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Summer Swim Spot

Good fishing, paddling or just relaxing at Newberry Monument


A lone fisherman at dusk on Paulina Lake. - FLICKR.COM/DIRTSAILOR2003
  • A lone fisherman at dusk on Paulina Lake.

Paulina Lake and East Lake, sometimes called Twin Lakes, sometimes called the other Crater lakes, are both excellent for fishing, paddling sports or just relaxing in your cabin or with your toes in the clear water.

Both lakes are part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, about 40 miles southeast of Bend.

I've fished both lakes numerous times in the past, and the fishing—especially in the summer when the trout tend to go deep— can be challenging. But, if you pay special attention to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish stocking schedules, you should have a good chance of hooking some planted rainbow trout.

I took my 7-year-old son in my drift boat out to Paulina Lake on a hot Sunday to try to trick a few of the planted fish. Even though the bite wasn't on, I did manage to hook three nice rainbows with a yellow and black Panther Martin that Aidan was able to land with ease. We let them all go—now mandatory so they can "grow huge," according to my fishing buddy. As we ate our PBJ sandwiches, listening to the waves lap against the side of the aluminum boat, we got to watch bald eagles and osprey dive for fish—they're definitely the better fishermen.

The 1,500-acre Paulina Lake is the larger of the two lakes. Its deepest point is about 250 feet and its average depth is 163 feet. Note: if you're fishing the lake, bring a long anchor line, or plan on anchoring right by the bank/ The lake gets deep fast.

Both lakes formed after about 500,000 years of volcanic activity collapsed the crater. Neither lake receives any water from an inlet stream, keeping their pools full from snowmelt, rain, groundwater and springs.

East Lake is not only smaller, it's shallower as well. The lake is about a mile in diameter and averages about 67 feet deep.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lakes several times a year with rainbow trout. Kokanee and brown trout also swim in the depths of Paulina. Atlantic salmon and chub are also found in East Lake. Fun fact: The two largest brown trout ever caught in Oregon both came from Paulina. The current record is 28 pounds, 5 ounces, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The largest brown from East Lake isn't far behind at 22.5 pounds.

You can rent rowboats, canoes or powerboats to fish out of from Paulina Lake Lodge, or you can bring you own. Just make sure the motor's tuned up or you could be rowing the length of the lake into the wind, like I did.

East Lake Resort has 16 cabins for rent. All but four have full baths and kitchens, and the others have kitchenettes and half baths. Tents and RV spots are also for rent, as well as boat rentals for fishing or just relaxing and enjoying the lake. There's the Blue Duck Grill that's open from 7am to 7pm daily and has a fairly wide menu.

Paulina Lake Lodge has 13 cabins for rent that sleep anywhere from 3 to 10 guests. The restaurant and bar is open May through September Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and Sunday, 11am to 5pm. It's also open in the winter on a reservation-only schedule where guests can take a snowmobile shuttle for $25 per person.

For families not into fishing, you can take an easy hike up to Paulina Creek Falls. The 80-foot double falls are off Paulina Lake Road and are accessed by the Paulina Falls Trail.

Paulina Lake Lodge
22440 Paulina Lake Road, La Pine

East Lake Resort
Paulina Lake Road

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