Cold Weather Fun–Add Ice Fishing to Your List

Diamond Lake Offers Family-Friendly Options When the Temperature Dips

Central Oregon is surrounded by many forms of water throughout the year. Lakes and rivers, big and small, dot the landscape in every direction. Because we live at a higher elevation, summer’s water playground turns into a winter landscape full of ice and snow.

In the winter, skiers head to the Cascade Mountains while fishermen venture to the local waters to tempt wily rainbow trout to take their fly. If willing to drive 90 miles out of town, the angler’s winter fishing opportunity expands to a whole new level: ice fishing.

Diamond Lake—only a two-hour drive from Bend— is a convenient destination for a day-trip or an overnight adventure, at any time of year. Located on Highway 138, north of Crater Lake National Park, Diamond Lake provides an opportunity for the whole family to play in the snow—and fish—during the winter months. The caveat with winter fishing at Diamond Lake lies in the fact you have to cut through the ice in order to lure a Rainbow trout up to the surface.

“Ice fishing at Diamond Lake is a family affair.” -John Johnston

Stereotypically identified as a mid-western pastime, ice fishing is a recreation that can easily include the whole family. Ice fishing affords the patient angler the convenience of stillness, as there are no quick movements, except to mount the hook with a standard spinning rod set up adorned with bait. There is no need to know how to walk in rushing water—wearing wading boots and laden with gear—to fish the mighty Deschutes.

“If the fishing is a little slow, most enjoy the chance to play in the snow,” explains Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Skills Coordinator Mark Newell.

Sandwiched between 8,376 foot Mt. Bailey to the west and 9,183 foot Mount Thielsen to the east, Diamond Lake offers many winter activities. The adventurous skier may prefer a guided backcountry ski adventure with Cat Ski Mount Bailey. The nordic ski enthusiast can glide on the seven miles of groomed runs that surround Diamond Lake Resort. There’s even a snow-tubing hill to round out the additions to ice fishing at Diamond Lake.

“Ice fishing at Diamond Lake is a family affair,” says Diamond Lake Resort Operations Manager John Johnston. “Multi-generations can enjoy the outdoors here in the winter.”

Still, precautions must be taken in order to ensure a safe ice fishing experience.

“You really want to have 6” or more of solid ice before venturing out to fish in the winter,” explains Johnston.

An auger, or other ice-cutting device, is key to the ice fishing experience. The resort rents augers in the winter and supplies most bait and tackle supplies at their store which is open year-round. It is legal to fish with a man-made hole up to 12” in diameter. All other fishing regulations apply to ice fishing in the winter, although children under the age of 12 are not required to have an Oregon fishing license.

As our area’s shoulder season brings cooler temperatures and a taste of the upcoming ski season, consider adding ice fishing at Diamond Lake to your list of fun, family-friendly winter activities.