Bound on all sides by mixed conifer forest, the lake is deep and clear. The west end is best for seeing waterfowl because it's sheltered from the prevailing wind. Link Creek, which empties into Suttle Lake, is shallow and clear enough to view spawning fish. Yellow, orange, or red hues from vine maple proclaim the arrival of autumn in September or October.
The lake was formed and a terminal moraine, which was deposited by glacial ice about 25,000 years ago during the Suttle Lake advance of the Cabot Creek glaciation. The principle surface input to the lake is Link Creek, which flows out of Blue Lake. The outlet of Suttle Lake is Lake Creek, which flows eastward into the Metolius River. The lake covers an area of 253 acres. The average depth of the lake is 44 feet with a maximum depth of 75 feet. The lake has an excellent population of naturally reproducing kokanee, plus brown trout, whitefish, and crayfish.
Motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed on this body of water.
Caution: Cabins are privately owned and trespass is prohibited. Campgrounds close for winter as early as October.
From Sisters: Travel west on Hwy. 20 for 13.0 miles to Forest Road 2070, turn southwest onto Forest Road 2070 for 0.9 mile to Blue Bay Campground entrance and Suttle Lake, continue west on Forest Road 2070 for 0.1 mile to South Shore Campground entrance and Suttle Lake, continue west on Forest Road 2070 for 0.2 mile to Link Creek Campground entrance and Suttle Lake, continue west on Forest Road 2070 for 0.1 to mile Link Creek, continue north on Forest Road 2070 for 0.2 mile to Suttle Lake boat ramp.
Total Distance: 14 miles. Estimated Time: 20 minutes
Lake and Pond Fishing
Kokanee fishing at Suttle Lake is best in May and June using bait. The most commonly used baits are periwinkles and caddis larva, but night crawler and red egg combinations are also popular. Kokanee sizes currently average 9 to 10 inches. Still fishing from a boat is the best approach, fishing closer to shore early in the season and in the deeper water during mid-summer. The same baits work throughout the season when presented just off the bottom. It is possible to fish from the bank for kokanee near the Suttle Lake picnic area on the northeast corner of the lake.
Brown trout from 10 inches to 10 pounds hide out here, with many in the 3 to 5 pound range. Most are taken early in the season trolling a Rapala near the surface. Late in summer, the brown trout head for the depths. Flashers, lures, and Rapalas need to run deep this time of year. Late in the season is another good time of year for catching brown trout. When late in the day, or anytime light intensity is low, chances of catching a big brown increase. Mid-summer fly fishers troll nymphs and Woolly Buggers near the surface. Early evenings are especially good fly-fishing. Any lure, spinner, or fly that looks like a succulent kokanee fingerling will appeal to the big browns. Crayfish patterns are worth a try, too.
Native whitefish of 10 to 12 inches are usually an incidental catch when fishing for the other species. The fry are a favorite snack of brown trout.
Boats are most commonly used on Suttle Lake, float tubes are adequate, and wading is possible in some areas. There are few areas fishable from shore. Suttle Lake has a koka nee catch limit of 25 with no size limits, in addition to the trout limit of 5 per day, with an 8-inch minimum, and of these no more than 1 over 20 inches. There is no limit for whitefish. Check the current ODFW regulations before fishing.W
What To Expect
Vehicle Access: Suttle Lake is located about 15 miles northwest of Sisters on U.S. Highway 20
Fishing Access: Campgrounds, road, trails, and resort area's
This is an excellent place to observe waterfowl, especially in autumn and winter. Pacific loon, common loon, red-necked grebe, lesser scaup, surf scoter, white-winged scoter, common goldeneye, Barrow's goldeneye, hooded merganser, and red-breasted merganser have been sighted. Long-tailed duck (formerly known as oldsquaw), rarely found inland from the Pacific coast, has wintered here when the lake is not frozen. Three species of gull (Bonaparte's, California, and Sabine's) sometimes linger during migration. Bald eagle and osprey nest here, the former remaining into winter, the latter departing in September. In September or October, watch for kokanee salmon or brown trout spawning at the Link Creek bridge.
Other Attractions: Insect pests defoliated and killed extensive areas of Douglas fir forest west and north of here in the 1990s. These areas are great place to see woodpeckers.