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Promontory Park
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What’s to Love: Make no mistake, you’re not going to catch a 10-pound salmon at this location. However, it’s almost guaranteed that your kids will catch fish. “Small Fry Lake” is stocked with trout, and there is a general store close by if you forgot something. After parking (see link below for directions, etc.), you’ll need to only walk a short distance (within 1/8 of a mile) down a hill to the fishing hole. The trail is well kept, and there are some nice ledges for storing your gear and relaxing. There is plenty of shade. Click “more” to see a short clip and read more.

Caveats: I wasn’t particularly impressed with the cleanliness of the water – it seemed pretty stagnant. We did take a fish home, but didn’t eat it. If you just want to catch fish, it’s a great spot – perfect for first-time anglers. If you want to catch fish for eating, I would try the Clackamas river.

Website: Promontory Park

Distance from Portland: Within 1 to 1 1/2 hours drive.

Recommended Ages: 2 – 8 years. To hokey for older kids.

Stress Factor: Medium Stress – A 3 year old waving sharp, barbed hooks through the air while completely oblivious to the fact they could easily take my eye out caused me a fair amount of stress. Keep a close eye on them – the shore line does not have a protective barrier. My son almost fell in a couple of times!

Physical Difficulty: Easy! It’s just a short hike from the parking area to Small Fry Lake.

Family Fun Factor: Medium – For ages 5 and under, kids will have a good time, because they will catch at least one fish. My son definitely had a big smile on his face when he caught his first fish; however, there was quite a bit of waiting around while we figured out how to outsmart the fish.

Pet Friendly: This would not be a good place to take the family dog, especially if there are other families fishing.

Weather Considerations: I’m not sure how the fish like the rain, but I can’t imagine fishing here in rainy weather. There would probably be considerable mud along the shore. I would save this trip for a hot summer day, or perhaps, a cool sunny day in the fall.

Insider Info: Don’t sweat the drive – it’s a beautiful drive right next to the Clackamas river. You won’t need a parking permit or a fishing permit for your kids, as long as they are under 14. Because so many people fish in a small pond, the fish are very smart! You’ll get more bites than you’ll get fish. Use pretty small hooks with small bait. If you use worms, make sure they are not hanging off the hook. The fish will feast on this type of setup. If you’re keeping the fish, there is a 3 fish limit. Oh yeah…don’t forget a bobber – kids love watching it go under when a fish bites.

Family Tips: Child carrier is probably not necessary for toddlers. They will be able to hike most of the way. If they can’t you can easily carry them on this short hike. There is a decent amount of shade – sun screen is probably a good idea. The bugs seem to be under control, and we did not need any insect repellent of any kind. Probably not the best place for a family picnic. I would head over to Promontory Park proper for a better picnic area. Splurge and buy your aspiring angler his/her own tackle box. My son loved looking through all the lures that came with his (under $15).

Small Fry Lake is within Promontory Park, which has other family activities that may be of interest: Park features: Picnicking, camping, fishing, boating, hiking trails and ADA-accessible features.

Technorati Tags: Fishing for kids near Portland, fishing holes, toddler fishing, fishing with young kids, fishing on the Clackamas River, Beginning fishing

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Sellwood Riverfront Park on July 12th, 2010

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on August 29th, 2013


  1. Kevin Anderson

    wonderful park to fish hike relax and swim… great place for the whole family

  2. I caught my first stringer full of fish at small fry lake nearly 40 years ago. I am bringing my daughter there for hers next month!

    • Good times! Very pretty area…we haven't been back since our first trip. I'm going to have to head over there soon. Please give us a trip report when you get back with your daughter.

  3. I will never go back! Not only did I witness a drug deal in the parking lot of Thriftway in nearby Estacada but the people camping next to us were smoking pot all day, the sherriff drove through, someone threw feces all over the boys' bathroom and I found a broken bong in the girls' bathroom. All this happened just last week August 1 2012. They have a bunch of serious problems there!

    • How unfortunate to hear it! I liked that little pond. I'll give it another try sometime soon; hopefully, they'll clean up the area in the meantime.

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