half day guided trip and take care of all the details for you!

If you want to learn some of the insider secrets for fly fishing at the Lava Lakes check out the latest Lava Lakes Fishing Report or schedule a Cascade Lakes guided fishing trip with us by clicking below or calling us at 1-866-800-2812.

Close (esc)

Sign Up For Our newsletter

Stay in tune with what is happening in Central Oregon and with Fly & Field Outfitters. Don't worry, we will not send you too many emails!

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now
Book Now Book Now