Fishing for Warner Lakes Redband Trout


gold trout with black spots and reddish lateral stripe

gold trout with black spots and reddish lateral stripe

Warner Lakes redband trout from Dismal Creek

  • Similar in overall appearance to Goose Lake redband trout.
  • Generally darker in color with an olive-hued dorsum (top of fish) fading to yellow along the sides.
  • Spotting pattern tends to be denser, especially below the lateral line.
  • Purplish lateral line and operculum.
  • Pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins may exhibit darker orange to copper colors.


  • Endemic to the Warner basin of south-central Oregon and northeastern California.
  • A very small portion of this basin occupies the extreme northeastern part of California, with three primary watersheds draining the northern and eastern flanks of the Warner Mountains, flowing north into Oregon.
  • No comprehensive distribution surveys have been performed for the Warner Lakes redband trout within California, so it is currently unknown if they inhabit all three drainages or portions thereof.
  • They may occupy tributaries to the Alkali Lakes in Surprise Valley along the eastern slope of the Warner Mountains. Genetic studies are underway to validate this assumption.

creek running over meadow
Twelvemile Creek

Map of Warner Lakes redband trout historic watersheds - click to enlarge in new window
(click to enlarge)

Angling Information

angler fishes in Dismal Swamp
Angler fishes in creek running through large meadow

man and boy fishing
Father teaches son to fish in Dismal Swamp

  • Warner Lakes redband trout exist in an extremely geographically-limited area within California.
  • There are a few isolated headwater tributaries that flow north into Oregon where you can capture this subspecies; elevations in this area exceed 7,000 feet and, along with their north-facing aspect, snow may be present well into July. Well-shaded forests along the access roads can often leave deep pockets of snow, impeding road access.
  • In addition, road conditions are mainly unimproved and high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
  • Due to the small size of these streams, Warner Lakes redband trout seldom exceed 12 inches in length.
  • They are opportunistic feeders and standard dry and nymph flies are effective.
  • Due to the very small nature of most of these creeks, lures may be difficult to use.
  • The fish in Dismal Creek can be spooked very easily, so tread softly, crouch low to the ground, and avoid creating a shadow over the water.
  • In the springtime, these meadows are particularly beautiful and teeming with blooming wildflowers.