List of Fish Species in Devil’s Lake, Oregon 2023 [Updated]

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List of Common Fish Species in Devil’s Lake, Oregon [Updated]

Devil's Lake, Oregon
Devil’s Lake is a natural freshwater lake in Oregon and is surrounded by pine forests. CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Named after a Native American folktale, Devil’s Lake is a natural freshwater lake formed in the late Pleistocene Epoch. One can find Devil’s Lake in the center of Lincoln City along the Oregon coast. It is known for its deep blue water and surrounding pine forests atop large hills. Additionally, this lake is one of the few significant lakes in the middle of a major city. Interestingly, the world’s shortest river, the D River, drains water from Devil’s Lake into the sea.

There are two major recreation areas on each side of the park. There are several camping sites and amenities and multiple boat anchoring sites. While few boat ramps are available near campsites, there is a launch at the East Devil’s Lake State Recreational Area.

The lake’s location and issues caused by several introduced species have created a management nightmare for conservationists and recreational park managers. Nuisance aquatic weeds such as those in the genus Elodea, also known as waterweeds or pondweeds, took over the lake in the early 1970s. Early efforts to combat aquatic weed infestations led to the introduction of thousands of grass carp to reduce weed populations. Unfortunately, grass carp fed indiscriminately on aquatic vegetation, impacting non-nuisance species and lowering the pondweed’s populations.

Current management efforts implement a multifaceted approach to aquatic weed control, including manual removal, limited herbicide use, and public education to prevent the spread of aquatic weeds.

Devil’s Lake is located along coastal Oregon and is regulated under the Northwest Fishing Zone. For an in-depth explanation of all fishing regulations, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

List of Fish Species in Devil’s Lake, Oregon

1) Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Rainbow trout in net
Fishing season for rainbow trout is open all year round at Devil’s Lake. Matt Bowser / CC BY 4.0

Native to eastern Russia and the west coast of North America

The term ”rainbow” refers to the rainbow trout’s beautiful red and silver colors. This species is sometimes known as the steelhead, the name for the anadromous or migratory form of O. mykiss, whereas the term rainbow trout refers to landlocked or stocked individuals. Rainbow trout are among the most common and popular sportfish, behind sunfish and catfish. As a result, they have been stocked throughout the United States and can be found in most freshwater bodies.

Rainbow trout reach sexual maturity at 2 – 3 years of age and can grow to be staggeringly large, over 40 inches (102 cm). Landlocked varieties do not have a spawning migration, although adults may travel to shallower water to lay their eggs. Once they arrive at a suitable nesting site, females dig nests in the substrate, known as redds, and deposit their eggs. Shortly after spawning, both sexes die.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly stocks rainbow trout in Devil’s Lake, and the fishing season for this species is open year-round. Some bait items an angler can use to target rainbow trout include live insects, worms, and salmon eggs. Anglers fishing in Devil’s Lake should only keep trout and salmon without an adipose fin.

2) Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

Coastal cutthroat trout
The coastal cutthroat trout is 1 of 2 cutthroat trout subspecies present in Devil’s Lake. Lee Cain / CC BY 4.0

Native to the United States & Canada

The cutthroat trout is a widespread, large-bodied salmonid with an olive-green, spotted body. They can attain weights of more than 40 pounds (18 kg). Most individuals have some red hues, such as blushing on the operculum, the flap that covers the gills, and a red strip running down the sides of the body. There are many subspecies and locally adapted populations of cutthroat trout; two that are present in Devil’s Lake are the coastal cutthroat trout (O. c. clarkii) and the westslope cutthroat trout (O. c. lewisi)

Juveniles and breeding adults can be found in small streams; they can spend a substantial part of their life in the sea, although some populations may never migrate to the ocean. They consume small fish, algae, and invertebrates and are poor competitors compared to other fish in the same ecological niche, such as other salmonids and sunfish. Additionally, they are often predated upon by other salmonids, piscivorous birds, and bears.

Cutthroat trout feed at night and during the day, and an angler can take advantage of this extended active window to catch one. One source recommends using lures and flies; the best baits include live worms or fresh salmon eggs.

3) Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)

Coho salmon in lake
Breeding coho salmon develop an intense red coloration on their bodies. Steve Tuckerman / CC BY-SA 4.0

Native to coastal Alaska, the Bering Sea, and coastal Russia southward along Japan’s coastline

A typical coho salmon typically reaches 24 to 28 inches (61 to 71 cm) in length, with females being smaller than males. Once they reach sexual maturity, adults migrate back to their natal rivers to spawn. Breeding adults sport a very dark coloration with intense red bellies and blushing on their heads. Males also develop a hooked jaw. This coloration is like, although less intense than, patterns observed in Chinook salmon.

Once hatched, young fish spend at least one winter in freshwater before migrating to the ocean, where they prey upon small fish and insects. While in the sea, most coho salmon spend the next 1 to 4 years eating larger fish species, squid, and prominent individuals who can even hunt birds.

This species is not as common in filet markets as the sockeye or the Chinook, but a substantial community of sport fishers treasures this fish. When harvested commercially, they are usually sold canned or frozen.

4) Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)

Grass carp underwater
Grass carp can grow to be very large, with a maximum length of about 60 inches! Vijay Barve / CC BY 4.0

Native to eastern Asia; not native to North America

Grass carp are large, silver freshwater fish with eyes placed unusually close to the mouth. This species belongs to the same group as the common carp, shiners, and pet store goldfish, and they grow to be very large, reaching a maximum length of around 60 inches (152 cm).

This herbivorous fish has been used as a biological control agent for invasive aquatic weeds since the 1970s. Grass carp consume their body weight in submerged vegetation daily, making them an effective method to reduce weed populations in lakes and ponds. However, given their voracious appetites, they have a great potential to become an ecological threat. So, scientists developed a variety of grass carp that is incapable of reproducing. Using grass carp as a control method should be reserved as a last resort following herbicide application and manual removal.

Wild grass carp populations have complex ecological consequences despite their use as a biological control agent and can have complex environmental impacts. Primarily, they compete with other herbivores and contribute massive quantities of nutrients to water systems, leading to algal blooms.

5) Northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis)

Northern pikeminnow in hands
It’s recommended to catch northern pikeminnow with smelly bait, like chicken liver or cheddar cheese. Bryn Armstrong / CC BY 4.0

Native to North America

The northern pikeminnow is a native cyprinid, or carp relative, to the Columbia River. Despite the “minnow” in this fish’s name, it is not an insignificant fish, over 8.5 inches (22 cm) on average. This fish eats some small fish, such as juvenile salmon, but invertebrates like insects and crayfish usually dominate its diet.

Pikeminnow sportfishing is very popular, and there is even a sportfishing reward program for this species along the Columbia River in the state of Oregon. This program provides incentives for anglers to encourage fishing for pikeminnow from May to September because pikeminnow are predators of salmon and steelhead. In reducing the pikeminnow population, the program hopes to offset the impact of habitat degradation on these salmon species.

Experts recommend fishing for northern pikeminnow from a boat and using smelly baits like chicken liver, salmon roe, or cheddar cheese.

6) Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)

Striped bass
The best time to target striped bass is in the fall. Tim / CC BY 4.0

Native to the East Coast of the United States; introduced throughout the country

Another popular sportfish is the “striper” or the striped bass. This species is a member of the temperate basses or fish in the family Moronidae. This group is not related to black basses and possesses distinct behavioral and physical characteristics. For example, while black basses, such as the largemouth bass, construct nests and defend them, temperate basses migrate to spawning grounds and scatter their eggs over the substrate, providing very little parental care.

The striped bass is silver with dark stripes running down its sides and has a slightly forked tail. Most temperate basses also have two separate dorsal fins, one with stiff spines and one with mostly softer rays. It is native to the East Coast and has been introduced for sportfishing throughout the country. They are piscivorous and primarily predate upon small fish.

An angler looking for a striped bass should target them during the fall. One source recommends fishing strategies like trolling, jigging, and targeting feeding groups, commonly called “boils,” close to the surface. Boils resemble a boiling pot of water as the action of many fish so close to the surface churns the water.

7) Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)

Largemouth bass in hand
At Devil’s Lake, there is a daily limit of 5 basses and only 3 of them can be more than 15 inches long. Mitch Van Dyke / CC BY 4.0

Native to parts of North America

The United States’ most popular sportfish is the largemouth bass. Their high popularity among sport fishers led this eastern United States native to become introduced and widely distributed throughout the country. Largemouth bass are giant sunfish, but their common name refers more to the size of their mouths and their capacity to consume large prey items than their size. On average, a largemouth bass reaches around 16 inches (41 cm), but they can grow to be up to 38 inches (97 cm).

Devil’s Lake is a large, clear-bodied lake with abundant submerged vegetation which provides ample hunting ground and cover for largemouth bass. This species will hide amongst aquatic plants to ambush unsuspecting prey items. Such prey items might include other fish, amphibians, leeches, insects, small mammals, and birds.

When fishing for largemouth bass, live bait works best. Potential bait items might include smaller sunfish or native shad—target areas near aquatic weed beds. Devil’s Lake has a daily limit of 5 basses per angler, only 3 of which may be over 15 inches (38.1 cm).

8) Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu)

Smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass are, on average, 12 – 19.5 inches in length. Alina Martin / CC BY 4.0

Native to parts of North America

The aptly named smallmouth bass is the smaller and nearly as famous cousin to the largemouth bass. Both species are green sunfish with spotted or barred patterns. One feature to pay attention to is the edge of their mouths. In largemouth bass, the edge of the mouth extends well past the back edge of the eye, whereas in smallmouth bass, the edge of the mouth stops before the border. Both species belong to the black bass group, which includes all basses in the genus Micropterus. Anglers can expect to catch smallmouth bass between 12 and 19.5 inches (30 to 50 cm) in length.

Smallmouth bass can be caught along rocky shorelines and stony weed beds. They are highly predacious and accept many types of bait. This species will construct nests during the springtime spawning season to protect their eggs. Male smallmouth bass will defend the eggs until they hatch and can often easily be seen during this period. Some sources recommend targeting these protective males or using them as a clue that there may be other smallmouth bass in the area.

9) Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)

Black crappie
Black crappies are sunfish that have been stocked all over the United States in sportfishing lakes. Clara Dandridge / CC BY 4.0

Native to parts of North America

This small freshwater panfish has been introduced throughout the United States to stock sportfishing lakes. Black crappies are sunfish with a dark, mottled appearance. Black crappies do not grow as large as smallmouth bass, with an average length of 10.8 inches (27.4 cm).

Crappies are crepuscular hunters, meaning they feed during the morning and evening, so anglers should search for them during these times. They feed on plankton and tiny aquatic insect larvae. During the time of day they feed, crappies will often form schools, so an angler is likely to find more if they can successfully catch one.

10) Freshwater sculpin (Cottus bairdii)

Mottled sculpin in water
Mottled sculpins blend in with rocks and other submerged objects to hide from predators. Alina Martin / CC BY 4.0

Native to the United States and Canada

Sculpins are an exciting group of fish, both visually and ecologically. They are large fish that take on the appearance of rocks, coral, or another submerged object. This camouflage allows them to hide from predators.

While many species dwell in saltwater, the freshwater sculpin inhabits freshwater and can be found in Devil’s Lake. This species bears decorative spotting and barring patterns along with fan-like pectoral fins. In addition, their bodies are flattened, allowing them to hide in the substrate.

Freshwater sculpin partake in a mating ritual in the spring. First, breeding males develop a dark coloration and colorful bands on their fins. Next, males construct a nest and will court multiple females by flashing their fins and biting them. Then, both fish will enter the nest and reproduce.

11) Black bullhead (Ameiurus melas)

Person holding black bullhead
Black bullheads prefer warm, turbid waters with a slow current. Mathew Zappa / CC BY 4.0

Expansive North American range from parts of Mexico up to Canada

The black bullhead’s expansive native range stretches from northern Mexico into southern Canada. Despite this, black bullheads have been introduced throughout North America, placing predation pressure on endangered species like the imperiled humpback chub. They are small, dark-colored catfish with yellow-olive underbellies.

They can be found in warm, turbid water bodies with soft, muddy substrates, and they prefer slow currents but do not do well in areas with other predatory fishes.

