• Outing to Horsethief Lake and the Columbia Gorge


  • The Plan

  • Follow the path of Lewis and Clark and gather with CSF at Horsethief Lake. Columbia Hills State Park (which includes the Horsethief Lake area and Dalles Mountain Ranch area) is a 3,338-acre camping park with 7,500 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. Horsethief Butte dominates the skyline, standing over the lake like an ancient castle. The lake itself is about 90 acres in size and is actually an impoundment of the Columbia River. The lake was flooded into existence by the reservoir created by the Dalles Dam. The park contains Native American pictographs and petroglyphs. Some of the oldest pictographs in the northwest are found in this park. For centuries, the park was the site of a Native American village. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped at the village and describe its wooden houses in one of their journals.

  • For a great deal more information and some interesting history on the Columbia River fishery, read John Sowinski's notes on fishing the Gorge by clicking on the following link: The Sowinski Report.
  • Fishing will provide a wide range of opportunities. Bass, catfish, crappie, perch, trout and walleye all exit in this impoundment. The WDFW stock large amounts of rainbow trout on a regular basis. Bring equipment for all types of fish from small pan fish to large mouth bass. The park has two boat ramps. Motorized boats are permitted on the lake, but the county has posted a speed limit of 5 m.p.h. for the entire lake. Pontoon boats and float-tubes work well when the wind cooperates. This is a first-come, first-serve park for camping. The park has eight tent spaces, eight utility spaces, one dump station and one restroom. Maximum site length is 60 feet. In addition, there are two primitive hiker/bicycle campsites. Be aware that it can be very windy in the Columbia River Gorge, and be prepared for such conditions.

  • Horsethief Lake is a national historic site. Guided tours of the pictographs and petroglyphs are available on Friday and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call the park office at 509-767-1159. If you reach the answering machine, leave a detailed massage with your party size, the dates you have in mind, and your name and phone number. If a ranger does not return your call, call the office again. Do not come for a tour without verbally confirming with a ranger. It is advisable to reserve at least two or three weeks in advance.

  • Other actives include wildlife viewing. You may see chukars, ducks, eagles, hawks, herons, osprey, bobcat, coyote, deer or elk, foxes, marmots and raccoons. Then there is rock climbing for you brave folks or nightlife in the Dalles for you swingers - both are close drives.

  • Flies

  • Patterns will vary with the type of fish you seek, but standard bass, pan fish and trout patterns all work well. If you like top-water fishing, this is a perfect trip to use those poppers you should have learned to tie with Shawn West or the trusty standbys, Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators. For sub-surface, Muddlers, Wooly Buggers and Clousers should work as well.

  • Directions

  • Take Washington State Road 14 east to The Dalles. You can also take I-84 to Highway 197, then north onto 14. From the intersection of 14 and 197, continue east and follow the signs to the Park.

  • Contacts

  • To contact the outing Fishmaster, go to the Calendar page.

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