Sparks Lake is located about 25 miles west of Bend off the
Cascade Lakes Highway. The lake was named for "Lige" Sparks, a pioneer
stockman of central Oregon. Except for possible early-day trappers, the
first organized group of white men to visit the Sparks Lake area was a
Pacific Railroad survey party led by Lts. R. L. Williamson and Phil
Sheridan, accompanied by Dr. John S. Newberry, physician and scientist.
In seeking a pass through the mountains to the north, they
traveled the Green Lakes trail in August 1855. They returned in September
and evidently traveled by the Old Horse Lake Trail from its junction with
the Green Lakes Trail and passed by Moraine Lake and on to Wickiup Plains.
It is guessed that this group went past Devils Pass, Devils Lake, and
followed the approximate route of the north Century Drive.
The lake was formed about 10,000 years ago when lavas from
Mt. Bachelor Volcanic Chain blocked the upper Deschutes River. Sparks
Lake is a large, shallow, trout lake located on the northwest edge of Mount
Bachelor, and is the first of the high lakes you see from the Cascade Lakes
Highway west of Bend. The views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor, and Broken
Top are breathtaking. Prior to 1997, Sparks Lake was a brook trout fishery
and, although brookies may still be available, the lake's featured species
are introduced cutthroat trout.
Sparks Lake covers 779 acres and has a maximum depth of 10
feet when full in the spring, but may shrink to 400 acres and a depth of 7
feet in late summer. Fascinating lava formations surround the lake. At several points along
the shore, the lake's water disappears into the edges of the lava, producing
exotic noises as the water drains out. The deepest area of the lake is the
far south end.
Brook trout average 11 inches with a few to l 8 inches, but
numbers are small. The main (northern) body of the lake is very shallow, and
the extremely clear water requires long, light leaders and stealth.
A narrow channel about a half-mile long connects the north
and south portions of the lake. Smaller fish are usually caught in the
channel and larger fish in the lower lake. A 2.5-mile trail leading to the
southern portion of the lake starts near the highway. This lower portion of
the lake is almost completely surrounded by lava flows, making shore access
difficult except by the trail. Sparks Lake is most easily accessed by boat.
Sparks Lake is open to fly angling only. Debarbing
hooks helps reduce injuries to released fish. Streamers are frequently
fished during the day and dry flies in the evenings, with bucktails and
Mickey Finns popular for trolling. The brook trout often prefer the brighter
colors of yellow and orange. Favorite patterns include tied-down Caddis in
sizes 8 to 14X, Royal Wulffs, Royal Coachmen, Adams, and Humpys in sizes 12
to 18. Sometimes realistic nymphs are more effective. Mornings and late
afternoons usually provide the best results, and during some late
afternoons, there are often some good hatches.
At an elevation of 5,450 feet, access to Sparks Lake can be
blocked by snow until quite late in the year, and like most of the high
lakes, some of the very best fishing is right after ice-out. Some fly
anglers will don snowshoes or skis in order to take advantage of early
Low water levels at Sparks Lake late in the season can cause
difficulties for boaters. A good boat ramp is located at the end of the main
road into the lake but may not be usable during low water. Always consult
the current ODFW before fishing for fishing regulations.
Information Source: Deschutes National Forest