Lava Lake was formed as a result of lava flows creating a dam along its east shoreline. Lava Lake is relatively old as evidenced by the extrusive vegetation occurring in the shallow areas. Rushes, waterlilies and other emergent plants are especially evident on the west and northern perimeter. Another indication of the lake’s aging is the 4 to 5 feet deep layer of muck located on the lake bottom as reported by divers.
Subsurface springs provide the primary inflow to Lava Lake. The springs are located in the northeast corner of the lake at a depth of 20 to 30 feet. Water temperatures from the inflow vary between 45° to 60° F. There are no permanent surface streams entering the lake, however, intermittent seeps do enter the lake from Wire Meadow. Lava Lake connects with Little Lava Lake only occasionally during periods of spring high water. The outlet channel is located in the southeast corner of the lake. Water level fluctuates an average of approximately 2.5 feet annually with maximum pool occurring in late summer. Timing of the peak pool level is consistent with flow levels typical of springs in the area.
For boat launch information see Lava Lake Boating Site, and Lava Lake Resort.
Lake and Pond Fishing
Fish species indigenous to Lava Lake were bull trout, redband trout and whitefish. The current fish population is composed of introduced brook and rainbow trout, whitefish, and illegally introduced tui chub.
What To Expect
- Vehicle Access: Lava Lake is 15 miles south of Bend off of Forest Service Road 46 (Cascade Lakes Highway).
- Fishing Access: The resort area, campground, and along some of the trails.
- Fish Species Present: Rainbow trout, brook trout, and tui chub
- Physical Characteristics: Size: 350 acres; Depth: 30' max; Elevation: 4790'
- When/How to fish: Best time is early & late in season. For more information on fishing in Central Oregon, check out the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) Central Zone Weekly Recreation Reports. You can also sign up for ODFW email updates here.
- Popular Fishing Methods: Floating devices and trolling
- Bait/Lure Fishing Method: Cheese, power bait, flat fish, flashers, spinners, and green lures
- Fly Fishing Methods: Small hooks with leaders up to 7' long & not over 4 lb test; fish seem not to like brown leader material 5X tippets for surface flies; 4X for subsurface.
- Insect Hatch/Flies to Use: Use of dry and wet flies.
- Camping Information: Lava Lake Campground
- Resort Information: Lava Lake Lodge
Source: Upper Deschutes River Subbasin Fish Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Upper Deschutes Fish District, October 1996.