Young black bullheads eat insect larvae and other small invertebrates, whereas adults consume a variety of organisms, including mollusks, plants, and fish. During breeding, females construct nests, but both sexes protect the young.

12) Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)

Channel catfish in hand
Channel catfish are popular sportfish and are usually 10 to 20 inches long. Tim / CC BY 4.0

Native to North America

The most popular sport catfish is the channel catfish or the channel cat. This species has a forked tail and a round anal fin instead of a straight one. The average length for this species is 10 to 20 inches (25 to 51 cm).

The channel catfish thrives in clear streams but can tolerate turbid water. They also can survive in brackish water. Young channel catfish have the typical invertebrate diet seen in other catfish species. The adults consume various prey items. Channel catfish reproduction is temperature-dependent and is initiated when the water temperature reaches at least 75°F (23.9°C). When temperatures are favorable, male channel catfish construct a nesting area for females to lay their eggs. Males protect and care for the eggs until they hatch.

The National Parks Service suggests using live fish and nightcrawlers to catch a tasty channel catfish. However, they will accept a variety of meat-based bait, from squid and shrimp to hotdogs and processed bait.

13) White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)

Woman holding white sturgeon
White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America but are unfortunately in decline. Nicole Michel / CC BY 4.0

Native to the United States and Canada

Two sturgeon species are found in Oregon and can occasionally be spotted in Devil’s Lake. Sturgeon belong to an ancient group of long-lived fish. They reach maturity at around 10 – 15 years of age and are the largest freshwater fish in North America, with a maximum historical length of about 20 feet (6 meters)! The white sturgeon is solid grey with a white belly and can be found along the west coast of North America from California to Alaska.

Typically, adult white sturgeon migrate from the ocean to spawn in freshwater, although some populations, such as the Kootenai River white sturgeon, are landlocked. A 10-foot (3 meters) female white sturgeon may lay as many as 2.5 million eggs during a spawning event. Their eggs are also harvested and cured in salt to create high-value caviar for human consumption.

Despite their size, white sturgeon prefer to eat small food items such as small fish, crustaceans, plants, and other organisms found in the substrate. Like many other large, long-lived fish species, white sturgeon populations are declining, and the species is classified as vulnerable.

14) Green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris)

Juvenile green sturgeon
Green sturgeon can live for up to 70 years! Pacific Southwest Region USFWS from Sacramento, US, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Native to North America

While the white sturgeon is the largest of the two sturgeon species on this list, the green sturgeon is the longest-lived, capable of making it to 70 years of age. The green sturgeon is less common than the white sturgeon, although this species’ range extends from the west coast of Mexico to the southern coast of Alaska. Unfortunately, it is estimated that there are only five to six thousand individuals left.

This species is a dark green color with a lighter-colored belly. Green sturgeon possess a dark stripe on their bellies which white sturgeon lack. Green sturgeon are often caught accidentally during the commercial harvest of salmon and white sturgeon, especially in gillnets or during trawling.

Adults migrate upstream and find a deep hole to spawn in. Then, young green sturgeon travel to the ocean, eating and growing along the way. They reach maturity at around 15 years of age.

15) Three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

Threespine stickleback underwater
The three-spined stickleback’s diet primarily consists of invertebrates and zooplankton. Klaus Kevin Kristensen / CC BY 4.0

Native to Asia, Europe, and North America

A relative of seahorses, the three-spined stickleback is an exciting fish species. They are small fish with slender tails and three distinct spines along their backs. The posterior spine (the spine closest to the tail fin) is very short and might be difficult to notice. They can thrive in various habitats, including oceanic and freshwater habitats. Some populations are even anadromous, regularly transitioning from freshwater to saltwater; others remain in freshwater. Additionally, they have developed a wide range of ecotypes, distinct forms adapted to specific environments.

This species primarily consumes invertebrates and zooplankton. Additionally, they are prey for various species of perch, pike, salmon, birds, and predatory aquatic insects like dragonfly larvae.

Male sticklebacks, especially freshwater individuals, develop a stunning red coloration during the breeding season. Males then build a nest from a protein secreted by their kidneys called sprigging. A female stickleback then lays her eggs in this nest, and the male protects them until the fry leave.

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