Fish Lake (Baker)

Reachcode: 17050201000977 | Area: 71.5 acres | Shoreline: 2.0 mi | View on Interactive Map

(From Atlas of Oregon Lakes, Johnson et al. 1985)  Fish Lake is a lovely mountain lake situated on the south side of the Wallowa Mountains at an elevation of 6640 feet. It is located just south of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and is quite remote, reachable only via a long gravel road from Halfway. Originally, a small natural lake existed at the west end of what is now the Fish Lake basin. Early in this century a dam was constructed at the lake's outlet to increase storage capacity for irrigation. Consequently, the deepest part of the lake is at the west end rather than near the dam at the east end as would be expected in an impoundment. There is a one-acre island in the middle of the lake and several large boulders are exposed at the water's surface. Surface runoff from snowmelt on surrounding slopes raises the lake level in spring and early summer, but by late summer the water level drops considerably because of irrigation withdrawals.

In spite of its relative isolation, Fish Lake is popular as a recreation site. However, use is not heavy and it is a good place to avoid crowds. It is regularly stocked with trout and supports both rainbow trout and brook trout. Fish are small, but plentiful. The season is fairly short, with the lake closed to fishing in winter. A good Forest Service campground and a boat ramp are available for visitors on the north shore.

The lake remains in a very pristine condition and the water is very low in mineral concentrations. The concentration of phosphorus is low and the growth of phytoplankton moderate. Water transparency is excellent; the bottom can be seen clearly everywhere in the lake. There is no significant growth of macrophytes although a few willows persist in shallow water near the dam. The lake is well sheltered from the wind and develops a distinct temperature stratification. Oxygen is at saturation at all depths. By all indications Fish Lake is oligotrophic.