Lost Lake ... lost

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by GAT, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    This is a strange little Oregon lake. It is located on The Santiam Pass and right next to the highway. ... but only one part of the lake.

    Lost Lake is the very first place I tried a float tube... way back in the donut tube days.

    On the first trip, I didn't do all that well and wrote it off.

    Years later, one of my fishing buddies was raving about a Lost Lake. As there are a number of Lost Lakes in Oregon, I asked him if it was the one next to the hwy on Santiam Pass. Yup. It was.

    I couldn't believe that the lake had become a big fish fishery but it had.

    The odd thing is that the lake is completely artificial. I'm not sure if the ODF&W still plant brookies in the lake but they do plant rainbow and at one point, Atlantic Salmon. So you'd think a lake that is basically non self sustaining and relies on planted fish would be a catch and kill affair. There's a number of campgrounds around the lake so you'd figure anglers could keep the fish. Nope. For some unknown reason, the lake is catch and release only.

    For a period of time, it was a fantastic "secret spot" right out there in the open. The Atlantics, bows and even the brook trout grew quite large. They were also more than willing to take flies so it became primarily a flyfishing lake.

    Then... the droughts. As with most Oregon Cascade lakes, the bottom is porous and the water drains out during the year. Usually, it doesn't go completely dry but for a number of years, it did.

    So the lake went from a so-so fishery to a great fishery and then back to a so-so fishery. During the last few years I've tried the once great fishery I haven't caught squat. Maybe someday... if we manage to get some heavy snow pack during many winters, it may come back again. But at this point, I certainly wouldn't make a trip to Lost because it is again lost.

    These are photos taken during the good times (I sure wish they'd return):

    triploidjunkie and Rob Hardman like this.
  2. Peach

    Peach Peach

    Thanks so much for sharing. I never had the pleasure of fishing Lost Lake, but I have heard from the lucky few that fished it in the 70's and 80's??? before the droughts killed it on how awesome the fishing was. By the time I moved over to this side of the state in the Mid 90's it was pretty much gone. I have stopped by Lost Lake a few times driving to Central Oregon - after a couple of years of good snow years were they thought it would get back to "normal" and ODFW even stocked it a few times, but the water level never stayed high enough to sustain the fishery. Your video is a good pictorial of what it once was to what it has been the last 15+ years or so. Bummer. But I loved the video. Thanks again,


    PS .. curious when was the last year or so it was good? Did the decline happen in the 90's or post Y2K?
  3. Sinkline

    Sinkline Active Member

    Very nice video Gene.

    Your video brings back memories for me going all the way back to high school days when a friend and I use to make Lost lake our first trip of the year. We would always try to get in there as soon after ice-off as we could. I remember the great fish we use to catch. Back n the SE corner you could leech big Brookies from the little alleys between all those willows.

    You are so right, the lake has been lost for many years now as the bottom opened a large drain hole that was never there in the old days. Check this video to see why our beloved old Lost Lake will no longer hold water long after the snow melt slows.

    We fished it in '11 and caught a bunch of small Brookies and zero Rainbows. The fish were tiny (see photo).

    Good to see you and Deke before grey hair (har har).


    Lost Lake early in 2011

  4. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

    Yeah, a nice "tiny" 11" Brook Trout.
  5. bakerite

    bakerite Active Member

    Thanks for posting this Gene. I've driven by there a couple of times and wondered.... Beautiful photos with a bunch of great looking fish! Too bad...
  6. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    Randy, I had taken some shots of the lake when it was completely dry without any water anywhere. The drain hole was in the middle of a field -- which was the lake.

    The same thing has happened to Davis Lake in the past. Fortunately, it was able to rebound -- until some ass dumped in LMB.

    I'm not sure Lost will ever return to a decent fishery. The loss of water during the summer is simply too much, too fast.

    It was certainly fun while it lasted.

    I seem to remember Deke always having grey hair :) He did catch one of the larger brookies I'd seen caught at the lake.
  7. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    Gene, we share a fondness for Lost Lakes with brook trout, even if they are in different states. I'll be visiting my Lost Lake soon, the snow should be gone by then, the road passable, and I'll be more than eager for that first tug...
  8. Rob Hardman

    Rob Hardman Active Member

    Cool stuff, Gene! I've thought about fishing it while down in the Black Butte house, and actually had planned to last fall, but spent the time checking out the little mountain lakes up above Suttle Lake. Those are fun.
    If that brookie in the photo is at all indicative of how it might fish now, I'll totally try it. I'll be down there the fourth week of May if you'd like to meet up.
  9. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    Rob, considering the low snow pack, I have a feeling the ODF&W won't bother even planting Lost the year... I don't think they did last year or even the year before that.

    You are correct... there are other small lake above Suttle and I've fished them a few times but I'm not sure of the water level condition with those guys so I think I'll plan to fish lakes where I know there's water :)